angle grinder
angle grinder

Comparing Angle Grinders from Harbor Freight to Dewalt

One often-overlooked power tool that is incredibly useful for anyone’s tool collection is the versatile angle grinder.  If you don’t already have an angle grinder in your toolbox, it’s definitely time to consider shopping for one or adding it to your birthday list.

The three main uses for this tool are cutting, grinding, and polishing.  Depending on the attachment, they can be used on virtually any surface from polishing marble to cutting through solid metal. 

  • A carpenter can use an angle grinder to quickly sand down large surfaces of wood in no time
  • Welders often use flap disc attachments to clean weld splatter or to grind down the perfect finish to clean up any seam
  • The average Joe uses these abrasives attachments for jobs like cutting tile or sharpening his lawnmower blades

Prices and features range on angle grinders, so it is important to know what you’re looking to get out of it when thinking about your purchase.  A “small” angle grinder with a 4.5 inch wheel size is more than sufficient for home use and plenty of larger projects, so we’ll focus on those in this tool review.

Best Overall – Dewalt DWE402

There is good reason why this is consistently ranked as a top-seller on Amazon with close to 800 five-star reviews.  At about $100 this grinder packs a lot of power and has great features built into it to make the work easier and to extend the life of the grinder.

Pros –

  • Capable of a lot of power with 11 Amp AC/DC 11,000 RPM (no load)
  • Has a Quick-Change™ wheel release system that makes swapping wheels and attachments faster and easier
  • Their unique Dust Ejection System keeps debris away from the grinder’s internal parts, extending the life of the product by preventing particles from entering the motor
  • The 360 degree rotation one-touch guard makes it more flexible to work from multiple angles
  • One of the most advanced cooling systems for an angle grinder, this will allow you to work for longer periods of time and extend the motor life
  • Carries a great warranty that includes 1 year free service and 3 years limited warranty

Cons –

  • Corded instead of battery operated, which provides more power, but makes this a less portable option
  • Not very useful for smaller precision jobs due to its heavy weight (6.2 pounds) and high operating power
  • Left handed users may find the positioning of the lock button to be in an awkward location, hidden under your palm instead of easy access to your finger (there is a slightly less expensive model without the lock, so make sure you’re getting the right one if think you need that)

Budget Friendly Option – Bauer 20V Hypermax™ (Harbor Freight)

This is a great entry level option, often sold for about $35 at Harbor Freight stores.  It’s perfect for the everyday handyman that doesn’t require the power of a more advanced angle grinders out there, but definitely not recommended for someone who needs an angle grinder for their day to day job.

Pros –

  • Affordable for people that don’t need a heavy duty angle grinder or will only use it occasionally
  • Matches the more expensive Dewalt grinder with up to 11,000 RPM, but with a weaker 7 amp motor
  • The slim body makes it easier for some people to maneuver the tool and get a firmer grip
  • Gives you the option of holding down the trigger manually or locking it to keep the power running

Cons –

  • The Harbor Freight warranty only covers the tool for 90 days.  This can be extended, but then it gets closer in price to name brand competitors with better products and longer warranties already built into the price
  • While it has a rotating guard, the clamp sticks out fairly far which limits your attachment’s access
  • Does not provide much in terms of protection to the internals of the unit against debris that can get into the motor

Cordless with Power – Milwaukee M18 FUEL 2780-20

This angle grinder is a perfect addition for any tool set that already has any Milwaukee M18 power tools already since it would be compatible with those batteries.  If you are looking for a powerful grinder with the flexibility of a cordless tool, this is definitely the one to consider.

Pros –

  • Cordless so you can work without being restricted to a nearby outlet
  • Like the Dewalt, this has an easy to rotate safety guard with an excellent range built in
  • Long term 5-year warranty to give you peace of mind when paying more for this grinder
  • One of the better ergonomics of angle grinders; the battery even creates a better feeling of balance in your hand
  • Easy attachment changing is possible with the tool free setup
  • Runs much quieter than most other angle grinders that are notoriously loud tools

Cons –

  • Lower RPMs than the corded grinders, measuring in at 8,500 RPM
  • Very expensive if you don’t already have the lithium ion battery and charger, a difference of about $100
  • Does not have a lock on the paddle switch which means you have to hold the power on while in use