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Forum topic by bondogaposis posted 12-21-2015 04:43 PM 579 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3969 posts in 1769 days

12-21-2015 04:43 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

School me about compressors. I’ve never owned one, what should I look for? I am wanting to run a brad nailer off of it and be able blow out filters and fill tires. How big of a compressor is needed for such uses? What does oilless mean? Is that good or bad?

-- Bondo Gaposis

13 replies so far

View rickf16's profile


386 posts in 2999 days

#1 posted 12-21-2015 05:00 PM

I have a pancake compressor and it can do everything you say you need. I choose this for the simple fact that space is a premium in my shop. If you shop around you can generally find a compressor and nail gun package for a reasonable price.

Just my two.

-- Rick

View clin's profile


485 posts in 414 days

#2 posted 12-21-2015 05:22 PM

Unless you’re shooting brads as fast as humanly possible, I’m not sure you can get a compressor that is too small. I recently replaced a relatively large 20 gal unit with a much smaller 4.6 gal California Air Tools CAT-4610A.

I’ve used it to shoot brads and larger finishing nails as quickly as I want to do it, and it keeps up just fine.

The CAT is very quiet (in relative terms). My old compressor was so loud that WITH hearing protection on I couldn’t stand being in the shop while it was running. The CAT turns on without me hardly noticing. That’s not to say it really is quiet, just that I don’t need hearing protection with it on, and it doesn’t make me jump when it comes on.

Search the net for suggested sizes given your expected usage. I would resist the urge to get bigger than needed. Unless you are using it for production reasons and never want to wait on it, it’s no big deal if you occasionally have to wait for it.

In my case, when I’m blowing out a filter it will come on pretty quick, and doesn’t keep up. So I have to pause after a minute of blowing, and wait 30 sec for it to get back up to pressure. I can live with that since I blow out a filter about once a month.

Keep in mind, that volume size (usually given in gallons of tank size), is not a measure of how much air it can deliver. A big tank just means it will take longer before it turns back on. But generally unless you are running a production shop and constantly using air tools, you don’t really need a lot of air. Blowing out filters and the shop being the exception.

Other things to think about are portability. In my case I opted for the aluminum tanks to make the unit lighter. However aluminum tanks will dent easier than steel. I also wanted to be able to carry mine around if needed.

Oilless is a good thing. This ensures you don’t get oil in the air that could contaminate your wood when using a nailer or contaminate your finish if using a spray gun.

As I recall CAT had some sizing info on their site. Note: I’m not pushing CAT. It happens to be what I bought. Mostly because it is less noisy. There are lot’s of choices.

-- Clin

View HornedWoodwork's profile


222 posts in 632 days

#3 posted 12-21-2015 05:34 PM

The Big Box guys carry small (pancake because of the shape of the chamber) compressors often with the nailers. I have one and it does everything you are asking it to do. Mine is Porter & Cable and came with 2 nailers (16 gauge and 18 gauge) and a stapler. I’ve used all three guns, it’s nice to have choices. I fill tires and blow off machines (and myself when I leave the shop to go in for lunch). Oiless is a plus as it means less maintenance. Look for one with more than one nozzle to attach a hose to, this means you can have your blow off hose and a nailer hooked up at the same time, a good feature to be sure.

-- Talent, brilliance, and humility are my virtues.

View WhyMe's profile


574 posts in 979 days

#4 posted 12-21-2015 05:48 PM

Oil free compressors don’t last as long and run hotter and are louder. I have both oil and oil free. The oil one is used in the shop because it’s quieter and the oil free is used for when portability is needed to carry it somewhere to do work.

What’s your budget?

View waho6o9's profile


7115 posts in 1995 days

#5 posted 12-21-2015 05:57 PM

Get the biggest CFM producing one you can wheel around, oil less is the quieter one

If I remember correctly, and you’re good to go.

Another suggestion would be to unitize all your fittings as there are different types.

There’s some new innovations in fittings that are quit efficient.

:) my 2 cents HTH

View CB_Cohick's profile


448 posts in 669 days

#6 posted 12-21-2015 06:06 PM

I think compressors are like about any power tool. More is better. But for your intended purposes, a pancake compressor should do well. I have a Bostitch pancake that came with a couple brad nailers and a stapler from the blue box store. It is oil-free, kind of loud, and does exactly that for which it is designed. I’ve had no trouble with it so far, but I wish I had room for a larger compressor that I could run a gravity feed hvlp gun off of. I think 20 gal. or greater is the ballpark size for those operations.

-- Chris - Would work, but I'm too busy reading about woodwork.

View taoist's profile


120 posts in 1909 days

#7 posted 12-21-2015 06:33 PM

In my experience, oil less compressors are louder than oiled ones. Get the biggest one you can afford and have room for. I shoot brads and staples with a small oil less compressor but have a 30 gallon oiled one in the shop and it powers a bunch of air tools from drills to air hammers to airing up tires. One of my best shop investments.

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 1905 days

#8 posted 12-21-2015 06:34 PM

I detest oiless compressors, but they have their uses.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View WhyMe's profile


574 posts in 979 days

#9 posted 12-21-2015 06:34 PM

Get the biggest CFM producing one you can wheel around, oil less is the quieter one

If I remember correctly, and you re good to go.

Another suggestion would be to unitize all your fittings as there are different types.

There s some new innovations in fittings that are quit efficient.

:) my 2 cents HTH

- waho6o9

By what standard is oil less quieter?

View weagle's profile


2 posts in 440 days

#10 posted 12-21-2015 06:40 PM

My opinion only but….
I know this runs counter to the posts above but be careful to not under size what you get.
I used to have a large compressor because my shop was busy and I needed the volume. When I downsized the shop I thought I could get away with a small unit and went too small. If you plan to use a spray system then you need to check the CFM requirements of the sprayer you plan to use as they eat up the air Otherwise small is good. Oil less for woodwork.

-- “It is true that I am of an older fashion; much that I love has been destroyed or sent into exile.” G.K Chesterton

View Bluepine38's profile


3336 posts in 2503 days

#11 posted 12-21-2015 06:43 PM

Usually the two machines that make the most noise in a wood workshop are air compressor and the dust
collector, this is why they are usually enclosed in a separate room or placed outside the shop. Clin
recommends CAT, they have a good reputation for being quiet and durable. I use my compressor for
automotive work as well as wood work, so I bought a big one to operate my impact wrenches. It is
too noisy to operate without hearing protection and I keep thinking about putting it in the shed with
my dust collector, but then I would probably forget to drain the water often enough which would
create a problem. All air compressors tend to collect moisture in the tanks and need to be drained.
Horned’s mention of the big box stores package deals is a good idea to check out. Ideally you would
be able to listen to several compressors and try them out, but I do not know of any stores that do

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

View builtinbkyn's profile


650 posts in 359 days

#12 posted 12-21-2015 07:28 PM

I second the Ca Air Tools. Bought a 6gal and it is reasonably priced. Have more pancake compressors that I care to think about, but needed something quiet. This works as advertised. Recommended!

-- Bill, Yo! Brooklyn :)

View Stewbot's profile


190 posts in 502 days

#13 posted 12-21-2015 07:30 PM

I’ve got the makita mac700 (takes oil) and I really like it. I use it for the exact same purposes you listed but also a 15g finish nailer. Not as cheap as the pancake compressor deals at lowes etc. but it performs as if the Germans built it. Fills up quickly and quietly, basically it sounds just like a standard oil-less pancake but much more muffled. I’ve had it for a few years and I haven’t had any problems with leaks or anything, it performs just as well as the day I got it.

To be fair, although I transport it to jobs in which I mostly work alone, if it were an everyday job site tool to be used by multiple people, I’d be weary to reccomend it over a pancake. It has several exposed parts that are asking to be snapped off by falling debris etc., has only one hose outlet and is top heavy thus wants to tip over in the back of a truck.

Great for a small hobby shop or a single finish carpenter.

-- Hoopty scoop?

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