How much air is required in a home woodworking shop.

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Forum topic by Richard posted 07-11-2011 09:41 PM 2140 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1922 posts in 2894 days

07-11-2011 09:41 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

How much compressed air is really required in a small to medium size home woodworking shop?
I know some guys have the big standup air compressor’s with 5hp motors and 60 gal storage tanks but home much of that is overkill if all your useing is pin nailer and brad nailer and a blow gun for cleanup?

Would a small 2 hp unit with a 4 gallon tank be enough for the pin and brad nailers if your not doing any spraying for your finish work?
I think if I decided to any spraying I would go with one of the turbine units anyway so the extra air from the compressor would not be required.

I know that the HVLP spray guns require a very large cfm rateing but most of the nailers only use 2 to 5 cfm unless your talking about a framing nailer or roofing nailer for counstruction work , but all I am talking about is small wood shop where you are useing electric sanders and just a pin nailer and brad nailer as your air powered tools.

15 replies so far

View Bertha's profile


13551 posts in 2897 days

#1 posted 07-11-2011 09:44 PM

I had a smaller unit and only upgraded when I bought sanders. The guys who installed my floors used a tiny little DeWalt for their big framing nailers. You don’t need much for nailers but sanders, some disc grinders, and other tools can really eat air. My orbital sander takes something like 10CFM which is the max my big compressor can put out. However, I’ve got $10 brad nailers that have worked without a single problem for 10 years. Go air!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3362 days

#2 posted 07-11-2011 09:45 PM

I have a small DeWalt (2 gallon, I think) that I use for my nail guns. I use a turbine HVLP sprayer. This I all I need.

I think if I had a larger workshop with a finishing room, I’d want something bigger…but for right now I see no need for anything beyond my very portable unit at present.

-- jay,

View HorizontalMike's profile


7770 posts in 3118 days

#3 posted 07-11-2011 09:48 PM

I already had the 30gal standup so I could not say what the minimum is, though I am glad I have as much air as I have. Sometimes I just HAVE to get out the air and spray dust toward the open door, sweep, air, sweep, and just get a good cleaning(wearing a dust mask). My other uses include impact tools, tire inflation, etc.

That being said, IMO buy as much as you can afford. You WILL find uses for it.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View David Grimes's profile

David Grimes

2078 posts in 2844 days

#4 posted 07-11-2011 10:11 PM

Small is better and potentially quieter if only brad nailers and even mini HVLP are used. But if air tools are in the future, go larger.

I love my little Dewalt D55141R that I have wall mounted. I got it from CPO and it is factory refurbed. Not a bit of trouble and use it every day.

Specs: 0.6 HP 1.8 CFM delivered at 100 PSI, 2 gallon tank and 150 maximum PSI, Low 71 dBA allows for quieter operation,Roll cage and control panel provide protection to key compressor components, Low 8.0 AMP draw motor provides easy start-up and reduces breaker tipping, Lightweight (only 30 lbs.), thin (10.5”) and compact design is easy to carry and store, Ball valve drain, Dual quick couplers to easily support two nailers,
High flow regulator for increased performance.,default,pd.html?start=1&cgid=dewalt-compressors

-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia

View smboudreaux's profile


51 posts in 2771 days

#5 posted 07-11-2011 10:32 PM

i have a Bostich CAP20002.8 CFM @ 90 PSI with 150 max, large 6 gallon tank. for general use ( ie, nailing and stapling) its plenty enough. for shop cleaning it does a fair shop but sometimes i have to wait a couple seconds for the pressure to build up. It kept up while using a gravity feed paint sprayer but it never shut off. if your gonna be spraying alot i would recommend something larger or a turbine setup

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3362 days

#6 posted 07-11-2011 10:33 PM

Yep, that’s the one I have, David. You can’t really spray with it, at least not with my regular spray guns, but it’s good for nailing and filling up the tires. It won’t keep an air chisel up to speed either. Haven’t tried an air sander, but I’d venture to say you’d need a bigger compressor for that.

-- jay,

View TheDane's profile


5552 posts in 3867 days

#7 posted 07-12-2011 12:20 AM

I have a Bostitch CAP1516 (CPACK 270) ... has a small (1.6 gallon) tank, but can go up to 125 psi.

It is fine for pin/brad nailers and the like, but it just can’t handle sanders, sprayers, etc. I like it … it fits neatly in a ;garage’ in the end of my workbench, is relatively quiet, and regenerates quickly.


-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View Tomoose's profile


422 posts in 3577 days

#8 posted 07-12-2011 12:29 AM

I have the pancake style little Porter Cable from Lowe’s Depot (about $100) and it keeps up fine with the nailers and generic blowing off tasks. Plenty small but really loud. If that Dewalt above is really that quiet I would steer clear of mine!


-- “I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” Pablo Picasso

View Richard's profile


1922 posts in 2894 days

#9 posted 07-12-2011 12:56 AM

cr1 , as soon as I posted this I wondered who would be the first to make that comment. You get 1st prize, more air. :)

View TechRedneck's profile


769 posts in 3061 days

#10 posted 07-12-2011 01:29 AM

I have a 12Gal under the assembly table with a hose reel. I use this the most. I’ve had this compressor over 20 years and used it to put a roof on my house and my father in laws. If you wet sand metal, you’ll find the sanders come in handy. I also have air nibblers and impact wrenches. They are also good for small grinders and cutters.

I would go for a nice mid sized compressor because they don’t cycle as much and are easy to fit with regulators and dryers. I do have a pancake compressor I bought to help remodel my daughter’s house. Came in handy to lay the wood floor in our house but don’t use it much in the shop. I don’t like that small hose that came with it and it can’t blow the dust off the floor and my clothes like the bigger one.

IMHO, get one that has at least 10 gal tank or better, get a quality one and you’ll have it for a long time.

-- Mike.... West Virginia. "Man is a tool using animal. Without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all.". T Carlyle

View MedicKen's profile


1615 posts in 3666 days

#11 posted 07-12-2011 01:54 AM

I have a 33 gal upright Craftsman OIL LESS compressor and its LOUD!! I also have a small Craftsman 2hp, I think, and its cool. The smaller unit is perfect for driving small nailers, 18ga, 23ga etc. Its also light and easily portable. Sears usually has a scratch and dent store in most locations, separate from the main store. I picked mine up there and it was a refurb…...$35

-- My job is to give my kids things to discuss with their

View HorizontalMike's profile


7770 posts in 3118 days

#12 posted 07-12-2011 04:26 AM

FWIW, the best thing about my 33 gal upright is the capacity. You can do a lot without the compressor having to kick in and recharge. IMO, all compressors are loud unless you keep them in a separate room and run an airline through a wall.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Bob Kollman's profile

Bob Kollman

1798 posts in 3395 days

#13 posted 07-12-2011 04:41 AM

A small 4 gallon or 6 gallon compressor is fine for the air nailers.
I have the 33 gallon like mike, it is convient to not have it turn
on all the time. You might want to consider what your air needs
might be in 5 years…or not

-- Bob Kenosha Wi.

View WayneC's profile


13794 posts in 4301 days

#14 posted 07-12-2011 06:48 AM

I’ve got two. A small portable unit for use with nail guns. Great for taking around the house and doing projects. I have a Large Porter Cable upright in the shop for other use. This was one of those tools that I wondered how I ever lived without it once I got it in the shop.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 3187 days

#15 posted 07-12-2011 06:25 PM

For what you’ve stated that would be your requirement for your shop. Your only requirement is limited to the amount of CMF’s need to run a tool. I went to the 5 HP 60 gal. model because some of my air tools are air hogs and require higher CMF ratings. One suggestion I would make is to buy the oil filled compressor over the oil less compressor. The oil filled runs quieter than the oil less models do.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

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