Safety - Cutting vs. Grinding

No short “cuts” for safe grinding


You have just used your Norton cutting-off wheel to cut a bolt with your chop-saw and, as usual, the cutting-off operation has left a slight burr on the bolt that needs to be removed. Unfortunately, your bench grinder and portable angle grinder are located on the other side of the shop. Is it OK to use the side of the cutting-off wheel to quickly deburr your part to save some time?

NO! Cutting-off wheels are for cutting on the periphery ONLY. Why?

  • Cutting-off wheels are thin by design and do not have adequate lateral strength for side grinding.
  • The fiberglass reinforcement is in the wheel to add strength. Using the side of the wheel can damage the fiberglass.  This reduces the strength of the wheel and can lead to breakage.
  • Regardless of what type of grinding wheel you are using, grinding must only be performed on the surface of the wheel for which it is designed.

Using a cutting-off wheel for side grinding can have serious consequences. The photographs in Figure 1 below show what can happen to a cut-off wheel when the side is used for deburring or grinding. The workpiece can cut through the reinforcing side fiberglass weakening the wheel. This may result in wheel breakage and injury. 

Cut-off wheels subjected to improper side grinding - Example 1 Cut-off wheel subjected to improper side grinding - Example 2

Figure 1: Cut-off wheels subjected to improper side grinding.

The safety code for grinding and cutting wheels is ANSI B7.1 “Safety Requirements for the Use, Care and Protection of Abrasive Wheels.”  The code is very specific defining the proper grinding surfaces for each type of wheel and Figure 2 shows that the only acceptable grinding surface on a cutting wheel is on the periphery, not the sides.

Cut-off wheel subjected to improper side grinding - Illustration Type 01/41 Figure 2: Type 01/41 
Proper grinding surface illustration from ANSI B7.1

Don’t take shortcuts with your safety.  Be sure to use cutting-off wheels for cutting only.


For additional information on this topic or if you need any other abrasive safety information, please review ANSI, OSHA and all literature provided by the abrasive wheel and machine manufacturer. You may also contact the Saint-Gobain Product Safety Department at Tel: (508) 795-2317 or Fax: (508) 795-5120 or contact your Saint-Gobain Abrasives, Inc. representative with any safety related questions.

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