Air Compressor Help at Your Service

I suppose commonly used carpentry tools can be divided into 2 types – electric and pneumatic (air). Of course, larger industrial tools and machines are often petroleum-powered or even hydraulic. But let’s talk about air tools and their pros and cons in contrast to your more normal electric power tool in the DIYer’s workshop. First of all, why do most DIYers start out with electric tools when they purchase their initial “wardrobe” of tools?

Well, when you first begin purchasing your own tools, as with anything unknown, it can be a little scary. That’s why we often stick to things that we are sure of – like a drill driver and a measuring tape. Obviously, price can affect this decision as well. Most

air compressor

Mini Air Compressor

people don’t like spending big bucks on something they’re not even quite sure how to use. I’m sure we’ve all experienced feeling this way regarding some particular tool.

Air compressors are actually very simple and easy to use, and with a few tips you can make what could possibly be one of the best tool-purchases you’ve made in a while. I will attempt to list some of the main benefits as well as drawbacks to an air compressor.

With significantly fewer moving parts, air tools are considered quite a bit more durable and long-lasting than their electric counterparts.

You can store compressed air and continue using until depletion in the event of a power-cut. (Ideal for parts of the world that experience unexpected power-cuts.) Depending on your use, a larger or auxiliary air tank may be recommended.

Air tools are lighter and because they are essentially powered by the compressor (separate unit) sitting there on the floor, they have a substantially higher power-to-weight ratio. This advantage must be weighed against the thicker air hose (in comparison) that will be attached as opposed to a thinner, tougher power cord. Battery operated tools on the other hand, have some of the worst power-to-weight ratios but more than make up for it in tool usability.

Noise. Although many newer and/or high-end compressors have noise-reduction features built in, they still are not quiet by any means – not to mention that much more costly!

Alright, so now you’re all excited about getting yourself a pneumatic compressor! But before you do, there are a few more things you need to know.

What are the pressure requirements for the air tool you’re interested in using? Make sure your future air compressor can compress and deliver the air pressure needed by the particular air tool in question. Air pressure is usually denoted as either mega pascal (Mpa), kilogram-force-per-square-centimeter(kgf/cm2), or pounds-per-square-inch(Psi).

What kind of air tool will you predominantly be using with your compressor? Certain tools – or should I say jobs – require more sustained outputs of compressed air – such as air sanders, grinders, etc, as opposed to say, a nailer or stapler. For sustained output, you’ll obviously need a machine that not only produces the needed pressure, but does it at the rate at which you’ll be needing it! This is measured by liters-per-minute (l/min) or cubic-feet-per-minute (CFM). This is an extremely vital consideration!

Now rate your best findings against their power consumption. If 2 machines have equal pressure and production rates but one runs at a higher HP(horse power), which one’s more efficient?

– Unless you’re deaf, you’ll probably be at least remotely concerned about the noise level in your new compressor – or be prepared to have some angry neighbors! Compare the noise levels between machines. Noise levels are denoted by decibels (dB).

– Last but not least, compare prices! As with most things, pneumatic compressor quality and performance is greatly influenced by its price. Don’t be too jarred when you realize that the totally AWESOME compressor with those perfect specs you had your eyes on happened to be 5 grand! Tsk tsk. Most people don’t need such “awesome” compressors, and can easily get by with ones in the 100 dollar range.

A few last maintenance and other tips:

– Make sure you faithfully release the air pressure valve on your air tank after you use it! Moisture from the compressed air collects inside the tank and can cause rusting and premature failure if not allowed to escape.

– Be sure you keep your air tools safe, free of dust, and perform periodic oiling if need be. – Some tools require this, so see the manual if in doubt.

– If you happen to get yourself a pneumatic compressor with a small tank, be particularly mindful of use involving repeated “on-off” cycles with short intervals. Such use often results in the overheating of the machine and possible failure. There are 2 ways to tackle this problem: Get a compressor with a smaller tank so the compressor is on continuously (less strain on the compressor unit); or get a compressor with a bigger tank so the intervals between air compression are longer – the latter is advised. There are also auxiliary tanks available.

Well, good luck with getting that air compressor of your dreams! It is definitely a machine worth getting your hands on!


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