Cut Off Tool vs Angle Grinder 2019: All You Need To Know

Getting the difference between most cutting tools is a bit difficult since the rotary tools and saws are more than one can choose from. For most people who have come across a cut-off tool and an angle grinder for the first time, for example, the issue is always on the difference between them. While making a choice between a cut off tool vs. angle grinder, it is essential to lay down the distinct characteristics for each.

Both of them are handheld power tools and are usually used to cut and sharpen metals. the striking difference between them, however, is on the size of piecework that you want to cut or sharpen. The other variances include the orientation of the blade as well as the cutting disc on each.

If you are looking for the difference between the two cutting tools, here are some insights for you. The writeup gives you a detailed comparison with key characteristics that may help you to choose the right tool.

What is A Cut Off Tool?

A cut off tool is one of the small and handheld tools used for sharpening or cutting metal workpieces. The tool has a disc that is fitted to its shaft perpendicularly, has a motor with less than 1-Hp, and is, therefore, not designed for cutting through thick volumes of materials. The tool is, therefore, more effective if used to cut thin metal pieces or tiny welding beads.


What a Cut Off Tool Can Do

A cut off tool mainly has a 3-inch cutting disc size. This makes it ideal for cutting through thinner pieces of metal or tiny welding beads. It is a compact tool and measures about 6 inches from the head to the bottom which allows it to fit into tight spots, even under the hood of a car.

A cut off tool can run on electric or battery power or air pressure. While an electric-powered one is larger and more reliable than the battery-powered one, a pneumatic version is the most powerful. The latter is mostly used for automotive jobs, for example, cutting mufflers, sheet metal, bolts, and hose clamps since it has more punch than the other two.

Electric cut off tools are mostly used for light-duty metalwork like cutting thin sheet metal and conduits.

What is An Angle Grinder?

An angle grinder, also called a disc grinder or side grinder is a handheld power tool, slightly bigger than a cut off tool. It is used for a wide range of applications where a smaller tool would not be efficient enough. It is designed with a large grinding disc (measures between 4 – 1/2 and 9 inches) which makes it efficient for heavy-duty applications.


How an Angle Grinder Functions

The disc on an angle grinder is locked onto a spindle and sticks out in the direction of the trigger. The blade and the handle are parallel, and it also features a blade guard which protects the user's hands and fingers from accidental contact with the spinning disc.

The angle grinder features a more ergonomic design for maximum efficiency and comfortable handling. It is designed with a second handle which is movable from the left side to the right. The second handle offers a better grip and control when the tool is grinding and buffing.

The grinder can be used on a variety of materials including wood, metal, plastic, and mortal. Regardless of the work, therefore, it is a handy tool to have in your workshop, just next to your toolset.

Just like any rotary tool, the angle grinder is versatile enough to handle any task thrown at it. Talk of buffing a vehicle’s body, grinding mortar to prepare for tuckpointing, getting rid of pesky nails, cutting welding beads, eliminating rust, or finishing woodworking projects and the tool comes to your mind. It can also be used for cutting hose clamps, poles, beams, nuts, thick bars, and sheet metal in metalworking and automotive industries.

A significant advantage about an angle grinder is that you can disassemble and reassemble it swiftly. It is also easy to swap the attachments if you have a variety of uses. As such, you can remove a wood-cutting blade and replace it with another that can cut through bricks, masonry, or sharpen lawnmower blades.

grinder cut off tool

Difference Between A Cut Off Tool Vs. An Angle Grinder

The Size of a Cut Off Tool Vs. An Angle Grinder

A cut off tool is considerably smaller which makes it fit to use even in tight and hard-to-reach spaces like beneath a car’s hood while an angle grinder is larger. The latter, as such, cannot be used on tight spots or where one needs to use just one hand.

A Cut Off Tools’ Power Vs. Angle Grinder’s Power

An angle grinder is much more powerful compared to a cut off tool. The grinder has motors that range between 3 – 7 horsepower. Conversely, a cut off tool is less powerful since it has a motor with a horsepower of up to 1-Hp.

Uses of Cut Off Tools Vs. Angle Grinders

A cut off tool is mainly used for cutting surfaces. An angle grinder, conversely, is used for cutting, polishing, sharpening, and grinding purposes.


Each of the tools is operated differently. For the cut off tool, the user can comfortably use one hand since it is lightweight and small in design. The angle grinder, on its side, is operated using both hands as it’s a bit larger and requires a higher level of control.

Blade Position

The cut off tool’s blade is mounted on the drive shaft while the angle grinder has its cutting head at a specific angle to the drive shaft. This allows the angle grinder to perform its heavy-duty applications more efficiently.

Cutting Materials

Owing to its powerful nature, an angle grinder is used on a wider range of materials. It can be used on frozen bolts, bricks, masonry, metal, shovels, and sharpening lawn mower blades. It can also be used for eliminating rust, grinding motor, removing pesky nails, buffing vehicles’ bodies, and cutting welding beads.

A cut off tool, on the other hand, is used for lightweight applications. It is used for cutting thin metal pieces and tiny welding beads.

cut off tool vs grinder

Price Comparison Between A Cut Off Tool Vs. An Angle Grinder

The more versatility and added power the angle grinder has, the costlier it is. As for the cut off tool, it has less power and is used on a narrower range of materials which translates into low purchasing costs. A cut off tool’s blades are also considerably cheap.

Safety Precautions While Using A Cut Off Tool and An Angle Grinder

Regardless of the tool that you are using, it is critical that you maintain and observe the recommended safety procedures. When using either of these tools, you are sure to see flying debris or run into minor and major accidents. Therefore, it is important to:

  • Wear the right or recommended protective gear like aprons and workshop gloves.
  • Ensure your eyes are protected from sparks by using protective glasses.
  • Wear nose masks to protect your lungs from dirt and dust particles.
  • Ensure to have ear-protective workshop headphones to protect your eardrums from loud noise. An angle grinder, for instance, is believed to produce sound pressure levels and vibrations ranging between 91 and 103 dBA.
  • Follow all the manufacturer’s instructions for every tool. Make sure to assemble and disassemble them following the user instructions given or reach out to an expert if need be.
  • Never leave your tools unattended to or in an open place especially if you have young children as well as pets.
electric cut off wheel

Cut Off Tool Vs. Angle Grinder: Which is Better?

Now that you have gone through the distinct characteristics of each tool, it is upon you to grab what meets your criteria. However, it is clear that the choice of tool here is dependent on the task that you have ahead. If you, for instance, need to cut through materials thicker than 3 inches, buff a vehicle’s body, grind a mortar to prepare it for tuckpointing, get rid of pesky nails, cut welding beads, eliminate rust, or finish woodworking projects an angle grinder will be your best asset. A cut off tool, on the other hand, will work effectively through tiny metal pieces or thin aluminum sheets.

References & Further Reading

  1. Angle Grinder - Wikipedia

Last update on 2019-08-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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