Can You Grind Aluminum on a Bench Grinder? (How-to Guide)

Yes, it is possible to grind aluminum on a grinder but you need to be careful when you do it.

You can grind just about anything you set your mind to grinding. The issue is are you prepared for the results once you grind your piece of aluminum? Stone grinders heat up the metal your are grinding and aluminum heats up a lot faster than other metals.

Once the aluminum gets hot it starts to melt and can coat your stone grinding wheel. Once the wheel is clogged with aluminum, any grit is covered and becomes useless as a grinder.

What Happens When You Grind Aluminum?

When you try to grind aluminum on a stone grinding wheel, the aluminum will heat up and melt. The melted aluminum attaches itself to the open pores on the grinding wheel and covers it up so it cannot effectively grind any more.

After that takes place, the melted aluminum is what comes in contact with the aluminum you are holding. More heat is produced and your aluminum piece is melted again/ This causes more melting and more clogged pores on the stone grinding wheel.

Does Grinding Aluminum Spark?


The answer to this question is no. Aluminum does not spark when being ground because it is a very soft metal. When you try to grind aluminum you will find that it will either melt, or break off in little chunks.

Harder metals will cause sparks as it takes much more effort to grind them down to where you need them to be. You have to be careful when you grind titanium. This metal is very flammable and little bits of it will catch fire as you grind and burn.

You do not have the same fear or situation with aluminum because of its softness.

Is Grinding Aluminum Dangerous?

It can be but not for the person grinding the aluminum. Grinding aluminum will only clog up your stone grinding wheel. It is the next person inline who is going to grind either steel or iron.

Aluminum mixed with iron or steel particles is actually very dangerous. If you have finished grinding your aluminum piece and forget to clean the stone grinding wheel then you are creating a potential fire hazard.

Or if you do not clean the wheel after grinding aluminum, the next piece of aluminum used can help heat up the grinding wheel and cause it to explode.

Using a Bench Grinder to Grind Aluminum


Bench grinders usually come with two wheels. One is a very coarse grit and the other is a medium grit. Neither wheel is made to grind aluminum. That is due to the dangers we mentioned above.

If you want to grind aluminum pieces, it is highly recommended that you remove one of the standard wheels on your bench grinder. Then you replace it with a silicone carbide wheel.

These wheels are designed to handle grinding aluminum safely. You are protected from the dangers that grinding aluminum causes and probably you can grind your aluminum pieces a lot faster.

How do I Grind Aluminum?

Because grinding aluminum can produce dangerous hazards, it is very difficult to grind aluminum using standard grinding wheels. The good news is that there are special grinding wheels made that will handle aluminum easily and avoid those dangerous issues.

The bad news is that these wheels may cost you a lot of money and may not be cost effective if you only have a few pieces of aluminum to grind. Still, in these situations you do not use your standard grinding wheel.

A small hand held rotary tool with a sanding tool will handle the job for you and keep you save. Remember aluminum is a soft metal and sand paper will be enough to handle your grinding issues.

Polishing Aluminum With a Bench Grinder

Here are a few steps to take to polish aluminum with a bench grinder:

  • Read your owners manual to learn how to change grinding wheels properly.
  • Unplug your bench grinder from the electrical outlet.
  • ​Use a screwdriver or a wrench to loosen the nuts or screws holding the safety guard in place. Then use a wrench to loosen the nut holding the current wheel in place.
  • ​Place the correct wheel in the grinder and tighten up the nut. Make sure you get it very tight so the wheel doe snot wobble or come loose.
  • ​Replace the safety guard and plug the bench grinder back in.
  • The key is to have the right wheel for the job you are going to do. You can’t use standard bench grinding wheels to polish aluminum.

Why Not Grind Aluminum

It may seem like it would be an easy task to use a bench grinder to grind your aluminum piece down to the size and shape you want it. Unfortunately, aluminum is just too soft to use on most bench grinder wheels.

We know you are thinking that it will only take a minute to grind the piece but don’t give into temptation. Not only are you creating more work for yourself, cleaning the wheel, but you are putting yourself into a hazardous position.

It is better to take a few more minutes to change the grinding wheel and keep yourself safe from harm, Once you change the wheel to the right one for the task at hand, then grind the aluminum all you want.

How to Clean Aluminum From Grinding Wheel


You can use a steel wire brush to handle the cleaning chore but this takes a lot of effort. Also you may not get all the aluminum particles out of your grinding wheel when you clean it this way.

The best way to clean aluminum out of your grinding wheel is to use what is called a grinding wheel dresser. This tool is designed to clean, flatten and square your grinding wheel all at the same time.

The dresser should save you time and money as the other alternative to cleaning aluminum is to throw the grinding wheel away and get a new one.

Some Final Comments

It is easy to get the idea that a bench grinder can grind all metals. After all that is what it is designed to do. Unfortunately that would be the wrong idea to have, Standard bench grinding wheels are designed to grind hard metals only.

Aluminum is not the only soft metal you should not grind on those wheels. As the old saying goes “the right tool for the job”. That is what you need when you want to grind aluminum. You need the right bench grinding wheel to handle your aluminum grinding needs.

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