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Die Grinder - Which one?

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  • Die Grinder - Which one?

    Hey, all,

    I'm in the market for a 1/4" straight die grinder, and I've been looking at them online at Enco, Harbor Freight, etc., etc., and I'm bowled over by how much spread in price there is for units that basically look the same.

    I've found kits that include a die grinder and a bunch of stones for $13 ... and I've found grinders that cost over $100 ... the more I look at them the more confused I get.

    Can anyone clue me in? Should I just buy a cheap one? Is it worth getting a "name brand" (like Ingersoll Rand for ~ $50 at Enco)?

    Is there really that much spread in quality and longevity on these tools?

    Thanks for any clues.

  • #2
    If you're talking about air tools, I wouldn't hesitate to buy from H.F. I've had very good luck with their air tools. My 4" angle grinder crapped out soon after I got it, but they replaced it quickly w/o question.


    • #3
      The IR will outlast the "cheapo's" 10 fold. Buy once and your done.


      • #4
        Whether it lasts or not may be a concern but the real difference between a good grinder and a cheapie is the amount of wobble in the chuck, if a carbide burr or stone is not running true it will be destroyed PDQ! Those cheap grinders, most of them anyway, usually will let the burr or stone run so far out of balance that you can feel it while holding the tool while a good grinder will be running smoothly and the stone or burr will not bounce around while being used. Since a good carbide cutter can cost twice as much as a cheap grinder any savings on purchase price will quickly be lost plus the darn thing is a PITA to use. Some of those cheap grinders may last just about forever but this is one tool where longevity may not be the most important factor. Are you looking for air or electric?


        • #5
          Originally posted by Highpower
          The IR will outlast the "cheapo's" 10 fold. Buy once and your done.
          Plus 1 what Highpower said!
          And the IR has more grunt power than the HF! I use both regularly.

          If you are asking about electric-go with Mikita. Great grinder! Mine lasted almost 17 years until some poopoo head ran it for an hour +! Can't get parts from the factory but can get parts online. I bought a new 1 and it is heavier built but still comfortable to use.



          • #6
            Dotco grinders are pricey but they are the Kurt vise of the grinder world in my opinion.

            Depends how much you are goint to use it.


            THINK HARDER




            • #7
              You will have to pay more than $300.00 to get a real good air grinder,probably. My Air Turbine Technology air grinder is a beautiful little piece of equipment that I have used .010" endmills in successfully. It wasn't cheap.
              Last edited by gwilson; 12-14-2010, 06:02 PM.


              • #8
                Wheels and points

                I note that the OP's requirement is for a 1/4" die-grinder which, all things being equal, has way more capacity than the usual 1/8" die-grinder which rather suggests that the grinder is required for some serious and heavy work.

                If it is to be an air grinder and if it is going to get a lot of continuous work (ie heavy "duty cycle") it is going to need a compressor with a reasonably high air pressure and "free air delivery" specs. that can deliver the required pressure and FAD at the tool (not just at the tank or regulator).

                If as the OP says, a lot of those different branded grinders look the same, there is a fair chance that they are the same, even if they have different brand names.

                A lot of those mounted wheels and "points" have a maximum speed rating and many are of unknown or doubtful quality. There is no way of really knowing how fast an air-driven grinder is going.

                I only use "Norton" wheels and "points". Not cheap but "losing" or having a high-speed unguarded wheel "explode" under load or over-speeding (often close to my face or eyes) is not something I am prepared to take a chance on.

                See the "Norton" (Saint-Gobain) site for details.

                I ditched my 1/8" and 1/4" air-grinders and replaced them with electric grinders (much more expensive than air-driven grinders).


                • #9
                  Ive got 5 of them from HF - 3 straight and 2 angles and I use them pretty heavily. Two of the straights are some 6-8 yrs old. Primary uses are with a cut off wheel and the twist-loc sanding discs, though I also will occasionally abuse the crap out of them with a burr, and, like a Timex watch, they just keep on tickin.

                  Goodness, how can you go wrong, when they practically give the things away at $13 to $15, and of course if you got a %20 coupon...
                  If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something........


                  • #10
                    If you check you will find that all of them are made in China so buy the cheap one and throw it away when it craps out. I bought a HF one years ago and it is still going strong.

                    It's a damn shame that all our manufacturing went overseas but they do make some good stuff over there. If the manufacturers were smart they would have have reduced their overhead and stayed in the USA but they didn't.

                    It seems they are starting to come back home now as labor, transportation and other costs increase overseas.
                    It's only ink and paper


                    • #11
                      I like the Aircats, strong and very quiet

                      they make several versions; straight, angle, extended etc


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Bill Pace
                        Goodness, how can you go wrong, when they practically give the things away at $13 to $15, and of course if you got a %20 coupon...

                        That's easy, just compare them to a really good grinder in operation, the better quality grinder will run a heck of a lot smoother since the stone or burr run-out will be much less. I am not bashing HF and indeed I have spent a lot of money there, HF has some great buys in spite of what some might think but unfortunately it has been my experience those die grinders are not among the real bargains. Sure they will last and they will take a lot of abuse but comparing the two I had to my new IR was a real eye opener even though I was already aware of the differences, I was just surprised at how much better the IR really was in operation especially when using a carbide burr. As I mentioned before one good carbide burr can easily cost twice as much as a HF grinder and it will not last nearly as long in the HF tool as it will in a good high quality tool. In addition for exacting work the IR (as is other high quality tools) is MUCH easier to control the cutter in tight places and it will make a smoother cut without bouncing around. Like I said I am not against HF tools and buy from them what works for me but I have been spoiled by the high quality grinders and find there simply is no comparison in performance, plus cutter life can easily save the extra purchase cost in a short time. Usually the difference in cutter/stone balance can be felt, and even seen, by just running the tool while holding it as cutter/stone wobble is usually quite apparent when the tool is running.


                        • #13
                          I use either Bosch 1210's, which are made in Switzerland (at least, the ones I have bought are) or Milwaukee 5192's. Maybe the Milwaukees are made in China now, but the one I have is made in the USA. I like the compact size of the Bosch, but I usually make add on T handles for em, kinda like the clip on a submachine gun, so they are easier to use accurately with two hands. But the Milwaukee is a workhorse too.



                          I work my tools hard, and both of these models hold up to daily use on stainless and mild steel, and last years and years.

                          But neither of em is remotely close to $13.


                          • #14
                            There are still a few not made in China, I have a Master Power and an ARO, both made in the US, also have a couple made in China, they do the job but no comparison on power or smoothness, but you pay for that difference.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Ken_Shea
                              There are still a few not made in China, I have a Master Power and an ARO, both made in the US.
                              I recently bought a Chicago Pneumatic, and it was made in Taiwan. Still, great quality, but not as nice as my Dad's Chicago's.

                              An option for some might be the Dotco, Suiox, et al on Eba that are listed as basket cases. You can often buy them, get a maintenance kit with new bearings and seals, and be up and running with a like-new industrial quality grind for cheap.
                              "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did."