What Is A Die Grinder

Die Grinders are really not well known to most of the general public.

If you work with steel fabrication or cars a lot though, you probably own one of these tools, or at least are very familiar with them.

This is a very short post to explain What a die grinder is, how a die grinder got it’s name, the types of die grinders and how they fit in or relate to other similar types of tools like Dremels or angle grinders.

Let’s get into it…


What Is A Die Grinder?

What Is A Die Grinder?

A die grinder is a handheld power tool that works as a type of rotary tool.



How Does A Die Grinder Work?

The die grinder operates with a small motor (if electric) and gears inside the grinder unit, that drive the main shaft attached at the head to a type of attachment chose by the user.

If the die grinder is pneumatic, it has an air intake at the bottom of the shaft which powers the rotary disc/attachment.

This attachment like a grinding bit, or a cutoff wheel, spins/rotates at a high speed and is applied to different materials for different uses.


Types Of Die Grinders?

They come in two power types:

  • electric (plugged into a mains supply via a cord), or
  • pneumatic (air driven) – most die grinders are air die grinders. Air powered die grinders are run with a suitably sized air compressor and an air hose running to the tool –  refer to the cfm required for the tool for more information on this.

They can also have a straight shaft with a straight head, or a straight shaft with a right angle head (the head is where the die grinder attachment is secured and rotates/spins).

When people talk about a straight grinder or an air grinder, they are often referring to a die grinder.


How Did Die Grinders Get Their Name?

Die Grinders get their name from one of their original uses – tool and die work, where they were used to create the precise contours of dies or molds.

These days they can be used with a range of different attachments, wheel or bits to cut, grind, sand, shape, polish/clean + more, on a range of materials including but not limited to metal, wood and plastic.


Similar Tools To A Die Grinder

As a comparison, a die grinder might sit in between a Dremel rotary tool (read Dremel guide), and a Angle Grinder (read angle grinder guide) in terms of size, performance and the types of applications you use it for (on a light to heavy scale)

A Dremel for example is a type of finishing rotary tool – used for lighter tasks.

A die grinder is a step up from a Dremel, with more powerful motors and heavy duty parts for heavier tasks such as grinding welded metal, or porting engines for example.

A step up from a die grinder would be a tool like an angle grinder.


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