Many pro tradesmen and women work with grinders daily, with the advancement in battery tool technology cordless grinders have become a favorite tool for many trades because of the speed and versatility they offer. Small grinders fit into hard to reach areas and offer the ability to cut materials at speeds other tools cannot match.
Simply put, grinders are such a useful tool and are found on the trucks of HVAC techs, plumbers and electricians alike.
For years I have used my grinder with a thin cutoff wheel for cutting into cast iron plumbing stacks and lateral drains and until just a couple months ago the wheel of choice has been a bonded abrasive disc. I have completely replaced all abrasive discs with the new Diablo Diamond Cutoff Wheels for many reasons, chief among them being safety.
We have all heard of bonded wheels shattering under load and causing the user physical harm. There’s no shortage of pictures available on the Internet of bits and pieces of abrasive wheels embedded in various body parts [go ahead and Google it but I don’t recommend it for anyone with an aversion to blood or graphic bodily injury, do so at your own risk] Diablo’s answer to safety concerns regarding metal cutoff wheels is the new solid metal cutoff discs that will not shatter or break when dropped or banged around a little on the site or in the truck.
These wheels will outperform abrasive cutoff wheels in life expectancy hands-down. Its important to know straight away that the continuous-edge diamond grit metal cutting discs are not all-day production cutoff wheels but for the tradesperson who uses a grinder for cutting occasionally throughout the day or week, this is a solid and safe alternative to a bonded wheel.
The speed in which bonded wheels remove materials is always going to be hard to beat. This cutoff disc will not match or beat an abrasive wheel but it will last considerably longer and remain the same diameter throughout its useful life. That’s not ever going to be true for a bonded wheel; yet another advantage Diablo’s disc offers the user.
For the last couple months we have actually began to use our grinders more because of these discs. Knowing I don’t have to search for a new cutoff wheel for nearly every tie-in out of concern that the disc already loaded on the grinder may have been compromised in handling or storage. Instead I have confidence that the solid metal disc will not shatter when I plunge thru the sidewall of the 4” no-hub in front of me.
Cutting pipe is not the only use we have for these wheels though, they’re often used to cut sheet metal, threaded rod, steel pipe and even during demo work the occasional slew of copper tubing nightmare.
One criticism I have for the design of the diamond grit cutoff wheels would be that they could benefit from an increase in thickness. They’re very thin and can become warped when put under high loads in heavy cuts. That’s an obvious problem requiring immediate replacement for not only performance but safety as well. Increasing the thickness of the disc and adding a segmented rim might best realize this. I have had multiple conversations with the design engineers and product managers about these wheels and have little doubt that this is just the first of an expanding diamond cutoff wheel product line.
So far I have only found these available at The Home Depot. Sizes ranging from 4.5”, 5”, 6” & 7” and costs starting at $14.97 in my local market (MN).
Overall I would definitely recommend exploring the new diamond grit cutoff wheels from Diablo. If you’re using a grinder for occasional metal cutting then you owe it to yourself to increase the safety aspect of this task.