How To Remove an Angle Grinder Disc Without a Tool

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To get full use of your angle grinder, you need to know how to change the disc. Not only will the disc wear out over time, different discs are better suited to different tasks. If you have the specially designed disc-changing tool that came with your angle grinder, you can refer to our article on using this tool to change an angle grinder disc.  If not, keep reading to find a method of disc removal that works for you. 

Angle Grinder Disc Removal Without a Tool

No tool, no problem. Here are the steps for removing your angle grinder’s disc without any specialized tools.

Man using an angle grinder
  1. Unplug the angle grinder. An accidental surge of power at the wrong moment could cause serious injury. If you have a cordless version of this tool, remove the battery.  Not only will this protect you from accidentally turning on the machine, it should make the angle grinder lighter and easier to maneuver.
  2. If the locking nut is stuck or you see a dry crust, apply a penetrating oil such as WD-40. Wait 15 minutes for the penetrating oil to do its job. Use the angle grinder’s wheel locking switch to keep the blade in place. This might also be referred to as the spindle lock button. 
  3. Using one of the methods below, remove the locking nut. When you have removed the locking nut, put it in a safe place.  Without it, you won’t be able to install the new disc or use your angle grinder. If you do misplace the locking nut, you can order a replacement online. 
  4. While wearing gloves, grasp the edge of the blade with both hands. Lift the blade straight up, easing it off of the drive bolt. Set the blade to one side.
  5. Unwrap your new disc, and confirm that it is the appropriate size and speed for your angle grinder.  Using a disc that is not rated for the RPM of your angle grinder is dangerous.  The disc’s integrity can be damaged, increasing the chances of shattering and the risk of penetrating injury.  
  6. Inspect the removed blade, looking for defects or large chips in the abrasive material.  If it still has some life left, store it for future use. If not, dispose of it. 

Read our angle grinder reviews if you’re looking for a better grinding tool.

Methods for Removing Angle Grinder Discs Without Tools

Use a Vise

This method works best for larger grinders such as a 9″ grinder, because enough of the blade is exposed for the vise to grip. 

  1. Tighten the vise onto the blade so it holds it firmly in place. An arrow on the bottom of the tool indicates the direction of rotation.
  2. Use your weight to gently rotate the base of the angle grinder in the opposite direction. 

Use an Improvised Tool 

If you have a hacksaw on hand, this is a great method.

  • Using a hacksaw, remove the head and tip of the nail. 
  • Bend the nail into a U-shape, using vice grips and a hammer. 
  • Put the ends of the nail into the holes on the clamping flange. You may need to bend and shape the nail repeatedly in order to find the right fit. 
  • Use a piece of metal inserted in the middle of the U as a lever, turning the nail counterclockwise and loosening the nut. 

Use Heat

When metal gets hot, it expands. Applying heat to the locking nut of your angle grinder may loosen it enough to remove it by hand. 

  1. Use a portable gas burner or an autogenous welding machine. 
  2. Wear gloves to protect your hands from the heated nut. 
  3. Use as little heat as possible, because this method could potentially damage the inner workings of the angle grinder. 

Use your Hand

This is not the easiest option, but it works in a pinch!

Work gloves
  1. Put on a pair of thick protective gloves. 
  2. Inspect the bottom of your angle grinder, locating the rotor directional arrow.  This arrow indicates which way the blade spins during use. 
  3. Use the lock button to hold the angle grinder wheel in place. 
  4. With the palm of your gloved hand, press down on the disc and push it in the opposite direction from the rotor directional arrow.
  5. If the nut loosens, finish removing it by hand.

Try this method only as a last resort. It is possible that the disc will break, especially if it has already been worn down by use.

Use a Chisel and Hammer

This method can be a bit risky.

  1. The angle grinder’s locking nut should feature two holes. Insert the tip of the chisel into one of the holes.
  2. Tilt the chisel so the tip runs parallel to the angle grinder blade
  3. Tap on the handle of the chisel using a ball peen hammer to loosen the locking nut in a clockwise direction.

This method may damage the holes of the locking nut, making them unusable.  You may want to purchase a replacement locking nut or clamping flange to ensure you can change the disc next time. 

Use Pliers to Break the Disc

If none of the above methods work, you can break the disc using pliers. Remove as much of it as you can, giving you better access to the locking nut, and try again. 

Use an Allen Key

If you have a set of Allen wrenches laying around, you might be in luck. Test the Allen wrenches until you find one that fits the holes in the clamping flange.  While pressing the lock button to keep the wheel from rotating, insert the Allen key and apply torque to the flange. 

Buy a replacement wrench key. 

You’re far from the first person to misplace their angle grinder wrench key, and you won’t be the last.  Replacement keys are available at hardware stores, home improvement centers, or online. Waiting for a replacement may delay your project, but using the correct tool decreases the chances that you will damage the angle grinder, the disc, or yourself. 

Conclusion

Angle grinders are generally sold with a disc changing key, also called a wrench or spanner. There are many methods to remove an angle grinder disc without this tool. The safest choices are to purchase a replacement, use an Allen wrench, or hold the blade in vice grips.

If you’re desperate, you can try using heat or your hand to loosen the nut. You may be able to improvise a tool or use an Allen key. Using pliers to break the disc will allow you better access to the locking nut, but will destroy the disc, so should be considered a solution of last resort. 

Ellenkate grew up on job sites run by her family’s construction company. She earned her theater degree from The Hartt School, a prestigious performing arts conservatory in Connecticut. Her design and DIY work from her Chicago loft was featured in the Chicago Reader and on Apartment Therapy.