The best bench grinder can vary depending on the application. Where heavy usage is required, an 8-inch grinding wheel is preferable to the 6-inch wheels, and heavy-duty grinders may not have frills such as mounted lights. No matter what your specific application, look for a grinder that is well balanced, both for durability and sound reduction. In general, a quieter motor indicates less friction in the assembly, and that results in more work over a longer period of time. Never operate a grinder without mounting it securely, as the torque of the motor could cause the grinder to move about considerably without proper mounts. Additionally, grinders will create sparks, so wear proper safety gear and do not operate your grinder near potential fuel sources. You should also have a fire extinguisher close at hand.
The Metabo DS 200 is the only 8 inch grinder in our list. It uses a dual wheel balancing system that is common in bench grinders, and sports enough power to get your jobs finished quickly. The shaft spins smoothly, and has almost no vibration, which means a longer life and more extensive usability. The larger wheels mean that they will last longer and have less of a tendency to bog down during heavy usage. It is a German-made tool, with the dependability and craftsmanship that Germany is famous for.
There are a couple of items that need to be considered on the Metabo grinder. The first is the shaft size, which is larger than a comparable American grinder.You will have to purchase wheels designed specifically for this machine, but they are available from tool supply companies at reasonable prices. The second item of concern is that the plastic shields which come with the DS 200 are not very well designed. Since the shields inhibit a clear view of your work, it may be a good idea to go ahead and purchase replacement shields separately, or wear a pair of good quality safety glasses when using the Metabo grinder.
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The DeWalt DW756 is manufactured with the same durability as other DeWalt tools, which is why it ranks among the best. The motor and shaft are well balanced, but you may have to remove and remount the wheels, which are not installed well at the factory. With any tool, it is a good idea to verify the factory installation before using, to be sure that all nuts are securely in place. The major drawback of this grinder is that the motor and wheels are almost the same size, so it will be important to mount it in a way that provides you with sufficient access to the wheels, and you may need to build a custom mount to provide you with ample working room.
The Skil 3380-01 is a low cost alternative to industrial-purpose grinders. If your primary use is to sharpen tools or do light grinding, it will serve you well. Unlike the DeWalt grinder, this model provides you with better access to the grinding wheels, and the shields are more useful than those of the Metabo grinder. It is designed for the garage or home shop, and may not be able to handle the strain of extended, heavy usage. The biggest complaint with the Skil grinder is that the utility lighting built into the machine is not positioned very well, and may be more of a hindrance than a benefit. If you have a well lit area to mount it in, you can leave the lights off, which will also allow better access to the grinding wheels.