Die Grinder vs Angle Grinder – Which is Best for Your Needs?

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an angled grinder used on metal

Image credit: Pixabay, Pexels

Most DIY work at a small level is tied to finesse, being able to get the right tool to the right place and deliver the right results. That might sound really obvious, but when the job is smaller it just simply requires more precise work around less material. A foul-up working on something big is easier to conceal and harder to ruin the entire thing. On something small, a small screw-up might require a start-over.

Grinders and cutters come in a variety of sizes. One of the least appreciated is the die grinder, smaller and less appreciated than the more familiar angle grinder.

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Our Favorite Angle Grinder
Makita 9557PB 4-1/2-Inch Angle Grinder with Paddle...
Our Favorite Die Grinder
DEWALT DWMT70783 Straight Die Grinder
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Makita 9557PB 4-1/2-Inch Angle Grinder with Paddle...
DEWALT DWMT70783 Straight Die Grinder
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Our Favorite Angle Grinder
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Makita 9557PB 4-1/2-Inch Angle Grinder with Paddle...
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Makita 9557PB 4-1/2-Inch Angle Grinder with Paddle...
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Our Favorite Die Grinder
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DEWALT DWMT70783 Straight Die Grinder
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DEWALT DWMT70783 Straight Die Grinder
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User Reviews

Die grinders

A die grinder is essentially an oversized rotary tool, capable of putting out a lot more power at a much bigger size. They are versatile tools, capable of doing whatever attachment you put on, from grinding to polishing to cutting.

a die grinder at work

Image credit: Master Sgt. Val Gempis, U.S. Air Force

Die grinders can be cordless, corded or pneumatic. They can also come in a range of sizes, from ones that fit easily into the palm of your hand to ones that really require that you hold it with two. The size and precision of the job will dictate the size of the die grinder you buy.

Die grinders also come in two basic body sizes, ones where the cutting head is perpendicular to the drive shaft and those with cutting head parallel to the drive shaft. The parallel models look a lot like a traditional firearms pistol.

Angle grinders

Angle grinders are capable of pretty much the same things, but with greater power. They are called angle grinders because their cutting head is an angle to the drive shaft.

Whereas a die grinder has a motor of usually less than 1hp, most angle grinders have motors of between 3-7hp. They’re also quite a bit bigger and require two hands. Depending on the size of die grinder, you might be able to get it into a really tight space. Angle grinders are better suited for jobs where there is some room to operate.

an angle grinder polishing something

Image credit: Senior Airman Zachary Cacicia, Dover Air Force Base

Like die grinders, angle grinders can do a range of jobs limited only by the attachments you buy for it. They are frequently used for polishing tools and removing rust and grit, but with the right attachment, you can also cut steel rebar and even masonry. If you get an angle grinder for this kind of heavy work, it’s suggested that you look towards the top end of the power range.

Due to their size, angle grinders are tools you’ll want to use both hands to control. They aren’t necessarily overly powerful, but the jobs that call for them require that you keep a firm hand on it. Most of them come with a second handle just to remind you of this.

To wrap it up

Die grinders are versatile one-handed tools with heads that are either perpendicular to the drive shaft or parallel to it. Their range of performance is chiefly limited by the power of their motor and the attachment you put on it. They can grind, polish, sharpen, or cut. In terms of power and size, they bridge the gap between rotary tools and angle grinders.

Angle grinders are just as versatile in that they are chiefly limited by their power and the range of attachments you have for it. They’re bigger than a die grinder and usually require two hands to really keep under control. That means they are suited for bigger jobs but less so for smaller ones that require a good deal of finesse.

One thing you don’t want to forget with either tool is safety equipment. Both create a lot of aerial debris, which poses and special hazard for your eyes. If you buy either, don’t forget a good pair of goggles and, because your hands are at risk by way of proximity to the head, a pair of gloves. Be safe, and remember one of the most important things, which is to have fun using them.

About the Author Adam Harris

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!