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Thread: Angle Grinder Use

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
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    14

    Default Angle Grinder Use

    About a month ago I literally had a near death experience with an angle grinder. Let me first say that I am a carpenter by trade and as a hobby Ihave worked on cars (mechanical an d body) for over 35 years, so I consider myself experienced in using power tools.

    In this case I was using a 4" Makita angle grinder to cut out a section of rusted quarter panel that I was replacing. The grinder had long since lost its blade guard and since this was going to be a long cut, so I put the switch into full-time mode (rather than "dead-man" momentary action). While cutting, the grinder kicked back on me, continuing to spin, it caught my shirt, rode up my arm slicing into the brachial artery just below the elbow. Fortunately I made it it into the house where my wife tied a turnaquit and called 911. Surgury repaired the artery. The grinder missed the ulnar nerve my millimeters....so fortunately there was no neuro-motor loss to my arm or hand.

    I am writing this post because there are alot of "newbies" as well as experienced tool people on this site. And I'm sure many watch the restoration programs on Motortrend/Velocity tv that frequently display "spark shows" while the restorers use an angle grinder without its blade guard and the dead-man switch in over-ride mode.

    Most of the health warnings I see and read on this forum are focused on respiratory risks due to chenical and dust exposure...and rightly so. But I hope by sharing this story, it may be a wake up call for some who have become too casual about tool safety. It was certainly a wake-up calll for me.

    JB

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
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    44,895

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    Quote Originally Posted by jb_selig View Post
    About a month ago I literally had a near death experience with an angle grinder. Let me first say that I am a carpenter by trade and as a hobby Ihave worked on cars (mechanical an d body) for over 35 years, so I consider myself experienced in using power tools.

    In this case I was using a 4" Makita angle grinder to cut out a section of rusted quarter panel that I was replacing. The grinder had long since lost its blade guard and since this was going to be a long cut, so I put the switch into full-time mode (rather than "dead-man" momentary action). While cutting, the grinder kicked back on me, continuing to spin, it caught my shirt, rode up my arm slicing into the brachial artery just below the elbow. Fortunately I made it it into the house where my wife tied a turnaquit and called 911. Surgury repaired the artery. The grinder missed the ulnar nerve my millimeters....so fortunately there was no neuro-motor loss to my arm or hand.

    I am writing this post because there are alot of "newbies" as well as experienced tool people on this site. And I'm sure many watch the restoration programs on Motortrend/Velocity tv that frequently display "spark shows" while the restorers use an angle grinder without its blade guard and the dead-man switch in over-ride mode.

    Most of the health warnings I see and read on this forum are focused on respiratory risks due to chenical and dust exposure...and rightly so. But I hope by sharing this story, it may be a wake up call for some who have become too casual about tool safety. It was certainly a wake-up calll for me.

    JB
    Thanks JB that's good info. It's funny but I've never owned a 4" angle grinder, I guess it's good for some jobs but I use a small air cut-off tool for that work.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    14

    Default

    Len- I have the air grinder but I find it is really slow for heavier than 20 ga metals. Maybe that is a function of my compressor (BelAire 6hp/60 gallon). The electric grinders are much quicker cutting but as I have learned, much more dangerous if not used with proper precations. I have tried using air nibblers and electric shears but neither have proved useful except for bench cutting flat sheets.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
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    olympia,wa
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    close call for sure. good for everyone to take notice that power tools can and will hurt you if you don't take care. i never use a slicer wheel on a grinder unless it has a paddle switch. and always take a minute to set yourself up for best leverage to hold the tool and do a practice run of the cut to be sure you don't have to shift position mid cut.
    b marler

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Posts
    18,687

    Default GOOD!

    Quote Originally Posted by jb_selig View Post
    Len- I have the air grinder but I find it is really slow for heavier than 20 ga metals. Maybe that is a function of my compressor (BelAire 6hp/60 gallon). The electric grinders are much quicker cutting but as I have learned, much more dangerous if not used with proper precations. I have tried using air nibblers and electric shears but neither have proved useful except for bench cutting flat sheets.
    Good advice to share in your first post. USE guards and PAY attention!

    If I were starting out and did a lot of metal cutting and working, I would have a PLASMA cutter.

    Henry

  6. #6

    Default

    Another thing is to think ahead IF something goes wrong what to do to keep yourself safe. I for one almost never use the "on lock switch". A co worker got his arm sliced open in a similar instance using the "on lock". Don't use them use the trigger/paddle switch.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
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    14

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    After this incident I replaced the Makita grinder which had a slide switch (momentary) which could accidentally be put into contant on mode. I replaced the Makita with a Dewalt unit that uses the mom engtary paddle switch. Its design does not allow the switch to accidentally go into "full on". I will NEVER EVER use a grinder in constant on mode.

    I have also added a full face polycarbonate clear face shield to my PPE. On more than. one occasion using the pneumatic 3" grinder, the ultyra thion discs have fragment during use becoming flying shrapnel. I'm trying to use this accident as a teaching moment for myself... especially working slower an d smarter.

    JB

  8. #8
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    Nov 2005
    Location
    lower Michigan
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    Back in the day many body shops had a Mall Grinder and they were famous for MANY accidents where people cut their stomachs open, cut leg arteries etc etc. i used one a couple times just to try it but quickly realized how dangerous the are. There is still a few of these old mall grinders left around. I would avoid those things like the plague.



    The on/off switch was on the motor and not the grinder itself so if it kicked back the tool was out of control until the switch on the motor could be shut off.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil V View Post
    Back in the day many body shops had a Mall Grinder and they were famous for MANY accidents where people cut their stomachs open, cut leg arteries etc etc. i used one a couple times just to try it but quickly realized how dangerous the are. There is still a few of these old mall grinders left around. I would avoid those things like the plague.



    The on/off switch was on the motor and not the grinder itself so if it kicked back the tool was out of control until the switch on the motor could be shut off.
    that's funny phil, i still have my old sioux version of that grinder. i have buffing wheels mounted to it though, i'd never put a cutting wheel on it for obvious reasons. i actually just leave the working end mounted on the pedestal and use it like a bench mounted buffer.
    b marler

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