When German company Ackermann & Schmitt titled the first angle grinder ‘flex’ in 1954, they must have foresaw the tool’s versatility. The hand grinder is capable of cutting through just about anything, from thick bolts to stone and concrete, making it an important tool for rescue workers. Aside from being a literal life-saver, the angle grinder has a softer side too, being able to clean metals or restore blunt cutting edges on old tools with just a quick switch of the disc.
Tools just keep getting smaller too. It won’t be another two decades before we have keychain angle grinders or swiss army knives with pull-out power tools. Sounds unlikely, but consider that compact angle grinders are now reaching power levels that only industrial grinders once could. And while you’d be smarter to look for an industrial grinder when it comes to bigger projects (industrial grinding with a compact grinder would be like cleaning a car with a toothbrush), compact grinders are being used for more and more jobs.
Both industrial and compact angle grinders are finding homes in the garages of DIYers as well as professional tool kits. Compact grinders are easily enough to buy brand new online, but larger industrial grinders often cost twice as much, making it a tough purchase for hobbyists. There’s some reprise in online marketplaces that offer used industrial angle grinders at reduced prices, as long as care is taken when purchasing. If you’re in the market for a used grinder don’t fall for the temptation of the cheaper models. Always check the disc size, the motor power, the hours the tool has been used as well as general reviews online before purchasing.
It may be a basic and simple tool, but that doesn’t mean that every tool company is putting out the exact same angle grinders. The strongest grinders will combine power and compactness, achieving the best results on tough surfaces without burdening tool loads or carrying huge price tags. These are five of the best performing compact angle grinders available on the market.
1. Dewalt D28402K
Dewalt has been slowly emerging from the shadow of its father company, Stanley Black & Decker. The SB&D subsidiary has released a range of handheld power tools that are being lauded within the market for their light frames and bright visibility. Their range of angle grinders are consistently among the top reviewed on online marketplaces, with users noting how easy Dewalt grinders are to use.
The D28402K is a small angle grinder with a 1.6hp motor capable of 11,000 rpm. The tool has been designed to reach tight spaces and features an ergonomic body that can be easily gripped and controlled. The grinder weighs 4.6kgs and has a rubber handle that reduces vibration and operator fatigue while the tool also uses a dust ejection system to ensure no foreign material shortens the tool’s lifetime.
- Pros: The grinder is light and compact, it is easy to handle and easy to switch discs.
- Cons: The guard feels awkward at times and may feel uncomfortable to some users.
- Price: $470 AUD (in a kit)
2. Milwaukee 6117-31
Milwaukee have produced one of the most powerful angle grinders available, with their 6117-31 making thick tiles, metals and concrete seem like butter. The Milwuakee 6117-31 is a 4 ½ inch compact grinder thatis also offered as a slightly bigger 5 inch grinder. It is as strong as it is compact, with a 13 amperage engine that easily reaches 11,000 rpm.
The 6117-31 uses Constant Power Technology to ensure that the grinding speed will remain static even when cutting through the thickest of materials. The grinder is aided by a 2,100 MWO motor that allows the handheld monster to achieve cutting levels that can almost match industrial grinders. The tool also features an electronic clutch, overload protection and a tool-free design that allows users to make quick adjustments to the disc.
- Pros: Powerful and able to cut through just about anything, easy to adjust or switch discs.
- Cons: More expensive than most angle grinders, while not as smooth as those similarly priced.
- Price: $150 USD
3. Makita 9557PBX1
Makita’s 9557PBX1 is the pitbull of angle-grinders. It’s cute to look at, easy to pick up and handle, but it packs power when it hits the steel. The 9557PBX1 is only 4.5 pounds, making it one of lightest angle-grinders even within the compact ranges. If there was one tool a rescue worker would want heading into a fallen building, this would probably be it.
The grinder uses a 7.5amp Makita motor with a diamond blade to carve through any surface. Its power and compactness make it a perfect tool for professional grinding jobs. The tool also comes with a carry case, 4 extra grinding wheels and an optional side handle that can attached to suit the user. The 9557PBX1 has added dust ejection technology and a small circumference barrel grip to make it easy to grip but hard to tarnish.
- Pros: Small, light and versatile.
- Cons: Powerful for its size, but not as strong as other slightly bigger grinders on the market.
- Price: $250 AUD
4. Craftsman 24544
The Crafstman 24544 is a budget angle grinder coming straight from the American tool market. Craftsman tools fill the shelves of American department-giant Sears and are regularly turning up all over the world due to their value and versatility. The company’s compact hand grinder is no exception, being the best performing budget model available in the international market.
This Craftsman 24544 is powerful enough to handle thick pavers and concrete with its 8.6-amp motor achieving 11,000 RPMs without sacrificing fluidity in the cut. The angle grinder is made to last with an aluminum gear housing and an ergonomic grip that doesn’t fatigue the user after long use. The grinder also has a 129 inch cord, allowing users to reach far distances without the hassle of plugging and replugging.
- Pros: Cheap and very capable for its price tag.
- Cons: Slower than other models when cutting through thick steel, also less powerful.
- Price: $60 USD
5. Hitachi G12SE2
The Hitachi G12SE2 feels more like a fine brush than a steel cutter, likely being the smoothest grinder you’ll ever have the privilege of handling. Hitachi, with their reputation for emphasising the ‘power’ in power tools, have finely tuned the motor inside of the G12SE2. Anything standing in the way of the compact grinder will be turned to dust by the 1,200W engine and 11,000 load speed.
The hand grinder is also a pleasure to wield, weighing just 1.9kg and from tip to tip only reaching 321mm. A two position anti vibration handle allows users to grip the tool with more control while the tool-less guard makes for easy disc adjustment. It’s a high end compact grinder that’s offered at a medium price, what’s more to ask?
- Pros: Ultra smooth, easy to control and use for a long time.
- Cons: The trigger switch is different to traditional models and may be uncomfortable for those unfamiliar.
- Price:$160 AUD