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Go to youtube and search for Hamer Guitar or similar, factory tour, has some nice images.

Basically, pop on a sanding disk of your choice (or chainsaw disk, flapsanding disk, whatever), secure the body, hold on to the angle grinder, and start carving. Remove wood until it feels and/or looks good.

Seriously, there's nothing magical about it. Get some scrap wood and fiddle around until you get a feel for it. It's a very agressive tool (removes a lot, quickly), but can be used for very fine control as well.

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An RO sander generally has a soft pad and moves at much lower rpm's. You MIGHT be able to do a little shaping but it would take much longer. An angle grinder is actually a pleasure to carve with.

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The idea of using angle grinder is to CUT the wood with the discs... NOT TO SAND it away until the desired shape. So lower grit discs much better. Higher grit discs sands smootly and slowly, which may sound good because you can do the work gradually with more control.. but that BURNS the wood because of the friction, no matter how smoothly you are using the grinder. Coarser grits works like a saw... there is not much friction because it cuts and removes the wood right away when it touches. I've had great results with a 40 grit flap sanding disc installed on my 10000 rpm angle grinder.

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If you did it with a 40 grit attachment, suffice to say could you not accomplish the same tasks then with a RO sander and a low grit paper?

Chris

Totally not the same. An angle grinder has massive, massive speed going for it. It's agressive, powerful, everything an angle grinder isn't, pretty much. And RO sander is an excellent tool for finish-sanding an angle-grinder-carved top, smooth out subtler curves and all that, with 120 and 220 grit paper.

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The idea of using angle grinder is to CUT the wood with the discs... NOT TO SAND it away until the desired shape
:D I'm confused. I thought it was used for sanding away the wood. There have been several threads recently where people said they used a grinder to make the belly cuts and arm contours. I did what Mattia suggested and watched that Hamer tour, and it looked more like they were sanding than cutting. Well, either way, you all have convinced me to get a grinder. Thanks. :D
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It's just the terminology he used. You ARE "sanding", but he's saying you need a coarse enough grit that you're removing substantial wood rather than just slowly "smoothing" it to shape. You need a grit with teeth. :D

Greg

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Gotcha. :D I guess I'm still a newbie just trying to learn about different tools before I spend money on them.

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Just wanted to thank everyone for the great information! As a newbie to this whole business of building guitars (and woodworking for that matter), this has been fascinating.

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  • 1 month later...

I have had great success with a Porter Cable RO Sander and those stainless Steel Sanding pads.

I knowRockler and Harbor Freight have them.

They work great.

I shaped my Purpleheart/Canarey bass with it in about 45 minutes.

I did have to come back and clean it up with the some 40 grit and up, but as far as rough shaping goes you cant beat it.

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Thought I'd give this topic a little bump...

I used my $18 4-1/2" Harbor Freight angle grinder for the first time on wood last night. I carved the forearm and belly contours on my guitar with it in about an hour. It was a very pleasant experience... the angle grinder removes wood effortlessly, but is surprisingly controllable. To my surprise, I spent most of my time on the forearm contour, going back and forth between the grinder and belt sander, trying to make sure everything was level. It still needs a bit of touchup, but it's pretty close. The belly contour, on the other hand, was much easier. I just marked some lines on the guitar and started carving away. It took about 10 minutes to do the whole thing, and the carve came out great. It just needs some sanding to remove the grinding marks.

Anyway, I just wanted to share my angle grinding experience. If anyone is still wondering about this method, I thoroughly recommend trying it out.

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