The secret of cutting out old mortar with an angle grinder lies in making the right choices. You have to choose the right angle grinder and disc. You must also apply the right techniques to the job.
When these two aspects are combined, cutting out old mortar is as easy as pie! Here are a few things to know about the process:
1. Choose The Right Angle Grinder to Remove Mortar
Repair contractors consider small angle grinders as essential tools in masonry repointing. These electric-powered tools allow for the fast and easy cutting out of hardened mortar.
But there’s a small debate about the suitability of angle grinders on older buildings. Many think grinders shouldn’t be used on historic masonry due to the high risk of damage. Hand chisels can remove the soft lime mortar in older masonry buildings.
Cutting out mortar in modern buildings demand powered tools. The hard mortar in these buildings demand no less than angle grinders for their removal. You should choose the angle grinder based on the material for cutting.
The best discs for masonry are the diamond-edged discs in various sizes. These can easily cut through stone, tiles, and concrete. For major repointing applications, the best tools are usually diamond cutting wheels.
These are more expensive than angle grinders but more effective for industrial applications.
If you’re using small disc grinders, be careful about using them on a constant basis. Constant use results in small differences in tool weight and power output. These differences can decrease productivity and decrease safety in the long run.
Many small disc grinders are also equipped with dust collection devices. These devices can make it easy to reduce dust exposure but it also has its downsides. Your line of sight can be impeded resulting in lower safety and quality workmanship.
You’re better off using a respirator when grinding out mortar joints. You must wear it because of the risks of silicosis, a fatal disease in many cases. Besides, you don’t want to be exposed to large amounts of dust in your workplace.
When choosing an angle grinder, you have to consider the tool weight and power output, too. The higher the amp rating, the lesser your effort can be.
The heavier the grinder, the higher the risks for worker fatigue. But even a light grinder has its risks, such as the user applying excessive pressure.
Other things to look out for in angle grinders for cutting out masonry are:
- Double-insulated grinder
- Overload protection
- Soft start to reduce the stress from a high-torque start
- Automatic safety clutch
- Cooling system to reduce risks of overheating
2. Be Safe
When you’re using power tools, safety should always be your main consideration. You have to wear personal protective clothing including:
- Safety goggles to protect your eyes from the dust, debris and sparks
- Ear muffs for protection against the noise created by the grinder
- Gloves to protect your hands from the spinning disc
- Comfortable clothes without sleeves and hems that can be caught in the grinder
- Sturdy shoes preferably steel-toed shoes
- You should also ensure that the angle grinder and its disc are in good working condition.
- Pull off the plug before the inspection
- Inspect the body to ensure that there are no cracks and the like
- Check the disc for cracks, dents and nicks
- Place the guard on the grinder
You should also let the grinder run to its highest speed to check for its working condition. You can then apply it to the old mortar, if it’s running well.
3. Just Do It
You may be hesitant about using the angle grinder at first. But with safety measures in place, you shouldn’t be. You will also get effective results by keeping these steps in mind:
- Put on your dust mask: Old masonry removal involves plenty of dust and debris flying around. The dust mask will protect your nose from its possibly harmful effects.
- Bring the angle grinder up to speed: You have to wait before putting the spinning disc to the old masonry. Your haste otherwise can result in accidents.
- Clear the joint: You can make two or three cuts measuring less than 12 mm on the mortar. The cuts should be in the same direction for best results.
- Stay an inch or two away from the brick wall: This way, you can see the work as it progresses. You can also reduce the damage on the bricks
- Cut out the old mortar: Use even strokes and pressure to grind the masonry.
You should clean the area on a regular basis. You can determine whether you’re making good progress or not this way.
An angle grinder with a diamond disc is still the best power tool in removing old mortar. The work is faster and easier, while the results are better. The operator must have the proper tool and training for the best results in masonry removal.
You can use a hammer and chisel in removing old mortar. But this is such a slow work that it isn’t worth the time and effort. Your best bet is an angle grinder with the right power and attachment.
But before getting on the job, you should educate yourself about its safe and effective use. You cannot risk your limb and life just because of your ignorance.