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If you’ve ever asked yourself “what size bench grinder should I get”, the short answer is, “an 8-inch model”.
When it comes to bench grinders, ‘bigger’ usually means ‘better’. All other factors being equal, a big grinder will be less prone to wear-and-tear than a smaller model.
You will also get a lot more use out of a bigger grinder before you have to consider replacing it.
Plus, a bigger grinder is a lot more comfortable to work with compared to a smaller model with a bigger grinding area.
When should you use an 8-inch bench grinder?
Should you go for a 6” or 8” bench grinder? Eight-inch bench grinders are better suited for professional jobs and heavy-duty work. Although 6” bench grinders are arguably more compact, 8” bench grinders are unbeatable for sheer power.
Eight-inch grinders are especially suitable for work that requires buffing wheels or wire brushes. You won’t have to change the wheels on an 8-inch grinder as frequently as you would with a 6-inch model, and they generally require much less maintenance.
If you want a low-maintenance alternative to a 6-inch grinder, definitely go for an 8-inch Dewalt bench grinder.
Bigger table grinders make all kinds of jobs easier with a more open working area, making it easier to sharpen all your tools even big outdoor tools like axes and shovels. You can also a bench grinder as a lawn mower blade sharpener.
Why use a 6-inch bench grinder?
The main selling points of 6-inch grinders are their low cost and versatility. They are ideally suited for DIY work and even professional projects, and provide sufficient power for most tasks.
Most 6-inch grinders are compact, lightweight, and easy to set up. They run quieter and are easier to maneuver than their larger counterparts.
Many 6-inch grinders are just as stable and sturdy as 8-inch models. If you want a more compact grinder and don’t mind slightly reduced surface coverage, a good 6-inch model will do nicely.
A 6-inch bench grinder is still big enough to work on small jobs, and sharpen small tools like your wood carving chisels.
What other sized bench grinders are there?
The differences between bench grinder sizes can be considerable. A 3” bench grinder is about the smallest one you can buy, but these are too small for anything other than hobbies and crafts.
There are also 5” bench grinders available on the market. But if you are thinking of going for a 5-inch grinder, you may as well go for a 6-inch model.
On the larger end of the scale, you will find 14- and 15-inch grinders. Although impressive, these bench grinder sizes are pretty much overkill for most DIY grinding and polishing tasks. In most cases, 6-, 7-, or 8-inch bench grinders will be perfect for your needs.
Best table grinder size for grinding metal
For grinding metal, almost any size of bench grinder will do. But for more efficient performance and optimum results, I always turn to my dependable 8-inch grinder. It’s small enough to maneuver easily, yet provides enough power for even heavy-duty jobs. And if I have to grind down a large workpiece, my 8-incher (ooh er missus!) is big enough to get the job done quickly.
Different types of metal grinding wheels
Metal grinding wheels have grit sizes that range from “coarse” to “fine”. Coarse grit wheels range from 16- to 24-grit, while mediums range from 36- to 60-grit. Fine grit wheels range from 80- to 120-grit. There are also super fine grit wheels that are 150-grit or higher.
Most metal grinding wheels are between 24- and 100-grit. You will generally want to use coarse grit wheels to remove stock quickly, and finer grit wheels for a more polished finish. You may also use a wire brush attachment to remove paint splatters and other surface stains before finishing.
Some of the more common materials used in metal grinding wheels are:
- Ceramic aluminum oxide. This is harder and sharper than most grains.
- Silicon carbide. A sharp abrasive grain that is harder than aluminum oxide.
- Zirconia alumina. Ideally suited for aggressive stock removal.
- Aluminum oxide. Commonly used for grinding stainless steel, aluminum, and bronze alloys.
Best sized bench grinder for polishing work
For polishing work, you will want a wheel that is large enough to cover a sizable surface space. At the same time, you don’t want it so large that it becomes difficult to maneuver.
A wheel size of five to six inches should be sufficient for most jobs, allowing you to buff and polish good-sized workpieces efficiently without being too unwieldy.
Different types of polishing wheels
These are some of the most commonly used types of wheels for polishing:
- Abrasive wheels. These have harder and more abrasive surfaces that make them ideally suited for removing jagged edges and smoothening scratches.
- 3M radial bristle discs. These are made of rubber and are used for buffing smaller workpieces without having to use polishing solutions.
- Cylinder, bullet, and pin polishers. These are better suited for smaller workpieces and intricately detailed surfaces.
- Soft buffing wheels. These are commonly used to give surfaces a shiny finish.
Matting wheels. These abrasive wheels provide a matte or dulled finish to metal surfaces.
Can bench grinders be used with wood?
Most bench grinders can be used for wood. You can use them to smoothen out rough surfaces or buff and polish a relatively smooth workpiece.
Depending on the surface of the wood and the wheel you use, it may not be necessary to apply a finishing compound after you polish the surface with your grinder.
Bench grinders are a lot more versatile than most people give them credit for. You will probably use them mostly to get rid of burrs and jagged edges in metal at first.
Over time, however, you will likely find many more uses for your bench grinder.
Click here to read my full bench grinder review.
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