Some events in life stick with you, for me it was the start of a life-long phobia of angle grinders. It started as a kid when I was building a wooden catapult – don’t ask – and convinced my mom to buy me a sander so I wouldn’t have to do it all by hand. Don’t ask me why I was even sanding this thing – it didn’t work anyway and I could not destroy my idiot neighbor’s house with an avalanche of decapitated heads.
But that was only part of the failure, the bigger one by far was that neither my mom nor I had any clue about sanding machines and we ended up buying an angle grinder instead. I had it for about five minutes before I was deadly scared, so was my mom and we ended up returning the spinning wheel of death to the hardware store.
I must have been about eight, maybe ten years old and I had to turn 24 before I ever picked up an angle grinder again. By that time I was long well-versed in the usage of all kinds of tools, was building and repairing stuff and had in fact run chainsaws and heavy machinery during summer jobs – but somehow I had never once been taught or taught myself just how amazing angle grinders are.
In fact I never really knew what their purpose was, for many years my whole crafting efforts centered around woodworking and it is pretty unusual to use an angle grinder on wood. Not unheard of, in fact I just bought an Arbortech bowl carving thing but generally you stick to saws and drills.
When I got into metalworking I became a changed man
It wasn’t before I started to get into metalworking and scrap art made from magnetfishing finds that I watched some videos and quickly learned just how much stuff I could build with just an angle grinder and a welder. I actually still don’t have a proper welder because I use my truck as a workbench and so I use two car batteries and jumper cables — yes that actually works.
But what I do have is a cordless Makita angle grinder — in fact I own two now because I use them so much that changing attachments became a hassle I threw some money at. One is for cutting and the other one has a wire brush attachment that makes quick work of removing — well just about anything that isn’t steel. Paint, rust, trust and then all you are left with are bare steel and paranoia.
Angle grinders are incredibly versatile
I find it fascinating how quickly my angle grinders turned into a “to a man with a hammer” kind of tool. Everything looks like it needs the rough love of a rotary tool these days, especially with all those different attachments.
Just in the past month I have used it to cut a wooden board to size for a friend (arguably the wrong tool for the job but I didn’t have my saw handy) and while it took ages it still did the trick — with a metal cutting blade.
I also used it to make two pieces of scrap art, used the wire brush to clean a bunch of garden chairs off all the gunk of several years and of course I used the grinder to make sparks and fire when we went fishing and somehow we had a truck full of tools but not a single match or lighter. That was fun, who needs a magnesium rod when you have Makita, ancient devourer of souls?
And those are just the things an angle grinder isn’t really made for — there are like a dozen times I used it properly to help friends, family or myself build, repair and maintain things in the past couple months. And I don’t even have many friends.
But honestly the angle grinders are the solutions to problems I wouldn’t normally have — but because I would have to pay someone to do it for me and wouldn’t even attempt to do them myself. I would have looked at metal, looked at my assorted collection of hand saws and given right up knowing that it would take ages to saw even thin metal apart.
I am an office guy, I am already ahead of the crowd by changing my own bicycle tires and having a multi tool handy to do minor repairs when the need arises — but no one really expects me to know anything about tools at all. It is just something I learned to enjoy and even love, there is something incredibly fun about fixing stuff for cents on the dollar compared to hiring a professional.
It quickly turned into an addiction of buying quality tools and hoping to find a purpose for them — and frankly that started the day I bought my first cordless power tool. The first one I bought was actually the 18V Makita reciprocating saw that had the distinct advantage of being a dangerous scary tool with a clear “danger end” instead of a spinning wheel that could detonate and slice you into pieces at any given moment.
But if anything that recip saw was a gateway drug into the world of power tools, just the realization of how many hours I had wasted sawing stuff by hand made me wish I had bought one years ago.
And the angle grinder was just a purchase or two away, I think I bought the drill before and the impact driver after I got my first one. My bank account screamed just about as loud as the angle grinder does —- especially after I also bought a face shield and hearing protection. It all then ended in the purchase of two car batteries and jumper cables when I realized it was time to start welding.
And nowadays I’m the guy with the truck and tools and the knowledge to use them — hardly an expert at anything but a Jack of all trades and I would rather fix your sink than another computer or printer.
I hope you enjoyed this little story of how I turned from a devil workshopper into an angel grinder.