Safety Rules for Angle Grinders

Whether you buy a $29 bargain brand or a heavy-duty unit which costs significantly more, most angle grinders operate between 9,000 rpm and 11,000 rpm. That type of power is impressive. It  can rip through wood and slice steel. However, if the cutting disc catches on something and kicks back on you, it can also slice and dice your face. To avoid accidents, I have compiled a list of safety rules:

  • Prior to using your angle grinder, carefully read the manufacturer’s technical bulletin or manual and follow any of the equipment instructions. You are asking for trouble if you think you can pick and choose which of the safety rules that you will follow.
  • Always wear the recommended safety equipment and appropriate work apparel, including  a full face shield, air respirator, hearing protection, gloves, steel-toed safety boots, leather carving apron and heavy long sleeve shirt. Do not wear any loose clothing or jewelry while working with any power equipment.
  • Always attach the handle to the body of the grinder. When working, keep a firm grip on the grinder with both hands, so you don’t lose control of the equipment.
  • Never remove the safety guard. On the latest models of angle grinders, you can reposition the guard to suit your needs. You should situate your safety guard, so it is on the same side as the side handle. This will provide  your hand with some protection from flying debris. 
  • Make sure that the safety guard is in the correct position as recommended by the manufacturer for the specific accessory that you are using.
  • Only use cutting and grinding discs and other accessories recommended by the manufacturer for your type of angle grinder. Accessories designed for a 9-inch angle grinder, which runs at about 6000 rpm, are generally not suitable for use on a 4 ½-inch grinder, which can run at 10,000 rpm. 
  • Prior to woodcarving, inspect the material for any screws, nail or other metal pieces. Remove any of these objects from the wood.
  • Always securely clamp your project to your workbench before carving.
  • Never attempt to hold the wood that you are carving with one hand or between your legs. 
  • As fascinating as carving with an angle grinder is, keep spectators far away from the cutting operation. Anyone watching must wear safety glasses as you are working and keep their distance.
  • Keep your work area clean, clear of obstructions and well lit.
  • Before plugging the grinder into the power source, make sure the switch is in the OFF position.
  • Do not start the grinder with the cutting blade or grinder in contact with the wood.
  • During operation, keep both of your hands on the grinder away from the cutting or grinding disc.
  • Do not try to muscle the equipment, applying excessive force on the cutting or grinding disc. Instead, let the angle grinder do its job.
  • After you have turned off the grinder, continue to keep both hands on the equipment until the disc has stopped rotating.
  • Whenever you change discs or cutting wheels or cleaning your angle grinder, always unplug it.

Final Word: An angle grinder is a fantastic addition to your woodcarving toolbox.  It can chew through wood, saving you hours of needless work. Because of its power, give this power tool  the respect it deserves. If you follow the safety rules recommended by the manufacturer, most power equipment can be operated safely and most accidents can be prevented. Equipment is usually only dangerous when the safety rules are ignored. Remember: it’s only good advice, if you take it.