Want to run air compressor lines throughout your shop? We did all the research so you do have to! Come see how you can add an air compressor setup to your shop.
1. Determine Your Air Needs
In this project we show you how to run pneumatic lines throughout your workshop. But before you start planning out tool hook-ups and hose placement, you have to determine which air compressor you’ll need. In my garage workshop, I have a small air compressor I bought from a local home center. I use it to power pneumatic tools like a brad nailer and a high-pressure blower. These tools usually work in short bursts and don’t require a constant stream of pressurized air over a long period of time. When the tank on the compressor gets low, the motor kicks on to add more pressurized air. If you use similar tools in your shop, then a small compressor would work just fine.
In my case, I have transformed the barn into an auto body shop to restore the Karmann Ghia. The tools I use out there are things like air-powered sanders, impact drivers, and power hammers. Those tools use a lot of air continuously, which requires a much larger air compressor. I purchased a very large air compressor that holds a huge volume of air at a high pressure. It also has a motor that can produce pressurized air at a rate that matches the air being lost when using the tool. It runs off 220v and must be bolted to the ground. While this compressor may be overkill, it should future-proof my pneumatic tool needs and I shouldn’t have to buy another one.
2. Purchase the Air Line Kit
To get the air to the tool and the tool to the workpiece requires hoses connected to the compressor. Most air compressors come with an air hose to connect to the tools. You can add a quick-disconnect fitting to the hose to easily attach to multiple tools. The downside of this direct connection is that the hose often gets caught on things and can limit how far away from the compressor you can go. To combat this, I decided to retrofit the barn with a system of hoses and connection points to service multiple locations.
There are a lot of ways to send air or water to another location; rubber hoses, metal pipes, PVC lines, PEX tubes. But for high pressure air there are few appropriate solutions. During my research, I stumbled upon a kit that had a real of composite hose, fittings, and tools required to plumb in air lines. The hose is made of layers of plastic and aluminum so it is flexible enough to run through the shop while being strong enough to withstand the pressure. Rather than running this kit straight from the compressor, I added an in-line water separator to clear the system of condensation. This helps ensure the longevity of the system and the attached tools. I ran the lines across the barn using the supplied hoses and fittings. All that was left was to test the system.
3. Check For Leaks
To ensure that the pneumatic system I just install will work properly, I had to do a leak test. I pressurized the massive air compressor to a modest pressure and sprayed some soapy water on all of the connections. Because I used teflon tape on each connection, they were air tight and bubble-free. Well, all except one. I forgot to add the teflon tape and there was a leak. It goes to show that slowing down and using the right tools for the job is really beneficial. I still check the water separator and open the valve at the bottom of the compressor to drain any remaining water. But I’m so happy it all worked like it should.
Should Have Done This Earlier
I’ve always been jealous of people I see on tv or on YouTube that have a full shop air compressor system. It is so nice having the freedom to move around a job and not knock over tons of stuff with the air hose. I can work on the Karmann Ghia for longer periods of time without having to stop and wait on the compressor to charge. The freedom is allows if awesome. Just like any tool upgrade, I am able to see the benefits of some investment in the pneumatic system. I am not limited by those particular tools any more and I’m super excited to get to work!
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