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  • by David Kranker 3 min read

    Flap Discs Vs. Grinding Wheels: When To Use A Flap Disc - Red Label Abrasives

    Quick Summary

    Flap discs offer benefits such as fast stock removal and the ability to grind, blend, and finish with a single product, which can improve project timeline without compromising on results. In general, you’re better off using a flap disc over a grinding wheel when abrading metal and applying a smooth finish.

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    When using an angle grinder, choosing the right attachment for the job is critical to a successful outcome. The most common options are flap discs and grinding wheels. While they are often confused due to some overlapping characteristics, the two different abrasive products are not the same. In this blog, the team at Red Label Abrasives explains what they are, the recommended applications for each one, and when you should opt for a flap disc over a grinding wheel for your project.

    What is a Flap Disc?

    A flap disc is an abrasive product used to contour and shape metal. It consists of overlapping abrasive flaps glued to a backing plate and is regularly used for welding, machining, heavy-duty equipment work, and industrial maintenance. Common applications include: 

    • Cleaning flash from molds and castings
    • Removing rust
    • Edge grinding
    • Deburring
    • Blending weld seams

    Flap discs offer benefits such as fast stock removal and the ability to grind, blend, and finish with a single product, which can improve project timeline without compromising on results.

    When Should You Use a Flap Disc?

    Flap discs are the recommended choice when you’re working with metal, especially when you intend to make right angle cuts. Being flexible, these discs make it easier to achieve contours in the metal.

    For grinding, apply heavy pressure and for finishing, apply light pressure. You thereby avoid the downtime caused by switching discs between tasks. Other benefits include:

    • Cooler operation, minimizing the risk of scorch or heat marks
    • Reduced vibration and fatigue for a more comfortable experience
    • Safety is improved because there are no pieces that break or fly off
    • With less gouging, the finish is better

    What Are Grinding Wheels?

    Grinding wheels are one of the most commonly used abrasive products. Made from thousands of tiny abrasive grains, they remove material to both shape and refine a workpiece. 

    Different types of grinding wheels are available, and each type serves a different purpose. Some are sharpeners and cutters, while others are polishers and smoothers.

    When Should You Use a Grinding Wheel?

    Grinding wheels are great for general sharpening tasks, such as restoring edges on worn-down shovels and garden tools or performing an initial grinding on lawn mower blades, shears, hatches, and axes. They can also be used for material removal, but aren’t as great for finishing work due to their tendency to gouge surfaces.

    When To Use a Flap Disc Over A Grinding Wheel

    In general, you’re better off using a flap disc when abrading metal and applying a smoother finish. Although they’ve long been used with high-speed angle grinders, advances in both design and materials have brought flap discs to the point where they can carry out grinding, blending, and finishing jobs much more quickly and with less noise than grinding wheels- layered flaps constantly expose new grain and act as a cushion, resulting in less noise and vibration.

    Other advantages include:

    • Users have better control over flap discs, making damage (and rework to repair it) much less likely.
    • Operators tend to find flap discs more comfortable to use, so they’re a recommended option for longer grinding jobs.
    • Since flap discs don't gouge the workpiece as fast as grinding wheels do, a less-skilled operator can use them more efficiently without damaging the work piece

    Grinding wheels can play an important role in your project, particularly during material removal, but when you’re working with metal and need a tool that can achieve results during each stage of the project, flap discs may be your best and most efficient option.

    Questions? Speak With An Abrasive Specialist

    At Red Label Abrasives, we are a leading and trusted provider of specialty abrasive products, including sanding belts, discs, rolls, and flap discs. Whether you need the right abrasive for your application or advice on how to get the most out of your product, our technicians are here to help. For more information or help in placing an order, please call 844-824-1956 or fill out our contact form.