Air Compressor

I am looking to buy new Air compressor. What type and size would you recommend for a woodworking shop + home improvement and construction project (involving framing and roofing nailers)?
I am considering HarbourFreight. I have several air tools from it and they are OK. Any experience with their air compressors?
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Sasha wrote:

Nailers require pressure, but very little volume. The biggest portable you can handle would be my recommendation. In the shop, some guys use air tools and sprayers that require a lot more air and have the 5 HP compressors, but they are of little value for a construction project and kind of awkward getting up on the roof.
I have no experience with Harbor Freight and I'd be rather skeptical of the quality of their compressors. But they could be the same made in China stuff the other guys are selling at higher prices.
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wrote:

My advice is to buy one that is bigger than what you think you need. Once you eneter the world of compressor ownership, you will find other things you want to do with it.
For just framing and roofing nailers, you could easily get by with one of those $150 units with a claimed 3 hp and a 10 gallon tank. You will find that if you are doing a fast line of nails, such as for sheathing or decking, you may have to stop every so often and let the compressor catch up. It won't be a killer though. When you later decide you might like to be able to run a die grinder, however, it won't be enough capacity. Take a long hard look at the air requirements for various tools to figure out what you want for now AND for the future.
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On Sun, 27 Dec 2009 09:40:37 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@dog.com wrote:

One last thing. Don't worry about how to get your compressor up on the roof. Leave it on the ground. A series of 50 foot 3/8 inch hoses will get you anywhere you want to go, and actually add a little capacity.
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Snip

My experience is that even with a framing nailer a typical 3-4 gal pancake compressor is plenty and you don't have to wait for the compressor to recharge if you are using a hose that is not too long or too small in diameter.
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I just upgraded from a "5HP"/20g (actually 1-2 HP) portable to a true 4HP/80g two-stage. My reasons were two-fold:
1. The single stage couldn't keep pressure *above* 120, which is where some of my nailers like to be. 90 psi isn't always enough. The new one bottoms out at 135 PSI :-)
2. Pneumatic sanders suck up a LOT of air - they're one of the more air-hungry tools you can get. Went from 4 to 12 CFM :-)
I went with a cast iron oiled compressor this time, but I still need to pick up an oil trap before I can retire the old one.
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OTOH, I bought a Dewalt D55168 because its storage tank operates at 200PSI and it was less than 2HP so usable on 120V. You make a good point about sanders (and paint sprayers) but I decided they weren't something that I was likely to buy anyway (well, paint was a risk I took). My nailers all spec 90-100PSI. My Senco siding nailer (disclaimer: an eBay special) double-nails if it's too much above 90PSI.
It's a big step up from my PC pancake (which I still use).
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krw wrote:

Anyone who is seriously into woodworking and does some DIY home repair/remodeling can certainly benefit from two air compressors.
I have a small Husky Scout that is really handy behind the seat of the truck and is great for trimming cabinets and small jobs around the house; and a 12gal semi portable oiler that's works just fine for what I do in the shop (no air tools or spray painting), but just a bit too unwieldy to be loading and unloading out of the truck for smaller jobs.
Historically I've run through the none lubricated pancake portables and had to replace them about every three years, so, at $99, the little Husky Scout nicely fits the bill for a throw-a-way at about a third of the price.
YMMV ...
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I've just started finishing the room above the garage for my shop. Until I get the floor done and air lines run from below (the compressor is going to stay in the garage), I'm using the pancake for the nailers. It works fine, if it does cycle a lot.

The pancake was my first compressor. If I had it to do over I'd likely have gotten something better but it convinced SWMBO that a compressor wasn't just another toy. ;-)

Pancakes aren't any more expensive than that. I think I paid $250 for the pancake and three finish nailers.
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On Sun, 27 Dec 2009 12:03:46 -0600, the infamous Swingman

Ditto that. I have a little IR 3/4hp portable and a pair of 5gal tanks with 100' of hose for onsite use.
At home in the shop, I get by with one of the $150 3hp (yeah, right) HF units with a 20gal tank. I often hook up the spares to it for more capacity. I want to replace the regulator with a more adjustable one, but it's a cast iron job with oil bath, so it might last awhile. http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber667
One of the spare tanks (refugees from an old 2-part foam unit and nylon lined inside) keeps my 1/4" stapler, brad nailer, or 1/2" crown stapler going for 60-100 hits before it drops below 50psi.
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FYI, most Senco roofing and siding type guns are made to be bounce fired like roofers do, just hold the trigger and bounce as many times as you want. So it fires an "indeterminate" number of nails or staples per trigger pull. This can cause double fires quite easily if you are using it like a shop tool. You can get a "determinate" trigger upgrade from Senco. Call customer service and they send it for free. It is just a little spring thing and not to hard to install. All internal so it feels the same after you install it.

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On Sun, 27 Dec 2009 22:30:59 -0800 (PST), "SonomaProducts.com"

I thought of that. This one doesn't have a bounce trigger. I don't know if the previous owner put a new trigger in it or what, but that's not the problem. I could probably use a new set of O-rings, which I have but I only needed the nailer to reside the garage on my last house. ...and I've got a half a box of stainless nails sitting in a bin with it and the O-ring kit, where they'll probably be for the next decade. ;-)
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"Sasha" wrote:

HarborFreight! I wouldn't.
As far as a first compressor is concerned, get a portable wheeled unit with the largest 120VAC motor available that can be connected to a 20A c'bkr.
If you are in a 220V service area (No 120VAC), then other considerations come into play.
More info is needed about your planned usage is needed.
Lew
More
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A sub on a job of mine hauls this thing around. Very quiet and next one I will buy for myself. There's just something about cast iron and real oil that I like. A bit pricy perhaps. (Amazon.com product link shortened)
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