I get email. I get a lot of email. Some of which can be beneficial to a larger audience so I had the idea to create a simple, informal video series to answer those questions on a regular basis. Check out the video above to view today’s topic.
I am looking to buy a new air compressor for woodworking only and wonder what size I need. -Dave Carpenter
This is definitely a question that doesn’t have a “one size fits all” answer. Bottom line, you need to size your compressor based upon your needs. Here’s the quick and dirty answers:
- if you only use brad nailers, staplers, or have an occasional need to air up a tire then a small one or two gallon air compressor will fit your needs.
- If you plan on using compressed air for everything listed above plus a gravity fed HVLP spray gun I’d recommend something around the size of a 5hp 20 gallon unit.
- If you plan on using compressed air for everything listed above plus high air volume tools like multiple impact guns, air sanders, or to clean out a shop space I’d recommend a larger unit around the 50-60 gallon range.
Beyond that, the most accurate way to determine what size air compressor is perfect for you is to do the following:
- Find out the CFM (cubic feet of air per minute) usage of each tool you plan on using.
- Add up the CFM numbers of all the tools you think would be in use at the same time. If you know that only one tool will be used at a time just use the highest CFM number you found. If you plan on getting another air powered tool in the future make sure you know it’s approximate CFM requirements and take that into consideration as well. Then add 25% or so to allow future-proofing and other possible long term changes.
- Find an air compressor that meets your CFM requirements and verify that the max PSI (pounds of pressure per square inch) on the air compressor meets the requirements of your tools.
Things to consider before you purchase:
- Would a horizontal or vertical unit fit my space better?
- Do I need something portable with wheels or will it be a stationary item?
- Is noise going to be an issue? The majority of oil-less air compressors are really loud.