I've got a friend who wants to upgrade his compressor but doesn't have
a lot of space for a large 60-80 gallon tank. So far he's been using
a little portable compressor which works fine for nailers, etc but he
wants to get into sprayed finishes and we all know that once you have
a new toy, you're going to find uses for it and air tools are probably
in the pipe somewhere down the line.
What would everyone say is the minimum tank size for moderate use of
relatively high capacity air-using tools like sprayers and perhaps air
sanders? I doubt he'll be using it every day or even for long when he
does, but I don't want to recommend something and have him run out of
air in the middle of a job either.
Well, what are his space limitations? My 60 gallon vertical tank model
actually has a smaller footprint than a 25 gallon model I had in the
past. It won't fit under a table or bench though!
That said, a higher horsepower or two-stage compressor with a smaller
tank (say, 20 - 30 gallons) can supply a lot more CFM than a typical
consumer unit with the same tank and exagerated HP. They are much more
expensive and not usually available at consumer stores. You'll have to
go to an industrial supplier like Grainger or similar. What they lack
in tank size they make up for in pump capacity and duty cycle.
First off, this is one of the more common questions on this newsgroup. DAGS
and you will find a ton of valuable information. Like all good information,
it takes a lot to accumulate it and to address all aspects of the associated
questions, so there is no shortcut to the answers. You and your friend
really need to dig in for a good research and education initiative.
To your specific questions - it can't be done. It should occur to one that
universal tools never really exist, and better - once we've found something
that meets all of our defined needs, we'll find new needs.
With respect to the tools you mentioned, it's not about tank size, it's
about air delivery. He will need 12-15 SCFM of delivery, depending on the
quality of the tools he purchases. This type of delivery typically comes
with 60-80 gallon tank sizes - though... and this is important.. by no means
does 60-80 gallons of tank imply compressor delivery capacities required for
these tools. It just is not about tank size.
Get busy working your way through the archives of this group and you will be
See, that's the problem. Myself, I have a nice 80-gallon high end
system but I have room for it. He has a much smaller shop and his
compressor needs to fit under his bench or he just doesn't have room
for it at all. He's not going to be using it all that much, mostly
for small projects, he's certainly not going to be painting a car but
if I go back to him and tell him he needs a 2-stage 80 gallon
compressor, that will be the end of that, there simply isn't room in
either the shop or the budget for it and, at least shop-wise, never
No matter Brian - his compressor needs are going to be dictated by the tools
he wants to use. The tools he uses will be dictated by the compressor he
From some of the things I've posted in the past... I have painted many cars
using standard guns, with an old Craftsman 33 Gal, 9 SCFM compressor. The
paint jobs came out just fine. Many of today's HVLP guns would not like
that compressor. As well, you can always cheat the requirements a little
bit. I could never run a DA with that compressor, no matter how hard I
tried though. For him to spray furniture finishes, he might be OK with that
compressor - depending on the gun. He'll never get performance out of a
good air sander though. What are the trade off's he's willing to make? The
one underlying truth is that he won't find some miracle compressor out there
that meets all of his requirements.
Have him research the archives, and rethink his requirements. After-all, he
can't be faulted for having unrealistic expectations before he becomes
educated. If he isn't interested in investing that much effort, well then
he should probably just buy whatever looks prettiest to him.
Isn't that exactly where we all were at one time or another. No matter how
big or small we are, there was always some tool that was out of reach.
That's part of what makes finally getting some long sought after addition
such a treat.
If I had a shop with one of every tool in the world, I'd probably still
use a tool not intended for the job because the one intended for the job
would be somewhere else! (Don't say organize the shop, because all the
saws would be together, all the planes would be together, etc. and then
they'd still be somewhere else!)
Wise is the man who attempts to answer his question before asking it.
To email me directly, send a message to puckdropper (at) fastmail.fm
That's why I suggest he review the archives Brian. Start with the one piece
of knowledge that it's all about SCFM, spend the rest of the weekend
reviewing what has been posted over the past year or so, and he'll be ready
to ask a couple of final questions, and buy a compressor. The whole point
of him coming up to speed a bit is to enable him to define his needs better.
It's easy after that.
Be aware that most all compressors can have the compressor separated
from the tank, and the regulator separated from the compressor. The
tank can be hidden anywhere, with a remote water drain added. The
"head unit" can be placed near AC power and the regulator in an area
accessible for pressure setting.
** http://www.bburke.com/woodworking.html **
That's all well and good if you've got a place for a large tank, he
simply doesn't. He's got to be able to move all of his tools around
so that cars can park in the garage and most large tanks aren't
portable, they need to be bolted down. His only non-portable "tool"
is his workbench and his only empty space for a compressor happens to
be under it.
I have a CH extreme-duty 25-gallon tank and it has enough air for all
my needs. It is on wheels but I'm sure a larger upright (less mobile)
tank will take up less floor space. In general, avoid oil less
According to an article in FWW of August 2003, the author
recommended a mid-range compressor for the average woodworker.
Said it would be fine for sanding, drilling, etc. However, there is
a range of prices from $500 - 1900 depending if the compressor is
100% duty (on all the time) to 50% (only half time). No brand
given, but shown in the article were Campbell Hausfeld, Ingosoll Rand,
and Porter Cable.
About a 60gal tank is were these compressor are. The more expensive
(I-R) hold 80gal.
i know a bunch of people who have 30 gallon compressors who sandblast on
glass. not well, but it's possible. i have a 3hp 60 gallon single stage
continuous duty i-r compressor, and i sand blast for hours using it.
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