A bench grinder is not a tool that most people use every day. However, if you happen to have one lying around in your workshop or shed, here are ten nifty DIY tips for getting the most out of your bench grinder.
1. Use it as a polishing station
Fitting your bench grinder with a wire wheel on one side and a cotton buffing tool on the other makes for a great way to clean and polish tools. You can also use polishing compound sticks which are colour coded to help you to differentiate between coarse grit and very fine grit.
2. Keep a water bath nearby
When working with steel you must know it can get very hot, very quickly. If it does get too hot it can turn a blackish colour. A good way to prevent this is to move your tool once across and back on the bench grinder, then dip it into a nearby water bath to cool it down before working it again.
3. Grind small objects safely
Small objects can suddenly slip away from between your hands, so if you are not using the correct technique near a bench grinder you risk damage to your fingers. A safe way to handle and find smaller objects is to use locking pliers. This protects your hands against burns from hot metal and enables more precise movements.
4. Dress the wheels frequently
A new wheel cuts and grinds very efficiently but, over time, the dust and sand from working can become clogged up in the spaces between the cutting grit. This can make the wheel dull and prone to overheating during use. Using a wheel dresser can prevent this by cutting away at the surface to expose new grit, squaring the face of the wheel and rounding the wheels.
5. Steer clear of sparks
When you’re sharpening a tool, you can tell when the edge is getting sharp by watching the sparks. If the edge is blunt, the sparks are deflected downward. But as the edge gets sharper, the sparks roll over the tool and fall on the surface facing you. When you see this start to happen, be careful about grinding much more because a thin edge is very vulnerable to overheating.
6. Upgrade the tool rest
Usually, the tool rests that come supplied with bench grinders are quite flimsy and prone to breaking quickly. Upgrading it by purchasing a better quality one enables you to sharpen tools more easily and provides you with a more comfortable way to work.
7. Make it mobile
If your job requires you to be constantly on the move and you find that your bench grinder may be of use during work tasks, then why not consider making it mobile? Simply mount your grinder to a board or small stand so you can clamp it to the bench when you need it, and store it on the shelf when you don’t.
8. Make an angle gauge
Chisels and a variety of other tools work best at certain angles. So before grinding them down, consider researching their optimum angle first and creating an angle gauge to help file them down perfectly. You can make an angle gauge from a thin piece of cardboard using an inexpensive protractor to mark the angles across it.
9. Replace the wheels
Knowing when to replace the wheel is paramount not only for your own safety but also for anyone else who works in the same place. To test and see if your wheel is cracked and needs replacing, use a screwdriver to tap the wheel in four places. The taps should all sound the same. If they don’t, it’s time to get a new wheel. When you install a wheel, don’t over-tighten the nut as this could cause it to crack straight away.
10. Safe use
Of course, as with any type of machinery, safety always comes first. Make sure to wear safety glasses or goggles every time you use a bench grinder and inspect grinder wheels for cracks or damage before use.
First Mats started life as safety matting specialist, but has since expanded to become a complete industrial and commercial supplies company. The focus of First Mats is to provide safety-focused products that improve the wellbeing of staff through quality-approved products, backed up by extensive knowledge. www.firstmats.co.uk