Can you use an angle grinder on wood?
The answer is yes, you can use an angle grinder on wood. Angle grinders are versatile power tools that are most often associated with grinding metal. But you can use them on different materials including wood if you have the right discs.
Angle Grinder for Wood Carving
To turn your angle grinder into a wood carving tool, you will need to select the right type of discs. It may take more than one type to get the job done. This means a basic carving disc to pare down the material. A chainsaw disc if you need to go through a lot of wood quickly. A wood-shaping discs for getting the curved details and finally finish the work with a sanding disc.
What follows are four types of discs along with their recommended brands, so you can get started on your wood carving with an angle grinder.
Carbide Carving Disc
One of the most popular carving discs for wood is the Architect Turbo Plane.
It operates much like a planer but has carbide cutters that induce a shearing action on the wood. The advantage here is that instead of generating a lot of sawdust, the tungsten carbide cutting teeth create shavings that can be easily removed. This type of carving disc is best for scooping out materials and creating a level surface.
Because the cutters do not extend all the way to the top of the disc, you can use the edge in a similar manner to a bearing on a router bit to cut patterns. If you are sculpting a complicated design, this can come in real handy.
The only downside is that the Turbo Plane can catch on knots in hardwood, but overall, it’s not too bad, and slowing down over such areas can help.
This type of disc gets its name because there is a chain attached around the disc that works just like in a chainsaw. A good example of a chainsaw disc is the Lancelot 14-tooth which provides for cast cutting action of most types of wood. Just like a chainsaw, this will leave behind a rough edge. However, its overall speed and ability to cut through most types of wood make this a highly desirable disc. It is best used when you have a considerable amount of wood to chop up into smaller pieces.
Despite its ability to cut wood a lot faster, I would not recommend this tool.
The downside of the chainsaw disc for angle grinder is that it has a higher potential of grabbing and kickbacks which makes it unwieldy at times. For someone new to this type of disc, it is best to start on some scrap wood first to get a feel for the operation.
Should you decide to buy a chainsaw attachment for an angle grinder, get the best quality one. Because the angle grinder spins at very high speed and if the chain snaps it can cause serious injury. Be sure to wear your eye and hand protection and be prepared for the disc to grab and kick back on you from time to time.
12 Teeth Wood Shaping Disc
This fan-shaped carving disc looks like a pinwheel, doesn’t have carbide teeth but is made of hardened steel. However, it really creates a gentle cutting action, thanks to the 12 teeth design, that can help you shape most types of wood rather easily. Better yet, the cutting action leaves behind a smooth surface, so you will have to do less sanding and shaping afterwards.
Despite all the advantages, the downside is that the large size of the disc makes it less ideal when you are doing detail work. Plus, sharpening the blades once they are dull is a challenge as well thanks in large part to its overall shape. The fact that the disc is manganese steel means it will dull at a faster rate compared to tungsten carbide carving discs.
This is the disc you use to do the vast majority of the shaping.
The Kutzall Medium is an excellent choice thanks to its rasp-like appearance. Using Tungsten carbide teeth, this disc abrades the surface rather than cutting it. The result is that you can shape the wood easier over a wide variety of wood materials.
Because the teeth extend all the way to the edge and are tapered, you have better control over the disc for shaping purposes. This allows for detail work with little to no learning curve, although it is always recommended that you start with scrap wood first to get a feel of the disc and how it works.
If there is a downside, it is that you will not get a smooth surface with a carbide shaping dish. This means you will need to sand once you are through with the detail work. Also, the device will create sawdust and not shavings, so you will need to have a vacuum ready. But those are small nits in an otherwise highly positive recommendation for using this type of disc.
Cutting Wood with Angle Grinder
You can use an angle grinder to cut wood with special wood cutting discs. In fact, because of their versatility, angle grinders are often used to cut wood pieces. This makes them quite handy, but there are also safety concerns as well.
These are circular cutting discs with carbide-tipped cutting edges specifically designed for cutting wood with angle grinders. The speed cutter disc has a special design to reduce kickback and it can also be used for shaping and sculpting.
Usually, Angle grinders utilize abrasive discs to cut metal and not necessarily cutting blades. You may be tempted to use your circular saw blade on an angle grinder.
Don’t do it.
The blades on handheld circular saws are designed to work with the base that rests on top of the lumber during cutting. But an angle grinder has not such base-shoe. This is an important difference as they are not as efficient, or as safe for cutting compared to a circular saw.
There is an important safety issue with angle grinders. Most notably that you need to use extra care and wear the proper protection. Because of their open design, they have less built-in protection compared to circular saws. While there is a chip deflector that offers some protection if the wheel shatters, if you are using a circular saw blade, the danger of injury increases manyfold.
Sanding Wood with Angle Grinder
Of course, you can also use an angle grinder for sanding. You will need to use the proper discs and wear the appropriate safety gear.
Sanding Wood with Flap Disc
The flap disc is the perfect disc for sanding wood with an angle grinder. Its cloth construction, different grit sizes, and versatility make it well-suited for sanding down wood, especially for smaller projects.
You can choose from different types of flap discs along with the material used to create the grits in the cloth. The more expensive versions have self-sharpening grits which break apart and create sharp edges, so they can be used for longer periods.