9 Best (Top Rated) Die Grinders: Air, Electric, Angle and Straight Picks

Looking to purchase a die grinder but not sure which one is the best model to consider?

You’re in the right place.

Best Battery Operated

Ingersoll Rand 301B

  • Robust motor
  • Series of safety features

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Best Overall

Makita GD0601 ¼-Inch

  • Light-weight
  • Robust motor

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Budget Friendly

Neiko 30062A ¼-Inch

  • Compact and lightweight
  • Touch lever flipper

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If you plan on carrying out any DIY projects around the home or indeed in an industrial setting, you’ll soon discover that a die grinder is an invaluable piece of equipment.

Die grinders are handheld power tools that are used for a variety of reasons which include machining material, polishing metals, honing, grinding down surfaces, and sanding wooden objects.

Die grinders are not difficult tools to use, although they do require careful handling and the use of personal protective gear such as eye goggles. Let’s take a look at the four key components that make up a die grinder and the five most common grinders you’ll find in the market today.

4 Key Components to a Die Grinder

Familiarizing yourself with the key parts of a tool you’re about to purchase is important. It will help you to make a better decision, an informed choice. Die grinders have several parts that make them tick. We’re going to take a look at some of the more important parts: the motor, collet, toolsets, and shaft.

  • Motor – The motor on a die grinder is what drives this dynamic handheld tool. The higher the power of the die grinder motor, the better the performance of the grinder. It is important to also point out that motor power determines the speed of the grinding wheel. For most home workshops, a die grinder motor featuring 0.25 HP will more than meet your requirements. You can find motors that go all the way up to 1 HP if you require something with a little bit more grit.
  • Collet – The tools or cutters added to die grinders are placed in a segmented band known as the collet. This collet ensures that the cutters are held firmly in place while the die grinder is on. To insert a new tool, simply open the collect, eject the former cutter and place the new tool in. Collets can be replaced if they get worn down. It is important to regularly assess the condition of the collet because the last thing you want is a cutter flying off in the middle of a honing or polishing job! It is worth mentioning that the grinding bits you insert into the collet should be recommended by the manufacturer of the die grinder.
  • Toolset – A grinder is incomplete without a set of cutters. Cutters come in all shapes and sizes because die grinders can carry out so many tasks. Cutters may be in the form of burrs, small drill bits, milling cutters, sanding drums, sanding flap wheels, mounted laps and small endmills.
  • Shaft – The shaft is the main body of the die grinder. This is the part which houses the motor and from which the collet to place the cutters is embedded. Shafts come in all sizes depending on the work to be done. Bigger die grinders have bigger shafts. You hold the shaft when working with a die grinder. For this reason, the shaft often boasts a streamlined design that makes it easier to hold and operate this tool. For most small die grinders they can be easily operated with one hand. Larger models may need the use of both hands.

Potential Dangers

Studies abound which warn about the dangers of die grinders. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the leading construction fatalities involved electrocutions (8.6% of deaths) and workers being struck by objects (9.6%). When working with die grinders it is important that you always use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as safety goggles, gloves, and composite-toed boots, particularly when working with electric die grinders. Keep liquids away from electric components and never use these power tools when working outdoors during thunderstorms.

5 Different Types of Die Grinder

There are different types of die grinder on the market. Before making a purchase it’s imperative that you know each of these types so you buy the grinder that meets your needs. Imagine buying an angle die grinder when what you really wanted was an electric die grinder!

  • Air (Pneumatic) – Pneumatic die grinders are power tools that are run and operated using compressed air. This compressed air comes from the replaceable air compressor canister integrated into the tool. Pneumatic die grinders have a pneumatic motor instead of an electric one. If you’re looking for a safer alternative to electric die grinders then look no further than these air die grinders because they have no risk of short-circuiting, there are no sparks, and there is no fear of electrocution. Most pneumatic die grinders also tend to be lighter and smaller than other types of die grinders making them ideal for small jobs in the workshop.
  • Electric (Corded) – If you’re looking for consistent power then electric die grinders are the way to go. Unlike pneumatic die grinders which you constantly have to stop and insert a new canister of compressed air, with electric (corded) grinders, you’ll always have access to power because you’re plugged into the wall. One thing to be aware of regarding electric die grinders is that the device’s power can change with time. Most electric die grinders are small and compact enough to be used in tight spaces. Larger models which can give you leverage also exist. The right electric grinder will depend on the type of work you’re doing.
  • Battery-Operated – Battery-operated die grinders are self-explanatory. These die grinders perform all the same functions as other types of grinders i.e. polish, machine, hone, and cut materials but rely on batteries to get the needed power to operate. Just like pneumatic die grinders which have canisters that need to be replaced, battery-operated die grinders don’t provide consistent power because the batteries deplete over time and need to be constantly replaced. If you’re looking to keep costs low or are working in a place without reliable power, the battery-operated die grinder just might be what you need.
  • Straight – If you attach tools to a die grinder and they are parallel to the shaft then the die grinder is referred to as a straight die grinder. You can use straight die grinders to make clean cuts in metals and indeed any other material. Straight grinders can be battery-operated, pneumatic, or electric. The type of work you intend to do will determine the kind of straight die grinder that you purchase.
  • Angle – Angle die grinders are those whose attachment tools are placed at an angle thanks to the presence of a bending chuck on their shaft. Angle die grinders are unique in that they enable the cutting of material at an angle. You don’t need to purchase any special cutting tools for use with this grinder. The same grinding tools used with other types of die grinders can be attached to angle grinders. Angle grinders have a horsepower output between 3-7 HP. Most angle grinders are electric in nature because you need a constant power supply with this particular grinder.

Advantages of Choosing the Right Die Grinder

Die grinders can be expensive. Therefore, you want to make sure that you buy the right one the first time around. We’ve included a buying guide below to help you get started if you’ve never bought a die grinder before. It will walk you through choosing the right grinder for your unique work needs.

Every brand does a good job of hyping up their product online! This can make it difficult to trust the reviews you read online. If this is your first time making a purchase of a die grinder, but need a bit of help, then you’re in the right place. We’ve searched high and low, tested different die grinders, read scores of reviews, and talked to experts to hear their opinions about what the best die grinders of 2019 are. Here are our curated results:

Overall Best Die Grinders in 2019

Makita GD0601 ¼-Inch Die Grinder

Key Features

  • Light-weight straight die grinder weighing only 3.7 lbs.
  • Robust motor with a no-load speed of 25,000RPM
  • Electric powered die grinder for continual power supply

Overall Best Die Grinder – The Makita GD0601 is a powerful die grinder. Electric powered means that once connected you have a constant power source. Product dimensions 3.2 x 14.1 x 3.2 inches by 3.75 lbs. making it one of the most compact yet robust die grinders in the market.

A noise level of 75dB enables it to be used comfortably in your home workshop without fear of disturbing the neighbors.

Pros: 

  • Noise kept to a minimum
  • Easy-to-operate die grinder
  • Streamlined shaft design for easy handling

Cons:

  • Does not come with a die grinder case
  • Does not have variable speed control

Ingersoll Rand 301B Air Angle Die Grinder

Key Features

  • Solid die grinder made completely of metal
  • Robust motor capable of delivering 0.25 HP at speeds of 21,000 RPM
  • Series of safety features such as lock throttle lever

Best Air Die Grinder – The Ingersoll Rand 301B Air Angle Die Grinder is made of aluminum making it one of the most durable die grinders around. This power tool boasts a self-locking throttle lever as a safety feature which prevents accidental starting of the motor.

Despite being made of metal it is still lightweight. The ball-bearing construction helps reduce vibration, while improving balance, and ensuring a safe operation. Its right-angle structure enables precision work in hard-to-reach places.

Pros: 

  • Easy-to-use angle grinder featuring a ball-bearing construction for increased balance
  • Lightweight in nature
  • Aluminum casing makes it durable

Cons:

  • Available only as a pneumatic model

Neiko 30062A ¼-Inch Air Die Grinder, 24,000 RPM Free Speed | Mini and Compact Size

Key Features

  • No-load speed of 24,000 RPM
  • Compact and lightweight shaft for easy hand-to-hand operation
  • Touch lever flipper for precision work

Best Budget (Cheap) Die Grinder (Under 50) – Simply because this grinder is one of the more affordable options does not mean that it compromises on quality. In fact, the Neiko 30062A ¼-Inch Air Die Grinder features impressive speeds of 24,000 RPM no-load, is a lightweight model weighing in at 13.6 ounces, boasts a touch lever flipper for precision work, and has a compact size for work in narrow areas.

This die grinder measures in at 5.9 x 3.1 x 1.8 inches making it ideal for those in need of grinders that can be used in tight spaces. It is a pneumatic die grinder which means that it makes use of compressed air for operation. This is an advantage as it can be used in places where it is difficult to find a power source.

Pros: 

  • Pneumatic and can be used in a variety of settings where there is no power
  • Lightweight nature prevents hand-fatigue

Cons:

  • Available only as a pneumatic model

Ingersoll Rand 5102 MAX Air Die Grinder

Key Features

  • Boasts safety release throttle
  • Lightweight die grinder with a streamlined design
  • Powerful model featuring 0.4HP and a motor capable of delivering 20,000-25,000 RPM

Best Angle Die Grinder – The Ingersoll Rand 5102 MAX Air Die Grinder weighs in at just 1.41 pounds and measures 3.9 x 0.9 x 2.8 inches. It is powered by compressed air, making it a pneumatic die grinder. It must be mentioned that Ingersoll makes some of the leading pneumatic tools and this model does not disappoint.

Whether you’re looking for a die grinder for industrial or home workshop work, this Ingersoll Rand 5102 should be among your options. The build quality is commendable and for the price, we believe that this is real value for money.

Pros: 

  • Streamlined shaft and body design which makes it easy to work with
  • Provides a powerful honing, machining, and cutting experience

Cons:

  • No electric or battery-powered die grinder options available

DEWALT DCG426B 20V Max Variable Speed Die Grinder

Key Features

  • Robust and powerful battery-powered die grinder
  • Slick and convenient shaft that’s easy to hold
  • Relatively large die grinder measuring 17 x 10 x 5 inches

Best Variable Speed Die GrinderDeWalt is a trusted name when it comes to best buy home tools. Having reviewed the specs of this die grinder which include convenient LED lights at the grinder’s nose, a brushless motor which needs no brush changes, and a variable speed rocker switch which enables you to control the speed we are of the opinion that this is the best variable speed die grinder of 2019.

This DeWalt Variable Speed Grinder is also one of the heaviest die grinders on our list weighing 3.45 pounds, and one of the longer versions (17 x 10 x 5 inches). This die grinder model is perfect for both industrial use and heavy-duty DIY home projects.

Pros: 

  • Battery-powered die grinder
  • Ideal for both industrial and residential heavy-duty work

Cons:

  • Heavy die grinder weighing 3.45 pounds
  • Batteries are not included when you purchase the grinder

4 More Top Rated Die Grinders

You can never have enough good-quality die grinders to check out. We’ve included some of our favorites onto this list so you can have extra alternatives and options. Here are four more top-rated die grinders of 2019:

DEWALT DW888 2-Inch Die Grinder

This DeWalt model features a 5-amp motor with a 19,000 RPM no-load speed. This die grinder is able to work on both AC/DC. Do you have attachments featuring differing sizes? This DeWalt DW888 die grinder can accommodate both ¼-inch as well as 1/8-inch shaft accessories.

Milwaukee 2784-20 M18 Fuel ¼-Inch Die Grinder, Brushless

The Milwaukee 2784-20 ¼-inch Brushless Die Grinder has a no-load speed of 20,000 RPM, a collet size of ¼ and voltage of 18. It’s a battery-powered die grinder needing m18 batteries to run efficiently. It is also one of the heavier die grinder models with a unit weight of 3.95 pounds. Length-wise it measures 3.8 x 16.4 x 4 inches. The shaft is mostly plastic and the collet mostly metal.

Chicago Pneumatic CP860 Heavy Duty Air Die Grinder

If you’re after an air die grinder that doesn’t shy away from heavy-duty work then look no further than the Chicago Pneumatic CP860 Heavy Duty Air Die Grinder. This rugged and durable die grinder has a ½ HP motor, built-in regulator, and a convenient design for easy grip.

Sunex Tools (SX5210) ¼-Inch Drive 1 HP Super Die Grinder

Looking for a powerful die grinder? The Sunex Tools ¼-inch Super Die Grinder features a 1 HP motor. Considering that most die grinders have motors with horsepower around 0.25, this is certainly a model worthy of consideration if you’re into tough grinding and cutting work. This die grinder has a weight of 2.2 pounds and measures 9.4 x 1.9 x 5.5 inches. Its variable speed also makes it a winner in our eyes.

Our 2019 Die Grinder Buying Guide

Die grinders come in all shapes, types, and sizes. They are intended for a more intimate and detail-oriented work. Here are six steps you can follow to help you pick out the right die grinder for your particular work needs.

  • Determine the work you wish to do: What sort of work do you intend to do? Are you looking to simply polish materials, or perhaps cut holes through metal? The kind of work you wish to carry out with a die grinder will determine which type of die grinder you should buy between pneumatic, electric, straight, and angle.
  • Figure out the size of the grinder that suits your needs: What size die grinder do you need? If you’re looking for an industrial die grinder, you may need a bigger size grinder. Polishing damaged car hoods may require a big grinder, not the smaller versions. Consider the type of work you’ll mostly be doing and this will give you a good idea about the size of die grinder to purchase.
  • Set a budget: What’s your budget? How much do you intend to spend for your die grinder? If you only work on DIY home projects a couple of times a year, you may not need the thousand-dollar die grinder. Perhaps the grinder under 50, like the one we’ve reviewed will meet your needs just fine.
  • Browse different die grind models online: Once you know the kind of work you will be doing, the size of grinder you’re looking for, and have set a budget, browsing online should be the next step. This will give you the chance to see what’s out there. We recommend making a list of at least five models that you like.
  • Read reviews online: Reading different reviews will quickly show you the bias certain brands and websites have for certain products. You want a holistic overview of each of the so-called ‘best’ die grinders. Read extensively different reviews of the five models that you have selected in step 4.
  • Join forums and ask others: They say that the biggest marketing tool is a happy customer. If you truly want to know which products outperform others, just ask people. Join forums which have to do with power tools and ask people their opinion about certain brands you’re considering and their own unique experiences working with those die grinders.

FAQ

  • What can you do with a die grinder? Die grinders have a variety of uses. The most common use of die grinders is grinding, polishing, machining, sanding, and honing of materials. Additionally, you may also find these tools being used to remove rust; in auto work to remove paint, finish stainless steel, wood, and plastic project, and also by those carving wood.
  • Is a Dremel a die grinder? The short answer is no, a Dremel is not a die grinder. What is the difference you might be wondering? We’re glad you asked. Let it be known that they are both rotary tools, just different versions of the same piece of machinery if you will. They have similar functions and operations. However, they differ in that Dremel is actually the name of a brand of rotary tools. The confusion comes in because people often call die grinders ‘Dremel rotary tools’, when in fact die grinders are made by scores of other brands. Another difference between Dremel rotary tools and die grinders is that Dremel tools tend to spin faster (averaging 35,000 RPM) compared to die grinders which reach speeds of 25,000 RPM max. Additionally, die grinders tend to be bigger than Dremel rotary tools. Lastly, the majority of Dremel tools are powered by electricity, whereas die grinders can be air-powered (pneumatic) or electric.
  • What is the difference between a die grinder and angle grinder? The biggest difference between these two machines is the power dynamic. Die grinder motors are typically 1 HP or less, while angle grinders have higher horsepower outputs of 3-7 HP. Angle grinders are also quite bigger than the average die grinder. Die grinders and angle grinders have similar functionality i.e. grind, polish, cut, machine, and hone a range of materials. Die grinders have two main body designs: die grinders where the cutting head is placed perpendicular to the driveshaft and models where the cutting head lies parallel to the drive shaft – sort of like a gun. Angle grinders have a cutting headset at an angle to the drive shaft.
  • Why is it called a die grinder? This tool got its name from the work it used to do decades ago. Die grinders were involved in tool and die work, and it is from this reference that the tool obtained its name. During the tool and die work, die grinders were responsible for making the accurate die and mold contours. The name appears to have caught on and stuck.
  • How does a die grinder work? Die grinders are very easy to operate. Before plugging them into a socket, first, determine what type of work you wish to carry out. The work you want to do will determine the cutting tool to insert into the collet. Open the collet and insert the tool you wish to use. Inspect the tool to ensure that there are no broken parts and that the die grinder is well lubricated. Plugin the die grinder, hold the grinder with a firm, sturdy hand, and then turn the switch ON. Before you begin work, however, ensure that you have put on a pair of eye goggles; gloves (if necessary) and that you have secured the piece you want to work on. When you’ve finished, unplug the grinder, wait for it to come to a complete halt before removing the grinder bit, cleaning it and properly storing it away.

Conclusion

Die grinders are not created equal. Some die grinders are just better than others. We stand by the grinders reviewed in this article. Each die grinder was ranked based on efficiency, ease-of-use, functionality, and value for money. Your quality of workmanship will be significantly improved by having such a robust piece of equipment in your arsenal. These die grinders that we have reviewed are also ideal for both industrial and home workshops. Happy grinding

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