If you don’t own a dedicated buffing and polishing tool, a variable-speed angle grinder is ideal for the job. However, beginners must practice caution while using high-speed power tools on delicate surfaces like the exteriors of a vehicle.
Unlike professionals who own stacks of buffing and polishing tools, most DIYers rely on a good quality angle grinder to buff their car.
After all, no matter how careful you are, car paint is bound to wear out due to various external factors. Consequently, one needs a versatile tool like an angle grinder for all sorts of car restoration projects.
So, if you’re wondering if an angle grinder can double up as a car polisher, keep reading!
How Does An Angle Grinder Work?
An angle grinder features a rotating disc (or any other attachment) that moves in a single direction at variable speed. According to the action required, like buffing, cutting, grinding, etc., you can choose the appropriate option from the variable speed settings. However, not all angle grinders offer this setting.
Uses Of Angle Grinders
A high-quality angle grinder works well in multiple scenarios. For instance, fast-spinning angle grinders are ideal for cutting tiles as they create clean and crisp edges. Similarly, you can use them for cutting stones, too, though smaller-sized units will be better for more precise cuts.
The carving discs on angle grinders also make them suitable for carving and planning wood. So, if you’ve been planning to make simple furniture, look no further! However, keep in mind that due to the size and speed range of an angle grinder, it is not recommended for intricate woodwork.
Lastly, with enough practice, you can even use an angle grinder for sharpening tools. As such, it works as an excellent alternative to a bench grinder, provided you know how to angle and control the device.
Buffer Vs Angle Grinder
The shaft size of the two tools is essentially what makes them different from one another. So, if you’re wondering, “what size angle grinder do I need?” let us tell you that most angle grinders boast a 5/8-inch diameter spindle and 11 threads per inch.
As such, when using it for buffing and polishing tools and vehicles, we suggest attaching a spindle extender. Doing so will add about 2 inches to the device, making it easier to work with.
The wheel guard is another useful component of your regular angle grinder. It is added for safety reasons, and hence, it is best to steer clear of angle grinders without a wheel guard. However, you may need to remove it while buffing and polishing to enjoy extra clearance.
Can You Use Angle Grinders To Buff And Polish Your Car?
The answer to this query depends on three factors, as listed below…
1. Spindle Thread
The angle grinder should have suitable spindle thread dimensions so that you can connect various polishing attachments and use them as and when required.
The angle grinder must offer a power range similar to that of a polisher. However, the amount of power required may vary between 600W-1000W or even go beyond that.
Car polishing and buffing demand delicacy, so having a variable-speed angle grinder is essential. Ensure that the device can operate at 3000-3500 RPM for the best results.
Overall, keep in mind that regular polishers are not as powerful as angle grinders. So, using fast-spinning grinders is completely out of the question. In fact, you should remain careful while using any type of rotary tools, not just angle grinders, for buffing and polishing.
Moreover, we recommend using a dual-action polisher since they are easy to use and dissipate heat, making them ideal for beginners.
What Other Tools Can You Use For Buffing And Polishing?
Typically, an angle grinder operates at a fixed speed of 8000 RPM or more. This speed is obviously not suitable for it to be used as a buffing and polishing machine. So, if you don’t own a variable speed angle grinder, here are some alternatives you can consider…
1. A Dedicated Buffing And Polishing Tool
Such tools are specifically designed to get rid of defects, scratches, and more from painted vehicles.
But despite being a very useful tool, its use case is limited. Yet, if you’re someone who doesn’t mind going the extra mile to keep your car in top condition, buying a polishing tool can be a valuable investment.
2. Cordless Drill
A cordless drill with buffing and polishing attachments can also make a cost-effective option if you don’t own a variable-speed angle grinder. The device features variable speed settings, ranging between 500-2000 RPM. Not to forget, it is fairly easy to use – all you have to do is turn it on and adjust the speed with a flick of a button!
However, you may struggle with the orientation and the inertial forces of a cordless drill. As such, controlling the pad for a consistent finish may be difficult.
Things To Remember Before Using An Angle Grinder To Buff Your Car
Most angle grinders are used for heavier work like cutting metal, removing mortar, sharpening tools, etc., and offer more torque than polishers. So, we recommend working gently while the pad is moving. Concentrating on one part for too long may burn the car’s paintwork, and that’s the last thing you’d want!
Mind The Weight
Ensure the angle grinder is compact enough to be held at awkward positions. Usually, heavy-duty grinders weigh a lot, so be careful before working with one.
Working at high speed will obviously ruin the car paint. Similarly, working continuously at low speed can make the motor heat up due to reduced cooling/airflow. So, to avoid any mishaps, it’s best to take breaks whenever you notice the angle grinder getting too hot.
How To Polish Metal With An Angle Grinder?
Before getting started, check if you own the following items…
- Felt polishing and buffing flap disc
- Premium-grade abrasive flap disc
- Scotch Brite or Easy Strip disc
- Basic polishing compound kit
Steps To Polish Metal With An Angle Grinder
If your car displays minor rust stains, signs of oxidation, scaling, or chipped paint, just attach a Scotch Brite or Easy Strip disc to the angle grinder and get started.
Follow it up with an abrasive flap disc to even out rough edges. These flap discs are usually made of zirconia abrasive ribbon, which is an effective and affordable component for metalworkers.
Next, apply a generous layer of polishing compound on the affected area and use a felt polishing disc to clear out any leftover obscurities. Although doing these steps is enough for a neat look, you can repeat the process to remove stubborn saw marks.
Safety Precautions To Take While Working With Angle Grinders
- Clear The Workspace
Make sure you keep all other tools and toolboxes away while using an angle grinder to avoid any damage. Do keep tools that you may require in easy-to-reach areas.
- Mind The Power Cables
Similarly, organize the power cables and place them behind you or away from the work area to avoid tripping.
- Get Rid Of Flammable Items
When in use, angle grinders produce sparks that may ignite flammable substances like oil, diesel, gasoline, paper, etc. So, remove anything that can easily catch fire to avoid accidents.
- Remove Accessories
Earphones, jewelry, or any other intricate pieces that can get stuck in an angle grinder should also be removed.
- Keep A Fire Extinguisher Ready
It’s better to be safe than sorry, so we always recommend keeping a fire extinguisher handy while working with angle grinders.
- Avoid Wet Areas
Never use electrical appliances in wet and damp areas. If it is raining, it is best to wait till it stops before you start working.
- Wear Protective Gear
Lastly, protect your eyes, ears, lungs, and hands by wearing appropriate clothing and accessories. We recommend wearing safety goggles, earplugs, thick gloves, and full-length work pants.
Angle Grinder To Buff Car Final Words
That said, we hope this guide on using an angle grinder to buff and polish cars helped you learn a thing or two about this versatile device. Unlike rotary polishing machines, a standard angle grinder will cost you a lot less and work just as efficiently, if not more.
However, we must add that you will need practice and patience to work with power tools like angle grinders. But that’s just a small price to pay for a smooth and shiny car!
Before signing off, we recommend checking out our article on CR123A batteries for a better understanding of how they work in angle grinders. Consequently, you’ll be able to use these batteries to make your device work smoothly.