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If you need anything, from tools to work surfaces, smoothed out, roughed up, sharpened, or cut, a bench grinder is a great tool to keep around your workbench. The best bench grinder is a workhorse that is able to not only improve your other tools, but also able to help you scrape metal to prepare for painting and grind and cut difficult pieces of metal with clean workmanship. Choosing a bench grinder can be difficult, though, especially for first time buyers, thanks to the diversity of grinders available. This article will cover everything you need to know to find the best bench grinder for your needs.
Finding the right bench grinder for you comes down to a variety of factors. The size and power you need in a grinder depend heavily on what type of projects you plan to use the grinder for, and what types of grinding wheels a model can accept also play into this decision. In addition, quality construction is extremely important for both safety and durability, so take a close look at materials when choosing a grinder. Additional features, such as an easy mounting system, variable speeds, and fast stopping can all push one grinder ahead of its competitors as well.
We spent tens of hours reviewing the most popular bench grinders, looking at customer reviews and detailed technical specifications to evaluate each model. The result is a compilation of the eight best bench grinders currently on the market, with a model for every price point and feature set. The table below summarizes our top picks – continue reading for detailed reviews and customer feedback about each grinder, complete with pros and cons. Our buying guide covers everything you need to know about choosing the bench grinder that’s right for you. And finally, we sum up our favorite products.
Although this bench grinder from Jet is the most expensive in our roundup, the high price point comes with serious quality – users can’t say enough good things about this grinder. It comes loaded with two 8” wheels, at 36 and 60 grit, and it is built with easy-to-adjust tool rests for both wheels and oversized safety shields that help protect your eyes from spark and grit. The variable speed allows you extreme flexibility in choosing your wheel speed up to 3,600 RPM, making this grinder perfect for everything from cutting to sharpening.
Additional features that set this grinder apart are the included 2.5” dust port and rapid wheel stoppage, both of which increase the safety of this industrial-sized grinder. The cast iron construction and rubber mounts underneath the grinder help reduce vibrations and increase the precision of your cuts. The only mild disappointment is the two-year warranty, which is relatively short given the high price of this grinder.
This large bench grinder from Shop Fox comes at an extremely reasonable price for the features it offers. The dual 8” aluminum-oxide grinding wheels may arrive out of true and require some dressing to reduce vibration, but after that the machine runs quietly and with little vibration. However, running the wheels without dressing them frequently can lead to heavy vibrations and the motor overheating, which can be frustrating to less experienced grinder users. The wheel speed is variable from 2,000 to 3,4000 RPM and controlled easily with a spin dial, but unfortunately it is not possible to tell what speed you are actually running at with the dial.
The oversized spray covers help to reduce spark throw, while the flexible LED light makes it easy to monitor your work and add precision. Also included are two adjustable tool rests made out of aluminum that users found easy to move around and are wide enough to hold most tools.
The grinder comes with a two-year warranty and users reported that Shop Fox is responsive to questions and customer service requests.
Why is it special?
Excellent price point
Flexible LED light and adjustable tool rests
What are the flaws?
Wheels arrive out of true and must be dressed frequently
This variable-speed grinder from Wen is perfect for the advanced hobbyist who demands a lot of features. In addition to the variable speed model, which uses a twist dial to adjust between 2,000 and 3,400 RPM, this grinder is also available in regular and low speed fixed-RPM styles. The dual 8” wheels are 80 and 36 grit and come fully trued so you can get right to work. However, users noticed that the five-amp motor was slightly underpowered for many sharpening jobs and that the wheels would slow down significantly when pressure was applied.
The cast iron base reduces vibration in the grinder and noise from the motor and includes holes in case you wish to mount the unit into your workbench. The grinder also includes a flexible LED light to make it easy to see what you’re grinding and precision, while the spay shields are oversized to help protect your eyes from sparks and dust. Wen covers the grinder with a relatively short two-year warranty.
For users who are new to the world of grinders, this tool from Dewalt offers a wide range of user-friendly features at a reasonable price. The 8” wheels run at a fixed speed of 3,6000 RPM rather than a variable speed, which limits your options for grinding but also reduces the complexity of operating the tool. The wide tool rests don’t adjust, but are well-placed for most applications. Plus, the wide, oversized spray guards to help keep you safe when grinding.
A welcome addition to this grinder for durability is the overheating prevention built into the motor, which helps to extend the life of the grinder. In addition, the motor is protected by a cast iron housing. The cast iron base adds even more weight, reducing vibration when using the grinder and reducing the amount of noise it puts out. However, note that many users still have issues with the 36 grit wheel being out of true and causing excessive vibrations. Dewalt also offers a three-year warranty, which is significantly longer than many competing grinders.
This grinder from Wen was designed with the hobbyist in mind and fits the bill perfectly. The compact grinder is relatively lightweight at only 16 pounds and takes up far less bench space than other grinders thanks to the 6” wheel size. The motor is relatively small at only 2.1 amps, which users who wanted to run the grinder off a small generator or battery appreciated. The downside to the light weight is that the base, although relatively stable, is prone to vibrations.
The speed of the wheels is fixed at 3,450 RPM, which limits the versatility of this grinder for sharpening but makes it useful for cutting metal and rubbing out rust. The tool rests are highly adjustable, which users greatly appreciate, and the oversized spray guards help prevent sparks from flying. The grinder also includes a flexible work light that makes it easy to see what you’re working on. Wen covers this grinder with a two-year warranty.
This industrial sized grinder from Rikon features a powerful motor and a fixed low-speed rotation of 1,725 RPM that together are perfect for sharpening nearly any tool. The adjustable, cast metal tool rests make it extremely easy to position your tool to get the proper sharpening angle. Plus, one of the two included spray guard is a 2.5x magnifying glass to help you zoom in on the sharpening process. The cast metal base and rubberized feet also work to reduce vibration so that overall this is a great grinder for precise sharpening.
However, users complain about the included light, which they found is both dim and difficult to adjust. Some users also noted that the included grinding wheels are very wobbly even after dressing and likely need to be replaced if you are planning to use this unit heavily. That said, despite those flaws, Rikon offers a class-leading five-year warranty on the motor and the construction of the grinder itself – so if you are willing to make a few adjustments, this grinder will last for years to come.
This smaller and more affordable grinder from Jet is designed with the hobbyist workman in mind and is much more suitable for a small benchtop than its industrial-grade cousin. The grinder includes two smaller, 6” wheels of 36 and 60 grit, and features oversized eye protectors similar to those found on the IBG-8VS model. The grinder includes a 2.5” dust port and cast iron wheel guards for safety and has rubberized mounts on the bottom to reduce vibrations when using it.
One of the downsides to this grinder, especially if you hope to use it for sharpening, is that it runs at a fixed speed of 3,450 RPM – too fast for careful sharpening. In addition, although the unit comes with a 2-year warranty, some users found that the wheels stop starting on their own and require a little push to get them moving after only a few months of use. Although this appears to be an unusual issue, users note generally that the grinder does not feel durable.
This fixed, high-speed grinder from ATD Tools is heavy duty and durable for frequent use over many years to come. The 8” diameter wheels are medium and coarse grained for rubbing out rust and cutting through metal, although they also perform well for sharpening. The base is made from cast iron for stability and vibration reduction. Users appreciated that one of the spray guards is a magnifying glass for working precisely.
One of the major downsides to this grinder is that although it comes with tool rests for each wheel, they are extremely small – too small for most tools – and are not adjustable. Users also found that the grinding wheels that come with the grinder are of poor quality and tend to slow down when pressure is applied, although new wheels fixed this issue. The flexible light was helpful for most users, but unfortunately it does not turn on unless the grinder is running. Furthermore, although the grinder is built solidly and users did not report issues, we could not find any information about the warranty on this grinder.
What makes it special?
Heavy duty with cast iron base
Magnifying glass on spray shield
What cons did we find?
Grinding wheels slow down unless replaced
The warranty is not clear
Things to Consider
It’s not uncommon that people who have never used a bench grinder before haven’t realized how much they need one, while those who have used one swear by them. This extraordinarily useful tool is the unsung hero of many a workbench thanks to the huge range of tasks it can perform well and its importance in keeping the rest of your cutting tools working at their best. Like many tools, finding the right bench grinder depends largely on knowing what types of projects you’ll be using it for most frequently. Our buying guide will take you through everything you need to know about choosing the right bench grinder for your needs.
What is a bench grinder and how do you use it?
A bench grinder is at its hear a motor that spins two spindles, one on either end of the motor, extremely fast. Typically, the spindles are fitted with grinding wheels, which may have different textures for different purposes. For example, there are wheels with a fine or coarse grit coating for sanding or cutting, wheels designed for wire brushing metal, and wheels designed for buffing.
Once these wheels are spinning, you can gently edge a tool, piece of hardware, or other metal up the edge of the wheel to begin grinding it. Typically, working with metal will produce sparks and heat, so be sure to wear appropriate safety equipment and use a pair of pliers to hold small tools or hardware.
Size, power, and speed
The size, power, and speed of your grinder make a significant difference in what you can do with it. So when choosing a grinder, you need to match what projects you plan to use it for with these specifications. Smaller grinders unsurprisingly typically offer less power, but this isn’t an issue for most non-industrial grinding jobs – typical grinders offer plenty of power even for cutting through relatively thick pieces of metal.
Smaller grinders can be advantageous in that they take up less workbench space, but they also require greater precision if they use smaller diameter grinding wheels.
Speed is one of the most important things to consider, since sharpening tools – one of the most common uses of a grinder – goes much better at lower speeds in the 1,700 RPM range, while grinding and buffing works better at typical 3,500 RPM speeds. More expensive grinders offer variable speed settings, which can allow you to do all types of jobs with a single machine and is worth the investment for many people.
Construction and durability
While you might want your benchtop grinder to be as light as possible, you don’t want it to be too light – a sturdy cast iron base and stainless steel construction can dramatically improve the stability and durability of your grinder. These materials are nearly unbreakable and make it likely your grinder will last a lifetime. The best way to determine whether a grinder is made of high-quality materials is to check customer reviews, since users typically notice poor build quality immediately upon using the grinder.
Many grinders include some features in the design to minimize the vibration that occurs when using the machine. The vibration dampening may take the form of either a cast iron base, rubberized feet, or even a set of wheels under the grinder.
Guards and tool rests
Most grinders come with hinged glass guards directly over the exposed portion of the grinding wheel in order to limit the spray of sparks when grinding. These are extremely important for safety and should be used whenever you are grinding.
In addition, many grinders offer built-in tool rests that allow you to stabilize whatever tool you are sharpening as you press it against the grinding wheel. Cheaper grinders may have non-adjustable tool rests, which can be annoying, while higher-end grinders come with adjustable tool rests that can make getting precise cuts and sharpening angles much easier.
Modern high-quality bench grinders typically come with a work light – essentially a lamp that extends over the back of the grinder. This makes it much easier to see what you’re doing, especially if you work in a dark garage. However, this feature isn’t essential as you can easily opt to use a headlamp or a separate lamp. Note that some included lamps are too dim or too inflexible to be used effectively with the grinder, while others can only be turned on while the grinder is running – so be sure to check reviews about whether the light works as advertised.
Price and warranty
Bench grinders can range in price from just over $50 to several hundred dollars depending on the features they come with and the quality of materials they are constructed from. However, cheap doesn’t have to mean poor quality – if you are using a bench grinder for a relatively limited set of purposes and don’t plan to use it frequently, you may be getting more value with a low-priced grinder that gets the job done without having features you don’t need.
Another thing to consider when choosing among grinders is the length of the manufacturers’ warranties. While two-year warranties are common, some grinders come with warranties of up to five years – an encouraging sign that the company stands behind the quality of their grinder. Be sure to check the warranty text specifically, since many warranties are limited in scope and will only address manufacturing defects.
While all of the grinders in our roundup could make a great choice for your workbench, we were especially thrilled with the IBG-8VS from Jet, the W1840 from Shop Fox, and the 4280 from Wen. Although the Jet grinder was by far the most expensive in our review, users raved about the grinder’s power and loved the digital display for accurately adjusting the speed. The Shop Fox grinder nailed the lower price point, providing much of the same functionality and offering adjustable tool rests that were extremely easy to adjust. The 4280 from Wen provided a terrific value for the price thanks to the small but effective motor and features like an adjustable light and tool rests. All three of these grinders also come with quality, pre-trued grinding wheels so that you can get right to work – a sure sign that you’ve found one of the best bench grinders on the market.