Angle Grinders Made Easy

Simply change the wheel of this versatile tool for all-round home maintenance

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Angle grinders are the biggest-selling power tools in Australia, popular because they’re so versatile. Just by changing the accessories or wheel, an angle grinder can perform a wide variety of tasks.

Using the Grinder
1. Check the accessory or wheel is in good condition and fitted correctly, check the guard is firmly mounted in position, and run the tool without load for a few seconds to test.
2. Clamp the workpiece and turn on the tool by sliding the spring-loaded on-off trigger switch forward and pressing down or by pulling the trigger.
3. Allow the grinder to work at its own speed, without applying extra pressure. When working over edges, make sure the wheel is spinning away from, rather than into, the edge to prevent it kicking back.
4. If the tool cuts out, disengage then re-engage the trigger switch.

Choosing a Wheel
When selecting a wheel or accessory, check the information on the back to see if it is for cutting or grinding. It also gives mounting information and advises the fastest safe operating speed, which you should compare to the specifications of your grinder. Common wheels include cutting and grinding wheels, diamond cutting wheels, wire wheels, cup brushes, sanding wheels, flap wheels, and abrading wheels. Others include rubber pads that convert the grinder to a sander, woodcarving wheels, mini-grinders and the clever chisel attachment from Arbortech (

Avoiding Accidents
Angle grinders are the leading cause of DIY accidents. Before using one for the first time, read the operating and safety instructions.
Protection Wear safety goggles or a full face shield, dust mask, tightfitting gloves and hearing protection, plus long sleeves and trousers.
Guards and Blades Only remove guards if the type of accessory requires it and the manufacturer’s instructions allow it. Never use circular saw blades.
Operation Disconnect the tool before changing fittings and run a new wheel freely to test before using. Keep bystanders away and don’t use near flammable materials.
Keep it CleanThe unit and power lead should be kept dust free to prevent excess debris building up.

Making Adjustments
Spindle Lock Button prevents the spindle shaft and wheel from rotating, enabling the lock nut holding the wheel to be loosened and removed with the wheel-changing spanner.
Spin Direction Indicator shows the direction of wheel rotation so the grinder can be positioned and orientated for safe use.
Trigger Swith and Lock-On Button work in sequence for continuous operation. Simply pull the trigger to start the grinder, then press in the button.
Auxiliary Handle can be moved for left- or right-handed operation, and can be removed on smaller models for one-handed use or operating in tight spaces.
Wheel Guard can be rotated around the cutting wheel.
Machine Head can be rotated in 90º increments to bring the trigger switch into a convenient position for working in awkward positions or if using a bulkier attachment such as a dust extraction hood.

DIY Essentials
An angle grinder can…
■ cut ceramic and terracotta tiles
■ remove rust from outdoor furniture
■ sharpen metal tools
■ cut pavers, bricks and roof tiles
■ smooth rough welds
■ remove paint from metal surfaces
■ grind metal surfaces

For most DIY purposes, a 115mm or 125mm unit, powered by a 600- to 900-watt motor, is sufficient. It’s worth spending a bit more for extra power, better quality, and superior safety features. Look for…
Soft-Start which starts the motor slowly, building up to full speed, to prevent the tool from wrenching or twisting.
Anti-Vibratation handles that can reduce vibration by up to 70%.
Restart Protection which requires the machine to be reset if it’s stopped by a loss of power.
Bulletproof Guards to protect the user from flying debris and shattered grinding wheels.
Anti-Kickback that immediately shuts the grinder down if it jams.
More Tips on Using Angle Grinders
The best position is to stand slightly side-on to the workpiece, with your feet at least shoulder-width apart, holding the grinder firmly with both hands. If possible, clamp the workpiece so that you can tilt the wheel at least slightly downwards, so that the sparks or other debris are ejected towards the ground.
Using an angle grinder overhead is a very bad idea, and in almost all cases, a better stance (for example, on a stepladder) or different tool can be used to avoid this situation.
On a final note, it is extremely important to use full protective gear, specifically including flame-resistant gloves in addition to the usual eye, ear and breathing protection. Angle grinder wheels typically spin at rates of several thousand rpm, and fragments can fly off the wheel or workpiece at extremely high speeds, with the potential to cause serious injury.
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