Whether you’re looking to sharpen one of your chisels, give a new edge to a thrifted piece or even reshape an edge completely, there’s one tool that can do the job comfortably and safely. Bench grinders can be extremely useful to have in any workshop, especially if you spend some time getting acquainted with them and figuring out the best way to get the boat out of them. So if you’re wondering where you can find the best bench grinders in 2021 or how to go about picking the perfect tool for your needs, we’ve got you covered with a complete guide and some awesome recommendations.
What Should You Consider Before Buying A Bench Grinder?
Before buying a bench grinder you should be very aware of the kind of uses you intend to put it to. A big part of a successful purchase is whether your chosen tool is actually made for the type of work you intend to do with it. Try to keep this aspect in mind as we go through the various features and functions that can play a role in selecting the best bench grinder.
Bench grinders come in a lot of different shapes and sizes from the common to the extremely niche. For our purposes the two main sizes to consider are the 6 inch wheel and the 8 inch wheel.
The 6 inch wheel will achieve a higher spin speed while an 8 inch one will be slower but more versatile. They also have a larger surface area which means that they can be more efficient in sharpening.
There are multiple kinds of wheels each best suited for one purpose or another. Choosing the right one can be important not only for the success of your project but also for overall safety. Fortunately, unless you’re looking for a grinder for specialized work, the straight wheel should serve most of your needs.
Straight Wheel - This is the most common wheel you’ll find and likely the one you’ll use on most of your projects. It’s ideal for sharpening and it can undertake most types of grinding. Versatile and safe, it’s likely your best bet and ideal companion especially if you’re a DIY-er.
A few other types wheels worth mentioning
Saucer wheel - meant for sharpening saws. Tapered wheel - suited for delicate work. Cylinder wheel - necessary for people who need a wide surface area for grinding. Diamond wheel - suited for extremely hard material.
In this department as well you’ll find a variety of types of grit that you can choose for your wheel. But there are three main ones that seem to serve most people and most purposes. When it comes to grit color is everything. Usually the color of a wheel will tell you what kind of grit it is and what use it’s suited for.
The most important aspects to consider when choosing the wheel grit are the grit size and the grit hardness.
This aspect is important for the type of finish you’ll get. There are four main types of grit: coarse, medium, fine and superfine. The coarser the grit is, the faster it removes material but the rougher the finish. The finer the grit the finer the finish.
Measure from A to Z, the hardness of the grid varies from A - softest to Z - hardest. This is a shoe size type of metric that can vary for the same rating depending on the manufacturer. Best advice is to stick to one you know.
Aluminum Oxide grit - is likely to be the type you run across most frequently and possibly the one you will be working with yourself. It comes in a variety of colors based on what you’ll be using it for. Grey or brown are affordable and great for most uses including steel sharpening. White, pink and ruby get progressively more expensive but also handle much stronger material.
Silicon Carbide grit - is usually recognized because it is either black or green. The black variety is very sharp and it’s usually mostly used on soft metals, plastic or even marble. The green one is sharper still and used for hard metals. This type of grit is mostly used for finishing.
Ceramic grit - is also an increasingly popular option but you have to be ready to fork up the cash for it. It’s one of the most expensive types of grit so it will set you back. This is mostly because unlike its alternatives, ceramic grit doesn’t dull at all. Sounds neat, right? It is, but be advised that some manufacturers will mix the ceramic with other compounds making it less effective. Unless you’re willing to splurge or want the ceramic for special use, it won’t be the most effective solution.
The motor of a bench grinder determines its power which drives the rotation of the wheel. The more powerful the motor, the harder the wheel can spin. Although speed usually means that you can get your work done faster, if a bench grinder can get to 3000 or 3600 rpm, you’re usually in the clear. Some more heavy duty tasks can need more horsepower but for the majority of sharpening this range is excellent.
The tool rest is an often neglected part of the bench grinder that can make a huge difference in the sharpening process. If a tool rest is hard to work with or uncomfortable, you’ll likely get uneven results. Make sure to get accustomed to the one your machine comes with. Alternatively, if you feel that you still can’t get the hang of it, get a stand alone tool rest. They can offer more flexibility and comfort and can be essential for a job well done.
Types of Bench Grinders
There are certain bench grinders that are manufactured specifically to suit a purpose and others that are versatile but best suited for certain tasks. Here are the most common types you’ll find.
Automotive Bench Grinder
The automotive bench grinder is used for making and shaping metal parts. It’s a powerful tool and it’s built for balance and stability. They’re especially great for repetitive tasks.
Woodworking Bench Grinder
Ideally suited for tool sharpening, this is the perfect tool for woodworkers. These types of grinders will usually run at lower speeds and be more suitable for more precise and delicate work than the automotive variety.
Standard Variable Speed Bench Grinder
Last but not least, the standard variable speed bench grinder offers a lot of flexibility but it can get pricey. These grinders allow you to adjust speed and change different types of wheels. This will allow you to work on more diverse projects more efficiently, with less constraints.
The Wen Bench 4276 bench grinder is exactly what you need to replace tedious manual sharpening with an efficient process that takes a fraction of the time and produces excellent results. Sporting a stable base that will fix itself steadily in the work surface, this grinder will go as high as 3450 RPM and provide a great efficient grinding experience for your tools.
Sporting two easily replaceable wheels of 60 and 36 grits respectively, the Wen is designed for performance and safety, boasting protective eye guards and a flexible work light to ensure a good result in any type of conditions. A great unit for hobbyists or anyone who knows they can get the job done on a 6 inch wheel.
Dewalt delivers with one of the best bench grinders in its price range, from performance to design, a great tool. Packing some serious punch at ¾ horsepower and 3600 RPM, this 8 inch machine will be exactly what you need for grinding quickly, efficiently and safely. The sturdy base offers great stability and, provided it’s set on a clean, flat surface, no vibration to speak of. The motor, while powerful, is not too loud, and the two wheels the unit comes with do an excellent job grinding from the first go.
The tool rest is truly adjustable allowing for great control and maneuverability in positioning. Powerful, reliable and versatile the Dewalt 8 inch bench grinder is the perfect for at home and professional use.
Impressive ¾ Horsepower motor
3600 RPM for fast removal of material
Easily adjustable tool rest for increased comfort while grinding
The Jet JBG-8B is the winner of the best splurge category and for good reason. It’s a 1 horsepower monster that will likely handle anything you throw at its 8 inch wheels and 3,450 RPMs. It boasts a very long lasting design from the pre-lubricated ball bearings and cast-iron wheels to the impressive 60 pound weight which screams longevity. Vibration will not be an issue with the JBG-8B. It will power through tough metal while barely slowing down, reducing the time you need to spend on sharpening and shaping tasks as well as the pressure you need to apply.
Nothing is flimsy in this bench grinder. Everything is build to stand the test of time while providing an excellent experience that you won’t be in a hurry to replace even after the generous 2 year warranty runs out.
The Bucktool bench grinder is a good tool that could compare to any of our contenders for both stability and power but it makes the list because of it’s Slow/High speed feature which allows the user much better control over the grinding process. Most of the time grinding is about taking off as much material as quickly as possible. But sometimes precision comes into play and the Bucktool is the tool for you. If you anticipate needing more versatility that a simple one speed grinder can bring, give the Bucktool bench grinder a look.
Sizeable ½ horsepower motor
White aluminum oxide grinding wheels
Dual speed switch
Grinding wheels will need to be trued up before first grind
Easy to mount and operate, the Skil is a great tool for beginners that comes with enough power to truly show how a bench grinder can make a difference in your work. With built in LED lights and safety features like eye shields and rubber feet, this is an affordable option that will provide the needed functionality in a quality package.
Powerful 2.1 Amp motor
LED work lights installed over both wheels
Rubber feet for better stability
6 inch wheels unsuitable for larger tools
Best Bench Grinders FAQs
Q: What can a bench grinder be used for?
A: Bench grinders can be used for a variety of tasks. They can be used for polishing and buffing or for sharpening or completely reshaping a metal tool. This will depend on the type of grinding wheel you’re working with. The coarser the grind the more material you will be taking off but the tougher the finish.
Q: Do bench grinders need to be bolted down?
A: Unless instructed by the manufacturer you do not need to bolt a bench grinder down. Check the assembly instructions to make sure there are no bolts or instructions to that effect and you should be good to go.
Q: How do you maintain a bench grinder?
A: Maintain a bench grinder by making sure that the grinding wheel is cleaned or dressed. This process will remove any material clogging up the wheel stone allowing it to grind more efficiently.
Q: Can you use a bench grinder on wood?
A: Yes, a bench grinder can be used to put the finishing touches on a woodworking project but we recommend adjusting the grinding wheel to one appropriate for the material in order to make sure you’re not damaging the wood.
The Woodsmith Review Team’s product reviews and in-depth guides are here to help you choose the best tools and gear to build great-looking projects confidently. The content is created by The Woodsmith Review Team. Woodsmith’s editorial staff is not involved. Woodsmith is reader-supported: When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.