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What is a Grinding Dresser?

C.L. Rease
C.L. Rease

Grinding dressers flatten the grinding edge of a grinding wheel by loosening and removing abrasive particles from uneven sections of the wheel face. This sets the face of a wheel perfectly straight or to a specific profile determined by the dresser. The type of grinding dresser used to adjust the face of a grinding wheel is based on operator preference. Star dressers, diamond dressers and dressing sticks are the most common types of grinding dresser used when truing, or correct, a grinding wheel. Each type of grinding dresser uses a different method to dress the wheel.

Star dressers use a serrated wheel or multiple serrated wheels to loosen the abrasive particles of an uneven or badly grooved grinding wheel. When the serrated wheels of a star dresser are pressed against a spinning grinding wheel, the dresser wheels spin to match the speed of the grinding wheel. This causes the face of grinding wheel to release abrasive particles without fracturing and, thus, weakening the structure of the grinding wheel. Stationary and hand-held star dressers are both used to even a grinding wheel, but the hand-held version is more common due to its ability to be maneuvered more easily than a stationary dresser.


Diamond dressers use either multiple diamond chips attached to a flat place or a larger diamond sitting on a sharp point. Both utilize the hardness of a diamond to strip softer abrasive particles from an uneven grinding wheel, although both types are harder to use than a star dresser. Diamond dressers, due to the small cutting surface offered, rely on the steady hand of the operator to produce an even face across the grinding wheel. This makes diamond dressers a poor selection when a precise profile is required on the face of a grinding wheel. Another type of grinding dresser looks and works in a similar fashion to a diamond dresser.

Dressing sticks use materials harder than a grinding wheel, but softer than a diamond dresser, to remove high spots from the surface of a grinding wheel. The lack of diamond chips puts this type of grinding dresser in a lower price rang,e but wears faster and has the same issues as a diamond dresser with its need to rely on the operator to hand-create a profile or even wheel face. Affordability often makes this type of grinding dresser a common sight in backyards and smaller workshops requiring wheel dressing.

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