Understanding Grinding Wheels. Wet grinding wheel

Winterizing Water Bath Grinding Stones

Disclaimer: It is important to note that this story focuses on a JET stone grinding wheel. I cannot predict how stone grinding wheels from other manufacturers will respond to the conditions in this story. I used Sierra brand antifreeze for this story because it claims to be “safer” and “less toxic” than traditional antifreeze formulas. Though I looked high and low, I could not find a “totally safe” antifreeze so keep that in mind. The Sierra brand is formulated using propylene glycol rather than the ethylene glycol that was so commonly used before and proved to be both attractive and lethal to people and animals. Regardless of safety claims made on a label, I am taking precautions to keep this stuff separate from people and animals just to be safe and I suggest you do also. This test was done in my garage-based shop in Concord, North Carolina so folks in Alaska and such may want to use a stronger antifreeze mixture if your shop gets much colder than mine does!


Since posting this story I have been re-saturating the same JET stone grinding wheel in the 50% antifreeze mixture to see if it would kill the stone. As of 1-22-2011 nothing about the stone has changed other than it is a shade or two darker. It sharpens fine, is not soft and is not sealed (gummed) up.

The Problem

The super porous nature of stone grinding wheels means that they absorb huge amounts of water. Because so much water is deep within the stone even when the water tank is removed it can take several days for all of the water to drain and evaporate from the interior. The problem is that the stone can freeze all of the way through much faster than it can drain. If moisture within the stone freezes, it expands. When that happens within a stone wheel there is a good chance that it will crack or break entirely. The only option then is a new stone.

Over the years I have been asked repeatedly about using various antifreeze products to protect the stone but have never found a hard and fast answer about how antifreeze might impact the stone itself, its sharpening properties or if it will in fact protect the stone from freeze damage. The advice from manufacturers has always been to remove/empty the water tank and take the whole machine or the stone itself into a heated area. This answer is no big problem for some but a major pain in the behind for others. The cost of energy these days means that keeping a shop warm enough to prevent your stone grinding wheel from freezing could be costly.

The “Test” Shop Environment

I used the Sierra brand antifreeze (left) because it is “safer” for people and animals. However, nothing I could find is totally safe so precautions must always be taken with this stuff! My shop isn’t heated but this 40-something temperature (right) is pretty common even though I was sure it was much colder in there. Check yours! Click images to enlarge

This test was done in my garage-based shop in Concord, North Carolina. The area is 20’ by 24’ with a 7’-tall ceiling. The ceiling is dry walled but only partially insulated as there is nothing but an empty attic space above it. The walls are 2 by 4 construction with 3-1/2”-thick fiberglass insulation and no Windows in the outside walls. The outside wall insulation is covered by ¼”-thick wood particle paneling. This shop space has two overhead garage doors that also have no Windows. The garage doors are insulated steel with wind-stopping strips on the edges.

There is no full-time heating source in the garage. I do have space heaters that I run to bring the in-shop temperature up for working but none of these stay on when I am not in the shop. To stabilize the environment I left all of the heaters off a full day in advance of beginning this test.

Know Your Situation

It is important to know just how cold your shop really gets. I would have sworn that it gets well below freezing in my shop but with a shiny new thermometer standing next to my JET Wet Sharpener and outside temperatures down to 14-degrees (Fahrenheit) the shop temperature barely got below 30-degrees. I have a vent in one of the garage doors and for this review will leave that uncovered with my JET Wet Sharpener (and thermometer) placed directly in front of that opening to be sure that the stone is exposed to freezing temperatures. It will be up to you to determine your shop environment in terms of temperature variations and to use the antifreeze you choose according the directions on the container.

Establishing a Baseline

I began the test by loading my JET stone with plain water, grading the surface for 30 seconds (coarse side of the grader) and sharpening one of my favorite tools spindle gouges. I want to establish a baseline in terms of the stones surface and how it cuts. One of the theories about using antifreeze is that it could lubricate the stones surface and reduce its grinding effectiveness. Following this baseline sharpening with plain water I removed the tank, flushed it out and let the stone air dry for a week before adding the antifreeze mixture.

The Antifreeze Mix

The chart on the Sierra bottle (left) shows the protection offered by different concentrations. I chose 50-50 to be sure I had a good concentration of antifreeze so I could see what it might do to the stone wheel. I just mixed the water and antifreeze in a pitch (right) and saturated the wheel just as with water. Click images to enlarge

A chart on the label of the antifreeze bottle shows the level of cold protection different concentrations of the antifreeze in water will provide. I chose the 50/50 mixture as that lists protection down to 26-degrees-below zero which would be desirable in many parts of the world.

understanding, grinding, wheels, wheel

I also wanted to use a good amount of antifreeze in the solution to better judge whether it might make the grinding surface slick or ineffective. That is part of why some say not to use antifreeze so I need to look at that as part of this test. A good amount of antifreeze in the wheel also lets me see if the stone itself or the binders that hold it together are degraded by antifreeze.

Lubricity Test

After loading the same wheel with the 50/50 antifreeze solution and letting it run for several minutes to be sure it is fully saturated I again graded the surface (coarse side of the stone again) for 30 seconds to be sure we had the same surface as in the initial testing.

I ground the same spindle gouge using all of the same settings established during the pure water part of this test. The feel, sound and apparent sharpening speed felt no different with the antifreeze/water solution than with pure water. I coated the bevel of the gouge with magic marker to be sure I was still grinding the full bevel and it was.

I let the stone run a while longer just to be sure it was fully loaded with the water/antifreeze mix and repeated the sharpening test. Once again there was no discernable difference in the grinding between this antifreeze mix and the original pure water bath.

Out in the Cold

The lowest temperature we saw during the test was 14-degrees (left) measured at the stone wheel. Each day I re saturated the wheel with the water/antifreeze solution and sharpened my spindle gouge. (right) The grinding properties of the wheel never changed enough for me to notice. And the wheel stayed hard with no cracks or degradation I could find. Click images to enlarge

I removed the water tank containing the water/antifreeze mixture from the JET Sharpener and set it next to the machine. I let the stone drain normally in the cold with no fans or other air movement helping evaporation along. I wanted a worst-case scenario so the last thing I did before closing up the shop was to run the wheel in the antifreeze/water solution again to re saturate the stone. Then I again removed the tank and let the stone drain on its own. I placed the sharpener stand next to the vent in the door with the stone as close to the vent as possible. Then I closed down the shop and left the stone to fend for itself overnight. I would learn the next morning that temperatures were in the mid to low 20’s throughout the night and the thermometer set next to the stone showed 24-degrees when I first went into the shop the next morning. Subsequent days would show morning temperatures at the stone wheel as low as 18-degrees.

Each morning during the test the stone looked fine with no cracks or anything else odd-looking about it. It still felt damp to the touch and the surface appeared to be as hard as it ever was. Over the course of this weeklong test the antifreeze/water saturated stone wheel has been exposed to freezing temperatures (nighttime at least) each of the seven nights. In that time I have repeatedly brought the wheel to full saturation with the antifreeze/water mixture, graded its surface and sharpened my chisel with no apparent loss of grinding effectiveness. Also, the stone remains as hard as ever with no signs of degradation detectable.

I repeated the sequence of saturating, grading and then sharpening of the same chisel each day. After sharpening the tank was removed and the wheel allowed to drip/evaporate at its own rate. The JET sharpener was returned to its spot by the garage door each day where the stone wheel was aligned with the vent to maximize the cold to which it would be exposed. During this process there had been no heating in the shop. The highest temperature seen in the shop (from the photo lights mainly) was 38-degrees.

Video Tutor

After a full week of exposure to the 50/50 mixture of Sierra antifreeze and water the JET stone grinding wheel shows no signs of degradation structurally or in its ability to sharpen. If there is a lubricating effect on the wheel it is too minor to detect. Throughout the test it never seemed to take longer to sharpen a tool and the finish on the ground edge is as good as it ever was if not a tick cleaner.

I noticed that after letting the saturated wheel sit for several minutes, the top surface did not feel greasy or overly slick. That suggests that the antifreeze/water solution does in fact sink into the pore structure of the stone rather than accumulating at the surface as some speculated that it would. The stone seems to be just as hard as it was before the test began, it takes grading as it did before and it sharpens tools just as quickly as it does with plain water. In short, nothing has changed with the addition of the antifreeze/water solution.

I must stress that you have to judge your own situation. I have not tested stone wheels other than the JET wheel that came on my JET grinder. I have not done this test in your shop or your state so you have to go into this with your eyes open and pay attention to your climate. In my shop, in my climate, adding the Sierra antifreeze prevented my JET stone grinding wheel from breaking while not reducing its sharpening performance.

Despite the Sierra brand being “safer” we have to take the label warnings seriously and prevent this material from being available to children, animals or unsuspecting people. In sufficient quantities it is still dangerous and we have to assume the worst. As always, be safe if you choose to use this or similar materials in your shop!

Visit the Sierra Antifreeze web site – Click Here

Visit the JET Tools web site – Click Here

Have a comment on this story? –Email Me!

All NewWoodworker.com Custom Plan Sets, written, photographic and drawn materials are property of and copyright by NewWoodworker.com LLC 2001-2012. Materials may not be used in any way without written permission of the owner.

Understanding Grinding Wheels

First in a series of articles written exclusively for White Cap customers, this article provides a basic understanding of grinding wheels, their construction, how to choose the best wheel, and how the right combination of an adhesive and abrasive can make or break a job.

To learn more about how to choose the right abrasive wheel for any job, maintenance tips, and safety best practices, check out Abrasive wheel Selection and Applications.

What Are Grinding Wheels?

An abrasive wheel creates a high-quality finish on surface materials, such as steel, glass, copper, stone, even concrete, with shape and dimension.

An Abrasive Wheel is a precision cutting tool with an abrasive surface coated with thousands of hard, sharp grains that cut, chip and grind away metal, steel, copper, cast iron, stainless steel, stone, concrete, and other tough materials. The sharp grains are bound with a special adhesive to a backing, usually in the shape of a wheel.

As the wheel rotates on a grinder, the wheel “grinds” the surface, causing the sharp grains of the wheel to break off, exposing new sharp edges. When the grains wear down, they fall off the bonded backing, exposing sharper new grains in their place. As the grains grind away, the surface material is removed in small chips or thin ribbons. The process continues until the desired surface finish or shape is achieved.

Available in a wide variety of types, shapes, patterns, sizes, and abrasives, there are several factors to consider when choosing an abrasive wheel.

Grinding Wheel Types

Abrasive wheels come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The most common and easily recognizable one is the straight abrasive wheel. The part of any abrasive wheel that does the actual grinding work is called the “grinding face.” The grinding face may be on the center of the wheel, recessed, only on the edges, or be broken into segments, designed to funnel lubricants, which keep equipment and materials cool. Here are the most common wheel types.

The Five Primary Types of Abrasive Grains

Let’s review the four main types of grains used on abrasive wheels. These can also be blended for specific applications and performance.

Aluminum oxide grains are tough and hard-wearing; however, after a sharp, fast initial cut, the grains dull and lack the cut-rate and life span of other grains. Good for grinding metals such as steel, iron, bronze alloys, stainless steel and other ferrous metals. Great value and cost effective with excellent quality and consistent performance.

Zirconia alumina grains provide fast cuts, are very heat resistant, self-sharpening, and deliver Rapid, consistent grinding on steel and stainless steel. They are also good for high-pressure machining and grinding because the pressure makes the grains break down quickly, exposing sharper edges. Zirconia alumna costs more than aluminum oxide, but it lasts longer.

Ceramic alumina is a newer abrasive type with a micro-grain structure that breaks down into smaller pieces, giving it the longest operating life in moderate to high pressure, generates less friction meaning it stays cooler in use, self-sharpening, fast cut rate, and minimizes heat discoloration on your workpiece. Ideal for hard-to-grind metals: armored steel, titanium, hard nickel alloys, tool steel, and stainless steel.

Silicon carbide grains are extremely hard, very sharp, fast cutting but break off easily under high pressure. Harder than aluminum oxide and versatile for grinding soft metals like aluminum, copper, or cast iron as well as hard materials such as cemented carbide, stone and concrete.

Silicon carbide/aluminum oxide blend creates a wheel ideal for grinding aluminum and other soft alloys. These grains offer extended life spans and fast, consistent cut rates.

Grit/Grain Size

Grit, or grain size, ranges from coarse to fine. and is indicated by a number shown on the abrasive wheel’s label The larger the grit number, the smaller the grain, and the finer the finish. Large/coarse grains grind larger chips resulting in a rougher finish.

Bond Material/Matrix

The bond (sometimes called a matrix) is the “glue” that holds the key elements to a grinding wheel. the abrasive grains. Bonds help to determine the type, the characteristics, and the performance of a grinding wheel. The stronger the bond, the longer the grains adhere to the wheel. This means that sometimes a weaker bond is a better choice when cutting strong, tough metals that need razor-sharp abrasive grains.

    Vitrified: (V) Made from clays and fusible materials. Not susceptible to water, oils, acids, or temperature variations. Ideal for high stock removal and precision grinding projects.

Grinding Wheel Safety. Best Practices

  • Always wear protective safety glasses or face shield with impact-resistant lenses and side guards.

Wet grinding machines

51 mm x 914 mm) Electric Tool Post Grinder (Air Tension) 2 HP, 2,850 RPM, Wet, 230 V (AC), 1 Phase, 50 Hz, 4,500 SFPM Mounts to Standard Lathes, for Applications from Grinding to Superfinishing. Each.

external cylindrical grinding machine 65016

Spindle speed: 2,850 rpm

2″ x 36″ (51 mm x 914 mm) Electric Tool Post Grinder 3 HP, 2,850 RPM, Wet, 230 V (AC), 1 Phase, 50 Hz, 4,500 SFPM Mounts to Standard Lathes, for Applications from Grinding to Superfinishing. Each model.

external cylindrical grinding machine 65750

Spindle speed: 3,450 rpm

2″ x 48″ (51 mm x 122 cm) Electric Tool Post Grinder 3 HP, 3,450 RPM, Wet, 240 V (AC), 1 Phase, 60 Hz, 7,200 SFPM Mounts to Standard Lathes, for Applications from Grinding to Superfinishing. Model features.

surface grinding machine SmartGrinder series

The SmartGrinder SG 150 K. the ideal grinding machine for medium-sized production. Great value for money made possible by manufacturing a large number of machines with standard features. Highly.

surface grinding machine SG 1400

Power: 4 kW

equipment) Built-in dresser for grinding wheel Easy block loading The AMC-SCHOU Model SG 1400 is a wet grinding machine which can be used by small and medium.

workpiece grinding machine Rundomat series

Rundomat-N/GF Wet grinding machine variable speed with coolant circulation system incl. water tub and work piece slideway GF for work piece lengths 10-200 mm Grinding.

surface grinding machine

curbstones in wet operation. Features.Infeed and outfeed roller conveyor with inclined bed design.Conveyor with inclined bed design.Basic frame.2 bridges each with up to 3 supports respectively.

vertical grinding machine RP 8

Spindle speed: 5,500 rpm. 22,000 rpmPower: 20 kW. 31 kWX travel: 1,600 mm. 1,600 mm

to 2 grinding spindles on grinding head.Different tool changing systems available.All machining operations of the Ri grinding centres.Turning and milling.

vertical disc grinding machine NTS250PRO

Spindle speed: 80 rpm. 180 rpmPower: 200 W

cutting tools, scissors, turning tools and more aluminium oxide grinding wheel passes through a pool of water for cooling the workpiece and counteracts overheating grinding speed 80-160 min-1

surface grinding machine BS 75 series

Spindle speed: 1,450, 2,900 rpmPower: 1.1, 0.7, 0.6 kW

surface belt grinding machine BS 75-W with built-in wet grinding equipment is manufactured with a reinforced drive motor. Cooling agent is effectively captured by the.

tool grinding machine

tungsten grinders is among one of the biggest and widest on the market. It offers tungsten grinders which are handhold portable, wet grinders and models with powerful dust extraction as portable or stationary.

automatic grinding machine EBW-V

system with fully enclosed protection hood Spindle height adjustment 2 feeding speeds feed Pneumatic blade clamping 2 Cup grinding wheels Ø 100 / 40 x 20 mm 1 set of tools 1 cleaning kit

wet grinding machine SW1 ECO

Spindle speed: 2,800 rpmPower: 0.6 kW

manual wet grinding of casted and stamped workpieces, amber and other precious stones by means of sand paper or diamond coated dises

horizontal disc grinding machine PG1232-W

PG1232-W WET PLATEN GRINDER Wet operation keeps part cool and reduces dust. Removable front and end belt guards allow operator to finish a variety of parts. 944 sfm belt speed for fast stock.

surface grinding machine SM250

Power: 2,200 W

understanding, grinding, wheels, wheel

Easy to use SM250 Grinding machine in 230 V. Made for small jobs in surface preparation. _ GÖLZ Grinding machine Quick and cost effective on small spaces up to.

surface grinding machine SM280

Spindle speed: 1,380 rpmPower: 2.2 kW

range of grinding machines in 230 V for professional performance in grinding of concrete, natural stone or terrazzo surfaces. _ Quick and cost effective on small spaces up to.

surface grinding machine SM400S

Spindle speed: 950 rpmPower: 2.2 kW

Grinding and polishing equipment for professional surface preparation and finishing. For floor preparation and removal of high spots in medium sized areas up to 600 sqm. _ Ø 400 mm grinder (8 tools) Dry and wet.

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Spareparts for wet grinding wheel displayed via list view or via explosion drawing

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