An angle grinder is a powerful handheld tool that can be used for slicing through a variety of hard materials. But while the angle grinder certainly has advantages if you need to get into a tight corner, the lower weight, higher vibrations, and lack of stability can ruin precision.
Straight cuts aren’t always easy with an angle grinder.
However, when it’s the tool you have to hand, you need to make it work. In some cases, even the angle grinder is your best option for achieving straight lines. And it isn’t impossible to get a straight line with an angle grinder. It just needs a little extra know-how.
Angle grinders are versatile tools, and with the right guiding hand, they can be put to all kinds of uses. While they might not be best known for precision, with these 5 tips, you can ensure your cuts are looking straighter and better than ever.
5 Top Tips For Cutting Straight With An Angle Grinder
Tip 1: Keep The Blade Sharp And Choose The Right Disc
You will never be able to achieve a straight cut if you don’t have the right disc. If it’s too thick, or too dull, it simply won’t cut properly. As you try and compensate for a bad disc, you’ll ruin the line of your cut.
If precision is important to you, spend the time and money finding a disc that will do the job right. Don’t forget to consider the material you want to cut when choosing a disc. Something that’s perfect for thicker ceramics might not be ideal for thinner metals.
Thinner discs are often recommended for achieving a straight line. These thin discs create a smoother line, and they allow you to cut fast. Thin discs traditionally don’t last as long as thick discs, but they are vital for achieving a straight line.
Also, make sure you have the right type of disc. Some are designed for grinding, and won’t have the right edge for cutting. Don’t just use whatever disc you already have on the angle grinder, unless you know it’s the right one.
The wrong disc can make all the difference, even if you have plenty of experience with the angle grinder.
Tip 2: Start By Scoring A Line
A lot of the result is determined in the preparation. Putting in the extra effort up front can ensure you have a nice, straight cut with your angle grinder. If you don’t bother to do the work now, then you won’t be able to achieve the precision you’re after.
Start by drawing a straight line all the way across where you need to cut, making sure to consider tolerance. Use a ruler or square to get the line perfectly straight.
The line has to be visible when you’re cutting, so don’t be afraid to make it thick. It should all be removed by your precise cut anyway.
When you know where you want to cut, you can score the line. Place the material you intend to cut in a clamp, and hold it secure. This is a vital step to achieving a neat cut with an angle grinder.
Take a piece of scrap material and place it next to the drawn line, and clamp it into place. Then, follow the line with the angle grinder, pressing lightly against the surface.
The groove left behind will be easier to follow with the disc, and more visible as you start to cut. Leave the scrap material in place when you make your final cuts, as this can also guide the disc.
Tip 3: Build A Jig
One of the advantages of the angle grinder is that as a small and handheld tool it can be easily transported and employed in tight spaces. There are certainly many advantages to this, particularly if you need to cut a material that can’t be easily brought to a workbench.
However, when it comes to cutting straight lines, the portability of the angle grinder is a disadvantage. It doesn’t have the steady base that’s often needed for precise cuts.
Building a jig gives the angle grinder the steady base it otherwise lacks. Jigs are essentially a base for the angle grinder to be anchored to. The jig can then be steadily moved along, keeping the angle grinder cutting in a straight line.
As the jig prevents movement in certain directions, there’s less opportunity for the angle grinder to deviate from the line.
Jigs for angle grinders can also be purchased from some hardware stores, and online. They’re particularly helpful if you find you struggle to get a firm grip on your angle grinder.
They can also be useful if you have to make the same cut repeatedly, as you won’t have to constantly adjust and readjust as you switch between materials.
Tip 4: Don’t Push
With your material clamped, your angle grinder prepared, and the line scored, you’re ready to start cutting.
Angle grinders are known for their speed, so you might be disappointed to find yours doesn’t slice straight through the material. However, for a straight cut, you need to take a considered approach.
When your tool isn’t performing the way you want it to, the natural reaction is to start pushing. You want it to reach its limit, and it often feels like the best way to do this is to apply pressure.
If you try to push your angle grinder, forcing it through the material to cut, then you’re going to end up with wonky lines. You’re also going to wear out the disc quicker.
Instead of using force to press the angle grinder through the metal, you should let it pull itself through with its own motion. The wheel needs to do the work.
Use a rocking or sliding motion to keep the disk moving, gradually cutting through your chosen material. Follow the rotational arrow as marked on the angle grinder, so you work with the cut rather than against it.
Tip 5: Practice
Unless you’re incredibly lucky, or have the world’s steadiest hand, you aren’t going to be making straight cuts the first time you break out your angle grinder. Or if they are straight, then they’ll probably be heading in the wrong direction.
Instead, you’ll learn to master the angle grinder with time. Practice scoring lines and following lines on scrap material, so you can get used to the feel of the angle grinder in your hand. Don’t get frustrated by the lack of immediate results.
And if you do get frustrated, don’t take it out on your angle grinder by forcing it through a cut. All you’ll do is wear the blade down, leading to worse results and building frustration. With some experience, and the chance to get to know your tool, you’ll be cutting straight in no time at all.
Angle grinders aren’t necessarily known for their straight cuts. We tend to associate them with speed, rather than precision. But the versatile angle grinder can create straight lines, as long as you know how to use it.
Make things easier for yourself by choosing the right blade, and scoring a line before you start. A jig can also be incredibly useful, reducing the directions the angle grinder can head in. Then take it slow, and keep on practicing.