Owning A Quality Bench Grinder Doesn’t Mean You Have To Eat Pro-Level Prices
From sharpening lawn mower blades to bowfishing arrow tips and a lot of things in between, having a bench grinder is a handy addition to any shop or garage. We were on the hunt for a new one and it just so happens that Skil was launching an entire line of benchtop tools right about the same time. Is the Skil 8-Inch bench grinder worth adding to your shop? We put it to the test to find out.
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Skil 8-Inch Bench Grinder Performance
- Motor: 120V, 3.0-amp, 1/2 HP
- Speed: 3450 RPM
- Wheels: 8-Inch x 3/4-Inch Medium and Coarse
- Adjustable V-Groove Tool Rests
As an 8-inch model, there are some differences compared to 6-inch models. The big one is that the wheels don’t wear as quickly, but the curvature is also shallower. If you’re upgrading from a smaller grinder, note that your angle of attack will be a little different.
Skil’s 1/2 HP motor turns 36-grit coarse (left side) and 60-grit medium (right side) wheels at 3450 RPM and takes about 12 seconds to reach full speed. Once the wheels are up to full speed, adjustable V-groove rests on both sides help you support and control your workpiece and maintain a consistent angle for the grind.
This speed is appropriate for a wide range of sharpening and grinding tasks. Note that sharpening some metals, particularly thin steels for knife blades, requires sharpening at slower speeds to maintain the metal’s integrity. Overheating can cause the steel to become brittle and chip easier.
The bearings the grinder uses make for smooth operation, though it takes nearly 5 minutes for the wheels to come to a complete stop after you turn the power off. While that may seem excessive, it’s a testament to the quality of the bearings.
Skil 8-Inch Bench Grinder Design Notes
- LED Light
- Eye Shields with Magnification
- Water Cooling Tray
- Pre-Drilled Base
Skil includes some handy features to make your grinding experience easier and more effective. There’s a central LED light on an articulating shaft that you can position just about any angle to get the light right where you want it. It automatically comes on when you turn the grinder on and doesn’t have a separate power switch.
Pivoting eye shields provide some protection and the right side includes magnification. For sharpening my bowfishing arrow tips, having the magnification is helpful.
Pro Tip: Even though the shields are there, we still recommend wearing safety glasses just in case.
There’s also a cooling tray that fits into the middle near the base. If you’re working on material that tends to heat up while you’re grinding, fill that tray 1/2 way with water and use it to dip your workpiece in.
The grinder weighs enough that it’s definitely safe to use without bolting it down. However, there are holes predrilled in the base and once you find the best home for it, we suggest securing it to the benchtop.
Skil 8-Inch Bench Grinder Price
- Price: $149.99
- Warranty: 3 years
While some retailers have the grinder for just under $150, we found the best price at Lowe’s where it was $124.00 at the time we were writing. That’s not a sale price, by the way. It’s not in stores, but even with shipping, it was less expensive to order there than on Amazon.
The Bottom Line
Could buy a cheaper bench grinder? Sure. You could buy a much more expensive one, too. However, we really like the balance Skil strikes between keeping the price affordable while offering performance, features, and quality that sets it apart from bargain basement models. For most DIYers, it has everything you’ll ever need to keep those mower blades, axe heads, and other tools sharp.