4.5″ Angle Grinder

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For people just starting to work on their rigs or getting their own garage there is the need (and desire ;)) to start collecting tools.  We all have favorite tools in our shop and tools we can’t live without but if you think back to when you started purchasing tools when you had little to none how did you go about deciding which ones to get when?

milwaukee-angle-grinderFor me there was a good two year period that I was unable to afford any real tools and lived with basic hand tools, and a 4.5″ Angle Grinder. It’s amazing what you can do with a 4.5″ angle grinder and misc. attachments. If you have a cut-off wheel you can cut steel to make brackets, you can cut pieces off your vehicle, cut tube, notch tube, and many more things just with a 4.5″ Angle Grinder and cut-off wheel.  Add a grinding wheel to the 4.5″ angle grinder and now you can take away metal at a pretty fast pace, now you can clean up the edges of your brackets, smooth out your frame if you just cut off a bracket, you can even use the 4.5″ angle grinder and grinding wheel to cut thin metal. As if the 4.5″ angle grinder wasn’t enough you can add a flapper disc to it and use it to clean up metal for welding, shape the edges much smoother than a grinding wheel, and smooth out the metal for paint.

Other usages for the 4.5″ Angle Grinder:

  • 3M Bristle Disc to remove paint.
    These are a new 3M product that do not harm paint and do not remove ANY metal. However they are pretty pricey and for the money I would prefer to get the “3m Scotch-Brite” pads.
  • 3M “Scotch-Brite” conditioning disc.
    I use these things for EVERYTHING! They come in a couple different varieties of texture and are awesome for removing paint and not hurting the metal. They also remove paint rapid. The only downfall is that they do clog but at their price you can afford to buy 20 to 50 at a time!
  • Metal Knot Cup Brush are great for removing the metal scaling prior to welding, or cleaning up welds after putting down your first bead with a MIG.
  • The 4.5″ angle grinder can take many many more attachments for a variety of jobs around your house including cutting tile, wood, plastic, and more. These 4.5″ angle grinder attachments are available at most big box stores as well as amazon.com.

When it comes to 4.5″ Angle Grinders you have many choices too as far as brands, quality, and power.

  • Harbor Freight 4.5″ Angle Grinder- They have blue and orange angle grinders for less than $19.95 often, and couple them with a 10%,20%,30% or more harbor freight coupon and you get a screaming deal! These grinders are great for light metal removal with a scotch-brite disc, or light work with a flapper disc. Due to some models having an on/off switch and NOT a paddle handle like the nicer models I suggest not using that model with a cut-off wheel due to safety. The harbor freight units are noticeably cheaper feeling as far as the plastics go, and the motors are not known to handle heavy usage.  If you need something to get you started or are like me and want a couple ones to setup with different attachments they are a great choice.
  • Milwaukee 4.5″ Angle Grinder – Milwaukee makes a lot of nice electric and cordless tools and the 4.5″ angle grinder is no piece of  junk. Milwaukee has a few power options in the 4.5″ angle grinder size. You can go from <10 amps to >10amps depending on what you plan to use it for. More power is better most of the time unless you are holding a grinder a long period of time or need to fit in a tight area. Small grinders are very useful for getting into hard to reach spots or saving your forearms from fatigue on a long grinding session.  I’ve had no problem with Milwaukee grinders and they are very sturdy.
  • Dewalt 4.5″ Angle Grinders – I’ve had many dewalt grinders over the years and they all seem to eventually die. One lasted >5 years, and one was bad the day I got it from home depot! My current grinder is going on two years and going strong, it’s no longer yellow… if you work with metal you’ll know why, and if you are just getting started you’ll soon know why 😉 The dewalt grinders are a good grinder for their price. I put them between the HF and the Milwaukee grinders.
  • I have no expierence with other grinders but I heard the Metabo and Hitachi are not bad units for their cost, and their warranty at home depot is rather good.

So, if you are just getting into fabricating or working on your own vehicle I hope I’ve given you a few ideas on how versatile the 4.5″ grinder really is, and why it’s my number one choice for the person just starting to fabricate or work on their own rig.

2 Comments »

  1. I wanted to take the clapboard on my 125 yr old house down to bare wood. One side was down with scrapers and heat guns. One side was done with blowtorch (almost blew that one a couple of times). And then………………….I discovered the ANGLE GRINDER. 4 1/2 inch with heaviest grit possible!!! Tim “the toolman” Taylor would have been proud of me! What a thrill.

    We live in Newfoundland, Canada. It’s the furthest east point of North America and the wind never stops blowing. One might argue that this means that lead paint dust would blow over all my neighbours. Another (me) might argue that the wind blows so much that the concentration of the dispersal factor is minimized and I’ve blown so many of my own brain cells over the years that a bit of lead paint dust is no big deal. Anyway, back to the efficacy of the angle grinder. Ah-h-h-h bare wood AND a double bonus….. the heavy grit turned the previously smooth side out clapboard into rough side out, just like that.

    Top of the line Benjamin Moore primer (thinned a little to really let it soak in) and then top of the line Home Depot Behr paint. A joy to behold!! Admittedly, one has to keep one’s wits about one’s self when using the potentially destructive and dangerous angle grinder on wood, BUT it sure the hell is efficient. It’s not for the faint of heart or for anything approaching puritanism of refurbishing. However, for those who just want to get the job done quickly and efficiently (not perfectly), it can’t be beat. Angle grinders forever!!

    John

    Comment by John Housser — March 2, 2011 @ 5:32 am

  2. I also love my angle grinders. They make short work of cutting off angle iron, smoothing surfaces, cutting off frozen bolts. It’s easy to change over to a polishing wheel for polishing the car. I have an electric angle grinder as well as an air angle grinder, I never know what will come up so I am prepared. An outstanding tool but please remember safety and always wear a face shield and gloves.

    Comment by Peter Apicella — June 28, 2011 @ 7:02 am

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