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Die Grinder Vs. Rotary Tool Vs. Angle Grinder – Which To Choose For Your Home Project?

If you have a variety of D-I-Y home improvement projects, you might confuse yourself with the different tools. You might wonder about the distinction between the die grinder, angle grinder, or rotary tool. We researched to help you distinguish and use them for suitable projects.

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Use a die grinder if you are grinding, sharpening, or removing rust. The rotary tool or Dremel is for etching, engraving, or carving. Lastly, the angle grinder is best for grinding metal and heavy-duty projects.

You can use some of the tools for similar purposes, but it depends on the surface you work on. Besides the purpose, you should also be familiar with the appearance of the tools so you can easily distinguish them. Continue reading to understand the tools fully.

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Comparing Die Grinder, Rotary Tool, And Angle Grinder

The die grinder, rotary tool (or Dremel), and angle grinder are common tools you can use for plenty of D-I-Y home projects. There are functions that these tools can do, but they differ in many ways. Find out below about each tool.

Die Grinder

A die grinder is a small-to-medium power tool that you can operate with one or two hands. It works best on metal, wood, steel, and weld spots. Its speed is around 2,500-30,000 RPM. The tool's power sources are electricity if corded or battery if cordless. It only uses less than 1 HP or 18-20 volts. 

The die grinder is small, so it is perfect for small-scale projects. It lacks the power for heavy-duty processes. Do not use this tool for sanding large areas or cutting thick metal. You can use the grinder for tighter spaces and vulnerable materials. You can still use this tool for D-I-Y projects, but this suits professionals because they know how to manage tight spaces and use the right pressure on delicate surfaces. 

Besides the area, you should also consider the type of surface you will work on. The materials will have varying reactions and challenges that affect the successful operation of the tools.

Set of handheld woodworking power tools for woodworking on light wooden background. Close up.

The functions of the die grinder include:

  • Grinding
  • Sharpening
  • Deburring
  • Chamfering
  • Polishing
  • Removing rust

You can add attachments to the tool to fulfill the different functions. Polishing, cutting, and grinding bits are compatible with the die grinder.

Rotary Tool

Most confuse the die grinder with a rotary tool because of its appearance. Rotary tools are lighter than die grinders and only weigh around 0.5-1.25 pounds. You can use the tool with one hand because it is lightweight. 

Although the tool is small, its speed ranges from 5,000-35,000 RPM. The power it requires is less than 1 HP or 4.8-12 volts with a rechargeable power supply. You can use electricity or batteries depending on the model of the rotary tool.

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The rotary tool is perfect for carving, engraving, or etching projects. It will work best on surfaces like wood, metal, or glass. Other functions of the rotary tool include light cutting, sanding, grinding, polishing, and drilling. You need to attach the right accessory to benefit the tool to its fullest.

Listed are some household uses of the tool:

  • Upcycle old furniture
  • Carve pumpkins
  • Cut tiles
  • Use for leather projects
  • Engrave glass

Angle Grinder

The angle grinder is bigger than the die grinder or rotary tool. It is a medium-to-large tool that weighs around 3-12 pounds. Hence, it requires a steady, two-handed operation. Its big size will require more power. This tool will need at least 1 HP to 5.5 HP. For rechargeable options, it needs 20 volts.

With its big size, the tool allows you to do a lot. It is best to use this tool for large-scale and heavy-duty projects. This grinder is versatile because it is capable of the functions of a die grinder and rotary tool. It can also remove mortar and paint and simple woodworking.

Angle grinder for grinding metal, isolated on a white background.

You can use the angle grinder for different surfaces, such as:

  • Metal blades
  • Welded joints
  • Masonry
  • Sheet metal
  • Stone and concrete
  • Tile

The angle grinder can cover large areas. You can cut bricks, concrete, or metal strappings for construction. Machine shops and garages make use of this powerful tool for car repairs. 

Comparisons Based On Tasks

To help you decide, compare the ability of each tool for a particular task. Here are some of the common tasks:

1. Working With Glass

Rotary tools are best for glasswork because you can do so much. Engraving, cutting, carving, and etching are possible with this small tool. 

It is not good to use an angle grinder to cut thin glass. You can use the tool to cut thicker glass, like glass tiles. However, you will need some specialized blade when cutting. 

The die grinder is not ideal for cutting glass. 

2. Woodworks

Wood is a common material for home projects. With the tools you have, there are many uses and ideas you can create.

The die and angle grinders, as well as the rotary tool, work well with wood. You should use suitable attachments for wood, especially if there are issues with handling the tool. Yet, the rotary tool stands out because it can do intricate woodworking. Even if the angle grinder cannot do the detailed tasks, it is also useful to sand and strip off the paint. In that case, use the smaller tool for smaller projects and the big ones for the larger scope.

3. Metal

An angle grinder works best with metals, as does the rotary tool. However, there is a wider and heavy-duty scope of work that the angle grinder can do. Unlike the rotary tool, the angle grinder cannot do etching or engraving due to its size.

4. Plastics 

When working with plastics, you should use attachments dedicated to plastics. Plastics will melt due to friction, and the melted plastic can clog the blades. Therefore, you need to regulate speed below 15,000 RPM.

Rotary tools are okay with plastic like plexiglass or vinyl, as long as you follow the correct cutting process.

How To Change The Attachments Of The Rotary Tool

Mini drill with various nozzles and cutters on a wood background

There are so many attachment options for a rotary tool. Dremel is a popular rotary tool brand that has proven its quality and versatility. You can swap varying attachments like bits and accessories for various uses. 

Adding and removing is simple with the steps below.

Removing The Attachment

  1. Before you start, disconnect the tool from the power source. Unplug if corded and remove batteries if cordless.
  2. Press and hold down the shaft lock button to loosen the attachment. You will find this button at the front of the tool.
  3. While keeping the shaft lock button pressed, slowly unscrew the collet. 
  4. Then, remove the plastic housing by unscrewing it, too.
  5. Afterward, slip the metal collet off the tool. Place the collet into the collet nut. 

If you carefully follow the process, changing the attachments in the future will be easy.

Attaching The Bit/Accessory

  1. Securely attach the bit or accessory to the end of the collet. 
  2. Reattach the plastic but do not tighten it yet.
  3. Insert the new bit/accessory with the metal collet nut into the shaft of the rotary tool. Then, tighten by hand.
  4. If it is in place, only press the shaft lock button.
  5. Afterward, tighten the plastic housing. 

Worker use demolition hammer drill to break up tiles from wall surface in renovation project. Motion blur intended.

Angle grinders can either be pneumatic or electric-powered. A pneumatic angle grinder uses air pressure to work. Air is convenient to use and readily available. It is common to use this type of angle grinder for heavy-duty and large-scale projects. 

Using pneumatic grinders is safer than electric-powered ones because there are no electrical hazards. There are more things you can do with a pneumatic-powered angle grinder while saving on costs in the long run. This type also lasts longer, up to 15 years, if you oil it daily and remove the excess moisture.  

In Summary

Choosing between a die grinder, rotary tool, or angle grinder for your home projects depends on the scope of the tasks.

Select the rotary tool if you only work on small, tight, and intricate areas. A die grinder is good for medium-scale projects, but you should use it on certain surfaces. At the same time, the angle grinder is for heavy-duty tasks and wider areas.

You should know the differences between the three tools to use them for your home projects. After all, the appropriate tool will help you achieve an improved home.

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