A bench grinder is a tool you probably do not use every day, especially when you’re not working as a professional. Although, when this tool appears available and is set up correctly, there are surprises that come with owning this tool, especially how handy it is for everything, from sharpening tools to rounding over thread ends on a cutoff bolt. What are these tips that will help you make the most out of your bench grinder? Read on!
- Grind small objects safely: Use locking pliers to effectively hold down small objects, as this keeps your fingers a safe distance away from the wheel, and also, it protects your fingers against burns form the hot metal. This helps give you control over the grinding process.
- Use a low-speed grinder for sharpening: Most bench grinders run at 3,450 RPM, unless they’re variable speed. Being more careful, and keeping the wheel dressed will make these high-speed grinders work fine. If you want to do any sharpening, a low-speed grinder with a 1,750 RPM is what you should go for. The lower the speed, the lower you reduce the chances of overheating the edge of the tool you’re sharpening. Low-speed grinders usually cost about $100-$150 and they usually include friable white grinder wheels, that do well when sharpening than the gray grinder wheels that come with high-speed grinders.
- Frequently dress wheels: Dressing the wheel gives the face of the wheel a square face, and it exposes new grit for more efficient cutting. During use, the spaces between the cutting grit of a wheel can be blocked, dulling the grit. This can cause overheating and can also slow the removal of materials. A wheel dresser has a bar with diamond grit in it. Pressing the bar against the spinning wheel will cut away the surface to expose any new grit, will also round the wheel, and square the face of the wheel.
Before you use a dressing tool, you should first start the bench grinder and wait until it reaches full speed, when it has, hold the diamond wheel dresser against the wheel as it spins. Make sure that while you do this, you wear a good dust mask. The aluminum oxide dust is harmful to your lungs. Draw a line with a chalk or pencil on the wheel before you begin, so as to gauge when enough material has been removed from the wheel.
- Watch for the sparks: When sharpening a chisel or another tool, it is easy to tell when it is getting sharp at the edge just by watching the sparks. If you have a blunt edge, the spark will be sprayed downwards, but the sharper the edge becomes, the spark will fall down the surface directly facing you. When this starts to occur, be careful about how much more you are grinding because the thinner the edge, the more susceptible it is to overheating.
- Have a water container on the ready: Most cutting tools are made of tempered steel, if the steel becomes too hot and it turns bluish black, that means that it is overheated, and it won’t be able to hold an edge for very long. To make sure you do not damage the edge of the tool by overheating it, the water you keep nearby will help cool the tool. If the steel overheats and changes color, grind the edge back to good steel and start again.