View Full Version : Which bench grinder to buy?

08-06-2005, 09:40 PM
I finally got my little Craftsman 109 lathe up and running a few weeks ago. It's finally time to sharpen the bits I have with it but don't currently have a bench grinder.

What make/size other than Baldor have you folks had good luck with? Any sub-$100 grinders worth using? I'm leaning toward either 6" or 8", as it seems easier to find wheels for those two sizes. Is it problematic to grind HSS tool bits or chisels on an 8" wheel running at 3600 RPM, assuming you've purchased a good quality wheel?

What else do you use a bench grinder for, other than sharpening tool bits? For deburring, I've always used a 1" belt sander if my handheld deburr tool is insufficient for the job.


08-06-2005, 09:43 PM
With a grinder, in my oppinion, the most important thing is a proper table on it for grinding lathe bits. Many of us went with the HF Carbide grinder when it went on sale, but a 6" grinder with the proper table would just be as nice and the wheels would be more plentiful and cheaper.

Davis In SC
08-06-2005, 09:50 PM
I like Baldor, but as you said, anything but Baldor.... Actually, the worst part of the import grinders are the wheels... They use a glass-hard bond, so they are not friable, so they load up & burn the work. Best bet is to replace wheels before you even use one of the import grinders.

08-06-2005, 09:52 PM

I was originally planning on getting the HF carbide grinder at a later date (like when it goes on sale again possibly). Are you saying that you would get the carbide grinder for your first grinder, perhaps instead of a regular bench grinder?

Tin Falcon
08-06-2005, 10:24 PM
I have had a jet 6" for over 5 years. If I remember corectly it was on sale for about $ 40 at Woodworkers Warehouse.I am still using the original wheels. They do get a little glassy but nothing an ocasional dressing will not take care of. As far as a table goes HSM has had plans on a table to set predetermined angles. Or you can freehand and use a protractor to check yourself. This is a common enough item you can shop around at anyplace that sells power tools. I think home depot sells delta(made in china??) So do your home work and shop around.

08-06-2005, 10:32 PM
Webbch. The Carbide grinder has nice big tables on it. What discourages me about it is that the A/O wheels you need to get for it for doing HSS are available only at a couple of places and seam to be of the same supplier, and they cost more. I would be worried if the supplies for them dried up.
I think a good 6" bench grinder with a proper made it yourself adjustable table would be better, as far as availability of wheels and cost, it would be better.
The HF grinder is nice, I just wish the wheels were more plentiful.

08-06-2005, 10:49 PM
I got two 8" Baldors,but like said you what other than Baldor.I also have a small 6" green case B&D that I got from Wal-mart for $29.00.
When I got it I replaced the wheels and have had nothing but good service from it for the last three years.All I use it for are toolbits and drills.
I would suggest taking any of the import grinders out of the box and plugging them in.If one doesn't strat and spin up to speed in 4 seconds or less,bypass it and check the next brand.
If you got the bucks you might see if Milwaukee still makes a bench grinder,they should be good stuff.

08-06-2005, 11:10 PM
The last bench grinder that I got was Chinese. I got on sale. works
fine. I only use it grind HSS tool bits. I use as coarse of a wheel is I can
get. Coarse wheels run cooler. Don’t glass over as easy. Cuts faster.
I like a 6 inch wheel so I can get a better hollow grind on them.
I don’t use the table that comes with the grinder. I just grind them
freehand. It takes a little practice but it is so much faster.

I have only had it maybe 3 or 4 years so I don’t know how long it will
last. Like I said I only use it for HSS. I have other grinders for the
ruff scruffy stuff.

08-06-2005, 11:34 PM
I have a big chinese grinder- a 2hp Jet- goes along with my philosophy to only buy the biggest one they have if I am buying asian import.
But I find that I almost never use it for sharpening lathe bits, drill bits, tungstens for the tig, chisels, or anything else.
Instead, I use a 12" disc sander, with a 50 grit alumina zirconia PSA disc from Klingspor. The 12" disc makes it much easier to get a flat surface, its a lot less likely to throw the object you are sharpening across the room, and it is not gonna break into hi velocity projectiles either.
The alumina zirconia sandpaper is amazing stuff- it cuts thru anything, and lasts a very long time- we have 3 guys in the shop, that thing is probably on for an hour or two a day, total, and we mostly sand 304 stainless with it.
And we might change the sanding disc every 2 or 3 weeks. In a one man hobby shop, my guess is they would last months. They cost 3 or 4 bucks each, and to me they are well worth it. Its much easier to see what you are doing on the big disc, too.
A big Jet 12" disc/ 6x48 belt sander is about 800, but you will get a lot more use out of it than an 8" bench grinder. You can switch abrasives, and use it for wood or plastic as well.

08-07-2005, 01:10 AM
........I will have to admit to having bought a HF 8" grinder and it's provided superb performance. It's tables are sheetmetal jokes which have to be immediately replaced. Other then that, I couldn't ask for better. I paid $39 on sale. It must have good bearings in it, as after you turn it off it takes forever for it to run down and stop.


08-07-2005, 01:35 AM
Thanks for all the replies. It sounds like a 6" should be suitable for my purposes, perhaps one rough and one fine grit wheel. I've never used the tables on any grinder before -- I've always ground my lathe tool bits and drill bits freehand. Still, "if you build it, you will use it" probably applies. I'd love to get a baldor, but the feedback is that people seem to be quite satisfied with their non-Baldor grinders, and at about 4-5 times the price, I can probably stand to equip the shop with a Baldor at a later date after I've got some more of the "essentials". Thanks again.


[This message has been edited by webbch (edited 08-07-2005).]

08-07-2005, 03:49 AM
If you're any place where OSHA can bite you, you'll need the tables. And they have to be set within 1/8" of the wheel.

OSHA claims that this is their second most common citation concerning grinders.

08-07-2005, 09:44 AM
I've got a Wissota 6" grinder, from when they were still made-in-USA. I don't know if they still are or not. It's served very well.

For home use, 6" ought to be adequate, and while a Baldor will likely be more durable, better balanced, and longer-lived than a cheaper import, as a practical matter the cheaper imports work pretty well.

The main thing on the imports, and others have said, is to throw away the wheels that come with it and buy decent wheels.

08-07-2005, 11:20 PM
A good belt sander is easier and better than a grinder for HSS. The only thing that I sharpen on the my Baldor tool grinder is carbide on a diamond wheel. I bought a 2"X72" belt sander from a guy that used to advertise in HSM. Put a VFD and motor on it and wound up with less than the cost of the Baldor tool grinder. The belt sander is absolutely amazing. Even mounted an old Craftsman drill sharpner on the table and it it does a good job on larger drills. To me getting started grinding HSS was hard. I bought Rudy's VCR tape from Village Press. I went to the Gunsmithing School at Trinidad Co. They have a wall full of 10 and 12 inch Baldor Grinders and teach you to grind tools free hand. I bought AGI Lathe videos and Darrell Holland shows you how to grind tools using the belt sander. This IMO is the best way hands down to grind HSS.

Paul Alciatore
08-08-2005, 02:44 PM
Ditto on the belt sander for sharpening HHS tools. I got the Grizzly 1 X 30 on sale and I love it. Not only does it do a great job on lathe bits and drills but with a bit of Tap Magic for Aluminum brushed on the belt, it puts a not to be believed finish on aluminum parts in about 10 to 30 seconds. Also great for deburring edges.

Since I got it, I use the bench grinder only about 1/3 as much.

My bench grinder is a Grainger and it is great. But it cost more than $100 so I guess that's out. From what others are saying, the HF may be almost as good after replaceing the tables. (Ohhhhh, it hurt to say that about HF.)

Paul A.

08-09-2005, 10:43 AM
I bought a 8 inch delta and have used it for yearts. Its still nice and ive had no complaints. It is well made.