Best Glass Grinders

Updated September 2019
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

21 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
170 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best glass grinders

Last Updated September 2019

Working with glass can produce breathtaking creations that no other medium can match, but it is a discipline few artists choose to pursue. It requires precision and patience, and there's a little bit of risk involved, but if you’re serious about shaping glass, you will eventually need a glass grinder.

A glass grinder has a rapidly spinning diamond bit that allows you to file down the glass to the exact shape you want. The best models are durable, high-powered devices that have a number of safety features. If you're a beginner or a part-time crafter, however, you won't need to spend as much as someone who uses a glass grinder every day.

For some tips and to learn more about what you need to consider when purchasing your first glass grinder, keep reading. If you already have a good idea of what you're looking for, peruse the highly rated options we've listed in this guide.

The key to grinding glass is to be gentle. If you push too hard, the glass will chip along the edges and could also break.

Key considerations

Before purchasing a glass grinder, you need to think about what size glass you’ll most often be shaping and how frequently you’ll be using your machine. Those two factors will help you find the glass grinder that is best for your needs.

Size

The first thing you want to consider is the size of the glass grinder's work surface. This is the area where you place the glass to grind it. If you mostly work with larger pieces of glass, you want a surface area large enough to support the glass so it doesn't break. If you only work on smaller pieces, you should be fine with a smaller model. Some glass grinders have a large surface area with a smaller, removable second-story workspace so it can accommodate a variety of sizes of glass. If you prefer to work on an incline, look for a glass grinder with an adjustable working surface.

Power

The power of a glass grinder is torque, which is expressed in ounces per inches. If you’re only interested in working with smaller pieces of glass, you will be fine with a model that has a torque value between 20 and 29. If you anticipate doing heavy-duty work, you need a glass grinder with a torque of at least 40 ounces per inch.

Revolutions per minute

The revolutions per minute (rpm) tell you how fast the drill bit is spinning. The faster the diamond head spins, the smoother the grind. Around 3,000 rpm is a satisfactory speed. Beginners can go lower (the mid-2000s), but if you dip too low, you won't be happy with the results. The higher the revolutions per minute, the better the quality. Look for a glass grinder with the highest rpm rating that is within your budget.

Face shield

You need protection to keep the glass particles from damaging your eyes while you work. If your glass grinder doesn’t have a face shield, at the very least you need to purchase and use safety goggles.

CAUTION

Don’t rub your eyes until you’re finished grinding and have thoroughly washed your hands. Hands get covered in glass particles that you do not want in your eyes.

Glass grinder features

Most glass grinders come with only what you need to get started, but some include a few extra bells and whistles. Following are a few of the more desirable features to consider as you shop.

Bits

  • Dual-bit option: You'll be thankful for the convenience of a motor shaft that’s long enough to allow you to stack two different-size bits on it at the same time. The smaller bit sits on top. In this case, the glass grinder has a detachable second-story working space to facilitate using the upper bit.

  • Additional bits: Most glass grinders include one large and one small bit. As you gain experience in your new hobby, you’ll find that there are many specialty bits, each designed for a specific purpose: drill bit, groove bit, and ripple bit, just to name a few. Some grinders might include additional bits, but it’s likely you'll have to purchase these items separately.

Straight-edge guide

If you need to grind a straight edge, you won't be able to do it without a guide.

Accessories drawer

As you begin to accumulate more and more bits, you’ll see the value of an accessories drawer built into your glass grinder so you can keep everything in one place.

Foot pedal

A foot pedal isn’t a necessity, but it’s a convenience. If you prefer using a pedal to turn your glass grinder on and off, look for a model with this accessory.

Glass grinder prices

All glass grinders might look similar, but the cost is a very important consideration because, in many cases, it reveals the power under the hood.

Inexpensive: If you’re just interested in glass etching, a handheld rotary tool is available for under $100. These powerful tools allow you to create artwork directly on the glass, but they aren’t suitable for larger needs, such as the shaping you’d use for stained-glass work.

Mid-range: In the $100 to $150 range, you can find a quality glass grinder that is good for the occasional hobbyist. These models have lower revolutions per minute and less torque than higher-priced machines, but they’re still effective tools.

Expensive: If you’re doing regular glass work, you will appreciate a tool that allows you to work faster and has more durable parts. These glass grinders range from $150 to $300, but the power driving these tools can greatly increase your productivity.

EXPERT TIP

If you find white powder building up on your bit while you’re working, it means the bit is too dry.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

If you find a white paste building up on your bit, it means you’re pushing too hard and trying to work too fast. Ease up and gently guide the glass along the bit to shape it.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Use a coolant. Don't skip the coolant. This will also help extend the life of your diamond bit.

  • Keep the bit wet. Keeping the reservoir full enough to keep the sponge wet will not only prolong the life of your bit but also cut down on dust and help protect your lungs.

  • Empty the reservoir. You want to empty the reservoir after you finish using your glass grinder to help protect the motor and keep the water from smelling funky.

  • Clean the reservoir (and the sponge). Undesirable materials can build up in the reservoir fairly quickly. Don't neglect cleaning the glass grit out of the reservoir after each use.

  • Do a trial run. Not all glass grinds the same way. Before you get to work on your finished piece, do a test with a scrap piece of glass to gain an understanding of how much pressure you can use without chipping the edges.

  • Pay attention to the direction you move the glass. If you move your glass into the spin of the bit, it will grind faster (and more harshly). To work on a delicate section, always move the glass in the same direction the bit is spinning (if you can).

  • Level it up. Make sure the bit is not too high or too low for the glass (and technique) that you’re using.

  • Use fresh bits. A worn bit can chip even heavy-duty glass.

  • Don't force it. Glass breaks easily. The more delicate your touch, the less unexpected chips and breaks you’ll experience. The glass grinder head should do the work, not you.

  • Don't be sloppy. The more precise your cuts are, the less you'll need to grind.

Other products we considered

We've spotlighted a number of highly rated glass grinders, each one an exceptional tool that will help you excel in your craft. However, some individuals might be looking for a slightly different approach to glass artistry, and for those people we've included this section listing a few handheld glass engravers. For the budget-minded individual, the Dremel 290-01 Engraver works at 7,200 strokes per minute and comes with a template that includes letters and numbers. The Dremel 2050-15 Stylo+ Versatile Craft Rotary Tool is just a few dollars more, but it is quiet and lightweight and offers a comfortable ergonomic grip along with variable speeds (5,000 to 22,000 rpm). If you'd like to go cordless, the Dremel 8050-N/18 Micro Rotary Tool Kit is the answer. It comes with a docking station for charging and features 18 accessories for all your crafting needs. Additionally, the unit has LED front-end lighting and a fuel gauge that lets you see how much power you have left.

If you’d like to engrave glass with a laser instead of a grinding tool, that option is available, but it might cost up to 100 times more. If you have a limitless budget, that could be an option for you.

FAQ

Q. What safety gear do I need when using a glass grinder?

A. Eye protection is not negotiable. Glass chips will launch from the grinder and can damage your eyes. You need a glass grinder with a shield to keep the bits of glass contained. Safety goggles will keep the hazardous material out of your eyes but not your hair and face. Additionally, you want a mask to keep from breathing in the glass dust and an apron to keep the dust from getting on your clothes.

Q. I keep getting tears and cuts and dry fingers when working with glass. Any suggestions?

A. You can wrap your fingertips with surgical tape to help prevent injuries. Alternatively, there are finger gloves that you can slide over your fingertips to help protect them. Be sure to use a healing moisturizer to prevent painful, dry cracking on your fingers, too.

Q. What is the sponge for?

A. The sponge works in conjunction with the reservoir. It wicks up water and applies it to the bit to help keep the glass dust to a minimum and prolong the life of your bits.

The team that worked on this review
  • Allen
    Allen
    Writer
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

BestReviews wants to be better. Please take our 3-minute survey,
and give us feedback about your visit today.

Take Survey