Best Variable Speed Bench Grinders Top Picks, Reviews & Complete Buying Guide…
Best Variable Speed Bench Grinders. Top Picks, Reviews Complete Buying Guide
A variable speed bench grinder is something that is not necessary to everyone, but among artisans this is such a popular tool.
For those who want to achieve the highest level of quality in their work have to possess this versatile tool.
The unit is so great that it can be used for numerous different projects.
Not only does it perform a job of buffing and sharpening tool tips and edges, but it is also very capable of removing paint, stripping rust, polishing and heavy-duty cleaning.
A variable speed bench grinder that meets your needs and requirements is difficult to find, so we decided to help you speed up the process.
We have made a list of the best tools and included various key considerations you should take into account before buying a variable speed bench grinder.
Best Variable Speed Bench Grinders Reviewed
#1. Shop Fox W1840 Variable-Speed Bench Grinder
Number one on our list is the Shop Fox W1840.
It deserves this position due to the fact that it boasts of a beautiful sleek design and is powered by a ¾ HP motor.
Furthermore, it has a 5/8¨grinding wheel bore and a 3,600 Rpm grinding wheel speed.
What we really appreciate about this model is its dual aluminum oxide grinding wheels, directional LED work light and large eye shields.
Additionally, we cannot but mention how it is easy to use, that it is vibration-free with smooth rpm changes across the variable speed range.
Its variable speed control is also an outstanding feature and we highly suggest you get this model.
Check current price on Amazon
#2. Delta 23-198 Variable Speed Benchgrinder
The second one is the Delta 23-198.
This model is fully capable of supporting variable speeds, easily moving from 2000 to 3400 rpm.
It comes with the variable speed feature which is designed to allow users to do a wide variety of tasks including grinding, polishing, buffing, and sharpening.
The Delta 23-198 has slow variable speed capability for specific tasks that require particular specifications.
What users found useful is its tool rests, a platform for sharpening drill bits.
The manufacturers paid special attention to the design of this product and made it of solid cast iron which both improves durability and minimizes vibrations.
Small additional features are a water cup for cooling the material.
All in all, we can say that if you get it, you will not be disappointed with this product.
Check current price on Amazon
#3. WEN 4276 Bench Grinder
The third position is usually given to the tool which is the best value for money, and in case of variable speed bench grinders we advise you go for the WEN 4276.
This is the grinder which boasts of a 2.1-amp motor and operates a speed of 3450 rpm.
The users appreciate the fact that it operates very quietly and smoothly making working with it more pleasant.
The WEN 4276 has compact and sturdy design and despite being rather lightweight the tool does not vibrate too much.
Furthermore, this model has smartly integrated a flexible work lamp allowing user to work even in dark conditions.
Check current price on Amazon
#4. Craftsman 9-21154 Bench Grinder with Variable Speed
The Craftsman 9-21154 cannot be considered one of the best grinders on the market, but it is also not the worst.
There are numerous advantages and disadvantages of this model.
Let’s start with positive sides.
The product boasts of a sturdy design and has a water cooling tray.
It is excellent when used to sharpen tools.
This model is powered by a 1/5 horsepower motor, fully capable of supporting variable speeds, varying from 2000 to 3400 rpm and usable when grinding applications are in question.
What you get with this unit is a work light, large spark guards and a wheel dressing tool.
The Craftsman 9-21154 is fairly safe to use due to the great number of safety features such as durable spark guards, wide clear eye shields and oversized cast iron base.
Check current price on Amazon
Top 5: Best Variable Speed Bench Grinder 2022 [Tested & Reviewed]
#5. Porter-Cable PCB525BG Bench-Grinding Machine
It can be said that we expected more from Porter Cable, but it did not deserve better position.
The Porter-Cable PCB525BG is the worst bench grinder due to the fact that it does not offer the performance as advertised.
There are a few positive features such as the fact that it is powered by a 5.0 Amp motor and it can support variable speeds, varying from 2000 to 3400 rpm.
These allow users to use it for shaping, grinding, and sharpening.
Additional useful features include a retractable wheel dresser, a work lamp, and a removable quench water tray.
The reasons why this is not the perfect bench grinder are that there is no means of locking the shift when changing wheels and there is not a notch to hold the wheel into position with a screwdriver.
Check current price on Amazon
Variable Speed Bench Grinders: The Ultimate Buying Guide
Being that there are many different models of variable speed bench grinders available for purchase on the market, the decision which one to buy can be troublesome, especially if you are not experienced with this tools.
You should know that, just as with any other power tool, not all grinders have equal quality and it is crucial to do a little research before choosing a variable speed bench grinder.
Here are some of the important factors you should consider before buying it.
How powerful should it be?
In the case of grinders, the power is very important.
This means that the more horsepower your grinder has, the more capable it is of managing tougher jobs for an extended period of time.
Additionally, users claim that those models with higher horsepower are more durable than other models.
There are models that have a quarter or half horsepower motor and are also capable of performing simple, small jobs.
So, how powerful motor you should get has to do with your requirements and needs and it is important to understand them before you select a grinder.
Do not get too powerful motor is the work you intend to do with your tool does not require it.
You should also pay attention to the motor speed and the revolutions per minute produced by the motor.
What type of wheel should it have?
Experienced users are familiar with this, but inexperienced might not know that different projects require different types of wheels.
So as to be able to select the particular variable speed bench grinder model for yourself, you need to be sure that it is compatible with the types of wheels required for the projects you wish to complete.
A bench grinder without the right wheels is a useless tool.
The good bench grinder is compatible with the common accessories such as wire brush, coarse, fine grit, and buffing wheels.
What about safety features?
The safety features that the tool has are of the greatest importance for every worker.
The grinder should feature a spark guard that can provide you with protection against the sparks produced when the grinder touches metal or other materials and a guard that covers the grinders on the tool, protecting your hands from the spinning grinder.
If you have enough money, you can even get a variable speed bench grinders with additional safety attachments such as built-in safety features.
Should it have anti-vibration features?
Many users wonder whether the grinder should have anti-vibration features and why are anti-vibration features necessary.
Anti-vibration features are designed to keep your hands stable while you work, as well as to ensure that the grinder is smooth and stable.
That way user can use the tool comfortably for hours without feeling tired in the end.
The high-quality grinders are designed with solid cast iron which minimizes vibrations and keeps the grinder stable.
What are the additional things to have in mind?
So as to be more attractive to buyers, manufacturers make variable speed bench grinders with a variety of feature, which are either useful or not
Some models we reviewed had built-in adjustable work lamp so that users can work in dark conditions.
Other models have a water cooling tray against overheating, a retractable wheel dresser, mounting holes, tool trays, and anti-vibration features.
All these improve the functionality and comfortability of the unit.
The warranty period.
A warranty is something which proves the quality of tool.
Actually, if the manufacturer of a particular product has faith in it, it will provide longer warranty period.
You should have in mind that a good bench grinder warranty will not only cover the motor and the grinder itself, it will also cover all built-in parts.
Now that you have taken a look at our top 5 variable speed bench grinder reviews, you might have the idea which one you will get.
The models on the list range from cheap to more affordable alternatives to fit every budget.
We started with the best model – the Shop Fox W1840.
Its sleek design and a ¾ HP motor combined with the easy usage and additional makes this tool our favorite.
A variable speed bench grinder that provides the best value for money is the WEN 4276, which boasts of a quiet motor and two wheels that have different grits, making it suitable for various different jobs.
Our aim with this guide was to make your search for the perfect variable speed bench grinder a lot easier.
- Top Rated Variable Speed Bench Grinders for 2023
- 5 Best Variable Speed Bench Grinders Reviewed
- 1. Shop Fox W1840 Variable-Speed Bench Grinder
- 2. Delta 23-198 Variable Speed Benchgrinder
- 3. WEN 4276 Bench Grinder
- 4. Craftsman 9-21154 Bench Grinder with Variable Speed
- 5. Porter-Cable PCB525BG Bench-Grinding Machine
- 1. How powerful should it be?
- 2. What type of wheel should it have?
- 3. What about safety features?
- 4. Should it have anti-vibration features?
- 5. What are the additional things to have in mind?
- 6. The warranty period.
I hope you liked my article about Variable Speed Bench Grinders. if so, please share or comment.
The 10 Best Bench Grinders of 2023
Michelle Ullman is a home decor expert and product reviewer for home and garden products. She has been writing about home decor for over 10 years for publications like BobVila.com and Better Homes Gardens, among others.
Johnathan C. Brewer II is a licensed general contractor specializing in kitchen, bath remodels, and general construction with two decades of professional experience.
Emily Estep is a plant biologist and journalist who has worked for a variety of online news and media outlets, writing about and editing topics including environmental science and houseplants.
If you work with metal, including auto repair, owning a bench grinder—which smooths and shapes rough edges, polishes and sharpens metal, and removes rust, paint, and other finishes—may be worth your while.
Deane Biermeier, a licensed carpenter and contractor, as well as a member of The Spruce’s Home Improvement Review Board, says, “Bench grinders are surprisingly versatile tools. Once you own one, you’ll wonder how you made it this far without it. However, most DIYers don’t need to spend a fortune on a bench grinder for it to be useful. Unless you depend on the tool to make a living, most homeowners won’t require one that’s larger than 1/2 to 3/4 horsepower. The secret that makes bench grinders so useful is the numerous and varied types of wheels and attachments available.”
We evaluated bench grinders based on power, versatility, reliability, construction quality, and overall performance.
DeWALT DW756 6-Inch Bench Grinder
The reasonable price and superior construction make this tool our best overall pick. The DeWALT DW756 6-Inch Bench Grinder is a great option for amateur handypeople as well as tradespeople who need a machine that can do some heavy lifting. Available in the classic DeWALT yellow, this grinder will look great on just about anyone’s tool bench. It has pre-drilled holes, so you can easily mount it to your bench to reduce vibrations. Use this versatile bench grinder to smooth down metal edges, sharpen lawnmower blades, grind away rust or grime from auto parts, sharpen knives and chisels, or even smooth or buff wood.
The DeWALT DW756 grinder is easy to use and reasonably quiet. This 15-inch long machine sports a 5/8-horsepower motor, which is quite a bit in this small body. It can run up to 3,450 rpm for high-speed needs. The motor housing and base are made of industrial cast iron, while the tool rests are aluminum. There’s 12.5 inches between the wheels for a less-cluttered feel, and the wheels have exhaust ports in the rear of their guards to prevent overheating. This grinder comes with eye shields, spark deflectors, and 36- and 60-grit grinding wheels. The whole thing weighs just over 28 pounds and includes a three-year warranty.
Price at time of publish: 100
Wheel Size: 6 inch | Power: ⅝ horsepower | Max. RPMs: 3,450 | Included Wheels: 36-grit, 60-grit | Worklight: No
WEN 4276 6-Inch Bench Grinder
Popular, simple, and inexpensive, the WEN 4276 6-Inch Bench Grinder is a great value pick. The WEN grinder is an ideal high-speed option for anyone who is looking for a quiet and compact bench grinder than can get the work done. It sports a 2.1 amp motor for a maximum speed of 3,450 rpm. It can fit grinding wheels that are 6 inches in diameter and 3/4 inch wide. It has extra-large eye shield and major wheel guards for added safety and worry-free use.
The WEN 4276 comes with both a 60-grit and 36-grit grinding wheel for general purpose and faster grinding, but it can be outfitted with a variety of wheels. It also sports a flexible worklight for convenient and precision work at any time. The machine is easy to mount with a wide and sturdy base, and WEN sells an optional cast iron stand for non-bench usage. This is a great choice for anyone who just needs a bench grinder occasionally for simple tasks like sharpening knives and tools, smoothing rough edges on metal or wood, or cleaning away rust or paint from metal items.
Price at time of publish: 75
Wheel Size: 6 inch | Power: 2.1 amp | Max. RPMs: 3,450 | Included Wheels: 36-grit, 60-grit | Worklight: Yes
Best for Sharpening Blades
WEN BG4270T 10-Inch Wet/Dry Sharpening System
Keep knives, axes, chisels, woodcarving tools, scissors, screwdrivers, and any other object that needs to have a clean and sharp edge in perfect condition with this highly effective sharpening system from WEN. The tool has a 10-inch, 220-grit wet sharpening stone on one side and an 8-inch by 1 1/8-inch leather stropping wheel on the other. The 1.6-amp motor keeps things spinning at a maximum of 115 rpm, which is speedy enough to get the job done with good control. You can reverse the direction of the spin with a flick of the switch as well, which can make various sharpening tasks easier.
The sharpening system comes with an angle guide, honing compound, water reservoir, and jig for sharpening chisels and planer blades. It has a handle for transport, or it can be mounted to your benchtop. You can also use the sharpening system with many other accessories from WEN, including their sharpening kit.
Price at time of publish: 141
Wheel Size: 10 inch | Power: 1.6 amps | Max. RPMs: 115 | Included Wheels: 220-grit, leather | Worklight: No
Jet 578008 8-Inch Industrial Bench Grinder
The Jet 578008 8-Inch Industrial Bench Grinder offers one full horsepower for your grinding needs; that’s a lot of power. This grinder sports a heavy-duty motor and is CSA and CUS certified. It is ideal for small business owners, contractors, construction use, and tradesmen keeping their tools in sharp shape, as well as those who do auto repair or other metalwork. While more than what the average DIYer requires, this is worth a look if you need a bench grinder for heavy-duty tasks.
This 44-pound electric bench grinder functions at 3,600 rpm for real speed. It is set up with 115-volt, 11-amp, 60-hertz service but comes with a guide for rewiring for 5.5-amp 230-volt use. This machine is powerful enough for professional needs and durable enough for a professional setting, with full wheel dressings, a single dust chute, large sealed bearings, and adjustable safety shields. It also has a toggle switch safety key for added protection. This 8-inch grinder comes with one fine and one coarse grinding wheel.
Price at time of publish: 469
Wheel Size: 8 inch | Power: 1 horsepower | Max. RPMs: 3,600 | Included Wheels: 36-grit, 60-grit | Worklight: No
Best Combo Tool
Bucktool Combo Belt Sander/Bench Grinder
Combine a bench grinder and a belt sander, and you get this versatile tool from Bucktool Combo. It has a 1/3-horsepower motor, which gives it plenty of muscle for typical grinding/sanding tasks, such as sharpening blades, smoothing out metal or wood, or buffing away rust or paint. With a 6-inch, 60-grit grinding wheel on one side and a 2-inch by 42-inch sanding belt that can be used in either a vertical or horizontal position on the other, this is a great two-in-one addition to your workshop. There are a LED light and an eye guard over the grinding wheel, which spins at 3,450 rpm. The sanding belt has a top speed of 4,480 feet-per-minute and comes with two small work platforms: one cast iron for working with metal, and one aluminum for working on wood.
The base of the tool is cast iron with rubber feet to help reduce vibrations. All in all, while not a tool for a professional, if you’re in the market for essential tools for DIY jobs, this is a worthwhile investment.
Price at time of publish: 276
Wheel Size: 6 inch | Power: 1/3 horsepower | Max. RPMs: 3,450 | Included Wheels: 60-grit wheel, sanding belt | Worklight: Yes
Best for Crafters
Central Machinery 3-Inch Bench Grinder with Flex Shaft
Some people, especially crafters, need a bench grinder not to tackle large tools or pieces of metal, but to polish, grind, or clean small items, such as metal jewelry, trim, or small hand tools. For those users, the Central Machinery 3-Inch Bench Grinder with Flex Shaft fits the bill.
This mini bench grinder has a 31-inch flexible shaft that accepts a variety of attachments—including most Dremel attachments—for use in grinding, polishing, deburring, cleaning, and sanding metal, including nuts and bolts, small automotive parts, jewelry, knives, small gardening tools, and other detailed metalwork.
Although small, this bench grinder has a reasonable amount of power, and variable speed control up to a whopping 10,000 rpm. It includes a 3-inch grinder stone and a 1/8-inch shaft-mount grinder stone. It’s a great addition to any crafter’s or metalworker’s workshop.
Price at time of publish: 64
Wheel Size: 3 inch | Power: 1.3 amps | Max. RPMs: 10,000 | Included Wheels: Grinding wheel, flex shaft with grinding stone | Worklight: No
Powertec BF600 6-Inch Bench Buffer
If your hobby, job, or household tasks require you to do a lot of buffing or polishing of metal, then adding the Powertec BF600 6-Inch Bench Buffer to your workshop will make your life easier. This powerful tool isn’t for grinding down metal, but rather for smoothing, polishing, or buffing various materials, including aluminum and chrome and also plastics or even wood. You can use it to polish silver or copper, get jewelry sparkling, buff up serving pieces, or sharpen blades, just for a start. It has a 1/2-horsepower motor that keeps the two 6-inch wheels spinning at 3,450 rpm. The cast iron base keeps the tool steady, so excessive vibration won’t be a problem.
The tool includes two 6-inch cotton buffing wheels, one soft and one firm. While not as powerful as some other grinders, it definitely has enough oomph to quickly polish or buff away grunge, rust, and other undesirable coatings to bring back the shine and sparkle to your metal, plastic, or wooden items. It’s reasonably quiet, as well.
Price at time of publish: 89
Wheel Size: 6 inch | Power: 1.5 HP | Max. RPMs: 3,450 | Included Wheels: soft and firm buffing wheels | Worklight: No
Best for DIYers
Skil BI9502-00 8-Inch Benchtop Grinder
If you are a DIY metalworker, or just like to sharpen your own blades and keep your tools in good condition, then you’ll appreciate the Skil BI9502-00 8-Inch Benchtop Grinder. It can handle just about any typical DIY task, including smoothing down welds and rivets, removing rust from gardening tools, sharpening your knives, or bringing a chisel back to life. The tool has a powerful 3-amp motor with 3,450 rpm. The tool rests are adjustable, so you can position whatever you’re working on just how you need it. The base of the grinder is pre-drilled to make it easy to mount on your workbench; this helps prevent vibrations.
Two 8-inch wheels are included: one coarse and one medium, so you can tackle a wide variety of materials. There’s a built-in work light positioned over each wheel, which makes it easy to see your progress as you work, whether you’re sharpening a blade, polishing metal, or honing a knife. There’s even a built-in water-cooling tray to prevent excess heat and friction.
Price at time of publish: 149
Wheel Size: 8 inch | Power: 3 amps | Max. RPMs: 3,450 | Included Wheels: 36-grit, 60-grit | Worklight: Yes
Best Slow Speed
WEN 4286 8-Inch Slow Speed Bench Grinder
While higher speeds are perfect for grinding and deburring, a bench grinder with a lower speed is best suited to sharpening. So if your main needs are keeping knives, scissors, gardening tools, and other bladed devices honed and ready to cut, the WEN 4286 8-Inch Slow Speed Bench Grinder is a great choice.
The tool has plenty of power, with a whisper-quiet 3-amp motor. Top speed is 1,750 rpm, which gives you much more control than is typically found with faster bench grinders. Eye guards are mounted over each of the 8-inch wheels, but as with any power tool—and especially a tool that creates a lot of fine, flying dust and particles, such as a bench grinder—additional eye protection is mandatory.
This WEN bench grinder includes two 8 x 1-inch wheels: one fine 120-grit for detail work, and one medium 60-grit for general buffing, sanding, and polishing.
Price at time of publish: 142
Wheel Size: 8 inch | Power: 3.0 amps | Max. RPMs: 1,750 | Included Wheels: 120-grit, 60-grit wheel | Worklight: No
Best Variable Speed
Delta Power Tools 23-197 8-Inch Variable Speed Bench Grinder
Most bench grinders have just one maximum speed, but a variable speed bench grinder offers you more control; go with the slow speed for careful sharpening of axes, gardening tools, knives, and other bladed tools, or speed it up to deburr, polish, grind, or clean your various tools or other metal objects.
The Delta Power Tools 23-197 8-Inch Variable Speed Bench Grinder gives you the control you need and the features you want. The 5-amp motor lets you choose variable speeds from 2,000 to 3,400 rpm. The two tool rests are independently adjustable, and the left tool rest has a drill bit rest so you can get the perfect angle every time. There’s even a removable water tray, so you can easily keep whatever metal object you are working on from overheating due to friction. Plus, this bench grinder has an adjustable work light to help you FOCUS on your task.
You get two 8-inch grinding wheels: one 36-grit and one 60-grit, so you can choose the appropriate wheel for your needs.
Price at time of publish: 227
Wheel Size: 8 inch | Power: 5.0 amps | Max. RPMs: 3,400 | Included Wheels: 36-grit, 60-grit wheel | Worklight: Yes
Easy to use, a compact size, and 5/8-HP that provides effective high-speed grinding: that’s why the DeWALT DW756 6-Inch Bench Grinder wins our top spot for a tool suited to both the beginner or more experienced DIYer. But if you need professional-level power, you’ll appreciate the full 1-HP provided by the Jet 578008, which is durable and versatile enough for use in a commercial shop or at home.
What to Look for in a Bench Grinder
There are two common sizes of bench grinders: 6-inch and 8-inch. That number refers to the size of the grinding wheel. You’ll also find smaller bench grinders—3 inches is fairly common—that are used primarily for crafts or other detailed work.
For the average DIYer, a 6-inch bench grinder is the right choice. These tools typically spin the grinding wheels at a set speed of anywhere from 3,400 to 3,600 revolutions per minute, and they are excellent for sharpening knives and tools, grinding away rust, paint, or grime, sanding metal and wood, and other light-to-moderate repairs around the house or garage.
Eight-inch bench grinders are standard in automotive, woodworking, or metalworking shops, but some DIYers like them for home use, as well, particularly if they do a lot of work with metal. The wheels typically spin more slowly on these larger grinders—around 1,500 to 2,000 is a common range. Some have both a high and a low speed setting, so you can choose the one that best suits your needs—slower for more control, faster when you don’t need as much finesse.
Most bench grinders come with two installed wheels, and usually, those wheels will have different grits and be different types. Commonly, one wheel will have a grit size between 80 and 120 for handling light grinding tasks, and the other will be either a medium grit of 30 to 60 or a coarse grit of 20 to 24 for more aggressive work.
The most common wheel materials are:
- Silicon carbide: This common material is suitable for most grinding and sharpening tasks, but tends to heat up very quickly.
- Aluminum oxide: Another common material that’s especially suited to sharpening and grinding hard metals. Aluminum oxide doesn’t heat up as quickly as silicon carbide.
- Ceramic aluminum oxide: Excellent for a wide range of metals, ceramic aluminum oxide is long lasting, self-sharpening and not prone to overheating.
- Wire: These wheels are covered in steel or brass wire filaments. They’re used mostly for automotive repairs and bodywork, but if you do a lot of work with metal, this might be a useful choice.
- Buffing: These heavy cloth wheels are perfect for polishing, buffing, or shining up a wide variety of metals.
You’ll find that some manufacturers state the power of their bench grinders in amps, while others use horsepower. As a general rule, 6-inch grinders have motors with around 2.1 amps of power—that’s around 1/4-horsepower. Most 8-inch grinders have around 5 amps of power, which is roughly 3/4 horsepower.
The most powerful bench grinders boast 1-horsepower motors, but these are generally used in industrial or professional settings, not for typical DIY projects.
Top 5 Best Bench Grinders Reviews of 2023
While not a must-have tool for every DIYer, a bench grinder is more versatile than you might think. Along with its major use of grinding down metal, you can also use a bench grinder to sharpen tools, buff or polish metal, remove hardened dirt or other grunge from tools, cut metal or wood, remove rust, smooth and shape the edges of wood or metal, and even work on crafts such as jewelry-making, model-building, or reviving rusted metal items.
Just about every bench grinder has two wheels, which serves to increase the versatility of the tool. Typically, bench grinders come with one sanding/grinding wheel with a light-to-medium grit for light sanding tasks and one sanding/grinding wheel with a medium-to-coarse grit for tougher grinding situations. But there are many wheels available for these tools, some quite specialized. You can swap out one or both of the wheels for a finer or coarser grit, a wire wheel for shaping or cleaning metal, a buffing wheel for polishing, a cutting wheel for wood or metal, specialized wheels for grinding or cutting stone, or even a specialized wheel for cutting gemstones.
While grinding, shaping, and buffing metal are the primary uses of a bench grinder, you absolutely can use these tools on wood, as well. With the right wheel, your bench grinder can sand, cut, shape, buff, smooth, or polish a wide variety of woods. Typically, however, you won’t want to use a bench grinder for very soft woods; these tools are best used on hard materials.
Yes. Most bench grinders come with multiple wheels that correspond to different tasks. Take time to consider the task at hand, and select the correct wheel for the job.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article is edited and updated by Michelle Ullman, the tool expert for The Spruce. She has extensive experience not only in writing about all things related to the home, but also in carrying out various DIY projects, including landscaping, painting, flooring, wallpapering, furniture makeovers, and simple repairs. For this roundup, she considered dozens of bench grinders, evaluating each for basic features, extras, and customer feedback. Deane Biermeier, a licensed carpenter and contractor as well as a member of The Spruce’s Home Improvement Review Board, provided further information.
Any of these top-notch bench grinders can help DIYers sharpen blades and hone knives, axe heads, and chisels quickly and easily.
By Glenda Taylor | Updated Feb 16, 2023 1:28 PM
We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs.
Many household and DIY projects require bladed tools or machines, whether it’s mowing the lawn or chiseling some wood. At some point, DIYers need to sharpen those blades or remove rust and corrosion from a steel tool. That’s where a bench grinder shines.
Unlike a stand-alone pedestal grinder, a bench grinder is typically mounted on a sturdy workbench and can tackle these tasks quicker and easier than an old-fashioned whetstone and lots of manual labor. Heavy-duty bench or table grinders typically feature two grinding wheels, often with different grits, to sharpen blades quickly and remove rust. On many grinders, the wheels can be swapped out for either metal brush wheels (a boon when cleaning metal connectors and spark plugs) or for buffing wheels, which are designed for putting a fine shine on metal or plastic surfaces.
Bench grinders are straightforward power tools, and all operate much the same way. The best bench grinders are high quality, easy to use, and protect eyes from sparks and fine metal shards while working (users should always still wear eye protection, though). The following bench grinders would be a good addition to any workshop.
- BEST OVERALL:DeWALT DW758 8-Inch Bench Grinder
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK:Wen BG4260 2.1-Amp 6-Inch Bench Grinder
- UPGRADE PICK:Jet IBG-8 8-Inch Industrial Bench Grinder
- BEST FOR BEGINNERS:DeWALT DW756 6-Inch Bench Grinder
- BEST FOR DIYERS:Wen BG625V 6-Inch Variable Speed Bench Grinder
- BEST FOR MECHANICS:Jet JBG-8B 8-Inch Shop Bench Grinder
- BEST FOR LANDSCAPERS:Sunex Tools 5002A 8-Inch Bench Grinder With Light
- BEST VARIABLE-SPEED:Delta 6-Inch Variable Speed Bench Grinder
- BEST FOR SHARPENING:Rikon 80-805 8-Inch Low-Speed Bench Grinder
- BEST WITH WIRE WHEEL:Jet JBG-6W 6-Inch Shop Grinder With Wire Wheel
- ALSO CONSIDER:Wen BG4282 4.8-Amp 8-Inch Single Speed Bench Grinder
How We Chose the Best Bench Grinders
A solid bench grinder can be the cornerstone (pun not intended) of a workshop. When we set out to curate a list of the top models, we wanted to ensure that the bench grinders we suggested were up to the job. We had to call upon all of our experience as DIYers and professionals to come up with the most important factors to consider when choosing a bench grinder.
Once we knew what to look for when shopping for one of these grinders, we performed extensive research to round up models that might meet our criteria. Then, we compared each model’s size, ability, materials, and value to ensure that they were worthy. Some products didn’t make the cut, but those that did were given awards based on their strengths.
Our Top Picks
The best bench grinder runs smoothly, has adjustable tool rests to get just the right angle, and is safe to operate. The following options are great for DIYers and pros alike, and all include adjustable eye guards, tool rests, and spark arrestors.
DeWALT DW758 8-Inch Bench Grinder
This durable DeWALT bench grinder comes with 8-inch diameter grinding wheels so users can sharpen a lot of blades before needing to replace a wheel. The DeWALT DW758 comes with standard items like clear eye shields over both wheels to protect users’ eyes without obstructing their view.
The DW758 features adjustable, heavy-duty aluminum tool rests to allow users to position the item they’re sharpening at an optimal angle. The base, however, is cast iron, providing durability and stability while working with this model. The grinder wheels rotate at 3,600 revolutions per minute (rpm) for quick shaping of metal blades. However, there aren’t any bells and whistles like work lights or variable speeds.
- Large 8–inch wheels provide heavy-duty sharpening for an extended period before replacement is necessary
- Durable cast-aluminum tool rests are stable, allowing for a consistent base and adjustability
- Cast-iron base is heavy and durable, providing long-lasting stability while grinding
Get the DeWALT DW758 bench grinder at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Acme Tools.
Wen BG4260 2.1-Amp 6-Inch Bench Grinder
The Wen BG4260 6-inch bench grinder’s affordable price point means users can sharpen a lot of blades without spending a lot of money. Shoppers can save money on the grinder as well as when sharpening blades instead of replacing them.
The Wen grinder comes with both 36-grit and 60-grit grinding wheels that spin at 3,450 rpm. The 36-grit wheel is best for reshaping edges, while the 60-grit wheel hones them. It features see-through eye shields to protect the user’s eyes while grinding, and they easily adjust for grinding larger items. Also, each wheel comes with adjustable tool rests to help steady the tool the user is grinding or sharpening—key to consistent results. Unfortunately, there isn’t any information about the motor’s horsepower rating available, and this basic model doesn’t have any bells and whistles to brag about.
- Affordable price point; allows users to save money on both the grinder and on sharpening blades
- Low price compared to other models; includes eye protection shields and adjustable tool rests
- Includes 2 grinding wheel grits: The 35 grit reshapes blades and the 60 grit hones edges
Get the Wen BG4260 bench grinder at Amazon, The Home Depot, Lowe’s, or Wen.
Jet IBG-8 8-Inch Industrial Bench Grinder
Folks who might have a bit more money to spend and prefer a top-tier product will want to check out the Jet IBG-8 industrial bench grinder. This model features a heavy-duty 1-horsepower motor that allows users to grind tough materials like stainless steel continuously and repetitively. The motor produces 3,600 rpm, providing a general-use speed from a single-speed tool.
This model features all cast-iron construction, allowing it to be durable and long lasting as well as stable during grinding. There is a rear-mounted dust port that users can connect to a dust-collection system or shop vac to reduce messes. It also has the basics, including adjustable tool rests, adjustable eye protection shields, a 36-grit wheel, and a 60-grit wheel. The only real complaint worth registering is that this model does not include variable speeds, as 3,600 rpm may be a little too fast for delicate sharpening.
- The 8-inch wheels and 1-horsepower motor allow users to grind through tough material continuously
- Cast-iron construction makes it durable and stable during grinding
- Rear-mounted dust ports can connect grinder to a dust-collection system, minimizing messes
- Unlike other bench grinders, this model doesn’t offer any variable speeds
- 3,600 rpm is too much for some uses, like sharpening knives, chisels, and planes
Get the Jet IBG-8 bench grinder at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Ace Tool.
DeWALT DW756 6-Inch Bench Grinder
The DeWALT DW756 might be the top option for those new to the grinding or DIY world. Not only is this bench grinder affordable, but it also has almost everything a new craftsperson would need, including cast-iron construction for long-term durability and two stone grits: 36 and 60.
This model features a ⅝-horsepower motor that spins its 6-inch wheels at 3,450 rpm. Because the tool has a single speed, new users can FOCUS on what they’re doing and not the grinder’s setting. The tool rests are precision machined from aluminum so they’ll stay flat and stable over time, but users can adjust angles whenever needed. The flip-down eye shield is also a benefit to new users, as they can get used to working on their grinder knowing they have an additional barrier between the workpiece and their safety glasses. However, without a built-in work light, users may opt to purchase an additional shop light for their grinders.
- Durable, long-lasting cast-iron construction; the only grinder a beginner will need for a while
- Single-speed design allows users to FOCUS on their work and not the grinder’s settings
- Flip-down eye shield is an extra protective barrier between the workpiece and user’s safety glasses
Get the DeWALT DW756 bench grinder at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Tractor Supply Co.
Wen BG625V 6-Inch Variable Speed Bench Grinder
DIYers have needs. They like features but bemoan over-the-top prices, and Wen’s BG625V bench grinder will please them on both fronts. It offers features like adjustable speeds and tool position as well as onboard illumination for a quality finished result.
This model’s motor spins at speeds between 2,000 and 3,400 rpm, allowing DIYers to adjust it according to the range of projects they might tackle. It also has the basics, like flip-down eye protection and adjustable tool rests, but the tool rests also feature grooved tool holders for high-quality results (helped along by the onboard lighting). The two wheels that come with this model are 36 grit and 80 grit, the latter of which is finer than most grinders come with, making it more suitable for very sharp tools. The one area where it falls short is that there isn’t any information available about the motor’s horsepower, so its 2.5-amp variable motor may not be suitable for heavy-duty work.
- Adjustable speeds allow DIYers to tweak the speed base by project
- Tool rest features a grooved design that holds workpiece securely for repeatable results
- 80-grit wheel is finer than that of most other bench grinders; more suitable for very sharp tools
Get the Wen BG625V bench grinder at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Wen.
Jet JBG-8B 8-Inch Shop Bench Grinder
Whether it’s for cleaning up a fitting before welding or carefully reducing the length of a bolt, Jet’s JBG-8B bench grinder will be at home in a mechanic’s shop. This model features a ½-horsepower motor that spins at 3,450 rpm. It can grind heavy-duty metal brackets or tabs but also clean up the end of an exhaust pipe, if necessary.
This model comes with two grinding wheels, including a 36-grit wheel for heavy grinding and a 60-grit wheel for fine-tuning. It also features heavy-duty cast-iron construction, allowing it to withstand the rigors of a mechanic’s shop. And, while it can be bolted down if necessary, it also features rubber mounts underneath that keep it from slipping if the user prefers to take it on and off the bench. If we could change one thing, we would have preferred that it come with a wire wheel for cleaning up threads on hard-to-replace hardware, but the user can purchase one on their own.
- ½-horsepower motor can tackle both heavy- and light-duty projects
- Heavy-duty cast-iron construction can withstand the rigors of a mechanic’s shop
- Rubber feet feature means users don’t have to bolt it to their work table
Get the Jet JBG-8B bench grinder at Amazon or Acme Tools.
Sunex Tools 5002A 8-Inch Bench Grinder With Light
For sharpening a garden shed full of those tools that keep a landscape looking its best, including snippers, clippers, saws, and axes of all sizes, check out the 5002A 8-inch bench grinder from Sunex Tools. This bench grinder has a ¾-horsepower motor that spins at 3,450 rpm, giving it a solid all-purpose grinding speed (ideal for a variety of landscaping blades). The simple design and 8-inch wheels make bringing shovels, lawn mower blades, and axes back to tip-top shape a breeze.
This grinder comes with two eye shields and adjustable tool rests to achieve the proper angle on metal tools and blades. It comes with two sanding wheels: 36 grit and 60 grit. The 36-grit wheel is best for reshaping blades that have taken a beating, while the 60-grit wheel is best for bringing back that sharp edge. The biggest downside is that the tool rests are stamped and not forged, cast, or laser cut like many others at this price point.
- 8-inch wheels and simple design make sharpening large lawn and garden tools straightforward
- The tool rests are adjustable and feature grooves to hold tools in place accurately
- ¾-horsepower motor can handle heavy-duty grinding; all-purpose speed works for most garden tools
Get the Sunex Tools bench grinder at Amazon or The Home Depot.
Delta 6-Inch Variable Speed Bench Grinder
Different metals require adjustable speeds for the best grinding results, and Delta’s 6-inch variable-speed bench grinder might be the tool for the job. It has a dial on the front that allows users to adjust the motor’s speed between 2,000 and 3,400 rpm, allowing them to dial in the correct speed for the project.
This Delta bench grinder comes with two 6-inch grinding wheels, with both a 36-grit and a 60-grit wheel included. It includes eye shields for safety and adjustable tool rests for support. The tool rests feature grooves as well, allowing users to get the exact angle on their blades, chisels, or other tools while protecting their eyesight. It even features a coolant tray that users can drop hot fasteners in for quick cooling. There isn’t any information available about the motor’s horsepower, however.
- Size: 6 inches
- Speed: Variable, between 2,000 and 3,400 rpm
- Horsepower: Unspecified
- Lets user dial in the correct speed for their project
- Grooved tool rests let user hold tool in the same position for consistent sharpening
- Built-in cooling tray allows users to drop small blades, fasteners, or other items quickly
Get the Delta bench grinder at The Home Depot, Lowe’s, or Acme Tools.
Rikon 80-805 8-Inch Low-Speed Bench Grinder
Folks looking for a bench grinder built specifically for sharpening will want to consider the 80-805 model from Rikon. This low or slow-speed bench grinder features a ½-horsepower motor that spins at 1,750 rpm, helping avoid overheating blades like knives and chisels during sharpening.
The 8-inch wheel grinder comes with two wheels with higher-than-typical grits: 60 and 120, both of which are made from white aluminum oxide. This combination allows for a finer approach to sharpening, with the 60 grit reshaping the blade and the 120 grit wheel honing a sharp edge. This model features a heavy-duty cast-iron base as well as rubber nonslip feet. The result is reduced vibration for safer, more controlled sharpening. Just keep in mind that this grinder is designed for sharpening knives, chisels, and similar tools, not necessarily heavy-duty work like lawn-mower blades and badly damaged axes.
- Runs at lower speeds to prevent overheating knives, chisels, and other similar tools
- Aluminum-oxide wheels sharpen in 60 and 120 grits; rougher grits usually leave duller edges
- Sturdy base and rubber feet reduce vibration and movement, making sharpening safer and more accurate
- Designed to sharpen knives and chisels; not meant for heavy-duty sharpening such as for lawn-mower blades
Get the Rikon bench grinder at Amazon, Acme Tools, or Rockler.
Jet JBG-6W 6-Inch Shop Grinder With Wire Wheel
One of the best uses for a bench grinder is using it with a wire wheel. This combo makes cleaning up dirt, corrosion, and other undesirable substances from hardware and parts a breeze, and that’s what the Jet JBG-6W shop grinder offers. This bench grinder uses 6-inch wheels and comes with a 36-grit grinding wheel on one side and a wire wheel on the other, allowing users to take advantage of the quick scouring that this tool is capable of.
This model has a ½-horsepower motor that spins at 3,450 rpm. It features cast-iron construction and a predrilled base for stability and permanently mounting it to the shop bench. If the shop has a dust-collection system, each wheel’s cast-iron guard has a dust port in the back to keep messes to a minimum. It’s important to note, however, that for really effective sharpening, users will want to purchase a 60-grit wheel to swap with the wire brush as this model does not come with one.
- Wire brush lets users clean dirty, corroded parts and hardware; much easier than manual cleaning
- Comes with a 36-grit wheel that can reshape blades, removing gouges and chips from edges
- Cast-iron construction, including the wheel guards, which also have built-in dust collection ports
Get the Jet JBG-6W bench grinder at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Northern Tool Equipment.
Wen BG4282 4.8-Amp 8-Inch Single Speed Bench Grinder
Folks who like built-in features might want to consider Wen’s BG4282 bench grinder. This 8-inch grinder features a motor that produces 3,450 rpm of grinding speed and includes a 36-grit wheel and a 60-grit wheel for sharpening and honing a sharp edge. Also, it’s relatively affordable, allowing users to get a large, capable 8-inch grinder without breaking the bank.
The Wen BG4282 bench grinder has some tricks up its sleeve, too. There are two LED work lights built in, each hiding under the flip-down eye guards, providing plenty of light on either side of the unit without repositioning a standard work light. It also has a cooling tray built-in below the power button for cooling freshly ground items off as they come from the grinder. As with all Wen bench grinders, however, there isn’t any information about how powerful the motor is.
- Affordable price point for an 8-inch bench grinder with Smart features
- Eye guards have built-in LED work lights that let users illuminate their workpiece
- Built-in cooling tray prevents overheating or warping of items after grinding
Get the Wen BG4282 bench grinder at Amazon, The Home Depot, Lowe’s, or Wen.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Bench Grinder
Shoppers won’t find a lot of bells and whistles on the average bench grinder—just two wheels that spin at Rapid speeds. While it’s possible to change a wheel on a bench grinder, it’s not always the most successful task because it can be difficult to get the new wheel balanced, which is a necessity to prevent wobbling. For the best results, it’s usually better to purchase a bench grinder with the desired type of wheels already installed on the tool. The two wheels on a bench grinder usually differ: One may be a coarse grit, while the other might be a fine grit, wire brush, or even a buffing wheel. The best bench grinder will depend on the type of grinding, cleaning, or polishing the user intends to do.
Popular Types of Bench Grinders
Though bench grinders can be beneficial for anyone who wants to sharpen a blade or grind rust away from a steel item, they’re found most often in the workshops of auto mechanics, DIYers, and classical woodworking artisans who use a lot of hand tools.
Automotive workers, including both auto-body workers and mechanics, use bench grinders regularly to remove rust from nuts and bolts as well as to polish steel and chrome engine and body parts to a high sheen. A bench grinder designed for the automotive industry typically features the fastest spinning speeds—up to 3,450 rpm. Being able to clean and polish auto parts on a bench grinder saves an immeasurable amount of time over cleaning and polishing by hand.
Woodworkers and craftspeople depend on sharp hand tools, such as planes and chisels, for creating well-fitting dovetail joints and smoothing out rough wood, but sharpening these metal tools by hand is time-consuming. A bench grinder makes quick work of keeping hand tools sharp, but grinders designed for woodworkers feature slower spin speeds than the ones marketed to automotive workers. The tempered steel in hand tools can be damaged by the high heat that results from fast-spinning grinding wheels, so for anyone looking to sharpen tempered tools, look for a grinder with a slower (1,725 rpm) wheel.
DIYers who dabble in both woodworking and car or auto-body repair typically rely on variable-speed bench grinders. These grinders let them operate the tool at its highest speed when they need to clean car bolts and reduce it when sharpening chisels and other woodworking hand tools. Variable speed grinders typically run 65 to 125 more than their same-brand counterparts that feature single speeds, but choosing a variable-speed grinder is less expensive than purchasing two separate bench grinders to get both high and low speeds.
Standard bench grinders are heavy, weighing up to 50 pounds, and in general, they perform their best when mounted to a workbench to keep them from moving. Those who need to take a grinder with them to different work sites will want to invest in a smaller, lighter-weight model (around 10 pounds) that features rubber feet to keep it from sliding when positioned on a table.
The type of material from which the wheels are made will determine the tool’s best use. Most grinder wheels, except wire and buffer wheels, come in one of two grits: 36 grit for aggressive grinding and 60 grit for finer grinding. In addition, they’re made from the following materials:
- Silicon carbide: This is one of the most common grinding wheels found on bench grinders and is suitable for a range of grinding tasks, including sharpening cast iron and lawn-mower blades. However, consider that this type of grinding wheel tends to heat up very quickly, which can ruin the temper of high-quality woodworking tools such as chisels or hand planes.
- Aluminum oxide: These commonly found wheels do not heat up as quickly as silicon carbide wheels and are designed for grinding hard metals such as carbon steel and alloy steel that are found in hand tools.
- Wire wheels: Made from both steel and brass bristles, wire wheels are designed to clean away grease and gunk quickly from auto valves and fittings. A grinder in a mechanic’s shop will likely have at least one wire wheel.
- Ceramic aluminum oxide: This abrasive wheel is used mainly for grinding away material from hard alloys and steel. If someone wanted to grind off half of an axe head (for some reason), this is the wheel they’d want.
- Buffing wheels: Made from a variety of thick, brushed fabrics, buffing wheels are designed to polish steel and metal items to a high shine. They’re often used by auto-body workers when restoring a car to achieve high sheens on hubcaps and other chrome automobile features.
Wheel Type and Size
Bench grinders are labeled by the size of their wheels, which are commonly either 6 inches or 8 inches in diameter. Both types of grinders perform similarly, with a couple of considerations.
- 6-inch grinder: These smaller bench grinders are often slightly less expensive, ranging from around 65 to 175, depending on the brand and any optional accessories they may feature. They come with a choice of low or high speeds, and they’re suitable for a variety of grinding purposes, such as sharpening knives, blades, and tools. They can weigh anywhere from 10 to 25 pounds or more and can be bolted to a workbench or used as a portable tool.
- 8-inch grinder: Designed with the professional mechanic or woodworker in mind, these larger 8-inch bench grinders often feature more powerful motors, but they usually don’t spin quite as quickly as the smaller 6-inch models. They’re made to stand up to frequent use in a professional workshop and range from around 100 to 500 or more, depending on brand and quality. They range in weight, typically between 20 to 50 pounds, and are usually bolted to a workbench to keep them from moving.
All power tools present a measure of risk—bench grinders included. Grinding iron creates sparks and sends shards of metal flying, so it’s imperative to wear safety glasses when operating a bench grinder. Fortunately, grinders usually include some safety features to help reduce risk—although they don’t eliminate risk completely.
- Eye guards: These are standard on most bench grinders in the form of clear, acrylic shields that extend directly over the grinding wheel as the user works, keeping metal and steel shards from making contact with eyes. Over time, these guards can become dirty or scratched, but when that happens, they can be replaced.
- Spark arrestors: These small steel plates, located between the wheels and the eye guards, are intended to keep sparks from flying all over the workshop. However, there will still be sparks, so it’s not a bad idea to keep flammables a few feet away from a bench grinder while it is in use. But, in general, the spark arrestors will keep the sparks from traveling very far.
Common bench grinder accessories are designed to make it easier to use the tool and include:
- Tool rests on which the user can brace a knife or blade to hold it steady while grinding. This accessory comes standard on almost all bench grinders.
- LED lights that illuminate the work area to better see the task at hand.
- Rubber feet (on portable models) to keep them from sliding across a workbench during operation.
- A water tray near the bottom of the grinder for dipping a chisel, or other metal items, to cool off.
Tips on How to Mount a Bench Grinder
If a DIYer has space on their workbench, they’ll most likely want to mount a new bench grinder to keep it stable while sharpening or smoothing tools and parts. Bench grinders are pretty heavy on their own, but bolting them to a workbench, using the provided holes in their base, is optimal.
- Position the grinder where it will go on the workbench, and then use a pencil to make marks on the workbench in all four base holes.
- Use a drill to drill through the pencil marks.
- Attach the grinder by inserting bolts through its base holes and the holes drilled in the workbench, and then use nuts to secure the bolts firmly in place.
Your grinding needs are not identical to anyone else’s, so the grinder you choose should reflect the type of materials and items you’ll be grinding. Below are some answers to the most frequently asked questions about bench grinders.
Q. What is a good speed for a bench grinder?
A good do-all speed for a bench grinder is between 3,000 and 3,600 rpm. Most models without variable speeds run at around 3,450 rpm for flexibility and general usefulness.
Q. What is the best size bench grinder?
Most pros would agree that the best size for a bench grinder is 8 inches. These models are small enough to move around, the wheels stay relatively cool during use, and the motors are built to withstand a lot of work. However, for a DIYers or part-time user, a 6-inch model will likely be more affordable and just as capable of getting the job done.
Q. Should I get a 6-inch or 8-inch bench grinder?
If you’re a DIYer and a newbie to bench grinders, consider a 6-inch model, which should provide you with ample power to grind, sharpen, and clean a wide array of blades and tools. The larger 8-inch grinders are designed for use by pros.
Q. Do I need a variable-speed bench grinder?
If you need to sharpen woodworking tools, but you also work on cars, a variable-speed grinder will allow you to use the lower speed for sharpening woodworking tools and the higher speed for grinding down bolt ends or cleaning away rust from auto parts.
Q. What is the best grit for sharpening knives on a bench grinder?
A 4,000 to 6,000-grit wheel is best for sharpening knives to a razor-sharp edge.
Why Trust Bob Vila
Bob Vila has been America’s Handyman since 1979. As the host of beloved and groundbreaking TV series including “This Old House” and “Bob Vila’s Home Again,” he popularized and became synonymous with “do-it-yourself” home improvement.
Over the course of his decades-long career, Bob Vila has helped millions of people build, renovate, repair, and live better each day—a tradition that continues today with expert yet accessible home advice. The Bob Vila team distills need-to-know information into project tutorials, maintenance guides, tool 101s, and more. These home and garden experts then thoroughly research, vet, and recommend products that support homeowners, renters, DIYers, and professionals in their to-do lists.
A bench grinder is probably not a tool you’ll use every day. However, if it’s available and set up correctly, you’ll be surprised how often it comes in handy for everything from sharpening tools to rounding over thread ends on a cutoff bolt. We’ve assembled these tips to help you get the most out of your grinder.
Keep a Container of Water Handy
Most chisels and other cutting tools are made of tempered steel. If the steel gets too hot and turns bluish black, it’s overheated and won’t hold an edge very long. To avoid ruining the edge of a tool by overheating, keep water nearby to cool the tool. A good technique is to move the tool once across the bench grinder for no more than a few seconds. Then dip it in the water. If the steel edge does overheat and turns color, grind the edge back to good steel and start over.
Grind Small Objects Safely
Hold small objects with locking pliers. This keeps your fingers a safe distance from the grinding wheel and protects them against burns from the hot metal. It also gives you better control over the grinding process.
Make Tool Sharpening Guides
Here’s a better way to hold tools securely while you’re grinding them—and take the guesswork out of creating the right bevel angle. It’s a short piece of 2×4 with an angled end and a 1-1/4-in. hole for a clamp. I made one for sharpening chisels and plane blades, and a few more with different angles for wood-turning tools. Large labels with the tool’s name tell you which blocks are for which tools. For a Delta grinder with a 6-in.-diameter wheel, a 5-1/2-in.-long piece of 2×4 aligns the tool to the wheel just right. For other bench grinders, you may need to adjust this length. Note: The angle you cut on the block is not the same as the tool’s bevel angle. But let’s skip the math. To determine the block angle, turn off the grinder and hold the tool’s bevel flush against the wheel. The angle of the tool shaft to the workbench is the angle to cut on the 2×4. Our thanks to Ray Caputo for this sharp accessory.
Consider a Low-Speed Grinder for Sharpening
Unless they’re variable speed, most bench grinders run at about 3,450 rpm. If you’re careful and keep the wheel dressed (more on that in another tip), these high-speed grinders work fine. But for sharpening garden and other tools, a low-speed grinder running at 1,750 rpm is a better choice. The lower speed reduces the chance you’ll overheat the edge of your tool. Another advantage of a low-speed grinder (100 to 150) is that this type typically includes friable white grinder wheels, which do a better job of sharpening than the gray grinder wheels usually included with high-speed grinders. See how to use an angle grinder.
Dress Wheels Frequently
Wheel dressing squares the face of the wheel, but more important, it exposes new grit for more efficient cutting. As a wheel is used, the spaces between the cutting grit can become clogged, and the grit itself dulled. A wheel in this condition can cause overheating and slows material removal. A wheel dresser like the one shown here (15 to 30) has a bar with diamond grit impregnated in it. Holding the bar against the spinning wheel cuts away the surface to expose new grit, squares the face of the wheel and rounds the wheel. To use a dressing tool like this, start the bench grinder and wait for it to reach full speed. Then press the diamond wheel dresser against the spinning wheel, holding it perpendicular to the face of the wheel. Be sure to wear a good-quality dust mask. The fine aluminum oxide dust is very bad for your lungs. Draw a pencil line on the wheel before you start to help you gauge when you’ve removed enough material from the wheel. Dress the wheel just until the pencil line disappears.
Watch for the Sparks to Come Over the Top
When you’re sharpening a chisel or other tool, you can tell when the edge is getting sharp by watching the sparks. When the edge is blunt, the sparks are deflected downward. But as the edge gets sharper, the sparks roll over the tool and cascade down the surface facing you. When you see this start to happen, be careful about grinding much more because a thin edge is very vulnerable to overheating.
Make an Angle Gauge
Chisels and other cutting tools work best if their edges are ground at the correct angle. You can search online to find the optimal angle for whatever tool you’re sharpening. Most wood chisels should be ground to about a 25-degree angle with a secondary micro-bevel angle of 30 degrees on the tip of the blade. An angle gauge allows you to set the tool rest at the desired angle. You can make an angle gauge from a thin piece of cardboard using an inexpensive protractor. 1. MARK THE ANGLE ON CARDBOARD Align the center mark on the protractor with the top edge of the cardboard. Then turn the protractor until the desired angle is also aligned with the top edge. Draw a line along the protractor to mark the angle. Don’t forget to label the angle. Cut along the line to create the gauge. 2. ADJUST THE TOOL REST Set the cardboard on the tool rest and adjust the angle of the tool rest until the wheel contacts the center of the angled portion of the cardboard gauge.
Upgrade the Tool Rest
Inexpensive bench grinders have tool rests that are finicky and difficult to adjust. If you do a lot of tool sharpening or simply want a bench grinder tool rest that’s easier to adjust, consider adding a stand-alone tool rest. There are several variations, some made for specific tasks like sharpening lathe turning tools. This Veritas model has two adjustments for positioning and aligning the tool rest, and levers for easy tightening. You can also buy an attachment that holds chisels or plane irons.
Make Your Grinder Portable
Even the most nicely organized home workshops don’t have enough bench space to devote a section to a bench grinder. A good solution is to mount your grinder to a board or small stand so you can clamp it to the bench when you need it, and store on the shelf when you don’t. The compartment on this grinder stand is a good spot to keep your dressing tool and safety glasses so they’re handy when you need them. For a fancier version, build a little drawer to fit the space under the grinder. The stand is built from two 12 x 16-in. pieces of 3/4-in. plywood separated by two 4 x 12-in. uprights. We used two 5/16-in. bolts with washers and nuts to attach the grinder, leaving enough space in front of the grinder to mount a stand-alone tool rest.
Easy-to-Clamp Mobile Base
Shazam! Fasten your bench-top tools to your workbench in seconds. Bolt 3/4-in. plywood bases on the tools and then glue and screw a wood strip along the front edge to fit into a woodworking vise. Crank this strip into a vise to lock the tool into place. If you don’t have a vise, drill a couple of clearance holes along the face of the wood strip on the base and drive screws through the strip into the edge of your workbench. Then just unscrew to remove the tool.
Set Up a Polishing Station
A bench grinder fitted with a wire wheel on one side and a cotton buffing wheel on the other side, or buffing wheels on both sides, makes a great cleaning and polishing tool. You’ll also need a set of polishing compound sticks (14). Polishing compound sticks are color coded to indicate the grit, from coarse to very fine. To use the polishing wheel, hold the stick against the buffing wheel as it spins to transfer some polishing compound to the wheel. Then hold the object lightly against the wheel and let the compound polish the surface.
Sharpen Your Lawn Mower Blade
Sharpening your lawn mower blade is easy with a bench grinder. Grind the tapered cutting edges with a grinder only if you see nicks in the blade. Follow the factory angle of the cutting edge. The grinder will remove nicks in the blade much faster than you can file them.
Not All Grinding Wheels are the Same
You can use two kinds of aluminum-oxide wheels to sharpen your chisels; one is blue-gray and the other white. We used the darker-color wheel, which is harder and will keep its shape longer. The drawback, however, is that it grinds hotter than the softer, white wheel. Too much heat will weaken the steel. The soft wheel will need more frequent shaping with a dressing tool, but you’ll be less likely to burn the edge of your chisel while grinding. For best results, use a 100-grit wheel to shape your chisel blades.
Know When to Replace a Wheel
Slide the wheel over your finger and tap the wheel in four places with a screwdriver handle. All taps should sound the same. If they don’t, scrap the wheel. It’s cracked.