Are you exploring flap discs to use for your next project? Maybe you’ve been using grinding wheels all this time and have overlooked the benefits of a flap disc. Flap discs are highly versatile tools and can meet your needs in a variety of applications — from stock removal to grinding and finishing. Many operators actually prefer flap discs over grinding wheels during operation, and when it comes to your next project, flap discs may be just the solution you need.
What Are Flap Discs?
Flap discs are designed for angle grinder applications.
Flap discs are made from multiple overlapping pieces of abrasives or 'flaps,’ which is how they got their name. Flap discs are designed for right angle grinder applications ranging from heavy stock removal to surface blending and smooth finishing.
While the first abrasive flap discs for high-speed angle grinders were developed towards the end of the 1970s and were somewhat basic, today’s versions offer an array of diversity. You should strongly consider a flap disc over a grinding wheel if you need a superior finish and greater ease of use during operation.
Advantages of Flap Discs
Flap discs are versatile: they can grind, blend and finish. They are also lightweight, easy to maneuver, and require less change over time. When performing a job, many operators prefer flap discs over grinding wheels due to lower vibration and noise levels. Plus, they offer cooler cutting with minimal scratching.
For instance, grinding wheels have to be discarded even after a small area of abrasive is worn out. Comparatively, flap discs remain useful even after the flaps erode, which results in a longer operating life. Compared to a flap disc, grinding wheels are cheaper on a unit cost basis. However, if you consider the versatility, durability and ease of use provided by flap discs, they are more cost-effective in the long run. Because of these advantages, the popularity of flap discs has soared in the last several years.
How to Select the Right Flap Disc
When it comes to flap discs, there’s a variety of discs available in today’s marketplace. Let’s start by understanding the various components of a flap disc, so you know how to select the right disc for the right task:
Flap Disc Shape
Is stock removal your primary objective, or do you want a smooth finish? Choosing the right disc shape is the single-most important variable, and the shape will help you effectively achieve your results. Flap discs are almost always used on right angle grinders, and they are applied to your work at an angle or parallel to it. Flap discs are available in two shapes: conical or flat-shape.
Flap Disc Material
The backing plate material is also an important variable to consider when choosing flap discs for your application. Fiberglass, plastic and metal are the most popular backing plate materials:
Abrasive Flap Densities
What does abrasive flap density mean? Think of the density as the total amount of abrasive area provided by the flaps on a flap disc. This area depends on the quantity of flaps on a disc, their angle relative to the center of the disc and how far they are spaced. Remember, each variable can impact the amount of disc area available to work on your job.
Abrasive Grit Material
Abrasive grit types
Flap discs can be used for a variety of applications, whether it’s metal or woodworking, concrete grinding or finishing, stone smoothing or finishing, paint or rust removal, and more. In order to get the maximum benefits out of flap discs, it’s important to choose the right abrasive grit material for your specific job needs. Let’s look at the most commonly used abrasive grit types:
You’re probably familiar with grit size if you’ve been using grinding wheels. Grit size is the final variable you have to choose based on your ultimate goal and what you’re trying to achieve. For stock removal or common grinding, use abrasives with lower grit numbers. On the other end of the spectrum, use higher grit sizes if you’re trying to achieve smooth finishing.
Flap Disc Uses
Flap discs initially became popular for use on metals, especially in welding applications. Today, various flap discs are available to use for different surfaces:
Flap discs on surfaces
Getting Started With Your Flap Discs
Before you start using any shop tool, you should always make sure you:
With flap discs, you need to consider the size and scope of your project. Do you have to remove stock aggressively, or is smooth finishing your goal? Or do you want a grind that’s somewhere in between? Whatever your answer, there’s a flap disc that’s right for your situation.
Don’t limit flap disc to the common metals. Flap discs can also be used across various surfaces, including aluminum, wood, concrete, engineered stone, granite and more. For each of these applications, whether you’re grinding or finishing, make sure you choose the right flap disc. Remember, conical shaped flap discs are great for stock removal and flat flap discs are best for finishing.
Flap disc backing material is important as it provides support during operation. Use metal backings for concrete or engineered stones, and use fiberglass or plastic backings for most metal or wood jobs. Also consider your abrasive grit material, and choose your grit size to achieve the desired results. For common grinding, use abrasives with lower grit numbers. For smooth finishing, use higher grit sizes.
Using a flap disc instead of a traditional tool can greatly enhance the quality of your job. You can also benefit from lower noise and vibration. Flap discs can lead you to a world of new applications, while helping you achieve new levels of efficiency and effectiveness.