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It’s not a tool every DIYer needs, but if you do quite a bit of work with metal, including auto repair, it may be worth your while to own a bench grinder. These tools basically are a spinning grindstone, which is useful for grinding down rough edges, smoothing away burrs, polishing metal surfaces, removing paint or other finishes, sharpening knives and other blades, cutting metal, removing rust, or shaping metal items.
Here are our favorite bench grinders in several categories to suit a wide range of needs.
Best Overall: DEWALT DW756 6-Inch Bench Grinder
The reasonable price and superior construction make this tool our best overall pick. The DEWALT DW756 6-Inch Bench Grinder is a great option for amateur handymen as well as tradesmen who need a machine that can do some heavy lifting. Available in the classic DEWALT yellow—this ginder will look great on just about anyone’s tool bench.
The DEWALT DW756 grinder is easy to use and easy to mount. This 15-inch long machine sports a 5/8-horsepower motor, which is quite a bit in this small body. It can run up to 3,450 rpm for high speed needs. The motor housing and base are made of industrial cast iron while the tool rests are aluminum. There’s 12.5 inches between the wheels for a less cluttered feel and the wheels have exhaust ports in the rear of their guards to prevent overheating. This grinder comes with eye shields, spark deflectors, and 36- and 60-grit grinding wheels. The whole thing weighs just over 28 pounds and includes a three-year warranty.
Best Budget: WEN 4276 6-Inch Bench Grinder
Popular, simple, and inexpensive, the WEN 4276 6-Inch Bench Grinder is a great value pick. The WEN grinder is an ideal high speed option for anyone looking for a quiet and compact bench grinder than can get the work done. It sports a 2.1 amp motor for a maximum speed of 3,450 rpm. It can fit grinding wheels that are 6 inches in diameter and ¾ inch wide. It has extra-large eye shield and major wheel guards for added safety and worry-free use.
The WEN 4276 comes with both a 60-grit and 36-grit grinding wheel for general purpose and faster grinding, but can be outfitted with a variety of wheels. It also sports a flexible worklight for convenient and precision work at any time. The machine is easy to mount with a wide and sturdy base, and WEN sells an optional cast iron stand for non-bench usage.
Best Professional: Jet 578008 8-Inch Industrial Bench Grinder
The Jet 578008 8-Inch Industrial Bench Grinder offers one full horsepower for your grinding needs; that's a lot of power. This grinder sports a heavy-duty motor and is CSA and CUS certified. It is ideal for small business owners, contractors, construction use, and tradesmen keeping their tools in sharp shape.
This 44-pound electric bench grinder functions at 3,600 rpm for real speed. It is set up with 115-volt, 11-amp, 60-hertz service but comes with a guide for rewiring for 5.5-amp 230-volt use. This machine is powerful enough for professional needs and durable enough for a professional setting, with full wheel dressings, a single dust chute, large sealed bearings, and adjustable safety shields. It also has a toggle switch safety key for added protection. This 8-inch grinder comes with one fine and one coarse grinding wheel.
Best Combination: Dayton Combination Belt and Bench Grinder
If you want a little bit of everything, try the Dayton Combination Belt and Bench Grinder. This Dayton machine uses a ¼-horsepower, 2.5-amp motor to power both a 6-inch grinding wheel and an adjustable belt sander. Just attach this machine to your tool bench and get to work sharpening, shaping and sanding just about anything you can think of. It comes with an attached work light, tool rests, eye shield, and a thumb-knob adjustment for belt tracking. It’s a very versatile option.
Best for DIYers: Skil 3380 6-Inch Bench Grinder
If you’re new to the DIY scene in general, or to bench grinders in particular, you’ll appreciate the quality, price, and performance of the Skil 3380 6-Inch Bench Grinder. It’s one of the most popular bench grinders for DIYers, and for good reason.
The tool has a powerful 2.1-amp motor with 3,450 rpm. The tool rests are adjustable, so you can position whatever you’re working on just how you need it. Rubber feet keep the bench grinder steady and in place, so you don’t need to worry about vibrations “walking” the tool off your bench.
Two wheels are included: one coarse and one medium, so you can tackle a wide variety of materials. There’s a built-in work light positioned over each wheel, which makes it easy to clearly see your progress as you work, whether you’re sharpening a blade, polishing metal, or honing a knife.
Best Slow Speed: WEN 4286 8-Inch Slow Speed Bench Grinder
While higher speeds are perfect for grinding and deburring, a bench grinder with a lower speed is best suited to sharpening. So if your main needs are keeping knives, scissors, gardening tools, and other bladed devices honed and ready to cut, the WEN 4286 8-Inch Slow Speed Bench Grinder is a great choice.
The tool has plenty of power, with a whisper-quiet 3-amp motor. Top speed is 1,750 rpm, which gives you much more control than is typically found with faster bench grinders. Eye guards are mounted over each of the 8-inch wheels, but as with any power tool—and especially a tool that creates a lot of fine, flying dust and particles, such as a bench grinder—additional eye protection is mandatory.
This WEN bench grinder includes two 8 x 1-inch wheels: one fine 120-grit for detail work and one medium 60-grit for general buffing, sanding, and polishing.
Best Variable Speed: Delta Power Tools 23-197 8-Inch Variable Speed Bench Grinder
A variable speed bench grinder offers you more control; go with the slow speed for careful sharpening of axes, gardening tools, knives, and other bladed tools, or speed it up to deburr, polish, grind, or clean your various tools or other metal objects.
The Delta Power Tools 23-197 8-Inch Variable Speed Bench Grinder gives you the control you need and the features you want. The 5-amp motor lets you choose variable speeds from 2,000 to 3,400 rpm. The two tool rests are independently adjustable, and the left tool rest has a drill bit rest so you can get the perfect angle every time. There’s even a removable water tray, so you can easily keep whatever metal object you are working on from overheating due to friction. Plus, this bench grinder has an adjustable work light to help you focus on your task.
You get two 8-inch grinding wheels: one 36-grit and one 60-grit, so you can choose the appropriate wheel for your needs.
Best for Crafters: Central Machinery 3-Inch Bench Grinder with Flex Shaft
Some people, especially crafters, need a bench grinder not to tackle large tools or pieces of metal, but to polish, grind, or clean small items, such as metal jewelry, trim, or small hand tools. For those users, the Central Machinery 3-Inch Bench Grinder with Flex Shaft fits the bill.
This mini bench grinder has a 31-inch flexible shaft that accepts a variety of attachments—including most Dremel attachments—for use in grinding, polishing, deburring, cleaning, and sanding metal, including nuts and bolts, small automotive parts, jewelry, knives, small gardening tools, and other detailed metalwork.
Although small, this bench grinder has a reasonable amount of power, and variable speed control up to a whopping 10,000 rpm. It includes a 3-inch grinder stone and a 1/8-inch shaft-mount grinder stone. It’s a great addition to any crafter’s or metalworker’s workshop.
Easy to use, a compact size, and 5/8-HP that provides effective high-speed grinding: that’s why the DEWALT DW756 6-Inch Bench Grinder (view at Amazon) wins our top spot for a tool suited both to the beginner or more experienced DIYer. But if you need professional-level power, you’ll appreciate the full 1-HP provided by the Jet 578008 (view at Amazon), which is durable and versatile enough for use in a commercial shop or at home.
What to Look for in a Bench Grinder
There are two common sizes of bench grinders: 6-inch and 8-inch. That number refers to the size of the grinding wheel. You’ll also find smaller bench grinders—3 inches is fairly common—that are used primarily for crafts or other detailed work.
For the average DIYer, a 6-inch bench grinder is the right choice. These tools typically spin the grinding wheels at a set speed of anywhere from 3,400 to 3,600 revolutions per minute, and are excellent for sharpening knives and tools, grinding away paint, grime, or rust, sanding metal and wood, and other light-to-moderate repairs around the house or garage.
Eight-inch bench grinders are standard in automotive, woodworking, or metalworking shops, but some DIYers like them for home use, as well, particularly if they do a lot of work with metal. The wheels typically spin more slowly on these larger grinders—around 1,500 to 2,000 is a common range. Some have both a high and a low speed setting so you can choose the one that best suits your needs—slower for more control, faster when you don’t need as much finesse.
Most bench grinders come with two installed wheels, and usually, those wheels will have different grits and be different types. Commonly, one wheel will have a grit size between 80 and 120 for handling light grinding tasks, and the other will be either a medium grit of 30 to 60 or a coarse grit of 20 to 24 for more aggressive work.
The most common wheel materials are:
- Silicon carbide: This common material is suitable for most grinding and sharpening tasks, but tends to heat up very quickly.
- Aluminum oxide: Another common material that’s especially suited to sharpening and grinding hard metals. Aluminum oxide doesn’t heat up as quickly as silicon carbide.
- Ceramic aluminum oxide: Excellent for a wide range of metals, ceramic aluminum oxide is long lasting, self-sharpening and not prone to overheating.
- Wire: These wheels are covered in steel or brass wire filaments. They’re used mostly for automotive repairs and bodywork, but if you do a lot of work with metal, this might be a useful choice.
- Buffing: These heavy cloth wheels are perfect for polishing, buffing, or shining up a wide variety of metals.
You’ll find that some manufacturers state the power of their bench grinders in amps, while others use horsepower. As a general rule, 6-inch grinders have motors with around 2.1 amps of power—that’s around ¼-horsepower. Most 8-inch grinders have around 5 amps of power, which is roughly ¾ horsepower.
The most powerful bench grinders boast 1-horsepower motors, but these are generally used in industrial or professional settings, not for typical DIY projects.
What is a bench grinder used for?
While not a must-have tool for every DIYer, a bench grinder is more versatile than you might think. Along with its major use of grinding down metal, you can also use a bench grinder to sharpen tools, buff or polish metal, remove hardened dirt or other grunge from tools, cut metal or wood, remove rust, smooth and shape the edges of wood or metal, and even work on crafts such as jewelry-making or model-building.
Why does a bench grinder have two wheels?
Just about every bench grinder has two wheels, which serves to increase the versatility of the tool. Typically, bench grinders come with one sanding/grinding wheel with a light-to-medium grit for light sanding tasks and one sanding/grinding wheel with a medium-to-coarse grit for tougher grinding situations. But there are many wheels available for these tools, some quite specialized. You can swap out one or both of the wheels for a finer or coarser grit, a wire wheel for shaping or cleaning metal, a buffing wheel for polishing, a cutting wheel for wood or metal, specialized wheels for grinding or cutting stone, or even a specialized wheel for cutting gemstones.
Can a bench grinder be used on wood?
While grinding, shaping, and buffing metal are the primary uses of a bench grinder, you can absolutely use these tools on wood, as well. With the right wheel, your bench grinder can sand, cut, shape, buff, smooth, or polish a wide variety of woods. Typically, however, you won’t want to use a bench grinder for very soft woods; these tools are best used on hard materials.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Michelle Ullman, the tool expert for The Spruce. She has extensive experience not only in writing about all things related to the home, but also in carrying out various DIY projects, including landscaping, painting, flooring, wallpapering, furniture makeovers, and simple repairs.