February 20, 2016

Air tools vs electrical tools


Have you ever considered using air tools? Most DIYers only use mains powered tools and if you don't have a compressor then it's probably a good idea to stick to them. However, if you already have a compressor, this is something you might consider.

Now, of course every workshop should have a power drill, jigsaw and a cordless driver. But when it comes to these:

 You might think about some air tools.

Why air tools?

My interest in air tools began with a conversation with a factory worker who uses air tools a great deal. He was talking about some of the more expensive sanders and polishers like Festool. Outch - those are expensive! Yet in his opinion, in terms of professional heavy duty use, he describes them all as crap. 

The beauty of air tools is that they don't require an electric motor and they are inexpensive for their robustness, reliability and quality.  

Reliability and bang for buck are very good. 


The downsides are fairly obvious. They aren't mobile. You need the compressor, mains power and a hose. You probably don't want to take air tools on the roof.

When your compressor breaks down, all your air tools are useless. 

Reliability, robustness and value come into play with some tools more than others. My orbital sander and a rotary tool both get very hot with extended use. Often I've had to stop working when the tool gets very hot.

The Ozito has a great range of attachments. The air tool version is similar in price but it can handle more extended use.

What air does best

Very handy in the workshop is a simple blower:

Quickly and easily removes dust or sawdust. I use it all the time. You want to be careful you don't blow dust into your eyes. Once you have one it may surprise you how often it's useful.

Handy assembly and fixing

This stapler and brad nail gun are also very handy. If you want to temporarily hold an MDF brace in place, the brad gun is handy. MDF tends to split when you screw into it, but you won't have that problem with a brad. The stapler is handy for temporary attachment of rubber sheets to the inner walls of a speaker box, whilst the glue sets. I use this often in prototypes.

The Ryobi orbital sander shown above is another tool that is not very heavy duty. The air version costs about the same, but it doesn't overheat quickly.

 If you are a serious DIY enthusiast and you find one reason why you MUST have an air tool, you will quickly discover there are many more tools that will also work with your compressor.

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