Bench grinders are power tools used by professionals and home DIY-ers alike. They are easy to use and sharpen a range of materials like metals, woods and plastics. Bench grinders are designed to attach to a level surface and help you perform difficult tasks safely.
Bench grinders consist of a metal base that can be secured by either rubber feet or bench mounting holes to a workstation. They are stable and secure to minimise the danger of sharpening tools and other dangerous tasks.
Bench grinders perform a variety of tasks including grinding, sharpening, cutting, buffing, shaping, polishing and removing rust. This article will walk you through our top choices for bench grinders currently on the market, and then there’s a handy buyers guide and FAQ section at the end to assist you with your search.
All the grinders mentioned have cast iron bases.
In a hurry?
Our top bench grinder is the Jet 578008 Industrial Bench grinder. It is the most expensive of our picks, but comes with a 2-year warranty and boasts an impressive 6.9 Amp motor. There are a multitude of safety features and it is CSA and CUS certified.
Top 5 Best Bench Grinders
OUR TOP PICK
OUR TOP PICK
This is our top pick due to the powerful motor, impressive RPM and the additional extras included for the $329 price tag.
The Jet has sealed bearings for easy grinding, a single dust chute and a wheel dresser. The machine comes with 2 grinding wheels (36 and 60).
There are pre-drilled mounting bases to secure to your workstation, and the grinder has a toggle switch with a safety key. There are adjustable safety shields and tool rests. The grinder measures 21 x 13.75 x 114”.
6.9 Amp motor
Max RPM of 3,600
Lots of safety features
The DEWALT also boasts an impressive RPM of 3,600 for only $129.
Included with the bench grinder are eye shields, an adjusting wrench, spark deflectors and tool rests. You also get a 36 and a 60 grinding wheel. The motor is highly powerful for the price point, at 5.76 Amps.
The DEWALT comes with a 3-year limited warranty and a 1-year free service guarantee. The grinder measures 17.75 x 12.63 x 10.75”.
5.76 Amp induction motor
Max RPM of 3,600
3 year limited warranty
1-year free service
⅜” wheel bore size, not as standard
The Delta is a much less powerful induction motor at only 2.5 Amps, but still boasts a variable no-load speed of 2,000-3,400 RPM.
It is modestly priced at $82.79 and includes a work light. It comes with 2 grinding wheels (36 and 60), a full-size face shield, grinding shield and 2 spark shields.
Additionally, you get rubber feet, 2 adjustable tool rests, a diamond wheel dresser and a water tray. It comes with a 5-year limited warranty. The grinder measures 9.5 x 14.5 x 16.5”.
Variable speeds of 2,000 - 3,400 RPM
2.5 Amp induction motor
Lots of safety features
5 year limited warranty
Lots of additional extras
The WEN only has a 2.1 Amp motor but a maximum RPM of 3,450.
It is the cheapest option here at $42.45 but still features 2 grinding wheels (36 and 60) and a heavy-duty base. There are eye guards included and a flexible work light.
The grinder comes with a 2-year warranty. The grinder measures14 x 9.75 x 15”.
3,450 RPM max speed
Cheapest of our picks
Includes a work light
Only 2.1 Amp motor
The SKIL grinder has a small 2.1 Amp motor but can reach RPMs of up to 3,450.
At $74.99 it is a fairly mid-range price point and comes with safety features such as rubber feet, eye shields and a built-in LED work light over each grinding wheel.
The grinder also comes with adjustable tool rests and a 1-year warranty. The grinder measures 15.4 x 10.75 x 8.5”.
3,450 RPM max speed
Lightweight, may not be as stable
2.1 Amp motor
Only a 1-year warranty
Best Bench Grinders Buying Guide
Type of grinder
There are four main types of bench grinder - standard variable speed, portable, woodworking and automotive.
Standard variable speed grinders are full-sized and allow you to alter the speed of the wheel. This in turn allows you to control the cutting power and is generally more adaptable.
Portable bench grinders are smaller in size but just as capable. These are less powerful but can be moved quickly and easily for use anywhere.
Woodworking bench grinders are primarily designed to sharpen tools. Due to this, their operating speeds tend to be slower to aid precision. This type of grinder is also suited to grinding and sanding wood.
Automotive bench grinders are used to grind metal to make mechanical parts. They are hugely stable machines and are good if you will be using them for the same tasks over and over again.
Different grinders have different functions and are intended for various purposes. There are 3 main levels of finish you can get from a grinder - fettling, deburring and shaping.
Fettling is also known as trimming and is used once metal has been cut with larger machines. This action removes the metal burr (also known as flash). Deburring is commonly done after sawing and filing and performs the same action as fettling but yields a finer result. Shaping is an even finer grind still and is used to shape the metal.
As the bench grinder operates, sparks and debris are likely to fly off and this can be dangerous. It is important to ensure you take adequate safety precautions when using heavy-duty machinery to avoid injury to yourself and others.
Most bench grinders will come with built-in spark deflectors which house the grinding wheels and cover all of the wheels except the surface you are using to grind. These are also called wheel guards. The purpose is to protect your skin from sparks and wood fragments, as well as keeping your fingers away from the moving surface.
Most bench grinders will have a built-in eye shield, often made of a transparent material so that you can see the wheel operating. The guard is placed over the opening to the wheel to ensure fragments will not rise and get into your eyes and face. Do not get complacent and assume the guard is enough, it is important to wear eye protection as well.
Motor rotation speed
This is the number of times that the grinder wheel rotates per minute. This is measures in RPM (rounds per minute).
Speeds range from around 2000 to 3000 RPM as you move up the price bracket. A higher motor speed is desirable as this will produce a better finish. You may also hear the term no-load speed, which simply means the RPM when no surfaces are interacting with the grinder wheel.
Most bench grinders will come with a variable speed trigger that allows you to adjust the RPM while using as your projects dictate.
Grinder wheel diameter
This is probably the most important aspect to consider when choosing a bench grinder. Grinders designed for different purposes will have wheel diameters specific to that function.
Wheel diameter is measured in inches and the most common are 3”, 6” and 8”. Larger wheel diameters allow for ease of use especially when it comes to larger projects. They spin faster and so heat up more than smaller wheels. Smaller wheels are more curved and this can lead to slight variations in the bevel formation.
While this is a tool that people tend to set up and leave in place, size is still an important factor.
Single grinding wheels and bench grinders with smaller grinding wheels will take up less space in your workstation and give you more surface to work on.
A tool rest is a flat metal surface that leans against the grinding wheel when you are using it. The purpose is to give whatever you are grinding a stable, flat surface to rest on so that the tool is sharpened evenly.
These rests are fully adjustable in regards to angle and tilt, but check you are buying one large enough for your intended use.
Rubber foot pads or bench mounting holes act on the bench grinder to secure it to the surface of your workbench. This is vital when the bench grinder is in use as the grinder vibrates a lot and if not adequately secured, can be very dangerous.
Rubber foot pads attach to the base of the grinder to increase friction between the grinder and the bench. Bench mounting holes are an even more secure option as these attach directly to the bench and screw the grinder down to the surface.
Bench grinders are powered by electric motors that cause the wheel to turn. This power is measured in amps and as a general rule, a higher amperage is better. This indicates that the bench grinder can handle more tough materials and will do the job faster. This creates additional pressure on the grinding wheel.
If you are looking to use the bench grinder in this fashion, it is important to choose a sufficiently powerful option of the grinding wheels will slow down. High powered bench grinders are also advised if you wish to use the machine for polishing, as lower-powered machines will not be as effective.
Some bench grinders come with built-in lights to help you see what you’re working on, particularly useful if your workstation is in a poorly-lit area.
Other features include an extraction unit to draw out dust and loose fragments. While these are not essential features, it is worth looking into if you have some money to play around with.
Wheel bore size
The wheel bore is the hole that the grinding disc attaches to. If you are planning on using your bench grinder for a wide range of purposes and intend to swap out the grinding discs it is important to know the wheel bore size.
This means that when you purchase alternate or replacement grinding discs you can be sure they will fit on your machine and work efficiently.
One of the best things about bench grinders is that you can switch the grinding wheels in and out to suit different purposes. Common combinations of wheels are one dry, one wet; one dry and one belt sander; one dry and one wire brush; one dry and one cloth polishing or two dry grinding wheels with different grit levels.
There are also different shapes of wheel, most common ones being straight, tapered, saucer and cylinder.
Cylinder wheels are hollow and come in sizes up to 12 inches, perfect for large projects. Saucer wheels are primarily designed for sharpening saw blades.
Tapered wheels are designed for delicate work such as grinding gear teeth and threads as the tapered edges allow you to get into the grooves easily.
Straight wheels are the most common and have a concave surface which is often used to sharpen tools. This is a multifunctional wheel and can be used for any type of grinding.
The main distinction between wheels is the coarseness of the grit on the surface. Grit ranges from coarse to medium, fine and superfine. Coarse grit is more abrasive and is used for speed and initial modifications. Finer grit wheels are then used to give the project a smooth finish as this creates clean and sharp edges. Superfine grit is numbered 150+, fine is 80-120, medium 36-60 and coarse 16-24.
There are 4 main materials grit can be made from - aluminium oxide, silicon carbide, diamond and ceramic. Aluminum oxide is the most common and comes in grey and brown colors for general purpose use. You can also get pink or white wheels for harder steel and ruby red for tool steel.
Silicon carbide wheels are green or black. The black wheels are for softer materials such as aluminium, plastic and marble. The green wheels are intended for use on blades, drill bits and carbide-based tools. It also produces a nice polish when used on steel.
Diamond wheels are the strongest as the wheels are coated with tiny specs of diamond and so can cut almost any material.
Ceramic is a newer style of grinding wheel and is advantageous because it does not go dull, instead sharpening through use. The only downside to these wheels is that they are expensive as you do not need to resurface.
Grinding wheels are also colour coded for ease of identification. Brown is for heavy fettling use, grey is for use on standard steel, white for sharpening tools and green is for fine grinding.
Grit is also measured from a-z for its hardness, with Z being the hardest. As the material you are working with gets harder, you want to make the grinding wheel softer. This is not a standardized unit and so it is important to be consistent with the manufacturer of your grinding wheels as one company’s B may be another’s D.
As with all power tools, noise is to be expected when they are in use.
When you move towards more powerful bench grinders, they will become noisier during operation as they will vibrate more.
Base material and warranty
Good-quality bench grinders often use materials like cast iron for the base. This creates an incredibly stable and sturdy grinder.
Most grinders will be covered by some manufacturer’s warranty usually for a period of 2 -5 years.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you use a bench grinder?
As the grinder is a powerful tool, the first step is to ensure it is secured to the workstation and is safe to operate. The tool rest should be tightly affixed and your working area should be clear. It is a good idea to keep a bucket of cold water nearby to cool off metal during the grinding process.
Once the grinder is on, stand directly in front and place whatever you are grinding on the tool rest, moving slowly towards the wheel until the surfaces touch. Only allow the edge of the grinder to touch, never the sides.
To cut through metal, move it back and forth along the edge, turning gently until it breaks. Dip into cold water to cool down.
What safety precautions should I take?
You should always tie long hair up to prevent it burning.
Safety goggles should be worn to protect your eyes and a face mask should be worn to protect your delicate facial skin.
You should always wear closed-toe shoes or steel-toed work boots and earmuffs are also advised.