How to Properly Use a Bench Grinder to Shape Metal

What You'll Need
Bench grinder with 80 grit wheel
Safety goggles
Water pan

A bench grinder is a handy tool that can be used in a variety of applications, and is frequently used to shape metal for tools. A bench grinder is a solid power tool, usually installed or bolted to a work table or bench, which on one side rotates a stone wheel quickly, against which materials can be held to enable a varying degree of shaping and finishing. On the other side is generally a wire wheel. A grinding wheel generally comes in different sizes, 6, 8, and 10 inches, and different grits for doing a spectrum of functions. You can grind away metal with the bench grinder, or use the wire wheel to polish metal or remove debris. Bench grinders are a staple in any shop, and provide a multitude of uses. Is is extremely important to wear eye protection when working with a bench grinder, with either the grinding or wire wheel, as both will throw off pieces of material, either from the material that is being worked with or from the wheel it's self. Here you will find information on basic grinding practices for grinding and shaping metal.

Step 1 - Prepare Yourself

Due to the fact that the grinder will throw off debris and material from both the item being shaped and the wheel it's self, it is imperative to at least wear safety goggles. Leather gloves, a leather apron, and a full face shield are recommended. Make sure you have all of your materials close at hand, as well as a pot of water to cool the metal that is being shaped.

Step 2 - Start the Grinder

Once everything is ready, make sure you inspect the wheel on the grinder to make sure it is fitting properly and that it is secure. Make sure that the tool rest, in front of the grinding wheel, is adjusted properly  so that the grinding wheel does not make contact with the tool rest. Also, many grinders have a water pan underneath the tool rest for easy and convenient cooling of metal that is being worked with. If your grinder has such a tray, make sure it is at least halfway full. If not, keep a supply of water close at hand. Make sure that the grinder is plugged into the wall, and standing to the side, turn the power on. Let the grinding wheel come to full speed before you begin.

Step 3 - Grind the Metal

Working slowly, start shaping the meal by holding the metal piece against the grinding wheel. Make sure you have a firm grip on the material that is being shaped, as the grinder will throw the material off if you do not. Laying the material against the tool rest, slowly grind away the desired material. Let the machine do the work for you; excessive pressure against the wheel will only cause premature dulling and can damage the wheel. Never try to use the side of the wheel to grind; this will shatter the wheel. Dip the metal in the water frequently (about every thirty to forty-five seconds) to keep it cool enough to handle.