Shop Air Compressor... What for?

67 StingrayJ

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I'm building a 30'x30' workshop starting at the end of the year. It's just about as big as I can fit on my 1/2 acre lot. If I could go bigger believe me, I would. Before we start the build I find myself daydreaming about the project, mostly doing fictitious layouts of all the tools I'm going to stuff in there:

Work Bench
Tool Box(s)
Lathe (I wish)
Mill (yeah right)
Tube Bender
Drill Press
Table Saw (for sale)
Band saw
Welder (TIG and MIG)
Parts cleaner (maybe)
Grinding Table (probably not)
Press
2 post Lift (must have)
Hoist
Shop Air Compressor (seriously, what for?)
Anything Else???

In all this dreaming.. I'm realizing Shop space is limited. So... What's important, what's not? yeah, I know it all depends on what I intend to do in my shop. That's a given. But Consider this...

I have quite the collection of 8amp/hr (DeWalt) Battery packs & tools. They're so good I hardly even use my corded power tools anymore, even on a big job. No joke. In fact, I just gave my Father-in-law my old, hardly ever used [anymore] corded; Saws-all, Circular saw, jig-saw, Oscillating tool, and belt sander. The only thing I didn't give him was my Angle Grinder, a palm sander, my router and a buffer. I have a small portable 2.5 gal pancake compressor (for tires and light cleaning and what not).

So, with that being said, for what purpose would I need a BIG, NOISY Real-estate consuming, Shop Compressor? Better yet, why would ANYONE need a shop air compressor these days?
 

PoMansRam

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I hear you. As compact and powerful rechargeable tools are today, it can take a lot of the need for pneumatic tools away.

I'm on my third large portable air compressor in ~35yrs. First one was a large belt drive unit I gave to my brother. The second was a Hazard fraught tools noise maker. An oil lubed vertical tank. Obnoxiously loud. Sold it on the FaceHole marketplace. Currently have a Kobalt quiet tech 26gal from BLowes and it's so quiet it amazes me every time I use it. I've never been a fan of oil-less compressors, but all I have to say is you have to experience one of these to appreciate how quiet they are. The compressor itself is based off of California Air Tools design and they're supposedly tested out to 3000+ hours and still able to be rebuilt.

I use air for small grinders, an impact gun, blow gun, air hammer, filling tires and for applying woolwax and fluidfilm.
 

Fast69Mopar

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I'm building a 30'x30' workshop starting at the end of the year. It's just about as big as I can fit on my 1/2 acre lot. If I could go bigger believe me, I would. Before we start the build I find myself daydreaming about the project, mostly doing fictitious layouts of all the tools I'm going to stuff in there:

Work Bench
Tool Box(s)
Lathe (I wish)
Mill (yeah right)
Tube Bender
Drill Press
Table Saw (for sale)
Band saw
Welder (TIG and MIG)
Parts cleaner (maybe)
Grinding Table (probably not)
Press
2 post Lift (must have)
Hoist
Shop Air Compressor (seriously, what for?)
Anything Else???

In all this dreaming.. I'm realizing Shop space is limited. So... What's important, what's not? yeah, I know it all depends on what I intend to do in my shop. That's a given. But Consider this...

I have quite the collection of 8amp/hr (DeWalt) Battery packs & tools. They're so good I hardly even use my corded power tools anymore, even on a big job. No joke. In fact, I just gave my Father-in-law my old, hardly ever used [anymore] corded; Saws-all, Circular saw, jig-saw, Oscillating tool, and belt sander. The only thing I didn't give him was my Angle Grinder, a palm sander, my router and a buffer. I have a small portable 2.5 gal pancake compressor (for tires and light cleaning and what not).

So, with that being said, for what purpose would I need a BIG, NOISY Real-estate consuming, Shop Compressor? Better yet, why would ANYONE need a shop air compressor these days?
If you do any type of engine, transmissions or cooling system diagnostics or repairs shop air is a necessity for my diag. tools to function. Wanna do a cylinder leakdown test, you need shop air. Wanna vacuum a cooling system, you need shop air. Wanna run the air-operated vacuum to bleed brakes or a clutch master cylinder, you need shop air. Wanna change valve springs with the cylinder head still on the motor, you need shop air.

Besides all that and plenty more things, there are just some things that electric power tools cannot do. I have the big battery 1/2" electric impacts and all of the other battery powered tools too but when all else fails I pull out the big boy impact and connect the air hose. Die grinders also need air as well as body tools.

Also, when doing small work like inside a vehicle it's hard to beat the size of a min-air ratchet.

For a mechanic like me shop air is a must. I always recommend shop air. If you are concerned about space inside the 30x30 building, do what I did and buy a small concrete pad to place on the outside of the building and build it it's own little house with a door and run the air line through the wall.
 
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67 StingrayJ

67 StingrayJ

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For a mechanic like me shop air is a must. I always recommend shop air. If you are concerned about space inside the 30x30 building, do what I did and buy a small concrete pad to place on the outside of the building and build it it's own little house with a door and run the air line through the wall.

Fantastic Idea. I was even thinking about mounting one up high out of the way. Connect air, connect power, done.
 

Fast69Mopar

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Fantastic Idea. I was even thinking about mounting one up high out of the way. Connect air, connect power, done.
Yeah man. I know what you mean by saving as much real estate as possible. I have a 60x60 shop and even with that much room I still needed a spot to put both of my air compressors. Once I installed all of my lifts, tools and equipment I still needed more room. The shop I have already had a dyno installed and the only place I had left to put the compressors was next to the dyno and I didn't want that. My wife told me to put them outside and run the line through the wall. I have a 120 gallon horizontal compressor and an 80 gallon vertical and they both take up alot of room. I went and bought a concrete pad for each one to sit on and then built a little house for them out of scrap lumber and then painted it the same color as the shop.
 

GTyankee

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I tried those pancake type compressors & i was constantly waiting on Air to build up & i don't work fast.

I bought a 60 Gallon compressor & very seldom do i have to wait

If your worried about your ears, build a corner cabinet for it

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bcbouy

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i make do with a little 8 gallon stuffed under one of my benches.works for what i need it to do.and it's good enough for my plasma cutter.i have an extractor fan setup outside the shop.
 

Moose2

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I would never be without a shop compressor. Outlets mounted in strategic places for hose reels, tire machine, blast cabinet, etc.
 

46RamMan

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Fantastic Idea. I was even thinking about mounting one up high out of the way. Connect air, connect power, done.
Don't forget you have to drain the moisture out of the tank.......... monthly if you use it much
 

GTyankee

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I have a Air/Water Separator in the air line near the tank
It removes some of the water, so what comes out of the nozzle is fairly dry.
If i am using the compressor for painting, then i put a 2nd dryer in the line, just before the 4' whip

I do drain the main tank almost every time i use it for 15 plus minutes, i don't need any rust in the tank.
 
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