Steel drill bit with metal grinding wheel attachment

Grinding Wheels for Drills: A Beginner's Guide

If you don’t plan on using a grinder often or prefer to keep the number of tools in the garage to a minimum, using a drill with a grinding wheel attachment could be a good option for you.

Rather than storing an entire grinder tool in your shed, you can transform your drill into one. If you aren’t familiar with the type of transformation, take a few minutes to read through our beginner's guide to grinding wheels for drills.

We will provide a plethora of information on the types of grinding wheels available to use with a drill, along with the steps to take when using them.

What Is a Grinding Wheel for a Drill?

Small grinding wheel on end of drill cutting into block of wood

A grinding wheel is a circular disc with an abrasive compound made with tons of hard particles creating a sharp cutting edge. These wheels are used for cutting through various types of metals, offering a smooth, clean cut.

While most people think of grinding wheels as a single unit whose sole purpose is to grind, others can connect to different machines to tackle different projects.

One of the most popular ways to use a grinding wheel is by connecting it as a bit to a drill. These wheels will often be smaller in size but can still perform significant cuts in many different types of materials.

Grinding Wheels for a Drill
Different abrasive grinding wheels on wooden surface

You can use just about any type of grinding wheel with a drill as you can with a grinder. The wheel and its composition are all the same, the only difference being how it is attached to the tool.

Grade of Grinding Wheel

One of the most significant ways to differentiate grinding wheels is their hardness and softness (or their grade).

Typically, grinding wheels are graded from 0-16. A wheel grade of zero is the softest option available, while a wheel grade of 16 is the hardest.

A lower grade will better fit softer materials and metals; harder grades are designed to cut through stronger, harder metals.

You will also see a grinding wheel grade based on the alphabet, with grading based on A to Z, where A is the softest and Z is the hardest.

Types of Grinding Wheels

Aside from size, grinding wheels are also separated by type, with 10 main wheel options.

  1. Dish cup wheel: A dish cup grinding wheel is a jig and cutter grinder. It is a cup-shaped wheel that is very thin, allowing it to fit into slots, cracks, and crevices.
  2. Saucer grinding wheel: A saucer grinding wheel can be used for smaller tasks like sharpening saw blades or grinding drill bits.
  3. Cylinder wheel ring: This type of grinding wheel was designed to create flat surfaces with no middle mount.
  4. Straight grinding wheel: These wheels are used for surface, centerless, and cylindrical grinding.
  5. Segmented wheel: A segmented wheel is a flat wheel used for flat surfaces or stock removal. They come in various sizes, grains, and shapes.
  6. Flaring cup wheel: This type of wheel flares out at the edges and is often used for cleaning castings, preparing surfaces to paint, and smoothing out weld seams.
  7. Tapered grinding wheel: This type of wheel is typically used for grinding threads or gear teeth because the wheel is tapering towards its midpoint.
  8. Diamond grinding wheel: As it sounds, a diamond grinding wheel has numerous industrial diamonds attached to the edges to grind strong materials and metals.
  9. Straight cup: Instead of curved sides, a straight cup grinder has straight sides replicating the shape of a cup.
  10. Mounted point wheel: A mounted point grinding wheel is often used for dentists' drills, polishing, blending, etc. It is a wheel with small mounted points rather than a flat surface.

The wheel type you use varies depending on the material you are working with and the specific job you are attempting to complete.

Different Grits for Grinding Wheels

Each grinding wheel has different grit or grain sizes. These particles are the abrasive material that grinds the metal, grinding off or cutting each project.

The size of the grit measures from very fine to coarse, with very fine being used for delicate, hard, and brittle metals while the coarse is made for quick material removal.

Grit Type

Grit Size

Very Fine

220, 240, 280, 320, 400, 500, 600


80, 100, 120, 150, 180


30, 36, 46, 54, 60


10, 12, 14, 16, 20, 24


Attaching a Grinding Wheel to Your Drill: Step-by-Step

Sanding wheels for grinder with varying degrees of coarseness

Attaching a grinding wheel to your drill is pretty simple and even self-explanatory. However, if you aren’t careful or skip a step, you could end up with a burnt-out drill, a broken grinding wheel, or a severe injury, so be sure to follow each of these steps.

Step 1. Purchase a grinding wheel conversion kit for your make and model drill. Although many of these tools are universal, it is important to double-check. If the wheel you buy isn’t compatible with your drill, you will regret it.

Step 2. Choose the correct bit and the appropriate size grinding wheel for your specific type of drill.

Step 3. Check the spindle of your drill to ensure it is securely locked into place.

Step 4. Before starting up your drill, grab safety glasses to protect your eyes from debris and sparks that are bound to go airborne. You will also want to use the appropriate gloves to protect your hands and give you a firmer grip on the tool and metal.

Step 5. Place the nut onto the selected arbor, then slide the grinding wheel into place right afterward, tightening until it is secure.

Step 6. Before using the grinding wheel, turn on the tool and ensure it is spinning correctly and at the correct speed.

Step 7. Begin working on your project, starting at a low rate of speed and slowly increasing it as you go.

The best part about using a grinding wheel with a drill is that once you are done, you simply remove the small pieces and store them away in a drawer, giving you back your drill to use for your next home repair.

Final Thoughts

While some projects don’t offer enough leeway for a drill to replace an entire grinding machine, many will turn out the same way or even better. If you plan to utilize a drill conversion kit to develop a mobile metal grinder, use the information listed above to know which wheel to use and how to mount it correctly.

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