Bench grinders

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Forum topic by Mark Colan posted 12-09-2010 06:13 AM 6402 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Mark Colan

211 posts in 3082 days

12-09-2010 06:13 AM

Some years ago I took a washing machine motor bolted to a board with a grinding wheel attached to it home to my basement. It came with a couple of extra wheels. The AC cord is connected to two terminals – which are exposed, though there’s kind of a plastic shield sort of covering it.

I thought, this is ok, I don’t need to grind much. Plug it in, hold a screw to the wheel to trim off the point (with pliers), that kind of thing. Sparks fly, debris all over the bench, so what. Nothing over my eyes except my glasses (which are polycarbonate, but not big lenses). Hmmm… wonder if that sawdust could be ignited by those sparks…

My dad told me (before he died, may he rest well) that at Caterpillar one of the really big grinding wheels cracked and threw the pieces at a worker. I guess he was trying to tell me the value of the guards on a grinder.

Well, somehow I woke up a week or so and decided that this makeshift grinder is about as safe as using a table saw without a blade guard, splitter, or fence, and hand-guiding the wood: something I would never do. And that grinding fine work (like sharpening) would be a heck of a lot easier with guide tables. And eye guards on the grinder AND on my face would be useful for when my luck ran out. Plus being able to have two wheels mounted at once would be handy – not possible with my big motor rig.

Most Amazon reviews complain about major vibration issues, even on bench grinders costing more than $160 (for 8” wheels, variable speed). Grinders waltzing around the bench. Amazon had some strange notice on the DeWalt saying the posting was under review, that the description might not be accurate.

Eventually I found a Porter Cable at Lowes for $113. I figured buying local, if it decided to take a tour of my shop, easier to return. So I brought one home.

I turned it on. Quiet, stayed put. A small amount of vibration, yes, but it’s not enough to interfere with using it. Touch a glass of water to it, you’ll see ripples, but it won’t splash. Less vibes when using it at lower speeds. Perhaps I could eliminate it by buying better grinding wheels, but it seems good enough.

Also bought a full face shield that can flip up out of the way, and new filters for my face mask. Can’t replace my dead or damaged body like buying a new grinder.

Anyway, so far so good.

What do YOU use for a grinder? I could still return it if I found a better price/performer.

-- Mark, hack amateur woodworker, Medford (greater Boston) MA

13 replies so far

View cabs4less's profile


235 posts in 2998 days

#1 posted 12-09-2010 06:47 AM

i found my grinder in an old barn i was hired to tear down when i was 12 had it ever since and its oldie but in a good way Baldor motor and heavy i use it to hollow the bevel on my chisels and sharpen my framing chisels and misch stuff that needs sharpening and for the record i still aint replaced the wheels on it they were on it when i found it and they are still there well for the most part

-- As Best I Can

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3884 days

#2 posted 12-09-2010 10:32 AM

I have a couple of grinders, but the one I use most has a white
6” wheel on one side and a buffing wheel I use for stropping on
the other. I use it only for sharpening edge tools and putting
brad points on drill bits.

The grinder cost me about $40 new at a home center years ago.

It’s bolted to a piece of plywood about 20” x 12”. This broadens out the base area a lot and I haven’t noticed that it walks around
in use. I seldom put it on a bench though – I’ve clamped or screwed it down in the past but haven’t in awhile and it still works just fine.

I have a 3/4” pipe running across both wheels, midpoint, held up by
a wood block at each end. This is my tool rest. It’s excellent and I
can put a nice hollow grind on any plane iron or chisel quickly with it.

View racerglen's profile


3112 posts in 3017 days

#3 posted 12-09-2010 03:37 PM

Funny, my setup is almost identical to Loren’s except I have a L/V grinder rest on the white (Norton) wheel.
And no rest on the felt wheel. My other grinder’s an inhertited one, no idea how old it is but from my wife’s grand dad, a 4 and a half inch Edison Electric that won’t quit. I run a wire wheel and a cloth buffer on it. Unfortunately it does vibrate, gave up years ago on trying to keep it’s light bulb intact. It’s also on a wood base and clamped down.
The only thing I’ve had to do was recreate one of the shields when the old yellowed plastic broke away.. now it’s a beautiful clear Lexan shield.

-- Glen, B.C. Canada

View PurpLev's profile


8548 posts in 3885 days

#4 posted 12-09-2010 03:51 PM

Thanks for bringing this up. I am using a slow wet grinder for sharpening of blades and while this works great and safely for that purpose, it’s practically impossible to grind HSS tools on it and I am looking to get a decent affordable grinder. I’ve seen the Rockwell variable speed grinder but it looked a bit toyish on paper. I’ll take a look at the porter cable as well. looking to see what others will post too.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View dbray45's profile


3320 posts in 3013 days

#5 posted 12-09-2010 03:56 PM

I have a delta 8” variable speed grinder. The slow speeds do not burn the blades.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View Mark Colan's profile

Mark Colan

211 posts in 3082 days

#6 posted 12-09-2010 04:54 PM

dbray45, the Delta 8” VS is one of the ones people complain about a lot on Amazon – unless you have a different model. That’s not to say that every one of them has the problems people complain about. The PC I bought is less expensive than the Delta. I might have considered the Delta except that it had 12 1-star reviews, mainly about vibration.

PurpLev, feel free to come by some time and play with the PC before you buy. But you’ll see how messy my shop is… still don’t have scrap wood under control.

All: what makes Baldor so good?

I suspect vibration is more about cheap wheels than the grinder itself.

-- Mark, hack amateur woodworker, Medford (greater Boston) MA

View PurpLev's profile


8548 posts in 3885 days

#7 posted 12-09-2010 04:59 PM

Thanks Mark, I checked Lowes website, and they have the 6” version for $79 or the 8” version at double the HP for $113. funny thin is the 6” got rave reviews, while the 8” didn’t. I’m not sure if I need the extra power, but I think the 8” would work better and have less of a hollow to it which appeals to me.

What have you been using it for so far? how does it perform? how are the tool holders?

Edit: forgot to add that I’d love to stop by and see it in action.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4256 posts in 3401 days

#8 posted 12-09-2010 05:06 PM

Seems to me that one of the issues with vibration was felt to to be the wheels, rather than the motor. Take off the wheels and see what happens. There was something about the bushings that came with the wheel, they are apparently the culprit. Do a search on this forum, and that should find the post.

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View dbhost's profile


5767 posts in 3468 days

#9 posted 12-09-2010 05:29 PM

Generally speaking, the problem with bench grinders shaking is the poor quality wheels, and even with higher quality wheels the bushings used on them throwing the wheel out of balance. Higher speed grinders can make a heavy workbench dance across the shop with an out of balance wheel… And an out of balance wheel doesn’t care if you have it mounted to a $20.00 Craigslist find, or a $160.00 variable speed Delta, or heaven forbid the $615.00 + $75.00 shipping “Baldor 8 low speed grinde. I mean super nice grinder, but who can afford it?

I didn’t bother with the variable speed when I got my 8” grinder, I did a lot of asking around on the forums, in the turning club, and with the people that make the Wolverine Jig, and while there were proponents of variable speed grinders, they were in the minority. The biggest issue that was cited was heat buildup, and since I was going with white aluminum oxide wheels anyway, and most of my stuff to be ground was HSS, this wasn’t deemed to be a problem.

So my grinder of choice honestly, was the Ryobi BGH-827 (sometimes shows up on the HD site, sometimes not…). I chose this grinder for its features. Specifically I liked the guards, the eye shields with the magnifier, and the work light built in to the guards. Aside from the paint color, and the name on the sticker, it is the same grinder as the Rockwell sold at Woodcraft for double the price…

I took the OEM wheels off before touching a single tool to them and ordered a pair of Norton white aluminum oxide wheels. an 80 grit, and a 120. Now the bushings that come with those wheels are SLOPPY, and that is when my vibration problem started. I ordered a pair of steel machine bushings from McMaster Carr, which took most of the vibration out. Lastly I got a Geiger’s Dressing and Truing Solution tool, and trued up the wheel, which completely eliminated the remaining vibration. CharlieL mentioned something above about the Norton wheels with the new bushings. I am not sure he meant he got new bushings, or maybe Norton finally got a clue and quit putting the junk bushings in the package. Be careful, and don’t expect much from the bushings.

I will say this, the Norton grinding wheels I bought in 2010, are nowhere near the quality of the old 6” set of Norton grinding wheels I bought back in the late 90’s… I never even had to worry about them back then. They just worked.

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View Mark Colan's profile

Mark Colan

211 posts in 3082 days

#10 posted 12-09-2010 05:41 PM

PurpLev: I used my old grinder for shortening screws (esp removing the point), removing sharp corners from angle brackets and other hardware I bought. I only got this one last night. So far I used the new one to quickly trim off a corner from a piece of wood that needed to fit in a metal joint where a weld was in the corner. I intend to buy proper knife sharpening wheels and work on our kitchen knives. So far I only have the coarse and medium blades that came with it, but I have one cleaver that needs to start with coarse! Feel free to bring something over that you want to grind. Friday or Sunday during the day would be good times to visit, and I’m taking leftover vacation time for 2H December.

All: the vibration I notice is pretty minimal. It’s not the kind of thing that I would return the grinder or even comment on in a review, except that so many have complained about vibrations being very bad. I WILL try the experiment of removing the wheels. But with the small amount I see, I can use this grinder as is.

I do have a 80-grit white wheel on order, and will probably get a 120. I plan to get knife-sharpening wheels too. But I do have uses for the stock wheels – not sharpening tools, of course.

-- Mark, hack amateur woodworker, Medford (greater Boston) MA

View dbhost's profile


5767 posts in 3468 days

#11 posted 12-09-2010 06:08 PM


Nope. Not metric. I was able to measure out the shaft and it is right at ..4998, so it is a mere 2 thousandths off of a half inch, which is about right to allow a stone or a bushing to slide on / off. The bushings I have for it are SAE as well and are a nice snug fit, I actually used anti sieze compound on the shaft to keep the bushing from rusting to the shaft, and honestly, to allow the bushing to be installed easier…

Yeah the Dayton is a MUCH nicer grinder. They do not come up on the market used very often, the price new they are simply too expensive, and they do lack some of the nicer features of the newer designs on the market. Now if I came across a good Dayton 8” in my price range? Yeah, I’d buy it and sell my Ryobi in a hot second… I would actually rather have the Cast Iron Baldor, but I have never seen one come up on the used market, and the price new is insane.

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View zwwizard's profile


210 posts in 3945 days

#12 posted 12-09-2010 08:12 PM

Here’s my grinder.
Just funning. I have a haft dozen or so being a knife maker. The best for me so far has been the Delta slow speed one. My knives are wood carving knives and with thin blades, so things heat up fast.

-- Richard

View TurbineTester's profile


197 posts in 3150 days

#13 posted 12-10-2010 05:13 PM

That’s a nice restoration job. I’d love to make a find like that.

-- if you can't light a $100 bill on fire and watch it burn, you're in the wrong hobby.

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