The Best Bench Grinders for the Workshop

Stop sharpening blades by hand, and hone knives, ax heads, and chisels quickly and easily with these top-notch bench grinders.

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 The Best Bench Grinder Option

Photo: amazon.com

Whether it’s mowing the lawn or chiseling some wood, many household and DIY projects require bladed tools or machines. At some point, you’ll need to sharpen those blades or remove rust and corrosion from a steel tool. That’s where a bench grinder shines.

The best bench grinders sharpen steel and remove rust much more quickly than an old-fashioned whetstone, and without significantly less effort. Bench grinders typically feature two grinding wheels, often with different grits. On many models, the grinding wheels can be swapped out for metal brush wheels— a boon when cleaning metal connectors and spark plugs—or for buffing wheels, designed for putting a fine shine on metal or plastic surfaces.

Besides being well made and easy to use, many of the best bench grinders also protect the tool user’s eyes against sparks and fine metal shards generated during the grinding process. (You should always still wear eye protection when using a bench grinder, though!)

While bench grinders are straightforward power tools, DIYers and pros prefer certain models based on their ease of use, power, and speed (measured in rotations per minute, or RPM). These factors have been taken into consideration in selecting the following eight bench grinders as the best available for specific situations and users. Any of these bench grinders would be a good addition to your workshop.

  1. BEST OVERALL: DEWALT Bench Grinder
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Wen 2.1-Amp 6-Inch Bench Grinder
  3. UPGRADE PICK: DeWalt Bench Grinder, 6-Inch
  4. BEST FOR BEGINNERS: Delta Power Tools Variable Speed Bench Grinder
  5. BEST FOR HOME HANDYMEN: Delta Power Tools 8-Inch Bench Grinder
  6. BEST FOR MECHANICS: Jet Shop Grinder with Grinding Wheel & Wire Wheel
  7. BEST FOR LANDSCAPERS: Sunex Bench Grinder with Light
  8. BEST FOR PROS: Jet 8-Inch Bench Grinder
The Best Bench Grinder Options

Photo: amazon.com

Though bench grinders can be beneficial for anyone who wants to sharpen a blade or grind rust away from steel, these tools are found most often in the workshops of auto mechanics, DIYers, and woodworking artisans who use a lot of hand tools.

Automotive

Automotive workers, including both auto-body workers and mechanics, use bench grinders on a regular basis to remove rust from nuts and bolts, as well as to polish steel and chrome engine and body parts. A bench grinder designed for the automotive industry typically features the fastest spinning speeds—up to 3,450 RPM. Being able to clean and polish auto parts on a bench grinder saves an immeasurable amount of time over cleaning and polishing by hand.

Woodworking

Woodworkers and craftsmen depend on sharp hand tools, such as planes and chisels, for creating well-fitting dovetail joints and smoothing out rough wood. As you might expect, sharpening these metal tools by hand can be time-consuming. Grinders designed for woodworkers feature slower spin speeds than ones designed for automotive workers, because the tempered steel in hand tools can be damaged by the high heat that results from fast-spinning grinding wheels. If you’re looking to sharpen tempered tools, look for a grinder with a slower (1,725 RPM) wheel.

Variable Speed

If you dabble in both woodworking and car or auto-body repair, consider a variable speed bench grinder that will allow you to operate the tool on its highest speed when you need to clean car nuts and bolts, while still enabling you to reduce the speed for sharpening chisels and other woodworking hand tools. Variable speed grinders typically cost more than their single-speed counterparts, but one variable speed grinder is less expensive than purchasing two separate bench grinders with high and low speeds respectively.

Portable

Standard bench grinders are heavy, weighing up to 50 pounds, and in general they perform their best when mounted to a workbench to keep them from moving. If you need to take a grinder with you to different worksites, you’ll want to invest in a smaller, lighter model (around 10 pounds) that features rubber feet to keep it from sliding when positioned on a table.

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Bench Grinder

You won’t find a lot of bells and whistles on the average bench grinder. While it’s possible to change a wheel on a bench grinder, it can be difficult to get the new wheel balanced, which is a necessity to prevent wobbling. It’s usually better to purchase a bench grinder that comes with the types of wheels you want. The two wheels on a bench grinder usually differ. One may be a coarse grit, while the other might be a fine grit, wire brush, or even a buffing wheel. The best bench grinder for you will depend on the type of grinding, cleaning, or polishing you intend to do.

Wheel Material

The type of material from which the wheels are made will determine the tool’s best use. Most grinder wheels, except wire and buffer wheels, come in one of two grits: 36 grit for aggressive grinding and 60 grit for finer grinding. In addition, they’re made from the following materials:

  • Silicon carbide: This is one of the most common grinding wheels found on bench grinders and is suitable for a range of grinding tasks, including sharpening cast iron and lawn mower blades. However, consider this type of grinding wheel tends to heat up very quickly, which can ruin the temper in high-quality woodworking tools like chisels or hand planes.
  • Aluminum oxide: These commonly found wheels do not heat up as quickly as silicon carbide wheels and are designed for grinding hard metals such as carbon steel and alloy steel that are found in hand tools.
  • Wire wheels: Made from both steel and brass bristles, wire wheels are designed to quickly clean away grease and gunk from auto valves and fittings. If you find a grinder in a mechanic’s shop, it will likely have at least one wire wheel.
  • Ceramic aluminum oxide: This abrasive wheel is used mainly for serious grinding away of material from hard alloys and steel. If you want to grind off half of an ax head, this is the wheel you want.
  • Buffing wheels: Made from a variety of thick, brushed fabrics, buffing wheels are designed to polish steel and metal items to a high shine. They’re often used by auto-body workers when restoring a car to achieve high sheens on hubcaps and other chrome automobile features.

Wheel Type and Size

Bench grinders are labeled by the size of their wheels, which are commonly either 6 inches or 8 inches in diameter. Both sizes perform similarly, with a couple of considerations.

  • 6-inch grinder: These smaller bench grinders are often slightly less expensive, ranging from around $65 to $175, depending on the brand and any optional accessories they may feature. They come with a choice of low or high speeds, and they’re suitable for a variety of grinding purposes, such as sharpening knives, blades, and tools. They can weigh anywhere from 10 pounds to 25 pounds or more and can be bolted to a workbench or used as a portable tool.
  • 8-inch grinder: Designed with the professional mechanic or woodworker in mind, these larger, 8-inch bench grinders often feature more powerful motors, but they usually don’t spin quite as quickly as the smaller, 6-inch models. They’re made to stand up to frequent use in a professional workshop and range from around $100 to $500, or more, depending on brand and quality. They range in weight from around 20 pounds up to 50 pounds and are usually bolted to a workbench to keep them from moving.

Safety Features

All power tools present a measure of risk—bench grinders included. Grinding iron creates sparks and sends shards of metal flying, so it’s imperative to wear safety glasses when operating a bench grinder. Fortunately, the grinders come with some safety features to help reduce risk, although these features don’t eliminate the risk altogether.

  • Eye guards: These are standard on most bench grinders in the form of clear, acrylic shields that extend directly over the grinding wheel as you work, keeping metal and steel shards from making contact with your eyes. Over time, these guards can become dirty or scratched, but when that happens, they can be replaced.
  • Spark arrestors: These small steel plates, located between the wheels and the eye guards, are intended to keep sparks from flying all over the workshop. However, there will still be sparks, so it’s not a bad idea to keep flammables a few feet away from a bench grinder while it is in use. But, in general, the spark arrestors will keep the sparks from traveling very far.

Accessories

Common bench grinder accessories are designed to make it easier to use the tool and include:

  • Tool rests on which the user can brace a knife or blade to hold it steady while grinding. This accessory comes standard on almost all bench grinders.
  • LED lights that illuminate the work area to better see what you’re doing.
  • Rubber feet (on portable models) to keep them from sliding across a workbench during operation.
  • A water tray near the bottom of the grinder for dipping a chisel (or other item you’re grinding) to cool it off.

Our Top Picks

In order to be a true asset in the workshop, a bench grinder should operate smoothly without wobbling. It should also have adjustable tool rests to get just the right angle on the tool you’re grinding. Most important, it should be safe to operate. The following eight are good options for DIYers and pros alike.

Best Overall

The Best Bench Grinder Option: DEWALT Bench Grinder, 8-Inch (DW758)
Photo: amazon.com

DEWALT brings you this durable bench grinder with 8-inch diameter grinding wheels so you can sharpen a lot of blades before needing to replace a wheel. The DEWALT comes with clear eye shields over both wheels, and features adjustable, aluminum tool rests so you can position the item you’re sharpening at an optimal angle. The grinder wheels rotate at 3,600 RPM for quick shaping of metal blades. For the best results, mount the grinder to the top of a workbench where it won’t move during use.

Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Bench Grinder Option: WEN BG4266 2.1-Amp 6-Inch Bench Grinder
Photo: amazon.com

With the 6-inch Wen bench grinder, you can sharpen a lot of blades without spending a lot of money. The Wen grinder comes with both 36-grit and 60-grit grinding wheels that spin at 3,450 RPM. It features see-through eye shields, and each wheel comes with adjustable tool rests to help steady the tool you’re grinding or sharpening. You can also mount the grinder on a countertop in your workshop.

Upgrade Pick

The Best Bench Grinder Option: DEWALT Bench Grinder, 6-Inch (DW756)
Photo: amazon.com

The 6-inch DEWALT bench grinder is built to last. It comes with both a 36-grit and 60-grit 6-inch grinding stone, and each grinding wheel features an eye shield and an adjustable tool rest that helps hold your item steady as you sharpen it. The grinder is made from durable cast iron with grinding wheels that rotate at 3,450 RPM. Holes in the base allow the user to mount the grinder to a permanent spot on the workbench.

Best for Beginners

The Best Bench Grinder Option: Delta Power Tools 23-196 6-Inch Variable Speed Bench Grinder
Photo: amazon.com

If you’re just getting started sharpening metal tools and blades, you may appreciate the Delta Power Tools Variable Speed Bench Grinder. It accepts two 6-inch grinding wheels, with both a 36-grit and a 60-grit wheel included. The Delta grinder features eye shields for safety and adjustable tool rests for support, allowing you to get the exact angle on your blade, chisel, or other tools. When you’re starting out, it can be helpful to control the spinning speed of the wheels, and this Delta grinder allows you to adjust the speed from 2,000 to 3,400 RPM by turning a control wheel in the front of the grinder. The machine also comes with an attached flexible light to illuminate the work area.

Best for Home Handymen

The Best Bench Grinder Option: Delta Power Tools 23-197 8-Inch Bench Grinder
Photo: amazon.com

A step up from our pick for beginners, this larger 8-inch bench grinder is a good option for DIYers who have a lot of metal hand tools, mower blades, or tiller blades to sharpen. Wheel speed can be adjusted from 2,000 to 3,400 RPM using the handy front dial, and the grinder comes with clear eye shields and adjustable tool rests to help grind at the correct angle. It comes with two 8-inch grinding wheels, one 36-grit and the other 60-grit. And, like other Delta models, it features a handy, flexible overhead light to make it easy to see what you’re doing.

Best for Mechanics

The Best Bench Grinder Option: Jet 577128 Shop Grinder
Photo: amazon.com

The wire wheel on this shop bench grinder is useful for cleaning away the carbon deposits and gunk commonly found on metal hose fittings and spark plugs, making this grinder a good option for mechanics who work on automobiles, lawn mowers, or other small engines. Both the grinding wheel and the wire wheel rotate at 3,450 RPM, and both come with adjustable tool rests and large, adjustable eye shields. With this shop bench grinder, you can sharpen tools and clean metal fittings using the same power tool. The Jet grinder can also be bolted to a workbench.

Best for Landscapers

The Best Bench Grinder Option: Sunex 5002A Bench Grinder with Light, 8-Inch
Photo: amazon.com

For sharpening a garden shed full of those tools that keep a landscape looking its best, including snippers, clippers, saws, and axes, check out this 8-inch Sunex bench grinder. This model comes with two sanding wheels, 36-grit and 60-grit, that are optimal for reshaping blades and honing them to a razor-sharp edge. The grinder comes with two eye shields and adjustable tool rests so you can achieve the proper angle on metal tools and blades. The wheels rotate at 3,450 RPM and the heavy cast-iron base can be bolted to a workbench for stability.

Best for Pros

The Best Bench Grinder Option: JET 577102 JBG-8A 8-Inch Bench Grinder
Photo: amazon.com

The large (115V) motor on the powerful Jet 8-Inch Bench Grinder will withstand frequent grinding use, making it a good choice for a professional who has a lot of blades to sharpen. It accepts 8-inch grinding wheels and you’ll receive one 36-grit and one 60-grit wheel with your purchase, which spin at a maximum of 3,450 RPM. Both the eye shields and the tool rests are adjustable on this model. For the best stability, bolt the grinder to a countertop or workbench.



Tips on How to Mount a Bench Grinder

If you have space on your workbench, you’ll most likely want to mount your new bench grinder to keep it stable while you’re sharpening or smoothing tools and parts. Bench grinders are pretty heavy on their own, but bolting them to a workbench, using the provided holes in their base, is optimal.

  • Position the grinder where you’d like it to be in the workbench, and then use a pencil to make marks on the workbench in all four base holes.
  • Use a drill to drill through the pencil marks.
  • Attach the grinder by inserting bolts through its base holes and the holes you drilled in the workbench, and then use nuts to secure the bolts firmly in place.

FAQs About Your New Bench Grinder

Your grinding needs are not identical to anyone else’s, so the grinder you choose should reflect the type of materials and items you’ll be grinding.

Q. Should I get a 6-inch or 8-inch bench grinder?

If you’re a DIYer and a newbie to bench grinders, consider a 6-inch model, which should provide you with ample power to grind, sharpen, and clean a wide array of blades and tools. The larger, 8-inch grinders are designed for use by pros.

Q. Do I need a variable speed bench grinder?

If you need to sharpen woodworking tools, but you also work on cars, a variable speed grinder will allow you to use the lower speed for sharpening woodworking tools and the higher speed for grinding down bolt ends or cleaning away rust from auto parts.

Q. What is the best grit for sharpening knives on a bench grinder?

A medium-fine, 60-grit wheel is optimal for getting a razor-sharp edge on your kitchen knives.