Although larger blades can be awkward to handle, the Porter Cable bench grinder can easily sharpen your lawn mower blades, too! But be careful that you remove material from both sides of the blade equally so the blade remains balanced.
Bench grinders aren’t for everyone. Some of us still like to keep our tools sharp by hand with grinding stones and metal files. We’re new to the bench grinder market, because that’s how we did things, too. But hand grinding drill bits, chisels, and other tools with an edge took forever, and we weren’t really saving any money or doing the job with any efficiency.
We finally made the plunge and went shopping for a bench grinder—although we didn’t chase after the most expensive model on the market, because we’re not into woodworking or any other hobby that frequently requires sharp blades. Instead, we looked for a general bench grinder that was affordable without all the bells and whistles, because we knew we wouldn’t be using it regularly. What we discovered is one step better than we expected, at a price that couldn’t be beat.
The Porter Cable 8-inch bench grinder retails for $120 at most major outlets and packs a lot of features that are found in much more expensive grinders. For instance, it has a speed controller that allows you to adjust the spin of the wheels between 2,000 and 3,400 rpm, and it is equipped with a built-in, fully adjustable work lamp (maximum 40 watt). And unlike some comparably priced grinders, the Porter Cable 8-inch bench grinder has a groove in the left-side tool rest that’s angled for sharpening drill bits. Both tool rests are adjustable for grinding at different degrees. To us, these were important features. On the downside, we would have liked to see the tool rests marked for 45s and other common cutting angles. Instead, you will have to use an angle gauge (Tormek) to set the rests. Another disappointment is the fact that Porter Cable doesn’t make jigs for the grinder that holds chisels or other blades.
If size doesn’t matter, Porter Cable also offers a smaller, 6-inch bench grinder for less than $80. But the 6-inch grinding wheels have some limitations when it comes to properly grinding certain tools. The Porter Cable 8-inch grinder is equipped with two wheels, one for medium grinding (60 grit) and the other for coarse grinding (36 grit). It also features spark guards, eye shields, a coolant tray, and a removable key lock that prevents children and others from accidentally starting the grinder when you’re not supervising. There’s also a wheel-dressing tool to keep your grinding stones clean.
What we really liked about the Porter Cable is how quiet it operates—even when the rpm is cranked up to 3,400. Also, the grinder has a pre-drilled mounting plate, which makes it easy to affix to a workbench or stand. The Porter Cable bench grinder is also a polisher (wheel not supplied) if you have something in need of a quick buff.
The 5.0-amp motor performed flawlessly during our testing, and we were able to quickly sharpen our old drill bits and chisels in minutes. We also tackled some aluminum brackets that needed some finish work and were surprised by the end results. But like all power tools, it does take practice to get it right, so don’t expect miracles the first time around. After a few weeks, you’ll be an old pro. Guaranteed.
The on and off switch has...
The on and off switch has a removable key lock to prevent it from being turned on accidentally.
For safety, you do not want...
For safety, you do not want to wear gloves when operating a grinder because the glove material can get caught in the spinning wheel. The Porter Cable bench grinder features a groove designed for sharpening drill bits.
To ensure you are working...
To ensure you are working on a perfectly horizontal surface, use a tubular spirit level.