What can you do with an angle grinder? With an assortment of high-quality angle grinder discs, a better question would be, “What can’t you do?”
Let’s check out the different types of angle grinder discs and their uses.
What is an Angle Grinder Disc?
First things first—let’s go over the basics. An angle grinder disc is any disc designed to fit in an angle grinder and rotates at high speed to perform cutting and polishing operations. The angle grinder disc or wheel spins at anywhere from around 2,800 rpm to 12,000 rpm, depending on the brand and model of the tool and the settings you select.
Just by switching different discs in and out of the tool, you can use your angle grinder for a variety of applications. You can cut, grind, polish, carve, and more.
Moreover, you can work on a wide range of materials such as metal, stone, mortar, brick, or wood.
10 Angle Grinder Disc Types
Now that you know what an angle grinder disc is, let’s check out some of the most common types of discs you can use and what you can do with them.
Large and small versions of these discs are available to suit the size of your angle grinder. For general purposes, consider a larger disc. For detailed work, consider a smaller disc.
1. Grinding Discs
It makes sense to talk first about grinding discs, also called “grit discs.” These are the discs you need if you want to grind metal or stone.
Each disc features an abrasive compound consisting of grains and a bonding agent. You can choose a higher or lower grit depending on how fine or coarse you want the abrasive grains to be.
You may want to start with a low, coarse grit to speed through the beginning of a task, and then switch to a high grit for a smoother finish.
2. Cut-off Discs
Next, we have cut-off discs, also known as parting wheels. Choose this type of slim, tapered wheel if you want to cut metal stock.
You will find variations in thickness for cut-off discs. There are tradeoffs either way. The thinner the disc, the more easily it can slice into metal. But thin abrasive discs are brittle and more prone to breakage. The thicker the disc is, the sturdier it is, and the less likely it is to warp or fracture while you are using it.
So, you will need to weigh those pros and cons when choosing your cut-off discs. In either case, however, try not to push too hard or too fast into the metal. Doing that only makes it more likely you will damage the work and shatter the disc you are using.
3. Diamond Cutting Discs
If you are working with masonry or stones, a regular grit disc or cut-off disc won’t cut. You will need a diamond cutting disc which is a superior alternative. As the name implies, diamonds grits are embedded into the edges of a steel disc.
So, with a diamond disc, you can work more quickly and easily, even on harder metals. It will cost you more to purchase diamond discs, but they should outlast others, making them more cost-effective in the long run than they may initially appear.
4. Flap Discs
A flap disc is probably the best option when you need to do some sanding with an angle grinder.
This type of disc uses abrasive (usually Aluminum Oxide) that is similar to a grit disc, but a whole lot finer. The main difference here is that instead of a single flat piece, the flap disc is made of multiple layers of overlapping abrasive sheets called flaps. Sometimes these are referred to as flap wheels, although that name is more appropriate for a radial flap wheel that you use on a drill or rotary tool.
Flap Disc Uses
With a flap disc, you can remove minor imperfections from a surface, remove rust, and polish the surface. Also, if there are fine grinding tasks that you cannot tackle using a regular grit disc, a flap disc may be appropriate. These types of angle grinder discs are often used in autobody shops, metalworking, and fabrication industries.
Worried about a flap disc overheating? You can try a ceramic sanding disc as an alternative.
5. Wire Wheels
One of the most distinctive-looking types of wheels you can get for your angle grinder is a wire wheel. You can use a wire wheel to remove paint or rust from metal.
You also can polish hard metal with a wire wheel—but keep in mind that on softer materials, using a wire wheel is more likely to lead to scratches than a smooth finish. Instead of featuring a cutting or grinding disc, this wheel includes clusters of bristles protruding in a radial formation. These bristles may be slender and straight, or they could be thick and twisted.
The type of wire disc you should get depends on the application you have in mind. The thick, twisted bristles are kind of like coarse grit on a grinder disc. Choose them for tasks that require more speed than precision. Then, switch to straight, fine bristles for work that requires more exactness.
You should always wear safety goggles when you are working with your angle grinder. But it is extra important with a wire wheel, as wires sometimes snap off. That is about the last thing you want flying into your eye.
I have seen a lot of novice users ignoring the basic safety practices when with a grinder. I wrote an entire guide on angle grinder safety since this is really important.
6. Paint Stripping Discs
A wire wheel is not your only option to remove paint. An alternative wheel to consider is a paint stripping disc.
If you are working on a material like wood, fiberglass, or soft metal that you could end up scuffing with a regular wire wheel, a paint stripper may be more suitable.
Instead of wire bristles, a paint stripper wheel features poly-fiber material. It removes paint with efficiency, but should not scratch or scuff the underlying surface. You also can use it to remove epoxy or other residues.
7. Polishing Pads
You are probably wondering by this point whether there is a type of disc designed with the specific purpose of polishing in mind. Actually, what you are looking for is a polishing pad, which is also called a “buffing pad.”
A variety of different types of polishing pads are on the market. You will need to choose a material that is right for the surface you are working on. For fine surfaces such as polishing your car, get a buffing wheel made of wool.
It is important to take it slow when you are polishing. If you select too high a speed, you will probably end up damaging your surface. Bigger angle grinders are more likely to offer you speeds that are suitable for the job.
8. Concrete Grinding Wheels
With the right discs, your angle grinder can not only handle metal but can even grind or polish concrete.
There are assorted shapes of concrete grinding wheels and various grit materials. You can find wheels with silicon carbide grain or diamond grit. The diamond cup wheel is the most widely used type since it can be used on a variety of materials and are durable.
Along with hard abrasive materials, these wheels are made of sturdy materials through and through like durable fiberglass. Such materials not only preserve the life of the wheel but also help it push through concrete. Besides grinding concrete with these types of discs, you can also use them to grind granite, stone, marble, masonry, and similar materials.
Although a concrete grinding wheel can offer great longevity, these tough discs eventually wear down. An old disc becomes increasingly likely to chip during use.
9. Wood Cutting Discs
A couple of times now, we have mentioned grinding or cutting wood using an angle grinder. But as you already know, quite a few types of discs are only suitable for harder materials. If you attempt to use them to cut or carve wood, you might end up damaging your project.
So, is there such a thing as a wood cutting disc? The answer to that question is “yes.”
Woodcutting discs typically feature a toothed, circular blade. You will notice the tips are often tungsten carbide. The reason manufacturers use carbide tips for wood cutting discs is because carbide is incredibly hard. In fact, if you need to sharpen carbide tips, you will require diamond to get the job done.
Because carbide teeth are so hard, they can make clean cuts through both softwood and hardwood. Not only that, but you can get a lot of use out of them before you need to sharpen or replace them.
What types of wood can wood cutting discs handle? You should have no problem slicing a quality disc through pine, cherry, walnut, oak, mahogany, maple, or any other wood you can name.
10. Wood Carving Discs
If you want to bring carving, shaping, and grinding into your woodworking, you may need to go beyond wood cutting discs to purchase wood carving discs as well.
These discs also usually include carbide teeth. But instead of a flat disc, a wood carving disc has more of a donut shape to it. The teeth are not located around the edges. Instead, they cover the entire surface of the wheel. Typically, they number in the hundreds.
With this shape, this type of disc is especially ideal for creating a concave surface—say, for example, if you are carving out the interior of a wooden bowl.
Keep in mind that working on wood is a bit different from working on metal or concrete. Those materials are typically homogenous. Wood, on the other hand, has natural contours and knots. When working with a wood carving or cutting disc, you must take care not to let your tool catch on irregular features like these. Some wheels are more prone to this than others.