What is a Bench Grinder Used for? – The Ultimate Guide

A bench grinder is a system of two wheels that is able to sharpen tools that have become dull, small polish pieces of metal and fix them up, as well as fix broken steel blades.

And this article, I’ll explain in-depth how you can milk your bench grinder for all its worth.

Bench Grinder Uses

Bench Grinder Beginner’s Guide

Don’t start using it right off the bat, but instead, when you turn your grinder on, stand to its side until it reaches its maximum speed (measured in rotations per minute or RPM).

After that, move your piece directly on the grinder wheel and hold onto it tightly with both hands. Having a tight grip is important. Otherwise, your piece might fly off.

Slowly, push the piece towards the grinder’s wheel until it comes in contact with the edge but never allow the piece to touch the sides of the grinder as this would damage the side.

In essence, only the front of the wheel should come in contact with the workpiece.

Shaping or Buffing Wood

When it comes to shaping a piece of wood, you should get it in contact with the grinder at the areas that you want to carve.

Using a back and forth motion to do this gradually is the best method.

If your grinder’s speed is a little slow, you can use a buffing wheel which is typically used to hone a razor edge on carving tools.

You can use a grinder of 1,725 RPM speed to buff your workpiece by applying wax on it and then working on it after the wax has dried.

Making Cuts

To avoid heating up your grinder and inflicting damage on it, don’t hold your workpiece in place for extended periods of time.

This also reduces the risk of your wooden pieces catching fire due to excessive grinding.

To cut through a wooden piece, place it on the tool rest, and gently turn it towards the surface of the grinder.

When the grinder is in contact with the spot you want to cut, turn the piece until it breaks in half. And make sure to get a grip on both halves.

Sharpening Chisels

You can use your bench grinder to sharpen chisels and other sharp metal tools.

Rest your workpiece on the tool rest to have the most stability as you sharpen it and hold the chisel using both your hands.

Slowly push the chisel blade to the grinder at a degree that slightly tilts up or down, according to how the blade tapers off.

Using the same forward and back motion as with wood, you’ll get the best results.

Also, avoid your tool from turning orange under the effect of friction. Always dip it in a bucket or a pot of water to cool it down and continue working.

Dressing the Grinding Wheel

Whatever it is that you use your bench grinder for, the grinding surface of the wheel is bound to flake off. Whether it’s cutting, shaping, buffing, grinding wood or metal.

Eventually, you’ll get your machine clogged or the wheel will wear out or get uneven at certain angles.

That’s why it’s important to clean out the grinding surface with a dresser. This way, your wheel will maintain a fresh edge.

To do this, simply adjust the tool rest to a 90-degree angle and hold the dresser flat on the wheel surface.

Move the dresser across the wheel to make the surface smooth.

Understanding Your Bench Grinder

Understanding how your bench grinder operates, what you need, and the different parts of the grinder may help you understand how it’s fit for its various uses. And here’s a short description:

Tool Rest

Using a tool rest can help you get a more steady and stable performance. You can use the one that comes with the grinder or buy one that’s more adjustable.

Grinder Wheels

The wheels used to grind come in a variety of sizes including 36-grit wheels, 60-grit wheels, and 100-grit wheels. The tougher your material is, and the smoother you want it to be, the bigger the grit size should be.

Buffing Wheel

This wheel is the one responsible for honing blades and buffing up wooden pieces after waxing.

A Water Bucket

If your bench grinder doesn’t come with a built-in coolant, having a bucket or pot of water by your side is important to cool down your workpieces after they’ve been exposed to a lot of friction.

Safety Measures


Using gloves protects you from the heat that’s generated on wood after having been ground and exposed to excess friction.

Safety Glasses

Besides the spark deflector, you should wear your safety glasses to protect your eyes from the flying sparks and debris.

Ear Plugs

If your grinder runs on a bigger motor, it’ll probably make a lot of noise. So wearing earplugs will help protect your eardrums from the noise damage that happens over time.

Face Mask

A face mask protects your throat, mouth, lungs, nostrils, and face from any debris or fine particles that may fly everywhere around you. It’s especially important if you’re working in a confined place such as a garage or a workshop.

Final Thoughts

Although there may seem to be a lot of things to learn and take care of when you’re using a bench grinder, once you understand all the basics, it’s quite simple.

  • Updated October 4, 2019
Thomas R. Hudson