Advice needed for bench grinder purchase

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Forum topic by camio posted 10-14-2013 10:40 AM 1766 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 1397 days

10-14-2013 10:40 AM

I’ve been using “Woodworking Basics” by Peter Korn as a guide as I learn about using hand tools for woodworking. I’m having trouble reconciling his recommendations for a grinding wheel setup with what is available on the market these days.

First, he recommends that one uses a 6-in bench grinder that runs at 1,800 rpm. I’m having trouble finding an inexpensive equivalent. The only grinder I’ve seen on the market that meets this specification exactly is the Baldor 632E ( which runs at about $330 at some sites. Grizzly used to sell something similar ( I’ve also seen many variable speed 6-in grinders that can run as low as 2,000rpm. Would something like this suffice? Is there something else out there that I’m missing?

Also, he recommends the use of an 80 grit white aluminum oxide wheel. I’ve only been able to find 60 grit and 100 grit white aluminum oxide wheels in 6in sizes. There is a 7in wheel that has 80 grit WAO ( Any suggestions?

Thanks for any help. Being a complete noob I don’t know if I’m looking in the wrong place or if venturing away from Korn’s recommendations is going to cause me trouble later.

8 replies so far

View hydro's profile


208 posts in 1176 days

#1 posted 10-14-2013 11:56 AM

The 1800 RPM is intended to reduce heat buildup when grinding. There is another way to do that, and IMO is much more effective. The “WAO” white aluminum oxide wheel you referred to is an abrasive commonly used in surface grinding applications, and they are usually in 7” diameters. They are designed to grind hard steels with a minimum of heat buildup, and to do this they are made with a softer bond than the common gray wheels you normally see.

Here is what I would do: first, find an inexpensive 8” grinder (no need to drop $$$ here), either 1800 or 3450 RPM will work. then find the 7” wheels in the grit you want, either white or pink. I use the 1/2” width and move the tool across the wheel to further reduce heat buildup. You can get these wheels either at Grizzly or at Enco (google it).

If you want to know why this works, do a search on grinding wheel bonds. You will find a lot of good reading.

-- Minnesota Woodworkers Guild, Past President, Lifetime member.

View paratrooper34's profile


867 posts in 2376 days

#2 posted 10-14-2013 01:07 PM

Camio, it would be helpful to know what you plan to do with your grinder set up. Are you opening a machine shop or are you a part time woodworker who needs to repair an occasional edge on a chisel or plane blade? Your needs will help to give you more accurate advice.

If you are opening a machine shop, you’ll need a nice grinder setup, so go ahead and spend the money on a quality Baldor setup.

If you are the latter, find an inexpensive grinder off Craigslist or one of the big box stores and get a decent white stone for one side and you will be just fine. The speeds don’t really matter; a 1725 rpm grinder will burn a tool just like a 3450 will, just a second or two slower. I have a $49.95 cheapo grinder from Lowes and it serves me well to touch up an edge or regrind a new one and it sharpens my mower blades as well. oh, and I am a hand tool user.

Think about what your needs are and go from there.

-- Mike

View camio's profile


2 posts in 1397 days

#3 posted 10-14-2013 08:05 PM

Thanks for the replies. The grinder will be used to create bevels on hand tools like bench plane blades and chisels. I’m using japanese sharpening stones to hone the blades. I’m just a weekend woodworker for fun.

I’m leaning towards getting an inexpensive variable speed grinder, like a craftsman or a delta, to achieve the low RPM’s and then getting a 100 grit WAO norton grinding wheel from The difference between 80 grit and 100 grit can’t be too much I think.

View Loren's profile


8177 posts in 3072 days

#4 posted 10-14-2013 09:14 PM

I use a regular $40 imported grinder. It runs faster but
with a white wheel I don’t burn tools too often. I use
a water cup when I grind to cool my edge. As you
get the metal at the edge thinner the heat builds up
easier so you do have to be careful.

View Wildwood's profile


1854 posts in 1559 days

#5 posted 10-14-2013 09:54 PM

Might look here for grinding wheels. I cannot buy a friable AL wheel in my town so have them shipped to me.

Lowes sells a PC 6” & 8”vari speed grinder that is pretty reasonable minimum RPMS is 2000.

This one is 8” but only 1725 RPMS.

Only advice can give you on buying a bench grinder is buy locally. Saves on shipping cost and if a problem comes up can exchange or get a refund.

1800 RPMS might be the best for sharpening, but have to buy what you can afford..

-- Bill

View Tedstor's profile


1625 posts in 2057 days

#6 posted 10-14-2013 10:10 PM

I use an old-school, 1/2hp, 3650rpm grinder with a 7”x 1” White wheel. I think its 100 grit, but its been on the grinder so long, I don’t remember. In any case my rig works for my sharpening needs. If you can score one of these old Craftsman grinders (with a “block” motor”), I can’t recommend them enough. I’m not sure I’d trade mine for a new Baldor.

View LukieB's profile


965 posts in 1754 days

#7 posted 10-14-2013 10:27 PM

I have the Porter Cable that Wildwood mentioned

Variable speed, reasonably priced, and the lowest speed of 2000 is pretty close to Peter Korn’s recommendation of 1800.

I was so happy with it, I bought a second for my hand plane restoration bench…I now have everything from the grinding wheel down to the buffing wheels all set up at once.

-- Lucas, "Someday woodworks will be my real job, until then, there's this"

View rkober's profile


137 posts in 1716 days

#8 posted 10-14-2013 10:36 PM

Woodcraft has their new 1750 rpm 8” on sale for $99 which seems real reasonable if it’s any good:


-- Ray - Spokane, WA - “Most people don’t recognize opportunity because it’s usually disguised as hard work.” - Unknown

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