Best Bench Grinder
Bench grinders come in a variety of sizes and configurations. The most common sizes are 6 and 8 inches. This refers to the size of the grinding wheel itself. For homeowners, do-it-yourselfers, and contractors, 6-inch grinders are generally sufficient. The larger, 8-inch grinder is mostly for industrial applications. The major advantage of the larger wheel size is longer wheel life and a faster surface speed. While the motor probably turns at the same number of RPM, the larger diameter makes the outside of the wheel move faster, grinding faster as well.
Although bench grinders are rather simple tools, there are several things to keep in mind when looking at them. For the most part, motor size isn't a big deal, as every manufacturer uses motors that are large enough to power the wheels. Instead, look at the tool rest, as a good tool rest will make sharpening drill bits and other tools easier. Many only have a sheet metal rest, while the better ones are cast. The other thing you want the rest to have is a notch for drill bits, to hold them at the right angle to the wheel.
The biggest complaint most people have with grinders, regardless of how much they spend on them, is wheel wobble. This is mostly a result of poor manufacturing of the wheels themselves, not the grinder. Manufacturers don’t package the most expensive wheels on the market with their bench grinders. However, with a little bit of work with a wheel dresser (which every manufacturer recommends) this problem can be eliminated.
Wheel wobble can be reduced by three things that a manufacturer can do:
- Using wider wheels, as there is more surface in contact with the arbor.
- Using a larger diameter arbor, as it is more rigid.
- Using machined washers, instead of stamped ones, for wheel backers.
Please note that machined washers are extremely rare, but if you have some basic metalworking skills, you can produce your own. The thicker they are, the better; just as long as you can still tighten the nut on the arbor.
Best Bench Grinder Overall:
Bench grinders may not be the sexiest tools on the market, but they’re one of the more necessary ones to have. Almost anyone who has a halfway serious workshop has a bench grinder mounted to their workbench or bolted to its own stand.
Bench grinders are mainly used for sharpening tools, especially drill bits. The two wheels are always of different grits, allowing you to use one for coarse sharpening and the other for fine. The tool itself is rather simple, being just a motor with the shaft extending out both ends. The motor shaft is also the arbor for the wheels which are held in place by washers and nuts. A cage is mounted around the wheel for protection, along with some sort of clear shield over the cutting area so that sparks don’t shoot up into your eye.
Most grinders suffer from problems with wheel wobble and there are two basic causes of this problem. First, the wheel quality isn’t all that good with center holes usually too large and not fitting snugly to the arbor. The second issue is the washers which go on either side of the wheel to stabilize it are usually stamped, rather than machined. They may not be perfectly flat and usually aren’t thick enough to guarantee they’re exactly perpendicular to the arbor. However, if you dress your wheels, as the manufacturer’s recommend, you can get rid of pretty much all the wobble.
The other really important part of any grinder is the tool rest since most grinders only have a thin, sheet metal rest. While they’re adjustable, they aren’t really all that solid. Considering this metal rest is what’s supposed to hold the tool being sharpened at the right angle to the wheel, I’d think manufacturers would put more effort into them. Grinders can range anywhere from six to ten-inches with the size refer to the diameter of the wheel. While it’s possible to mount a smaller wheel on a larger grinder, it’s pretty much impossible to do the reverse since physically, there usually isn’t enough space to do so.
I’ve provided a wide gambit of choices here, seeking out the best bench grinders of the bunch. While there isn’t really a whole lot of difference between one grinder and another, I think that you’ll see each selection offers something unique.
Craftsman wins the top spot with a really well designed grinder and I especially like the tool rests on this one, although that's not the only feature it's got going for it. The folks at Craftsman really put some thought into what a grinder needed, when they developed this model. Read Full Review
Delta makes top quality tools, and this grinder is no exception. It has 8-inch wheels and has variable speed. Everything on it is designed to be easy to set up just the way you need it to be. Read Full Review
If you need a heavy-duty grinder, this 10-inch monster from Jet is for you. The extra power and large wheel size will tackle the tough jobs you need done. Read Full Review
This grinder is rather unique in that it's the only one I've seen with integral dust ports to tie it into your dust collection system. Everything else is pretty good about it too, from the machined tool rests to the variable speed. Read Full Review
Best Budget Bench Grinder:
A bench grinder is just about one of those “must have” tools you find in pretty much everyone’s workshop. However, spending big bucks on a high quality grinder may not be in most people’s budget with many of us having to get our tools at the lowest possible price to buy the most variety, rather than investing in one really good tool.
Never fear, manufacturers realize that many of us are in this situation and work to provide products that will meet the needs of budget-minded users. That includes bench grinders that you can pick up for really reasonable prices.
The grinders on this list are all available for a street price of around $60 or less and you’d be surprised with what you can find for that kind of price tag. While these aren’t the best grinders on the market, they will provide you with good service, especially if you take the time to set them up right.
A grinder is a motor with the grinding wheels connected to both ends, a power switch, some shields, and tool rests; as power tools go, you really can’t get much simpler. However, they fulfill an important role, allowing individuals to keep many other tools sharp and in top form.
The biggest problem most people have with bench grinders is wheel wobble which is caused by a combination of the quality of the wheels themselves and using stamped, rather than machined, washers to hold them in place. While a common problem, it’s fairly easy to eliminate wheel wobble, simply by dressing the wheels. Every manufacturer recommends this, although few do-it-yourselfers bother to take the time to do so.
So, what makes a good grinder? There are a few things to look for. First of all, it needs a big enough motor to be able to run the wheels and not bog down when you press a drill bit into the wheels. The next important thing is a good tool which can make all the difference in whether the grinder will be easy or difficult to work with.
Some grinders also come with an adjustable speed mechanism, although this isn’t all that common. When sharpening hardened steel or stainless steel, the slower wheel speed can keep you from overheating the tool you are sharpening, thereby losing the temper of the steel.
Buffalo actually produces an eight-inch grinder in this price range. This unit comes with dual independent work lights, making it easier to set them for each wheel. Read Full Review
Skil is the first company I've seen to put LED work lights on a bench grinder. While others have work lights, they are incandescent. You don't have to worry about these burning out over time. Read Full Review
Grizzly makes an extensive line of industrial power tools. Most of their equipment is very reasonably priced, while still maintaining high quality. This grinder offers the best value on our list. Read Full Review
Shop Fox's six-inch grinder is nothing fancy, but it’s good quality. They build equipment mostly for commercial shops, so it's surprising to see one at this price range. Read Full Review