New Woodshop Construction #8: Shop Air, and Sheet Goods Get A Home

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Blog entry by Patrick Jaromin posted 04-15-2008 03:08 AM 2981 reads 1 time favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 7: An Hour Here, a Half-Hour There and a Few Saturday Mornings Part 8 of New Woodshop Construction series no next part

My original design for the shop included multiple compressed air outlets scattered about the shop. At the heart of this system would be a 60gal Ingersol-Rand 2-stage compressor providing at least 15 SCFM@90psi. Now months later, I’ve significantly revised and downgraded my plans. Part of it was financial, but most of it was a realization that all that I really needed was to be able to use my nail guns without the hassle of dragging out the compressor every time and tripping over hose.

Retractable Air Hose

To that end, I revised my plans and settled on a much simpler setup. I would put my existing 17gal Husky in the crawlspace below the shop, and run a hose through the floor next to my main assembly table. To this I would attach a combination regulator/filter/oiler and a retractable hose. This is precisely what I did.


The air filter/oiler unit is a $20 special from Harbor Freight...well, I got it for $20. It was down to $15 last time I checked…sigh. Unfortunately it only occurred to me after I had purchased the filter unit that I don’t really want an oiler. While most of the time I’ll be using a nail gun, I do occasionally wish to use the air hose to blow off the shavings from a piece in progress and I doubt that misting it with tool oil would be very good for the finish. I’ve mounted the unit anyway and plan to keep the oiler empty. Perhaps someday I’ll move this device to another location on a separate hose and reserve it specifically for tool use. Or maybe not.

The hose reel was $30 for 20ft. It was the cheapest I’ve seen and while not as “industrial” as some of the more expensive units, I kinda preferred the compact size and appearance of this one. It also included a swivel mount. It works great right now…hopefully the mechanism will prove more reliable than the price would imply. We’ll see.

Automatic Drain Valve

Another Harbor Freight special. The plan was to locate the compressor in the crawl space, accessed via a trap door in the floor. Draining it regularly via the drain cock would be somewhat of a hassle. What I needed was an automatic drain. Thankfully I found this site in about 5 minutes of research pointing to a product from Harbor Freight. It was fairly straightforward to install—except that the inner diameter of the hose running from the unloader valve to the pressure switch on my compressor was too small for the included fittings. I ultimately wound up buying a different fitting which suffered from the same issue—but was setup in a such a way that I was able to coax the hose over the inner brass piece by applying a bit of heat. A bit of sanding of the outer tube was also required to get the connector attached to the tee. It was a bit of a chore, but ultimately I managed to get it all to work. And just like the author of the site above, my new drain cock valve was no good…so I also replaced it with a part from HD. The thing about the drain is that it only opens when the compressor starts and shuts off. So I can either leave the compressor on so that it “tops off” periodically (thereby activating the drain) or program the switch it’s on (see my other posts re: Insteon) to run it for a few minutes each day and give it a chance to drain any condensation.


Vertical Sheet-goods Pen

Finally, after filling the compressor, I used my new hose and old air nailers to build a 9’ tall x 30” wide x 36” deep vertical sheet goods pen just outside the shop door and install some cheap pre-primed moulding around the pen face and shop doors.

This is the start of my next big project: the Garage Remodel.


-- Patrick, Chicago, IL

5 comments so far

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 3407 days

#1 posted 04-15-2008 03:46 AM

That’s some good planning on the air!

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View ND2ELK's profile


13495 posts in 3193 days

#2 posted 04-15-2008 09:07 AM

Hi Patrick

Great idea on the air hook up. Looks like a slick set up. Thanks for posting.

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4445 posts in 3381 days

#3 posted 04-15-2008 03:37 PM

Looks like it will work very well.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View sIKE's profile


1271 posts in 3173 days

#4 posted 04-15-2008 06:02 PM

I am in the process of doing something close. I used Sch 40 PVC to run a couple of lines down from the loft of shop. I am very interested in the drain solution. Do you have any problems with the water just being pssst out? Mine AC is on a wooden floor and I do live in Texas and it is known to get a bit humid here. With the water being blown out twice every cycle I am wondering if I should even be concerned. As for which way you should go water is only added to your tank when the compressor is actually compressing the air for you. So I don’t know if either approach is needed.

Thanks for the great idea!

-- //FC - Round Rock, TX - "Experience is what you get just after you need it"

View Grumpy's profile


21459 posts in 3270 days

#5 posted 04-17-2008 02:18 AM

Pretty neat system Patrick.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

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