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Air compressor for woodturning

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Forum topic by kmetzger posted 11-10-2015 03:30 PM 1032 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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kmetzger

147 posts in 1282 days


11-10-2015 03:30 PM

I just bought a DeWalt pancake compressor for woodturning. I’ve been working wood for 35 years but have never owned a compressor before. The manual says after each use to 1. ensure regulated pressure gauge reads 0 psi, 2. drain air tank, 3. drain water by opening drain valve.

I’ve been forgetting to do all this every evening before turning in. Question: do I need to follow these procedures faithfully?

-- Kim, Ajijic, Mexico, http://tinyurl.com/7w5fm25


18 replies so far

View MrUnix's profile

MrUnix

4226 posts in 1663 days


#1 posted 11-10-2015 03:36 PM

My compressor is left plugged in, pumped up, and in the ‘on’ position 24/7, and I drain the tank roughly once a year if I can remember :) YMMV. But I have to ask, how do you use a compressor for woodturning?

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid

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kmetzger

147 posts in 1282 days


#2 posted 11-10-2015 03:44 PM

Hi Brad – the compressor is useful for blowing out shavings when hollowing small Christmas ornaments, for example. Thanks for your input on using your compressor.

-- Kim, Ajijic, Mexico, http://tinyurl.com/7w5fm25

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MrUnix

4226 posts in 1663 days


#3 posted 11-10-2015 03:49 PM

Hi Brad – the compressor is useful for blowing out shavings when hollowing small Christmas ornaments.

Got it… not so much for woodturning but for clean up :) Yup, they are useful for that for sure.

Cheers,
Brad

PS: I’ve found using a shop vac works better for cleaning up around my lathes and turning projects (particularly for bowls) as it doesn’t scatter the wood chips all over the place. Even more so for my metal turning lathes.

-- Brad in FL - To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid

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Bluepine38

3341 posts in 2550 days


#4 posted 11-10-2015 04:54 PM

Air compressors will collect water during regular use, in damp climates they collect more. Some shops
use air driers to remove moisture. If too much moisture collects in the tank, it will spray out along with
the air you are using. I put an elbow on the bottom of my compressor and ran a length of pipe to the
side with a ball valve on the end, I just open the ball valve and let the water drain out under pressure
about once a week.

-- As ever, Gus-the 77 yr young apprentice carpenter

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jfoobar

39 posts in 795 days


#5 posted 11-10-2015 05:46 PM

I know my air compressor has been drained at least once this year because I moved it. But for the most part, I’m much closer to MrUnix than what the manual recommends in terms of how often I shut it down and drained it. In my old shop, I would do it more often since the compressor (I use a Makita MAC2400) was out in the open and easy for me to get to. Now, in my new house, it is in the back of a closet next to the dust collector unit and it is a pain in the butt to get to the release valve.

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JoeinGa

7482 posts in 1471 days


#6 posted 11-10-2015 05:50 PM

Back when I worked at the big orange box, we had an air compressor in the tool rental dept (where I worked) it was under a work table and had a bunch of “stuff” piled on top of it. One day, it started to sound like it was “dragging” as if someone was holding the pulley so it could barely turn. I asked the dept manager how long had it been since we had serviced it? He couldn’t remember the last time it had been.

So I dragged it out and checked the oil in the motor… looked kinda dark but was still viscous enough. Pulled the air blow-off valve to run out any air in the tank and water started blowing out! So I took it outside and tipped it up and first thing I noticed was it did NOT have a water drain valve on it. Also when I tipped it up I was surprised at how HEAVY it was. I could feel the water inside the tank was sloshing around.

I then pulled the drain plug from the bottom …. by the time the water stopped running, I knew what was wrong. The tank was absolutely FULL of water. I got it drained and cleaned the whole thing up and installed a drain valve. It ran fine after that.

So yeah, air compressor are VERY useful in the shop, but you shouldn’t have to drain the air and water every day. It should have a water drain valve and you can check it about once a week. Mine here in my shop has an automatic water valve and it does what it’s supposed to.

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

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JoeinGa

7482 posts in 1471 days


#7 posted 11-10-2015 05:53 PM

@ jfoobar, you can easily add a small piece of copper tubing between your drain valve and the tank. Just extend it out to where you can reach the valve more readily.

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

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jfoobar

39 posts in 795 days


#8 posted 11-10-2015 05:54 PM

I believe one claim is that these compressors can rust out from the inside, leading to a tank integrity failure, if you don’t remove the water from them periodically. That’s the claim anyway. I don’t know how likely that really is. You would think that higher-quality tanks are lined in some way, but I don’t really know.

View SignWave's profile

SignWave

320 posts in 2500 days


#9 posted 11-10-2015 06:49 PM

I’m inclined to think that the manufacturer’s recommendation to bleed the air/water with every use is a bit of overkill, and primarily CYA. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with it, but it’s also more frequent than is really needed. If you did it once a month, that would probably be more than the vast majority of compressor owners. If you did it once a week, I would consider you very diligent. Generally, the more the compressor runs, and the more humid it is at the time it’s running, the more important it is, and vice-versa. If you’re going away for a few days, it wouldn’t hurt to leave it drained and turned off to avoid unnecessary cycling.

I’m thinking it’s less of an issue with a smaller compressor because it won’t take too long to refill the tank. My 33 gal tank takes forever.

-- Barry, http://BarrysWorkshop.com/

View Ghidrah's profile

Ghidrah

667 posts in 687 days


#10 posted 11-10-2015 09:44 PM

The lazier you get the worse things get.

Compressors used for house framing can gather a pint of water per 8 to 10hr day. Not only does the air condensate to water but it also drags all the oils and pollen in the air, if the discharge is creamy colored that’s from the oils and pollen. Maintaining an indefinite tank pressure just adds more stress to a non industrial tool not meant to do that, it’s meant to cycle.

If you value the tool follow the maintenance instructions, then if something fails like seals and gauges before the warranty ends you can justifiably request replacement.

-- I meant to do that!

View Underdog's profile

Underdog

903 posts in 1500 days


#11 posted 11-10-2015 09:54 PM

The more humid your environment, the more often you have to drain the tank. Here in Georgia, I have electric water condensation drains at each tank, and two more on the inlet and outlet of the refrigerant drier for the system.
Piston compressors are notorious for pumping lots of water into systems. Anyone with a spray booth or CNC router will want both a condensate drain and a dryer in their air system.

If you really want to make sure your air is dry, then install condensate drain that you can set duration and interval values on. You could also get a dessicant dryer if you install airlines in your shop.

But you really need to keep tabs on the water regardless. It can build up pretty quickly. And if your tank burst because of rust, it can be quite violent and dangerous.

With a little pancake compressor it’s not going to be the same as industrial size compressors, but the principal is still the same. Gotta drain that condensate.

-- "woodworker with an asterisk"

View dhazelton's profile

dhazelton

2325 posts in 1761 days


#12 posted 11-10-2015 11:39 PM

Moisture also comes about from temperature swings. If it gets cold in your space at night I’d go ahead and drain it. Takes 10 seconds.

View Bruyet's profile

Bruyet

34 posts in 607 days


#13 posted 11-11-2015 12:42 AM



Hi Brad – the compressor is useful for blowing out shavings when hollowing small Christmas ornaments, for example. Thanks for your input on using your compressor.

- kmetzger

I just bought a Hollow Fast system, and only THOUGHT my shop was dusty before. Even with a dust collector running, blowing the chips out makes a heck of a mess.

View ForestGrl's profile

ForestGrl

445 posts in 550 days


#14 posted 11-11-2015 01:37 AM



I believe one claim is that these compressors can rust out from the inside, leading to a tank integrity failure, if you don t remove the water from them periodically. That s the claim anyway. I don t know how likely that really is. You would think that higher-quality tanks are lined in some way, but I don t really know.

- jfoobar

Definitely a realistic possibility—I read a report years ago written by a woodworker who had his compressor blow up due to rusting from the inside (a pancake model, if I recall correctly). Yes, the odds are probably low, but considering how much it cost him to replace the part of the wall that blew out, and some other casualties, I find myself draining my Porter Cable pretty often.

-- My mother said that anyone learning to cook needed a large dog to eat the mistakes. As a sculptor of wood I have always tried to keep a fireplace. (Norman Ridenour)

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jfoobar

39 posts in 795 days


#15 posted 11-11-2015 10:58 PM


Definitely a realistic possibility—I read a report years ago written by a woodworker who had his compressor blow up due to rusting from the inside (a pancake model, if I recall correctly). Yes, the odds are probably low, but considering how much it cost him to replace the part of the wall that blew out, and some other casualties, I find myself draining my Porter Cable pretty often.

With one of those inexpensive pancake compressors, I certainly believe it. Many of them are under $100 for a reason, including the likely use of inexpensive materials to build them. I am not trashing them, mind you. If all one needs is to run an airhose for blowing dust away or filling the occasional bike tire, why buy more. I only bought my slightly larger Makita so that I could run some additional air tools and because it is quieter. 98% of my compressor usage is blowing dust away.

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