My pal Tan did a great job of welding hooks on my tractor’s loader bucket a year ago (much nicer than I could have done), and they are so useful that my friends all wanted a set too. So we had a little party at our place last weekend and Tan hooked up Bill, Mark, and Kevin (welding in the oppressive heat, sure was good to have the pop-up shade).

Any chore is made better by adding a little bake-off to it, and since we had a hard time doing surface prep on my bucket with a wire brush (it seemed to just smear the paint around), Tan suggested that we might want to do a head to head competition between the fine products of 3M and Norton, to wit “3M SandBlaster 9681 4-1/2-Inch Coarse Clean-N-Strip Disc” vs “Norton Non-Woven Depressed Center Rapid Strip Wheel, 4-1/2” Diameter, 5/8”-11 Arbor Hub, Grit Coarse (Pack of 1)”

That was a good idea, but we were kind of hosed - it turns out that in the fine print, the 3M product says “Must be used with quick loading adapter 9675 (sold separately)” and of course we didn’t find this out until the morning of, so the 3M strip disk remained in the box.

I bought a second angle grinder. Tan’s not the first person to tell me that you can never have too many of these and switching the discs around is a pain. I’m familiar with that concept as anyone who has seen my collection of punch down tools can attest. Skil 6 amp one was < $30 at WalMart, though I am told that the sub-$20 4.5 amp ones from Harbor Freight are OK too. The standard may be somewhat lower if you have more than one of them, since having one die unexpectedly is just inconvenient, not a project disrupter.

Wow. Just wow. For anyone who’s used to leaning into a wire wheel to get it to do the dirty work, this is way different. Eye-openingly so. Takes off paint and rust with just a kiss and leaves you with shiny and smooth metal underneath. Check it out: http://amzn.com/B00755XY2Y