Angle grinders are handheld multipurpose power tools capable of doing just about anything, from grinding and polishing metal to cutting concrete and cast iron and even sharpening blades. It’s this versatility that leads to the question: can I use an angle grinder to cut wood, then?
Yes, you absolutely can cut wood with an angle grinder, but that doesn’t mean that you should. An angle grinder does have the strength and capability for woodcutting, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best option for the job. Some people often convert their angle grinders into circular saws without knowing that they’re subjecting themselves to the unreasonably dangerous risk of losing an eye and a finger or two, among other significant injuries. To cut wood with an angle grinder, you would have to attach a circular blade to it, mark the cut, secure the wood piece, and very carefully start cutting.
Since lack of user knowledge is one of the main causes of accidents, we’ve put together this article to explain the risks of using an angle grinder for woodcutting and offer some safer alternatives to complete your project.
Why shouldn’t I use an angle grinder to cut wood?
You’ve probably heard that angle grinders can be used to grind and cut almost any material, so why not use them for woodcutting?
The truth is that you can use it, but there are certain safety concerns and many big “ifs” involved. If you take all the necessary precautions and follow the instructions to the letter if you’re not a beginner if you use the appropriate cutting disc, and if you’re only cutting a few small pieces of wood, then using an angle grinder is a viable option.
Woodworkers do use grinders equipped with a wood carving disc for projects that involve carving, sanding, and shaping. However, they advise against using it for effectively cutting wood, especially if you need to do it frequently or if you’re dealing with large pieces.
There are better and safer power tools that are specially designed for this task, such as a table saw, circular saw, or miter saw.
Can I use a metal cutting disc on wood?
Metal cutting discs are made of abrasive materials such as aluminum oxide, and they spin at a very high speed that’s usually between 8,000 and 11,000 RPM. In short, they’re fast and powerful.
Now consider this: you have an electric, handheld tool equipped with an abrasive disc, and you’re going to use it to cut a combustible material like wood… Do you see where this is going? Nowhere good, that’s for sure.
The speed that this piece of equipment can reach when using a cutoff disc brings another potential problem to the table: kickback.
The metal cutting discs are designed to work with the resistance they encounter when cutting dense materials like cast iron and concrete. Wood, however, is a very light material that doesn’t offer much resistance. So, even the slightest change in position can make the grinder radically alter course and instantly get out of control.
You can see that it’s not a good idea to use a metal cutting disc on wood and that it’s really not worth the risk.
What are the risks of cutting wood with an angle grinder?
We’ve mentioned the risks of using a cutoff disc, but those aren’t the only ones that can come from using an angle grinder for woodcutting.
The main problem with grinders is that they’re entirely freehand. This means that both the stability of the tool and the depth of the cut is controlled only by the operator’s hands.
Moreover, the disc is almost completely exposed, and the blade guard doesn’t offer much protection against blade-hand contact for this task. The guard only serves as a barrier between the operator and the debris generated by the grinding and cutting.
All of that, together with the fact that many grinder models don’t have an electric brake mechanism to immediately stop the disc, greatly increases the risk of injury.
What any person would consider a minor slip or change in pressure or direction can be lethal on wood. As we’ve mentioned before, this material doesn’t offer much resistance, so it’s easy to lose control of the tool.
Safety precautions and mistakes to avoid when cutting wood with an angle grinder
If you still want to attempt cutting wood with an angle grinder, pay close attention to this section and make sure you take all the necessary precautions.
First of all, wearing your personal protective equipment (PPE) is critical, no matter how simple the project. A complete gear for woodcutting with an angle grinder, or for any task involving a power tool for that matter, should include:
- Safety goggles – to protect your eyes from sparks and debris produced by cutting. This is essential should the disc shatter.
- Earmuffs – to protect your ears from the loud noise produced by the grinder.
- A dust mask or face shield – to avoid inhaling any fumes or dust produced while cutting.
- Cut-resistant gloves – for a better grip and to prevent accidental cuts on your hands. Don’t wear any other kind of gloves, since gloves getting tangled in the disc or the wood piece is one of the main causes of accidents.
- Safety boots – to protect your feet from any debris that might fly down after cutting them.
- Tightly fitting clothing – to prevent fabric from getting caught by the disc.
Another important safety measure besides the PPE is to make sure that the disc will be spinning away from your hands.
Secure your workpiece as well because you should always use both hands when cutting wood with an angle grinder.
Adjust the blade guard so that it’s positioned between your body and the tool. Under no circumstances should the guard be removed, even if it makes seeing the workpiece difficult. Actually, it should never be removed, no matter the material you’re working with, but it’s even more pertinent when woodcutting with an angle grinder.
Finally, declutter your workspace, paying special attention to the floor to prevent any accidents and avoid tripping and falling
Wood Carving Disc by Graff
If you’ve decided that you’re going to use an angle grinder to cut wood despite de dangers, then you should definitely get the right disc for the job.
The grinder wood carving disc by Graff is made of 3 tungsten carbide teeth. This design was specifically created to prevent kickback and provide a safer alternative to the 6-teeth crosscut or ripping blades employ
This type of disc is relatively new to the market, so finding it at your local hardware store could prove challenging. However, you can easily find them on Amazon.
If you do manage to get your hands on one, you will need to install it and secure it. Open the spindle and insert the disc, and then fasten the spindle nut in place, making sure that the disc doesn’t feel loose.
After thoroughly checking that both the grinder and the disc are in good condition, turn on the tool and run it for about 30 seconds to ensure that everything is properly secured and works as it should.
What are the best alternatives for cutting wood quickly?
Depending on the type of job you want to do, you can use a handheld circular saw, reciprocating saw, or jigsaw. These three tools are designed with woodworking in mind and are much safer alternatives than an angle grinder.
Circular saws are characterized by efficiency and precision. They can make quick straight or curvilinear cuts over and over again, mainly on wood boards and sheets of plywood. When using a circular saw, you need to be sure you’re using the correct blade for the material you are cutting.
Reciprocating saws have a large blade that moves in a back-and-forth motion just like hand-powered tools, but a lot faster. With the right blade installed, this saw can cut through almost anything.
There’s a wide variety of tooth designs for different materials and uses, so make sure you’ve got the right one. Just remember that the more teeth on a blade, the less suited it is for wood.
Jigsaws use a reciprocating blade to quickly cut irregular and intricate curves in wood. This tool might not be the best option if you need to make long, straight cuts because the blade is so thin that it is prone to bending.
There are many tools you can use to cut wood, and if you’re a woodworker or an avid DIYer, you probably have at least one of them at hand.
Thank you for reading our guide on can you cut wood with an angle grinder! Angle grinders can check through all kinds of materials, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe to do it. Wood, in particular, is a tricky material to cut with a grinder because it’s so lightweight you can easily lose control of the tool and injure yourself.
Carving or cutting and trimming small pieces of wood are small tasks that can be carried out using a grinder as long as you equip it with a 3-teeth wood cutting disc.
Using this tool for any other type of woodworking is not a good idea, but if you still want to do it, make sure that you take precautions and follow all the safety measures we’ve detailed in this article.