Do I Need an Air Compressor for Woodworking?

There is nothing more discouraging than looking around your woodshop and seeing the amount of dust and chips that have made their way into every crack and crevice in the area.

Even more, when those particles are stuck in your project or wreaking havoc on your tools.

That being said, do you really need a air compressor? 

While a dust collector works wonders for a woodshop, an air compressor is a great tool to get the dust and wood chips out of hard-to-reach areas when you are in the middle of a project. It can also power other tools like nail guns, sanders, and spray guns. Air compressors are ideal for woodworking. 

When considering if you need an air compressor for your woodworking ventures, ask yourself if saving time and effort is worth it to you when it comes to cleaning up your work.

If the answer is “yes,” then an air compressor is a great investment.

Continue reading to figure out how exactly air compressors work and the 3 biggest things you need to consider before investing in one. 

Why Should You Use an Air Compressor for Woodworking 

If you are new to the game, this using an air compressor for woodworking may seem a bit foreign to you.

Of course, you know the need for a miter saw, a workbench, a hammer, a sander, a jigsaw, and a drill. 

They all make sense when you think of the “mus- haves” for a woodworking shop.

But when you hear “air compressor” you may think “What in the world am I going to do with such a thing when my main objective is nailing, sawing, sanding, and staining?”

You might be surprised. 

Air compressors are like the little tiny unseen genius behind woodworking. The big tools make a huge difference when it comes to practically taking on the bulk of your projects, but in the end, it can be the smaller, lesser-known tools that really make all the difference to how you experience your day to day in your shop. 

Great woodworking pencils, solid measuring tapes, and reliable glues are all a game-changer.

That being said, so are air compressors.

Have you ever found yourself elbow deep into a project and all of a sudden you are completely stuck due to the build-up of dust and wood chips? 

I mean, this is the point where you can no longer simply push through, the dust has to go in order for you to continue on.

So, you try to brush it off, but these efforts simply are not enough.

You quickly grab a rag to see if that will do any better, but no success.

You need something that will clean out that hard to reach spot, and fast. 

An air compressor is designed to get the junk out of those crevices in your woodworking projects in a matter of seconds.

This will help you to stop stalling your work and get down to business without having to pause for an unnecessary amount of time to clean something only halfway.

Even more than that, an air compressor does great at cleaning off other tools (like your saws) and can get into places that your fingers and rags simply can’t. 

Beyond cleaning, air compressors (if using a big enough model), are capable of powering some of your other tools in the shop like nail guns, sanders, and spray guns.

The size of your air compressor is what will dictate the type of tool it is able to power, but figure out the needs of your shop and then decide on the gallon size that will work for you.

Some of you may need only a 4 gallon, but a massive 60-gallon compressor may be exactly what the doctor ordered.

Air compressors are many times the power behind the tools that you so desperately need in your shop.

So many tools need air pressure in order to function and to make this happen, you must have an air compressor.

Even more, there are some tools out there that you simply cannot find in an electric option.

You have to have the power of air. 

Portable or stationary, there is an air compressor out there that will work seamlessly for you and your shop.

Not only will an air compressor help to clean the dust and wood chips left behind from your various tools, but they will help to keep your woodworking shop safe and prolonged through the enhancement of clean tools and a tidy workspace.

Top 3 Things to Consider Before Purchasing an Air Compressor for Woodworking 

There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to purchasing the air compressor for woodworking that is going to change your woodworking life for good.

You can’t just show up to the hardware store all willy nilly and pick the first one you see.

There are a few things to think about before you dive in, but once you have a good idea of them, you are good to go.

Before choosing an air compressor for woodworking, be sure to consider these three things:

1. Tank Capacity 

Compressors are distinguished mostly by the size of their tanks.

The size of the tank helps to determine what type of tools it will be able to power (they all are completely capable of cleaning the grime from your projects and tools).

If you want a portable compressor, you will be looking at a tank size of about 4 to 6 gallons.

This will be able to properly clean any areas but will be just enough power to fuel your nail guns. 

If you need something with a little more capability than powering a nail gun, look into a compressor that is considered to be more mid-sized.

These are usually around 25 gallons and are typically portable as they have a set of wheels.

They work great with more pneumatic tools.

If you need to call in the big guns, shoot for a 60-gallon tank that can power it all. 

Just be aware that they are stationary, but they can fuel any pneumatic tool you need.

The tank capacity will also have a large effect on the overall size and cost of your air compressor.

So, if you are working on a smaller budget, this will be something to consider.

2. Motor Size 

The motor size is also what is going to dictate the type of tools you are able to use.

Although your tank size may be capable of working with a wide array of pneumatic tools, it may not have the ability to run continuously while using a few that require some serious power – tools like a pneumatic sander.

You have to think about the tools you will be using, but also how long you will be using them to determine the compressor you need. 

With many of the smaller compressors (4-6 gallons), they run on 115-volt current.

Mid-sized compressors are great for many pneumatic tools, but when it comes to constant running, some motors are equipped for that kind of wear for more air-hungry tools.

Go bigger if you need to run continuously.

For large compressors, they typically run on a 230-volt current and can run continuously without you having to worry about any kind of damage to the motor. 

Again, the size of the motor is going to directly relate to the quality and consequential cost of the air compressor that you choose to use.

However, looking at this as an investment that can help to save you time and money down the road can persuade you to choose a higher quality air compressor for your woodworking needs.

3. One-Stage Pump or Two-Stage Pump 

Choosing a one-stage pump or two-stage pump is one of those decisions that determine whether you want to go with old-school designs or a more updated construction.

The biggest complaint that many have with air compressors is that they are extremely loud when running and also get way too hot. I mean, can you blame them?

They’re doing some serious work, but it can sometimes be a huge annoyance. 

To sum it up, a two-stage pump is a pump that is able to give you a higher pressure without using as much horsepower as a one-stage pump would.

Even better, they are much better at maintaining a cooler temperature. 

This means you do not have to heat up your small space due to continuous use or worry about burning up the motor.

Oh, and one last thing, they are much quieter!

This is a huge plus for those of you that are just looking for a little peace in your shop. 

When it comes to having that one tool that few talk about, but so many refuse to live without, the air compressor is the one for you.

This little (or big if you need it) tool can do it all.

From cleaning up your projects to powering you through a night of some serious sanding, an air compressor can be the tool that sees you through seamlessly from start to finish.

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