You have probably encountered several cutting tools, but choosing the best one for your needs can be quite a puzzle. It may be hard to differentiate the tools since most are handheld, rotary tools, and they function similarly. Such tools include a cut-off tool and an angle grinder and choosing between using either or both of them is what informed come with this write up to help you choose the right tool.
First and foremost, both are handheld tools, and they are mostly used to cut or sharpen metals. However, the cutting disc size and the angle of the blade is what set these two far apart.
With that in mind, let’s begin by understanding the distinctive aspects of each tool;
What is a Cut-off Tool?
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A Cut-off tool is a compact, single-handed tool that is used to cut or sharpen metal pieces. A cut-off tool has about 1 HP motor, and it has its cutting disc aligned at a right angle to the tool’s shaft. As such, it is not meant for working through thick pieces of metal; rather, it is best suited for thin metal cutting tasks.
It is controlled using just one hand since it is quite lightweight, although this may work against you since you may not have total control. A Cut-off tool is relatively affordable since it has limited uses. The blades are equally cheap when compared to those of other cutting tools.
How a Cut-off Tool Functions
A cut-off tool comes with a small cutting disc, usually 3 inches, which makes it perfect for working on small pieces of metals or small welding beads. It is hardly 6 inches tall, and it is operated using one hand. The compact design also allows it to be used in tight spaces that may be impossible with other tools.
A cut-off tool is either powered by electricity or air pressure. Only a few tools run on battery power. Pneumatic versions are most common because they are more powerful, making them appropriate for heavy automotive duties such as trimming off sheets of metal and hose clamps.
Electric-operated cut-off tools, on the other hand, are more reliable, and there are bigger than pneumatic tools. They are, however, weaker than the pneumatic ones; thus, they are used light metal work duties.
Limitations of a Cut-off Tool
Although the small-diameter disc is designed for precision work, this may be seen as a drawback in large projects where it may take a long time to cut through metals and beams.
What is an Angle Grinder?
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An angle grinder is a portable power tool that slightly bigger than its cut-off tool counterpart. It is also known as a side grinder and has a motor with between 3 -7 HP. The grinding disc is larger, measuring between 4 ½ to 9 inches, which makes it an excellent choice for a wide range of heavy-duty applications.
The cutting disc is positioned on a spindle and in a given angle in the same direction as the trigger. The handle and the blade are parallel to each other, and a blade guard is usually provided to keep you safe from the rotating disc. An angle grinder also has another handle that allows you to have a firm grip and total control while operating.
What an Angle Grinder Does
The tool’s ergonomic design allows for maximum efficiency and comfort during use. Just like any other rotary power tool, it is versatile enough to handle a variety of materials from plastics, metal to wood, and even mortal. While a cut-off tool is mainly used for cutting, an angle grinder can also be used sharpen, polish, and grind metals.
Angle grinders are mainly found in automotive shops, and other metalworking workshops where they are used to cut through thick metal bars, beams, metal sheets, and the list goes on. Also, woodworkers and plumbers find this tool invaluable for doing some final touches and cutting through metals pipes respectively.
You will have to pay more for an angle grinder due to the added power and versatility. It is not only used on various surfaces by replacing the blades but also it can be used to remove corrosion, rust, sharpen and improve various outdoor tools such as a lawnmower.
One greatest advantage that an angle grinder has over a cutoff tool is that it can be disabled and reassembled swiftly to serve different uses. You can easily replace a masonry blade with a wood-cutting blade when needed, and so on.
Drawbacks of an Angle Grinder
The larger disc may limit its use in tight spots such as working in closets and other tricky positions. Also, this is not the perfect equipment for detailing. As such, if you intend to do some more precise work, you would better stick to a cut-off tool. Also, whether you see it as a downside or not, you will need to purchase different blades for specific tasks and this makes an angle grinder more expensive.
Cut-Off Tool vs. Angle Grinder – Which is Most Suitable for your work?
Now that you have a bigger picture of what a cut-off tool and an angle grinder are and what they can do, how do you determine which one is best for your work between the two? Basically, it all depends on the task at hand. Determine the size and type of material you need to work on, and if it exceeds 3 inches, then an angle grinder is the perfect tool for the task.
However, if you deal with thin sheets of metal regularly or if your tasks involve a lot of detailing, then a cut-off tool will come in handy. Also, you should keep in mind that an angle grinder cannot fit in cramped spaces making a cut-off tool the most preferred option in such situations.
Although it will cost you more to buy an angle grinder, you don’t have to break the bank to buy any of the tools. Also, both cut-off tools and angle grinders have both electric and pneumatic versions, and the good thing is they have almost the same PSI number which means that you can use the same air compressor for both tools.
Ultimately, the choice between using a cut-off tool or an angle grinder comes down to the tasks you have ahead of you and the operating space.
Whatever choice you make, always make sure that you keep safety into consideration. Chances are both tools will produce flying particles, and because you will be working at close proximity, wearing safety goggles is an important safety precaution to stay injury-free. Other protective gear includes aprons, gloves, nose masks, and ear-protective headphones.
You may also like to read: Selecting the Right Flap Disc for your Grinder – Beginners Guide