The 4 Best Stained Glass Grinders For 2020
A quality glass grinder can be one of the most useful tools in your shop whether you’re a beginning stained glass artist or a seasoned professional. Getting the perfect shaping on a piece of glass is so satisfying, and can help improve the look and feel of any project.
That said, if you’re a complete beginner, you may want to hold off on purchasing a glass grinder until you’re sure you plan to stick with it. Glass grinders are somewhat expensive, ranging from $100 - $500 or more. It’s also common for beginners to go with pre-cut glass kits, which don’t need additional shaping. Finally, there’s little a grinder has to offer that can’t be accomplished with a little bit (ok, maybe more like a lot!) of elbow grease.
Once you’re sure a glass grinder is a fit for your needs, we think it should be one of your earliest additions to your toolkit. Below, we’ll give you a quick overview of our picks for the best stained glass grinders on the market today. We’ll also go over the attributes you need to look at when choosing the right grinder for you. Finally, we’ll give an in depth review of each grinder on our list of top picks for 2020, and sum up everything we’ve learned.
Let’s get started!!
Stained Glass Grinder Reviews
|Gryphon Gryphette Glass Grinder||Best Entry-Level||3000||N/A||6.75"x6.75"|
|Inland Wiz CG||Best Mid-Range||3550||30||11"x10"|
|Glastar All Star G8||Best High-End||3560||42||11"x13"|
|Glastar SuperStar II||Honorable Mention||3450||19||8"x9"|
Gryphon Gryphette Glass Grinder
Pros: Decent power for the price-point. Small footprint. Great for beginners.
Cons: Not suitable for large jobs or sustained and heavy use.
Our Rating: 4.7 / 5
The Gryphon Gryphette is our top pick for entry level glass grinder, and is fantastic for beginners. It has a small footprint, which is great if you’re short on space. The device is powerful enough for most beginners and smaller projects, and will last you for some time as you move up in experience in complexity.
The key list of features include:
- .67 AMP DC Motor
- 3000 RPM.
- 6.75” X 6.75” working surface.
- Includes standard 3 / 4” bit.
- Standard 5 / 16” shaft accepts all standard bits.
- 4.78 lbs unit weight.
At the entry level price point, the Gryphon Gryphette is the clear winner. It’s got enough power to get the job done until you’re moving on to bigger projects. The grinding area is for pieces up to 4-6”, if you remove the guide. One common complaint is the instruction manual can be confusing for beginners, so we recommend checking out a youtube guide if you have problems at setup.
All in all, if you’re just getting started out or are on a tight budget, this grinder won’t let you down!!
Inland Wiz CG Glass Grinder
Pros: High RPM and decent torque, at a mid range price point.
Cons: Lack of deflectors out of the box can lead to messes.
Our Rating: 4.6 / 5
For more experienced artists, or those with higher budgets, our pick for best mid-range stained glass grinder is the Inland Wiz CG. It has a larger working area than the Grypette, and comes with additional torque and RPMs that’ll provide a bit more “umph” for bigger jobs. While it’s not the most powerful grinder on the marke, it does have a balance of price and power that will meet the needs of most intermediate level users.
The key list of features include:
- 30 Oz-In torque for medium sized jobs.
- 3550 RPM.
- 11”x10” surface.
- Includes 1 / 4” and 3 / 4” grinding bits.
- 9 lbs unit weight.
If you’re serious about the art of stained glass, but don’t have professional level requirements, this is your best bet. It has solid technical specs, including power and surface area for bigger jobs than the entry level recommendation.
All in all, once you’re ready to move beyond the entry level grinders, we think this one deserves your strong consideration!
Glastar All Star G8
Pros: Huge number of practice questions and exams.
Cons: Not as comprehensive as other resources on this list.
Our Rating: 5.0 / 5
If you’re looking for the absolute top of the line, our hands down pick is the Glastar All Star G8. It has a whopping 42 Ounce-Inch torque, which can handle any job you can throw at it. It also boasts a massive 11x13 inch working area, and a hefty 3560 RPM.
The key list of features include:
- 42 Oz-In torque for any size jobs.
- 3560 RPM.
- 11”x13” surface.
- Includes 1” and 1 / 4” grinding bits.
- 11.9 lbs unit weight.
It’s certainly not the cheapest unit out there, but considering the excellent list of specs, it’s still a fantastic value if you’re in need of a top end model.
If you’re ready to take the plunge on a top end unit, the All Star G8 should definitely be it. It also has an amazing number of additional features, top of the line cooling, and everything a professional needs. Consider making this unit the last stained glass grinder you ever need to buy.
Glastar SuperStar II
Pros: Great Mid-Range speed, size, and power.
Cons: Less max power than our pick for best mid-range grinder.
Our Rating: 4.5 / 5
Our last pick didn’t quite take the top spot in any of our categories, but we felt it deserved a nod due to it’s popularity. The Glastar SuperStar II is a Mid-Range glass grinder from the same brand as our top pick in the high-end class. It has an excellent 3450 RPM, a sizable 8x9 inch grinding space, and plenty of great features.
The key list of features include:
- 19 Oz-In torque for any size jobs.
- 3450 RPM.
- 8”x9” surface.
- Includes 3 / 4” and 1 / 4” grinding bits.
- 7.3 lbs unit weight.
The reason we didn’t pick this as our top mid-range entry boils down to 1 thing… torque! It’s got a respectable 19 Oz-In motor, but doesn’t quite compete with the 30 oz-in of our top mid-range pick. That said, if you’re a big fan of the brand, or just looking for an alternative mid-range grinder, this is still a fantastic unit that won’t disappoint.
Stained Glass Grinder Buyer’s Guide
You’ll find a pretty broad range of prices when looking at stained glass grinders. So what’s the difference between them? What makes them a value? The main attributes you need to keep in mind are:
- Torque: The force with which the grinder bit spins.
- Speed: The rate with which the grinder bit spins.
- Size: The area of the grinding table and the device itself.
- Cooling: The method for keeping the bit cool.
- Safety: Features which help protect the operator.
- Accessories: Supplemental items like grinder bits, drawers, foot pedals, etc.
- Motor Noise: The amount of noise a particular motor makes.
- Price: How much the grinder costs!
Torque is the amount of force with which the grinder bit spins. A grinder which has lots of power is capable of maintaining the bit’s speed when load is applied (i.e. it’s grinding a piece) better than one with low power. The ability to maintain that speed is important to ensure fast, high quality work.
Glass grinder torque is measured and expressed in “inch-ounces”, and values typically range from 10-50 (higher is better). Generally, torque values can be categorized as:
- <20 inch-oz: Entry level grinders - for very small pieces and projects with lite grinding required.
- <30 inch-oz: Mid-Range grinders - for small and medium pieces and projects with moderate grinding required.
- >30 inch-oz: High-End grinders - for all projects and heavy use.
This is one of the most important attributes to consider when you look for a grinder, and a general rule of thumb is to buy the one with the highest inch-ounces you can afford.
The speed (measure in “revolutions per minute” or RPM) is another important attribute to consider when choosing the best glass grinder for you. Higher speed grinders (with high torque) are able to perform their work quickly, with less effort on your part. Higher speeds also help to give a smoother finish to your edges, and more precise shaping.
Glass grinder speeds (in RPM) generally range from around 3000 to 3700. Higher values are better, a general categorization is:
- <3300 RPM: Entry level grinders - for very small pieces and projects with lite grinding required.
- <3600 RPM: Mid-Range grinders - for small and medium pieces and projects with moderate grinding required.
- >3600 RPM: High-End grinders - for all projects and heavy use.
For intermediate and professional glass artists, speed should be weighed heavily when making you purchase decisions.
The size of the device itself and the surface area should also be considered when choosing a glass grinder. Device dimensions will affect where you are able to store and operate the grinder. Choose a size that fits your space!
The other key factor is the working area (or table) size. If you’re grinding on large pieces of glass, you will need the space to accommodate it. If you do primarily small pieces, the extra table space can get in the way. Some units come with changeable tables of various sizes, which may suit your needs if you don’t stick to one size all the time.
It’s important when working with high friction processes like glass grinding, to keep the parts (both the grinder and the piece being worked on) cool. Most stained glass grinders use a reservoir containing water or other cooling liquid, fed through a sponge up to the grinding head. Others use a pump or other method to deliver clean water up to the bit without a sponge.
As you can imagine, pressing pieces of glass up against high speed grinder bits can be a dangerous activity. While you should always wear protective eyewear, hand protection, and clothing, some grinders also come with additional safety features like:
- Eye and face shields.
- Fast acting electrical fuses.
- Cooling and dust collection features.
Stained Glass making is not without its dangers, and you should strongly consider the extra value in strong safety features when you pick a grinder.
Most grinders have a wide array of accessories available or included at purchase. One of the most important accessories to consider are the grinding bits. High end bits can be quite expensive, and the size of the shaft the grinder accepts will determine which bits you’re able to use.
As mentioned above, other types of accessories include swappable tables, face shields, drawers to hold your bits and other items, and so on.
Different types of motors, the speed they’re operating at, and power generated can all impact the amount of noise a grinder makes while operating. If you’re working in an enclosed space like an apartment, this can be a major consideration you should account for.
Most glass grinder motors are DC powered, and the higher end models tend to be more noisy due to their increased speed and power. There are exceptions to this rule, where low end devices have poorly muffled or cheaper motors that are noisier even at lower speeds.
We generally don’t advise making noise the deciding factor in a purchasing decision. Investing in a pair of earplugs is generally a good alternative if you have sensitive ears.
Finally, price is the key factor in determining whether a particular grinder is a value for you and your unique needs. A quality glass grinder isn’t cheap! Prices range from $100 on the entry-level end, to $300 or more at the high end.
All grinders at a similar price point are not created equal. Using the above considerations, you can easily figure out what the best grinder for your budget is. To recap our rules of thumb:
- Priority 1: get the most torque you can afford.
- Priority 2: get the most speed you can afford.
- Priority 3: get the one with the additional features and accessories you think are useful.
Conclusions: What’s The Best Stained Glass Grinder For You?
We’ve covered a ton of great info about what makes a stained glass grinder stand out above the rest. We’ve given our top recommendations for various price-points in the stained glass grinder market as of 2019. To recap:
|The Best Entry Level Grinder:||Gryphon Gryphette|
|The Best Mid-Range Grinder:||Inland Wiz CG|
|The Best High-End Grinder:||Glastar All Star G8|
|Honorable Mention (Mid-Range):||Glastar SuperStar II|
Ultimately, only you can decide which (if any) grinder is the best for your circumstances.
If you’re a novice stained glass worker, or on a tight budget, the Entry Level Gryphon Gryphette is a blend of low price and decent specs that will suit your needs for smaller projects and light use.
For intermediate level work, Inland Wiz CG has some impressive speed and power with a great working area suitable for bigger jobs. Mid range prices tend to be about 50% more than the entry level units, which is a decent value for the performance increase offered.
At the absolute top of the line level, our pick is the Glastar All Star G8. It has a tremendous amount of power and features, which will perform well on even the toughest jobs.
Finally, we mentioned the Glastar SuperStar II as another great mid-range unit with decent specs and popularity overall.
Remember, weigh your budget against the important performance specs (torque above all… and then speed), and pick the best one for your needs. Good luck, and go create something amazing!