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Old 12-27-2008, 07:16 PM   #1
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need advice on air tools

hey guys i need some help here, so i joined this forum to gain some knowledge.

i am from a small island in the Caribbean name Trinidad and Tobago. i got have a small car audio business which includes designing and building sub woofer enclosures. now i have no idea on air tools so here is what i want to know..

i want a good compressor to do paint work and i can also use wit air tools like nail gun air grinder etc

now what do u guys recommend for me and what do i need eg compressor, hose, spray gun etc..

thanks in advance


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Old 12-28-2008, 06:39 PM   #2
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When looking at air compressors, the majority of the horsepower ratings are the most blatant form of mis-leading advertising I've ever seen. For example, I looked at one in a big-box store a while ago, is was advertised as 6HP. I looked at the motor nameplate, no HP was listed. Voltage was 230, amps was 15. In reality, that's about 3HP, not 6.

The HP listings are peak HP that the motor can produce before stalling. It is certainly not the HP it runs at continuously!

There are 2 considerations about air compressors, PSI (pressure, expressed in pounds per square inch) and CFM (air flow, expressed in cubic feet per minute). All compressors have a higher CFM at lower PSI.

First, consider what the compressor will need to operate. The largest need on your list is pneumatic grinder. I assume you mean a high-speed (20,000RPM) die grinder. Somewhere there will be a PSI and CFM requirement for such a tool. Usually a tool like this will need 90 PSI and 4 CFM.

The PSI of the compressor must be higher than the tool needs. It can be alot higher. A regulator is installed somewhere in the line to keep the PSI constant at the tool.

Most of the time, any given pneumatic tools CFM requirement will be based off a 15 second run time. This means that if the tool is operated for 15 seconds every minute, a compressor with a capacity of 4 CFM at 90 PSI is needed. If the tool is operated continuously, the CFM requirement is 4X what is listed. In this case, 16 CFM.

Air compressors come in 2 basic types (more for industrial use), single stage and two stage. Single stage can have one or more cylinders, all of which discharge directly into the tank. Two stage have at least two cylinders, and one cylinder feeds another, then to the tank.

Single stage compressors usually have a maximum pressure of about 150 PSI or so. They have relatively high CFMs at low pressure, but it drops off rapidly as pressure rises. They are considerably less expensive than two stage units, but don't last as long.

Two stage compressors usually top out at 175-200 PSI. This gives more reserve with the same size tank. Also, they give more CFM per HP at high pressure than a single stage unit. Even at higher pressure, they tend to run cooler than a single stage, thus longer life.

Tank size; usually expressed in gallons. A smaller compressor can run a larger tool for a longer time if it has a big tank. Almost always, a bigger tank is better.

If you're going to run something like a die grinder for more than a minute or so at a time, you'll need a compressor that takes a 240 volt electrical line.
Regardless of what is advertised, there just isn't enough power in a 20 amp 120 volt circuit to run such a tool continuously.


P.S. As a basic rule-of-thumb, figure 4 CFM at 100 PSI per HP. This is actual running HP, not advertised HP. Single stage is slightly lower, two stage is slightly higher.


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Old 12-29-2008, 04:39 PM   #3
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micromind gave good advice on compressors. What tools you will need will depend on what your going to be doing. I used to compete in car audio not that long ago. I did alot of fiberglassing of custom sub boxes and kick panels and dashes. I have a nice big compressor, you will want one with a big tank if you will be sanding fiberglass or wood with air d/a sanders. I have a couple of paint guns, a cheap one for spraying contact cement for wrapping vynil and carpet and another for spraying primer and a nice sata gun for spraying paint. I used a couple of different air nailers/staplers. Mostly i used staplers cause they hold better in MDF, and also used some 16 and 18 gauge finish nailers. An air drill came in handy for some things and also an air saw was really nice, works better than a jig saw or sawzall for getting in places and cutting openings for speakers and other things. A nice air ratchet and impact gun will come in handy also. Really it all depends on what your shop does, if you just make square boxes an air stapler and paint gun will be all you need but the more custom work you do the more air tools will become your good friend. Hope this help a little
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Old 12-30-2008, 09:48 AM   #4
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Good to see others from T&T on this forum. I have family that lives in Biche. For making boxes, you can pretty much use any 1 gallon compressor and will not require more than a 16 guage finish nailer. If you have family in the states, they can pick up the combo set from Home Depot (Husky) that will work fine.
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Old 12-30-2008, 12:42 PM   #5
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You are correct about a small compressor for nailing boxes but he is also wanting to do painting which a 1 gallon will not allow him to do. Also if you are making sub boxes i would use more than a 16 gauge brad nail to hold them together. I used to glue and staple the boxes together and then come back and screw everything together really good. I blew a couple of boxes apart that were glued and screwed every 3" with construction screws. It depends on what he is building and how loud they are going to be. I hit 164 dB's with 8 12" subs and 8 amps when i blew my box apart. I use a 16 gauge nailer for putting together kick panels and some frames for fiberglassing TVs and center consoles.
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