Choosing air compressor for home – complete tutorial

Picking the right air compressor for your home can be exhausting. The fact that most tutorials or reviews include numbers and abbreviations like HPs and dBs certainly don’t help. The goal i wanted to achieve with this article is to create handy tutorial that is easy to understand and doesn’t confuse the readers. I’m somewhat qualified to be discussing air compressors – owned 3 of my own, and had used dozens of my friend’s compressors. Me and my friends are DIYers, and use air compressors for our home improvement projects. So this tutorial will be written from that point of view, instead of industrial or anything like that.

One of those confusing abbreviations and numbers i mentioned above, is Cfm and it stands for cubic feet per minute. It is the most important metric for choosing air compressors. It’s essentially indicator of the speed at which your air compressor will be able to supply air. You can also compare CFM figure to the speed at which your tool needs the air. It’s recommended that air compressor should be able to supply at least as fast as tool uses the air, but some people manage to get by anyway. These numbers might also vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. So it’s recommended to look up the reviews before buying one based on CFM number.

There are different kinds of air compressors available to be bought, and i’ll try to discuss each and review them as objectively as possible. Stationary air compressors are big machines mainly designed for industrial purposes. They’re very big and not portable, so you won’t find these among amateur DIY ers at home.
Small compressors that are designed for home are the ones that you should consider. I’ve also had experience of working with these, so it’ll be easier to relay their pros and cons. Pros are that they’re smaller and sometimes have wheels, so easier to move as well. Obvious con, compared to stationary air compressors, is the lack of raw power and lower cmf. But even these small compressors come in different types. Most popular, and my favorite are the pancake compressors. They are most portable option available, and their round design makes them perfect for people with limited storage space.  There are also hot dog compressors, which are also small, but have vertical design, which makes them taller. I don’t know much about wheelbarrow design type, but i’m hearing good things about it. Unless you’re running heavy industrial operation, smaller air compressors should be more than enough for anything you need.

Corded vs Cordless tools – which are better?

There’s great deal of debate going on in the internet discussion forums about cordless battery-powered tools. Some like the flexibility they offer, while others consider them unreliable and look down on their lack of raw power. Which is true – corded tools tend to be “safer” choices, because they are built simply and rarely break down when you need them. Cordless tools are much more advanced with more moving pieces, so chance of something going wrong with them is higher.

Personally, i don’t think one is necessarily better than the other. I have some tools that are corded, and others that run on batteries. So i think the question should be – which specific tools are better when cordless? Which tools will benefit the most from flexibility that battery provides? I think most saws and other commonly used tools should be cordless. I use them frequently and in different ways, so enhanced flexibility really comes in handy. On the other hand, i think most other tools are better off by being corded. My rule of thumb is that – if a tool requires a lot of power over long period of time, it should be corded. Batteries have improved a lot, but they’re still not as reliable as they can be, so with the kind of tool i’ve described above, you might have to stop in the middle of your project to wait for battery to recharge, and that can waste some time.  But it also depends on your style of work. Not everything that works for me will work out for you as well.

There are some ways to improve flexibility of your corded tools as well. One of them is long extension cord. These cords aren’t that expensive, so if you’re used to doing your work far from the house, they’re worth the investment. Of course, it’s not a perfect replacement for the tools that are cordless and don’t need any extension cords alltogether, but it’s worth to consider.

It also depends on what kind of woodworker you are. If you are a casual DIYer who works on weekends and treats it as a hobby, cordless tools can really save you a lot of trouble and there’s a chance that you won’t even notice their disadvantages. But if you’re serious woodworker who works regularly on his projects and does some heavy duty work, i would recommend sticking with corded versions, because they’re much stronger and sturdier.