One size definitely does not fit all when choosing a cut-off wheel. Each job is different and requires a specific wheel to get things done the right way and to achieve the results you are looking for.
Picking out the right cut-off blade can be a little overwhelming, especially if you aren’t familiar with all the different types available and what each option is used for.
To get help, we created a guide giving you all the information, tricks, and tips in our toolbox to help you select the best cut-off wheel for your needs.
What Is a Cut-Off Wheel?
If you are looking for the best cut-off wheel, you probably already know what these tools are. However, for those who might night, we want to ensure you have a clear image in your head before tackling the job of finding the right one.
Cut-off wheels are used in the metal fabrication industries. These abrasive wheels are ideal for grinding down and removing excess material left over after a welding application.
Cut-off wheels are typically used to cut through or grind down carbon steel, aluminum, and stainless steel.
Types of Cut-Off Wheels
Wheel Selection and Elimination Video- Check out this video to help you choose the best cut-off wheel.
Although there is a wide variety of wheels to choose from, there are technically only two types. These are type 1 and type 27.
- Type 1: Type 1 cut-off wheels are flat and typically used to cut through metal.
- Type 27: Type 27 cut-off wheels are used for metal cutting as well as grinding and notching metals. These wheels have depressed centers.
Grit Sizes and Grain Type
One of the first things to look for when choosing a cut-off wheel is the type of grit it has. Grit is the size of the particles attached to the wheel. These abrasives are crucial to obtaining the perfect finish for every task.
Grit size typically ranges between 16-60. The smaller the number, the larger and more coarse the particles are. If you purchase a wheel with a higher grit, the particles will be much smaller than fine particles.
The grain of a cut-off wheel is the material the particles are made from. The most common materials you will see include.
- Zirconia alumina: Ideal for heavy-duty applications such as structural steel cutting, ironwork, and stainless steel.
- Ceramic alumina: Perfect for hard-to-cut metals like titanium, armored steel, and high nickel alloys. Known for cutting cooler and reducing heat discoloration to the metal compared to other grains.
- Silicon carbide: An extremely tough grain with fast cutting performance and sharp qualities. It is not as tough as other options because of its friability.
- Aluminum oxide: Best for work on steel and other metals and is one of the most common abrasive grains available.
The diameter of your wheel doesn’t technically affect the type of performance it produces. However, you must choose a wheel that fits your tool.
- Die grinders: 2-4 inches
- Angle grinders: 4-9 inches
- Highspeed, chop, and stationary saws: 12-20 inches
The wheel’s rate per minute is essential to the operation of your tool, which often corresponds with the diameter of the product.
The bond of a cut-off wheel is the material used to hold the grain to the wheel itself. The type of bond used can determine the life of your tool. A harder bond will hold the abrasives tightly and for longer, extending the life of the wheel. A softer bond will release the particles quicker, reducing the wheel’s life.
There are two types of bonds commonly used on cut-off wheels, metal, and resin.
- An organic bond (resin, rubber): This option offers high bonding strength, impressive wear resistance, and a long life expectancy. Organic bonding is suited for fettling and cutting off. These bonds can be flexible with an elastic hold.
- A vitrified bond (glass, glass-ceramic): This type of bond is excellent for ferrous materials. They provide a stronghold for tough materials. These are better choices for jobs where the result should be clean and precise.
Cutting wheels are made from layers of fiberglass layers. There can be one, two, or three layers of fiberglass material. The more layers of fiberglass there are, the best suited they are for tough jobs.
One layer of fiberglass is ideal for final touches and finishing jobs. Double or triple layers of fiberglass are typically used for heavy-duty industry-type applications.
Type of Cutting Wheel Based on Application
There are a variety of cutting wheels with distinctive shapes for all types of cutting applications. Each application or industry requires a particular kind of wheel for each task and finish.
- Pipe Fabrication: The size of the wheel is often based on the size of the pipe requiring work. You want a thin wheel for a nice deep cut. You should consider using a depressed center wheel on larger pipes, providing clearance while working at an angle.
- Shipbuilding: You will want a hard, long-lasting wheel made from a durable material like ceramic for this type of job. You should also consider getting a soft bond wheel to keep a constant fast cut. For aluminum applications, an aluminum wheel would be best.
- Construction: In the construction industry, you want a cut-off wheel that can tackle a variety of applications. Here both flat and depressed center wheels can work well depending on the task and position of the user. An aluminum oxide wheel is the perfect mix of performance and versatility for this specific application.
- Welding Prep: Using a cut-off wheel for welding prep requires a sharp cut but not necessarily one with precision. You can use a standard cutting wheel made from aluminum oxide between 0.045 inches to an mm thickness is a great choice.
- General Fabrication: The most frequent cut-off wheel is around 0.045 inches in diameter for general fabrications. You should also choose your gain based on the type of material you are working with. You must use high-performing grains for hard-to-cut materials like stainless or structural steel.
This is just a suggestion for a broad selection of applications. Choose your grinding wheel that will work for the specific task you are tackling each time.
Summing Things Up
There are many different options to choose from when picking out a cut-off wheel. Although the variety can initially seem overwhelming, the selection process will become much easier once you know exactly what to look for.