The 10 Best Bench Grinders
This wiki has been updated 26 times since it was first published in April of 2015. As the saying goes, look after your tools and your tools will look after you. These bench grinders can help you do that. They are ideal for sharpening lathes, drill bits, ax heads, and chisels. They can also roughly shape metal prior to welding or fitting, and clean or polish workpieces. We've included budget models for the home DIYer as well as commercial-quality units for professionals. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
August 19, 2020:
A fairly reliable way of distinguishing good bench grinders from casual use grinders is to look at the wheel arbor diameter. A good grinder like the Jet JBG-8A and the Baldor 762R use thick arbors in order to mitigate some of the issues that plague bench grinders. One issue that this helps remedy is wheel wobble that occurs from not providing a large enough clamping surface to hold the wheel steady. Naturally, at 3600 RPM, the wheels are subjected to significant forces that aren't conducive to a steady spin. Really, anything over a half-inch is acceptable. The Shop Fox W1840 comes with a 5/8-inch arbor which makes for a stable grinding surface that can be depended on to allow you to get a good feel for what sorts of movements you have to make to produce the desired grind on a piece of metal.
Another excellent feature on the Shop Fox is the speed variability. If you are grinding tempered steel at 3600 RPM, you'll want to quench it often. This keeps the steel's temperature within acceptable parameters. Otherwise, you'll lose the tempering and essentially ruin the steel's properties. The Shop Fox allows you to lower the motor speed and give you a wider margin of ever before compromising your work piece.
Always wear proper safety equipment while using a bench grinder and inspect the wheels to ensure that they are in working condition.
May 10, 2019:
When identifying the best bench grinders, we wanted to make sure we had models that could stand up to the heaviest-duty needs of commercial shops, as well as budget-friendly options suitable for periodic sharpening of mower blades and drill bits. Whether you actually have a shop or not, if you find yourself in the former category and require something that can stand up to high-volume use day after day, we recommend the Jet JBG-8A, Baldor 662R, DeWalt DW758, and Metabo DS 200. All four of these models feature powerful motors that won't bog down under pressure nor overheat from extended periods of use. For the casual home user who may only pull out their grinder a couple of times a year, we have included the Wen 4276, Skil 3380-01, and PowerTec BG600. Despite being low-priced, they should all be able to handle grinding down or sharpening a variety of materials. It is important to have realistic expectations of these low-priced, consumer-level models however, which means understanding that the process may be slow going on very hard metals. They may also bog down if your press too hard. Falling nicely between commercial-quality units and bargain-priced consumer-level models, we have the Craftsman 9-21154, Sunex 500, and Rikon Power Tools 80-805. These can stand up to constant light- and medium-duty use in professional workshops, or the periodic heavy-duty jobs of the home consumer. In this category, we especially like the Craftsman 9-21154, which offers variable speed control that makes it well-suited to precision work.
Jet IBG-12 With heavy-duty construction that can stand up to demanding workshops, this top-of-the-line offering from Jet can grind, sharpen, and smooth anything and everything you set against one of its 12-inch wheels. Also, it is OSHA compliant, so you'll be providing yourself and your employees with the right equipment for a safe work environment. jettools.com
Baldor 248-183TD A multi-purpose tool with an impressive 1.5-horsepower motor that makes it capable of removing a lot of material quickly, this unit features both a grinding wheel and a belt sander. It is nearly impossible to damage or bend its cast-iron tool rests, and the chances of it ever bogging down are slim. https://www.baldor.com
What Is A Bench Grinder?
Since bench grinders are relatively small and lightweight, it is often necessary to mount them to a table or bench of some kind, hence the name bench grinders.
A bench grinder is a portable version of larger, industrial grade grinding machines found in many machinist and metal working shops. They spin at high speeds to remove material, which can be anything from wood to metal, by abrasion. Since they are using abrasion, there is a lot of friction and they generally produce a lot of heat. Because of this, you may see operators using gloves when using one, especially if working with highly conductive metals.
Most bench grinders have two wheels with varying grain sizes. This allows one to be used for removal of a large amount of material, while the other can be used for smooth finishing work. Grinding wheels can be made from a variety of materials, with each type being best suited for a certain type of application. The most commonly seen grinding wheels are made from either silicone carbide or aluminum oxide. Bench grinders also allow for the installation of fiber and wire wheels designed buffing and polishing.
Since bench grinders are relatively small and lightweight, it is often necessary to mount them to a table or bench of some kind, hence the name bench grinders. Otherwise the vibrations may cause them to move around while you work. They are usually mounted by bolting them to a surface through pre-drilled holes in the base.
How and what you use a bench grinder for will depend on the size, grain, and type of wheel you have installed. Some of the most common uses include sharpening blades and metal hand tools, rough shaping metal work, and roughing up metal surfaces before welding. They can also be used for removing burrs and casting, or polishing and buffing items.
Choosing The Right Bench Grinder
There are four main things you should consider when picking the right bench grinder for you: power, precision, durability, and cost. Buying one that is cheap, but breaks after a couple of uses is just as much of a waste of money as buying one incredibly overpowered for your needs.
First ask yourself what you will be using the bench grinder for the majority of the time. If you plan on grinding tough metals or need to grind large areas quickly, one with a bigger motor will be a good bet. The larger the motor, the more power your grinder will have and the quicker you'll be able to get the job done.
For home workshop use, bench grinder wheels range in size from 3 to 8 inches.
If you are new to using a bench grinder, you may feel more comfortable with a slow speed model as there is less chance of over-grinding an object. They also make models with dual speed options or adjustable speed controls. These kinds are usually more expensive, but can be invaluable to a beginner or somebody who often works on different kinds of materials.
Since bench grinders operate at high speeds and you put strain on them as you grind down materials, it is important to buy one from a well known company that makes quality tools like DeWALT, JET, or Metabo. If you go with a low-quality China-made model that costs considerably less, you may find that the motor burns out after just a few months.
Wheel size plays a big factor in how you can use your bench grinder and how quickly it gets the job done. For home workshop use, bench grinder wheels range in size from 3 to 8 inches. Ideally it's best to go with one between 6 and 8 inches unless you know you will only be using it on very small objects that don't need heavy grinding.
Other features you may want in a bench grinder include an integrated work light, an adjustable tool rest, adjustable eye guards, a soft start function, and a vibration resistant base. These will help you safely use a bench grinder.
Choosing The Right Grinding Wheel
After finding the best bench grinder for your needs, you'll need to be sure to purchase the right type and grit wheel. Understanding all the differences between grinding wheels can get very confusing, but luckily you don't need to know everything. There are a few things that anybody picking a grinding wheel needs to know though.
If you want to remove a lot of material quickly and the worked object can be left with a rough finish, use a coarse grit wheel.
First is what type of wheel material is right for the job you are doing. A silicone carbide blade is highly abrasive and ideal for working with stone, brass, and aluminum. An aluminum oxide wheel is best for grinding steel, steel alloys, and other ferrous metals. They can also be used for woodworking or other softer materials that might crumble if you put too much pressure on them while grinding.
The next thing to understand is grit size. Bench grinding wheels generally range from 16 to 120 grit, with the higher the number, the finer the grit. They are often labeled as coarse (16 to 24 grit), medium (36 to 60 grit), and fine (80 to 120 grit). If you want to remove a lot of material quickly and the worked object can be left with a rough finish, use a coarse grit wheel. If you need to work slowly and precisely and want a smooth almost polished finish, go with a fine grit wheel.