Favorite Air Tools

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Martin Pansch
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Joined: Thu Feb 14, 2013 10:44 am
Location: Young America, MN

Favorite Air Tools

Unread post by Martin Pansch » Sat Aug 01, 2015 9:35 pm

So I am finally close to getting a big air compressor for my shop. Looking to get something in the 5 to 7.5 hp, 80 gallon range. The short range things I am looking to drive with it is a plasma cutter and sand blasting cabinet. Maybe eventually a Kinyon 2.0 air hammer.

My question is more on the other uses I might not be thinking about off hand. I have used a lot of air driven nail guns for wood work but don't have much experience with air driven tools for the metal shop. So for those of you more experienced what are some of your favorite air powered tools I should consider?

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Re: Favorite Air Tools

Unread post by Davidjeng » Sun Aug 02, 2015 9:55 pm

Hi Martin,

I prefer 4" angle grinder and pistol drill, but my compressor will not keep a good constant 100 psi to run
them properly.I have many air tools and sandblast cabinet but they don't work all that well if you can't
maintain the pressure.

Cheers David.

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Location: Inver Grove Heights,MN

Re: Favorite Air Tools

Unread post by bbrown » Mon Aug 03, 2015 8:43 am

Here are my thoughts ,

A half 1/2" drive impact wrench is a must. For all of the assembly and disassembly of equipment and projects.
3/8" and 3/4" drive optional.

Angle head die grinders are handy for buffing, polishing and grinding.
A straight die grinder is also useful.
Carbide burrs, Scotch Bright discs, small knot wire wheels are nice for cleaning up welds etc...
Cut-off wheel tool very useful.

Air hammers (chisel,punch style) can be useful and handy.

A long 18-24" blow gun tip is great for cleaning equipment. Use carefully!!! with higher pressures.

Both plasma cutters and sand blasters need extremely DRY, clean air. A good filter/drier is must have. Moisture raises all kinds of hell with the consumable tips, if it will cut at all. And sand blasting plugs nozzles with any moisture
Also if doing any spray painting use clean dry air.
Air tools love a couple of drops of air tool oil (ATF works) in there air connection port every so often (daily).

A two stage compressor is better for higher volumes of air at high pressures.

And plumb with copper pipe (type L) heavier wall than household water pipe. Much easier than galv. Steel.


Jim Ericksen
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Re: Favorite Air Tools

Unread post by Jim Ericksen » Mon Aug 03, 2015 10:19 am

Bob pretty much covered it , and yes the air grinders are total air hogs and can be frustrating to use if the constant psi needed to run them can't be held

Safety side of me wants to add the the psi should never be over 100 when using an air gun and use ones with safety ports (osha compliant) or drill holes in the side of homemade ones

I'll attatch a pic of my arsenal I use at work , the matco die grinders have treated us well and hold up to industrial use , the little saw is very useful for performing surgery , and if money's no object the dynafile is a wonderful tool and the last one on the right is a suhner die grinder and they make the best air tools in the world but they're big $$

Of course as usual Martin your welcome to give any of these tools a test drive just let me know

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Martin Pansch
Posts: 314
Joined: Thu Feb 14, 2013 10:44 am
Location: Young America, MN

Re: Favorite Air Tools

Unread post by Martin Pansch » Tue Aug 04, 2015 8:05 pm

Thanks gents. You must have had good answers because now I have more questions. ;)

David, what size compressor to you have? I really want to make sure I get one with enough gusto so I don't have anemic air issues. I live in mortal fear of getting equipment and finding it is too small/weak/etc. I blame it on my wayward upbringing as an Infantry Man. As I mentioned I was looking at a 80 gallon, 2 stage compressor. Probably a 7.5 HP. I was looking at an Ingersoll Rand because it is the only name I really know. I see there is a LOT of other brands but I don't know the wheat from the chaff. I would be open to opinions. I wonder if Consumer Reports ever did an issue on them?

Bob, I have a Milwaukee cordless impact wrench. It was certainly one of those tools where I wondered what the heck I did without it. Any reason to get an air powered one too?

I have a short nosed airgun I use with my pancake in the wood shop and love it. I was just worried using one in the metal shop would make shrapnel. I guess as you say "use carefully."

The guy at Toll already expounded on the virtues of dry air for the plasma cutter. Should I plumb a drier in at each point of use, i.e. one where I plug in the plasma cutter, one on the sand blaster, etc. or will one just after the compressor work for the whole line?

L type copper, huh? I would have never thought that. I would have done it all in steel.

Jim, I might take you up on the offer to try those tools out at the TIG class, time permitting of course.

More stuff to ponder... Thanks guys!

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Re: Favorite Air Tools

Unread post by ardenhanson » Wed Aug 05, 2015 5:41 am

The marketing ppl lie about air compressors horse power. The only true way to determine hp is look at the motor tag for amps. 2 stage compressors with big cooling coils will allow a 5 hp motor to make as much compressed air as a 7.5 hp compressor with out cooling. Hence the marketing line" equivalent to"
Anyways in our shop the most used tool was a "die grinder" with a 1/4 inch collet chuck or a 1/4 inch drill chuck. This handled both carbide burrs and 4 inch cutoff discs. Pro quality ones have ball bearings and use less air....better quality turbines.
The next most used tool was a little angle grinder with twist lock Scotchbrite pads

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Re: Favorite Air Tools

Unread post by Marty.Hicks » Thu Aug 06, 2015 5:24 am

Martin --

I'm very happy with my Castair compressor. Made right here in Minnesota and located in Chaska. Check out http://www.castair.net


Al Lindholm
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Joined: Mon Oct 13, 2014 7:32 pm

Re: Favorite Air Tools

Unread post by Al Lindholm » Wed Aug 12, 2015 9:56 pm

I have a two stage compressor rated at 19.5 cfm @ 175. The initial pressure switch is set at 150 psi at the tank. My system is connected though a cooling/condensing loop that consists of twenty feet of 3/4" copper with a 24" drip leg, and from there is connected to the loop header in my shop. The dry air that has been referred to in previous posts is supplied to the entire system which also has a 5 micron filter prior to connection to the loop header. I've painted, run plasma and nearly anything else you can think of with completely trouble free operation for over ten years at my shop in Wisconsin and the operation is continuing at the new shop in Oregon.

Al Lindholm

Martin Pansch
Posts: 314
Joined: Thu Feb 14, 2013 10:44 am
Location: Young America, MN

Re: Favorite Air Tools

Unread post by Martin Pansch » Sat Aug 15, 2015 10:02 am

Thanks guys!

Al, good to hear from you. I was hoping moving halfway across the country wouldn't mean wee never heard from you again. Is your cooling/condensing loop something you designed/built yourself or was it commercial-off-the-shelf? If it is a home built one do you mind posting a photo or two and maybe a narrative if there were any tricky parts?

Marty, thanks for the reminder about Castair. I say "reminder" because before the newest section of 212 opened I drove by their Chaska location almost daily. I guess I never really new they were a Minnesota made company, I just thought they remarketed other brands. I certainly like buying local if possible. Lets you get face-to-face with someone if you need assistance in the future. Good luck with that on a off-brand Chinese made compressor from Harbor Freight or the like.

Arden, so cooling coils equal more air all other things being equal? Thanks.

Sounds like my plan for shop air and air tools is getting fleshed out pretty well. Thanks for doing the heavy mental lifting for me guys!

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