A cut-off tool is a small, one-handed cutting blade mounted perpendicularly to the drive shaft. They can be cordless, corded or operated pneumatically, and have light-duty motors that clock in right around 1hp.
They are generally lightweight and operated with one hand. Because of this, they are suited for light metal cutting duties and are especially useful in lots of hard-to-reach places where a bigger tool requiring two hands wouldn’t fit. They are also good for cutting things close to being flush with a surface like a car frame or a piece of sheet metal.
While you can spend a lot of money to get a cut-off tool, one thing that makes them attractive is that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to get a decent cut-off tool. Their blades are also pretty affordable
If you need to cut something more substantial, an angle grinder might be the better option. These are versatile tools that can be fitted with a range of attachments permitting not just cutting but grinding and sharpening. Unlike a cut-off tool, with the head perpendicular to the drive shaft, angle grinder cutting heads are at an angle to the drive shaft.
They are much bigger and much more powerful, with motors ranging from 3-7hp. Fitted with the right head, they cut not only metal but also masonry like bricks.
Maintaining proper control of an angle grinder requires the use of both hands, and they are bigger tools to begin, which means that they are more suitable for cutting jobs with a lot of space. Despite an angled head, you can still get the blade close enough to remove things like frozen bolts. In fact, the added control of using both hands means steadier cutting.
A significant advantage to an angle grinder is that you can swap out the attachments for a variety of uses. It can cut metal and masonry, but it can also remove corrosion and direct from a shovel and be used to sharpen lawnmower blades and put an edge back on other outdoor tools.
That added power and versatility mean that an angle grinder is going to cost you more than a cut-off tool. The question for you is whether that added cost is just more money or an investment in a solution to other DIY problems.
A cut-off tool is ideal if you have only light cutting to do in a tight space. With head perpendicularly mounted to the drive shaft, getting it to where you want to cut is almost as easy as pointing a wand. It’s also suitable for the job of cutting off frozen bolts. It’s also a little cheaper, but you also get the power you pay for. If you buy one, don’t expect it to do heavy-duty jobs.
Although it’s heavier, requires two hands and has a cutting head angled compared to the drive shaft, an angle grinder is still a great tool to maneuver a cutting blade in to make cuts. Its added power makes it ideal to cut in places where you have a little room to move. Although it’s more expensive than a cut-off tool, the fact that you can swap out the cutting blade for polishing and grinding attachments makes it much more versatile.
Whatever you buy, make sure you that keep safety in mind. Both these tools will create flying debris, and even if the cut-off tool has less juice, chances are not all that bad that you’ll be working close in to it. Goggles and gloves are an important way to walk away from your job injury free.
Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!