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7 Best Variable Speed Bench Grinders of 2021 – Top Picks & Reviews

person using WEN 4280 Variable Speed Bench Grinder

person using WEN 4280 Variable Speed Bench Grinder

Variable speed bench grinders are a rarer household tool. However, in some cases, they are necessary. If you need one of these grinders to sharpen a chisel or do any other job, you may have noticed just how complicated these tools can get. They come with all sorts of different features and a wide range of price tags.

Different kinds of variable speed bench grinders are suitable for different purposes. As you might imagine, which one you choose depends on your primary purpose. In this article, we’ll review some of the top variable speed bench grinders on the market, so you can see exactly which grinders you should consider.

To help you choose the best option for your needs, we’ll also guide you through all the different features you should stay on the lookout for in our handy buyer’s guide.

A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Rating Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
WEN 4280 Variable Speed Bench Grinder WEN 4280 Variable Speed Bench Grinder
  • 80-grit and 36-grit grinding wheels included
  • 5 amps
  • Flexible working light included
  • Best Value
    Second place
    TACKLIFE MBG01A Bench Grinder TACKLIFE MBG01A Bench Grinder
  • Compact
  • Inexpensive
  • Comes with 3 grinding wheels
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Jet IBG-8VS Variable Speed Ind Grinder Jet IBG-8VS Variable Speed Ind Grinder
  • Cast iron body
  • Durable
  • Eye safety shields
  • Delta Power Tools 23-197 Variable Speed Bench Grinder Delta Power Tools 23-197 Variable Speed Bench Grinder
  • 5-amp motor
  • Inexpensive
  • 2 grinding wheels included
  • BUCKTOOL TDS-200DS Dual Speed Bench Grinder BUCKTOOL TDS-200DS Dual Speed Bench Grinder
  • 2 grinding wheels and a buffing wheel
  • Tool rests
  • Cast iron base
  • The 7 Best Variable Speed Bench Grinders – Reviews 2021

    1. WEN 4280 Variable Speed Bench Grinder – Best Overall

    WEN 4280 Variable Speed Bench Grinder

    The WEN 4280 Variable Speed Bench Grinder is the best variable speed bench grinder on the market by far. It produces 5 amps of power and can go anywhere between 2,000 to 3,400 revolutions per minute (RPM). The slower speeds allow you to have complete control and precision, while the higher speeds allow you to remove material very quickly. This machine also comes with an 80-grit and a 36-grit grinding wheel. Both wheels are 8” x 1”. The inclusion of these two separate wheels makes this machine more versatile and lets you use it on a wide variety of applications.

    We loved that this grinder comes with a flexible working light. This light helps you see exactly what you’re doing, preventing accidents and improving your precision. Unlike some other grinders, you won’t need to go out and purchase another light. The sturdy cast iron base is also a nice feature. It has mounting holes to prevent wobbling and walking while you’re using it.

    A 2-year warranty also backs this product. You can also call the WEN network of skilled service technicians at any time with questions or concerns.

    Pros
    • 80-grit and 36-grit grinding wheels included
    • 5 amps
    • Flexible working light included
    • 2-year warranty
    • Sturdy cast iron base
    Cons
    • Vibration is a little much

    2. TACKLIFE MBG01A Bench Grinder – Best Value

    TACKLIFE MBG01A Bench Grinder

    For those who need to stay on a budget, the TACKLIFE MBG01A Bench Grinder may be a reliable option. This grinder isn’t much of a grinder at all. Instead, it is a multifunctional sharpener. It is not going to be able to do everything a grinder could accomplish. However, it is suitable for sharpening tools like knives, drill bits, and chisels. It is incredibly inexpensive as well, which is why we recommend it as our budget pick.

    We did like that this bench grinder comes with 2 different grinding wheels. One is suitable for softer materials like scissors, and the other is better for more rigid materials like drill bits. The two different wheels make this grinder much more versatile. It also has a third grinding wheel that can be used for polishing items. This wheel is excellent for removing rust or polishing a recently sharpened tool.

    This machine also comes with a 200W motor and is adjustable to 6 different speeds. It can run between 0 to 5,600 RPM, though it only adjusts to 6 set points within that range.

    Of course, it is generally not as useful as some other options on the market because this tool is smaller. Still, it is the best variable speed bench grinder for the money.

    Pros
    • Compact
    • Inexpensive
    • Comes with 3 grinding wheels
    • 0 to 5,600 RPM
    Cons
    • Very small

    3. Jet IBG-8VS Variable Speed Ind Grinder – Premium Choice

    Jet IBG-8VS Variable Speed Ind Grinder

    If you do a lot of grinding, you might need something with a little more oomph than the grinders we’ve reviewed thus far. In this case, we recommend the Jet IBG-8VS Variable Speed Ind Grinder. It is cast iron, which makes it very durable. It comes with a 36-grit and a 60-grit wheel so that it can be used for a large variety of purposes. It has adjustable tool rests for when you’re grinding. These rests improve your precision and prevent accidents.

    The machine comes with eye safety shields built right in. They are made of decent quality, unlike a lot of the other options on this list. The massive cast iron body makes this machine completely unportable, but we found that it greatly improved the grinder’s longevity. This is nice since this grinder is significantly more expensive than some other options.

    With a variable speed between 900-3,600 RPM, this grinder is perfect for most applications. Beware though, it’s pricey.

    Pros
    • 2 grinding wheels included
    • Cast iron body
    • Durable
    • Eye safety shields
    Cons
    • Expensive

    4. Delta Power Tools 23-197 Variable Speed Bench Grinder

    Delta Power Tools 23-197 Variable Speed Bench Grinder

    The Delta Power Tools 23-197 Variable Speed Bench Grinder is a smaller grinder than most on this list. It is also a bit more inexpensive than most, making it a suitable budget option for specific buyers. It has a variable speed dial that allows you to change the speed anywhere between 2,000 to 3,400 RPM. This isn’t as big of a range as other options, but you can fine-tune the speed thanks to the dial. It also comes with a 5-amp motor for a decent performance. This is about as powerful as most of the other top-line grinders we reviewed.

    Like most bench grinders, this one comes with a 36-grit wheel and a 60-grit wheel for sharpening and grinding. This allows you to use the grinder for a variety of applications. There is a tool rest on both wheels to help you keep your tool at the correct angle while grinding. This feature helps with accuracy overall and is a considerable upside.

    This tool doesn’t seem to be nearly as durable as other options, however. There are many reports of it breaking quickly and often. This is something to keep in mind if you’re considering this tool. It may be cheaper, but you’ll likely have to replace it sooner. It does have a warranty, but it is not very actionable.

    Pros
    • 5-amp motor
    • Inexpensive
    • 2 grinding wheels included
    • Tool rest
    Cons
    • Not very durable
    • Unusable warranty
    • Small RPM range

    5. BUCKTOOL TDS-200DS Dual Speed Bench Grinder

    BUCKTOOL TDS-200DS Dual Speed Bench Grinder

    While this grinder first appears to be quite substantial, we found that the BUCKTOOL TDS-200DS Dual Speed Bench Grinder is a bit disappointing. It comes with an 80-grit and a 120-grit wheel. These are significantly more powerful than the wheels most grinders come with. Because of this, this grinder is only suitable for situations when you really need to grind something. It is not suitable for polishing or anything like that.

    The cast aluminum tool rests are nice. They automatically adjust to compensate for wheel wear and allow you to achieve a variety of angles accurately. The base is cast iron, which is quite durable. A buffing wheel is provided for multipurpose polishing. However, we did not find it to be beneficial in most situations.

    Overall, this grinder isn’t as well made as other options. The shaft diameter is not up to specification, which means buying replacement wheels is difficult, if not impossible. You have to use wheels made by this company. Furthermore, there seems to be an unusual number of defects. While the company does seem to back up their machine, getting a replacement can take a bit longer than you might want to wait.

    Pros
    • 2 grinding wheels and a buffing wheel
    • Tool rests
    • Cast iron base
    Cons
    • Everything is not made of cast iron
    • The shaft isn’t sized according to specifications
    • Not as versatile as other options

     


    6. CRAFTSMAN 921154 Variable Speed Grinder

    CRAFTSMAN 921154 Variable Speed Grinder

    The CRAFTSMAN 921154 Variable Speed Grinder is expensive, as Craftsman tools usually are. However, it isn’t significantly better than most of the other grinders we reviewed. Because of this, we didn’t consider it worth the extra money. It does have massive tool rests that are adjustable to help you sharpen accurately. The water-cooling tray prevents the machine from heating up, and the cast iron base reduces vibrations. The base is enormous, which makes it more durable and adds stability.

    This machine is only 2.5 amps, however. This makes it significantly less potent than most of the other options on this list (which are all cheaper as well). It has a variable speed knob, as you would expect. However, you can only choose speeds between 2,000 to 3,400 RPM. This is a much smaller range than most other options. For twice the cost, we’d like at least the same range as other machines – not smaller. It does have a 1-year limited warranty, but this warranty is minimal and not very actionable.

    Defects and blatantly missing parts also seem to be expected. You can’t use a machine without missing parts, and some of the parts don’t even seem to be replaceable. This makes the machine pretty much worthless.

    Pros
    • Very durable
    • Tool rests
    Cons
    • Only 2.5 amps
    • Small speed range
    • Expensive

    7. Shop Fox W1840 Variable-Speed Grinder

    Shop Fox W1840 Variable-Speed Grinder

    The Shop Fox W1840 Variable-Speed Grinder is not our favorite model by any means. It is somewhat more expensive than other models, but it doesn’t have any extra features to back-up the price. The variable-speed motor only produces ¾ HP, which is slightly lower than most other options on this list. This factor makes the machine more underpowered in general. This means you won’t be able to use it for as many projects as the others on this list.

    It comes with two different grinding wheels. One is 60-grit, and the other is 36-grit. This is about average. We found that most grinders come with these grit wheels. The variable speed dial allows you to change the speed anywhere between 2,000 to 3,400 RPM. This is a smaller range than other options on the market. However, because it is a dial, it does allow you to have more control over the exact speed you’re using.

    We loved that the removable safety key disables the on/off switch from being activated when it is removed. This is extremely helpful in a variety of situations and prevents accidents from occurring.

    Pros
    • Removable safety key
    Cons
    • Small RPM range
    • Underpowered
    • Expensive

    Buying Guide

    There are many things you should consider when purchasing a bench grinder. Since you’re reading this article, we assume that you have decided a machine with variable speed is the right choice for you. However, there are quite a few other features you need to keep in mind as well. We’ll go over everything you need to know below so that you can make the perfect buying decision.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    When shopping for a bench grinder, there are a few common questions that may pop up. Here are some quick and easy answers.

    Do I need a variable speed bench grinder?

    These machines can be a bit expensive, so it only makes sense for you to ensure you need one before making a purchase. Variable speed bench grinders are not significantly more expensive than a single-speed option in most cases. While there are exceptions to this rule, you will not be spending a ton more money on one with a variable speed feature.

    The best part of a variable speed bench grinder is that you have more control over the wheel. You can decide exactly what speed you need. This will be most helpful for those who plan on using this machine for many different things. This allows you to sharpen a variety of objects carefully. If you want to use a bench grinder for many different things, you probably want one with variable speed.

    Can you make a bench grinder variable speed?

    You can slow down a bench grinder that you bought as a single-speed. You can add a variable frequency drive to your machine, which will change the 60-cycle frequency that the motor runs at. However, this cannot speed the machine up and is quite a bit more complicated than just buying a variable speed grinder, to begin with.

    Should I get a 6-inch or 8-inch bench grinder?

    Larger bench grinders are typically more expensive than smaller options. This is for a few reasons. They need more power and take more stuff to make. Because of this, you don’t want to buy an 8-inch bench grinder unless you really need it. These longer machines are best for professionals who are going to be doing a lot of grinding.

    For your average homeowner, you probably need a 6-inch bench grinder. They are also more compact, which is useful if you don’t have much workshop space available.

    Can you grind on the side of a bench grinder?

    Not typically. You can, technically. However, it is not safe and may not even be possible on all machines. This isn’t going to be accurate in most cases.

    person using TACKLIFE MBG01A Bench Grinder

    Features

    After answering these commonly asked questions, we’re ready to dive into the essential features to look for when choosing a variable speed bench grinder.

    Variable Speed

    While all the grinders out there listed as “variable speed bench grinders” do have some speed control, the detail differs. Some have certain set positions that you can change the speed to. One variable speed grinder might only have 3 set positions, for instance, while another has 6. Others have a dial that allows you to change the speed to anything in between the maximum and the minimum, theoretically. This latter option is going to be more versatile than the others.

    You should also check the RPM range of any grinder you’re considering purchasing.  Some have a small range, while others have an extensive range. Those with larger ranges are going to be more versatile and likely have more adjustable levels as well.

    Cost

    Most variable speed bench grinders are around $100. You can find many below this point as well as many above this point. While cost is sometimes tied to quality, this isn’t always the case. Not all inexpensive options are low-quality, and you should assume that a grinder is high-quality because it is expensive either.

    In many cases, size plays a vital role in the price. More expensive options tend to be more significant. They may have larger wheels or a more significant body, which can help with stability and durability.

    You should consider your budget when choosing a bench grinder. It is typically better to figure out how much you can spend first; that way, you know which grinders you can afford.

    Light

    Many grinders have a work light that comes attached. This is extremely helpful, as it allows you to see more easily. When you’re grinding, attention to detail is essential. You need a light to grind or polish anything. You can either purchase a grinder with a work light, or you will need to purchase a separate work light. You can save a bit of money if you select a grinder that already comes with a work light.

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    Conclusion

    As you can see, there is a lot you need to consider when purchasing a variable speed bench grinder. Hopefully, our reviews and buyer’s guide helped you figure out precisely what you need.

    For most homeowners, we recommend the WEN 4280 Variable Speed Bench Grinder. It comes with a flexible work light, a 2-year warranty on most parts, and 3 wheels. Plus, it also isn’t expensive so that most people can afford it.

    We also liked the TACKLIFE MBG01A Bench Grinder. It is a bit cheaper and far more portable than other options. It also has an extensive RPM range so that you can use it for a variety of applications.

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