How to Clean and Dress a Bench Grinder Wheel (Helpful Tips)

Even bench grinder wheels need to get dressed. Anything can happen to a bench grinder grinding wheel. That is why it is important to regularly clean it and do what is called dressing. The dressing makes sure that the wheel is square and in top condition.

How to Clean and Dress a Bench Grinder Wheel: The simple way to clean and dress a grinding wheel is to purchase a special grinding wheel dresser. These tools make short work of the issue and have your grinding wheel ready for action. They also help protect you from any contaminants that may put you at risk of injury.

To learn how to dress a grinding wheel properly, just continue to read our article. It is filled with the information you need to make sure you are safe when you use your bench grinder.

How to Clean Bench Grinder Wheel


The problem with grinding wheels is that they are so abrasive and do not have smooth sealed systems. The pores get clogged up with metal and other materials very easily when the wrong materials are used.

This is a very big problem when you use soft metals on the wrong grinding wheels. When this happens the wheels get clogged up and become dangerous to use. They also lose their grinding edge and do not do a good job.

To get the grinding wheel back in shape and safe to use, here are a few steps to follow:

  • Rest your grinding wheel dresser on the wheel.
  • Press the on button and then turn the bench grinder off quickly.
  • ​As the grinding wheel slows, use a little pressure to press the dresser against the wheel.
  • Repeat as needed or until the wheel does not wobble and feels rough to the touch.

Tip 1: Follow this procedure on a regular basis. You never know when the wheels will get clogged and regular dressing protects you and your bench grinder.

Bench Grinder Wheel Cleaner

The good news about bench grinder wheel dressers is that you are not restricted to just one design. You have cleaning tool options and each one does their job quite well.

Here are 5 different styles you can choose from

1. POWERTEC 71003 Diamond Grinding Wheel Dresser

This grinding wheel dresser fits comfortably in your hand and uses industrial diamond chips to clean and dress your grinding wheel. It looks like an old safety blade razor you would use for shaving.

Made from steel, this dresser is sturdy, strong and should last you a long time under normal use. Once you place it against the grinding wheel, the 36 grit should handle the cleaning chore with ease.

While it cleans your grinding wheel, it restores the pores to their peak condition making sure your bench grinder is safe and ready for its next round of grinding.

2. Chicago 1682 Grinding Wheel Dresser

Made from cast iron, this grinding wheel dresser is a little bit heavy but it will handle the pressure you put on it as you dress your grinding wheels. The 6 little wheels have teeth on them. These teeth remove the grit and grime from your grinding wheel.

All you have to do is to rest the two lugs on the wheel and move the dresser back and forth gently and slowly. If the little wheels get dull, you can replace them easily and keep your dresser in top shape.

It will take a little practice to get the best results when you use this tool.

3. Grinding Wheel Dressing Stick

Made from silicone carbide, this stick measures 6 by 1 by 1 inches in size. There is no handle so you must use caution when applying this dresser to your grinding wheels.

When you use this dresser, make sure the tool rest is close enough to your grinding wheel. Rest the tool on it and then make sure the stick is square to the wheel. With gentle pressure move the stick across the grinding wheel until you get it clean.

You can use all four sides of the dressing stick if you want to. The key is to keep it square to the wheel.

4. Commando Grinding Wheel Dresser

The head on this grinding wheel dresser is not that large. It measures only about 1 3/4 inches across by about 1/2 an inch wide. But it will handle your cleaning job. The head is filled with industrial diamond chips that make short work of dirty grinding wheels.

Made from aluminum construction materials, this dresser is not heavy and you should be able to manipulate it easily. Its textured grip helps provide you with a no-slip grip. The dresser should stay in your hand. The small size shouldn’t tire your hand as you work.

5. Wolverine Dressing Attachment

This uniquely designed grinding wheel dresser is not that difficult to use. The only real difference between this and the other models is that you need to replace your tool rest with this device.

Once you have replaced the tool rest, you line up the pointer and the round dresser head with your grinding wheel. The knob at the bottom helps give you a precision cleaning job with a little twist.

The adjustment knob keeps you in complete control of the cleaning process. The diamond head works hard so you do not have to.

Tip 2: There is no specific dresser that you should use. Everyone gets their own results and they like different styles. The key for you is to find the one you are most comfortable with using and can use well.

How to Dress a Grinding Wheel On a Bench Grinder

There is a bit more to cleaning and dressing your grinding wheels than just buying a dresser and applying a little pressure. In this section, we give you the steps you should take each and every time you go to dresser your wheels:

  • Inspect your dresser for cracks.
  • Inspect your grinding wheels for cracks- this is important as the wheel may come apart when you apply pressure.
  • ​Check your tool rest to make sure it is about 1/16 of an inch away and no further. Larger spaces could have the wheel suck up the dresser inside the guard.
  • ​Adjust the spark guard to keep it nice and close to the grinding wheel.
  • ​Wear safety goggles and a mask to avoid sparks and inhaling dust.
  • ​Do not wear long-sleeved shirts when dressing or roll them up.
  • ​Place the dresser against the grinding wheel and start it up.
  • ​Before turning the bench grinder off, let it reach full speed.
  • ​Move the dressers back and forth.
  • Repeat as needed.

Tip 3: Make sure to do a ring test on the wheels before you start the cleaning and dressing process. Hidden flaws can be dangerous.

Tip 4: You should also spin the wheel by hand first. This action will tell you if the wheel is loose, wobbly or needs repair.

Tip 5: get to know your dresser. These tools are held in different ways and use different angles to do the dressing.

How to Use a Grinder Dressing Tool

Getting to know your grinding wheel dresser is important. The little details involved can be the difference between a good cleaning and dressing process and a bad one. The following instructions focus on the diamond dressing tool.

  • Check the point - a badly damaged head, dull points and other issues make dressing your grinding wheel moot. The chips should extend 1/16 of an inch on a 1/2 to 3.4 inch diamond and extend 1/8 of an inch on a 1 carat diamond.
  • Replace or reset - if there is a lot of damage or a lot of wear, then simply replace the head or reset it
  • Avoid vibration - to get the job done correctly, keep the dresser firmly mounted and at the right angle. Usually about 10 to 15 degrees should do it.
  • Minimize the tool’s extension - this will also help avoid vibration and other issues.
  • Keep the tool cool - grinders heat up metal objects. You need to have coolant on hand to make sure the wheel and the dresser do not overheat. You should start the flow of coolant prior to dressing and the flow should be great enough to keep the diamond chips covered.

Tip 6: a constant coolant flow is important. If it stops for any reason, do not let it start again until the dresser has cooled. If you do not wait, you can damage your dresser.

Homemade Grinder Dressing Tool


After a long search, we found no instructions on how to make your own grinding wheel dressing tool. We do not doubt that it can be done, but you will need to be an expert at making tools and be able to get the right materials to clean and dress your grinding wheels properly.

The key to making your own would be in obtaining the right industrial grade diamond chips. About 3% of the industrial-grade chips are natural and real diamonds. The other 97% are synthetic diamond chips which are just about as strong. They are also cheaper to buy.

The diamond chips are essential in dressing your wheel correctly. It may not be a wise choice to make your own because of the danger involved. If the tool does not do a good job then your grinding wheels can’t do a good job either.

If you leave any materials behind, you are opening yourself up to risk if the wheel suddenly explodes. We suggest you stick with the commercially made dresser just to keep yourself from any harm and any possible injury.

When is Dressing the Wheel Needed


One of the more important times a grinding wheel needs to be properly dressed is when someone mistakenly uses the wrong material on the wrong wheel. You should always inspect your wheels before using it to make sure you are not walking into a dangerous situation.

What dressing the wheel does is remove the clogged layer of the wheel exposing a fresh layer of grit underneath. This action reduces the wheel size, so it is best to only dress the wheel when it is really needed.

Too much dressing and you shorten the lifespan of the wheel. This means you would have to replace your grinding wheels more often and spend more money. Pick your times to inspect the wheels to make sure they remain clean but do not wear out so fast.

Answering Your Questions

1. Which is the best grinding wheel dresser on the market today?

All the models on sale now are good and do their job well. It will take some practice to use them correctly. The best one would be the one you can use easily and be the most comfortable with.

2. How often should I check the grinding wheels between dressing them?

If it is your personal bench grinder and you are the only one using it, then you do not have to do it that often. Just remember which materials you used the last time to be on the safe side. Keep in mind that most grinding wheels are not made for soft materials and they can clog up fast

3. Does it really matter how close I keep the tool rest and guards?

Yes it does. Even the most careful workman can get distracted, lose their concentration and make a mistake. In that instant they can injure their hands if the spacing is not that close.

Some Final Comments

As you can see dressing your grinding wheels is not that difficult. It is also not that time consuming. If you do it right, you should only have to spend about 5 minutes from start to finish.

Which grinding dresser you use is up to you. There are a lot of good options on the market right now and you should pick the one that fits you. The process to cleaning and dressing is not that difficult to do. A few minutes of your time can spare you a lot of trouble.

Also, when you go to dress your grinding wheels, make sure your coolant system is in fine working order. You do not want a gap in the stream of coolant or you could ruin both your wheel and the dresser. Remember, it is safety first when working with power tools.

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