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Tips for Using a Bench Grinder Safely

Updated on August 31, 2009

Bench Grinder

There are many different tools that you can use in your shop, and there are a few different types of grinders that you'll find will benefit you differently depending on what type of project you're doing. You'll find that bench grinders will help you sharpen tools, clean parts, and work with metal. Bench grinders are great power tools to use as long as you know how to safely set them up and use them.

Safety Tips for Bench Grinders

User Safety

  • Make sure that you wear proper work clothes such as coveralls and steel toe boots. You don't want loose clothing, jewelry, or long hair to get in the way of using the power tool, so take off all jewelry and tie long hair back.
  • Make sure to wear safety goggles, face mask or a valved respirator, earmuffs or earplugs, rubber gloves and barrier cream for your hands, and a

Safety check

  • When using the grinder, make sure that you're standing on the side of the grinder when you start the motor.
  • Make sure that the the safety shield on the grinder is properly fitted. If it's damaged, you want to replace it before you use it.
  • When grinding, you don't want to grind on the side of the wheel because it can cause the wheel to shatter.

Understanding a Bench Grinder

  • The type of wheel you'll use with the bench grinder will depend on the typ and hardness of the material. You'll also want to make sure you use the wheel type that is correct for what you'll be doing- grinding or buffing.
  • As the wheel wears down, the gap between the wheel and the tool will increase. You want to keep an eye on the space.
  • You want about a 1/16th of an inch gap between the tool and the grinding wheel. You want it close but not touching.
  • You want the face of the wheel square, so use a dressing tool to remove some of the excess abrasive compound.
  • You want to be careful of how hot the metal gets. You don't want the metal to overheat while grinding because this will affect the hardness of the material; it can become soft and if cooled quickly, it can become brittle. You can prevent the metal from getting too hot by dipping the metal in a pot of water as you shape it.

Using a Bench Grinder

  1. Set up the Grinder- Make sure that the bench grinder is set up properly. You want to make sure that before you try to adjust the grinder, that it's not only shut off but it's disconnected from the power supply because you don't want to try adjust the grinder and it accidentally turn on.
  2. Set up the Safety Equipment- Make sure that you have your tool rest, water pot, and safety shield ready, as well as your safety gear.
  3. Set up the Wheel-Using the proper wheel for the material that you're using is necessary, as is using the proper type of wheel for the appropriate job.
  4. Adjust the Tool Rest- Using the correct wheel properly fitted to the grinder, properly adjust the tool rest. Position the wheel so that it's at least 1/16th of an inch gap between the wheel and the tool rest. You can adjust the tool rest by loosening the adjusting bolt and loosening it, and set the tool rest to the appropriate height and distance that you need.
  5. Connect the Grinder- Plug in the bench grinder into the power supply, adjust your face protection, stand to the side of the wheel, and turn the grinder on.
  6. Grinding/Buffing the Metal- When the wheel is up to high speed, you'll want to move to the front of the wheel and hold your part onto the tool rest. Holding the part firmly onto the tool rest, you'll want to move it slowly forward until it touches the wheel. Be firm but gentle. Grind the metal carefully, occasionally dipping it into the water to keep it from overheating.
  7. Shut off the Grinder- When you're done, shut off the bench grinder, and unplug it.

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