The Garage Tools

Milwaukee M12 Right-Angle Die Grinder: A Mechanic’s Red Right Hand

In terms of versatility, it gives the trusty ol' hammer a run for its money.
M12 Right Angle Grinder
Hank O'Hop

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It’s common to spend good money on tools you really don’t use all that often. They might eventually pay for themselves by helping you get jobs done, but the same can’t be said for most DIYers. You just end up with a really expensive tool that serves as a haunting, dusty reminder of wasted money. That was my fear when I decided to treat myself to the Milwaukee M12 Right-Angle Die grinder. 

Though die grinders are extremely handy for automotive work, I wasn’t sure how a cordless version would fare in my collection. Still, I had the batteries from my review of the M12 heated jacket and set it as the reward for a personal challenge. After reaching that goal, I went out and bought it. Yay me.

That was about a year ago now, and after putting it to use for almost every job I’ve taken on since then, it’s clearly one of the best tool purchases I’ve ever made. Allow me to elaborate. 

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Milwaukee M12 Right Angle Die-Grinder Specs 

  • Price: $319 
  • Power: 0.3 HP
  • Max RPM: 24,500
  • Battery Type: M12 12-Volt Lithium Ion 
  • Collar Size: 1/4-Inch
  • Available at: Home Depot

I bought this as a bare tool, so I got very little out of the box other than some papers and the tool itself. I did immediately purchase a cutoff wheel attachment and a sanding kit. For the first few months, that’s most of what I needed, but some wire wheels made their way into the collection fairly quickly as well. 

M12 Right Angle Grinder SpeedSettings
Hank O’Hop

Operation is simple, as it’s equipped with a variable speed trigger and four speed settings to select from, and a maximum speed of 24,500 RPM. To be honest, I rarely ever use the higher speed settings as the lowest is usually enough to get the job done. I reserve the next step up for when I really decide to get nuts. 

A major benefit to staying with lower settings is battery preservation. The M12 batteries are great, especially for this tool, where they offer a compact package you can easily maneuver in tight spaces. However, 10 minutes of continuous operation goes fast. Sticking to the lower settings is key to getting the most out of a charge, and I do find it easy to pace myself so that two batteries offer limited interruptions. 

I may invest in more batteries at some point, however. 

M12 Die Grinder and Batteries
Hank O’Hop

The die grinder itself is nothing without the right attachments; what you need really depends on your work. I’m confident anyone buying this tool will get a ton of use out of pairing it with the aforementioned basics, i.e. the cutoff wheel, wire wheels, and sanding kit. I get into some pretty gnarly work, including everything from engine and chassis repairs to welding and bodywork, and those attachments are really the bulk of what I’ve used. 

The sanding set, however, is what made this tool so versatile. Everything from removing gaskets to grinding down welds was on the agenda and that is why I pick it up virtually any time I step foot in the garage. 

M12 Right Angle Grinder Porting
Hank O’Hop

The real test for this tool occurred when I decided to put it to work on my 1969 Dodge Charger’s dual-quad intake manifold. It had some serious casting flash issues, and it took around 10 hours total to get through everything with this grinder. This job pushed the tool to its limits, and I did cause it to overheat a few times. However, it only strengthened my love for the little red machine, and I’ll surely continue to lean on it for more time-intensive jobs in the future. 

I’d easily recommend this tool to any professional or DIYer. You will pick it up on a daily basis and you’ll rarely ever run into a situation where it won’t do what you need it to. It’s easily worth the $319 the right angle kit sells for. I’d even go as far as to say it’s worth taking the step up to the $450 kit that includes the straight and right-angle die grinders for even more flexibility. 

So if you’re doing serious work in your garage, take a serious look at the Milwaukee. 

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