If you read my "About Me" page, you may notice that one of my main focuses of this blog is to educate women about tools (especially power tools). I'm constantly reading comments and emails that go something like this:
"Love this! I'll have to wait till my husband can cut/drill/nail it for me".
This makes me so sad! I don't define myself as a feminist. I believe there are some characteristic special to each gender, but LADIES!!! You can use any tool your husband can! I promise! Men can be amazing hairstylists or interior decorators. So why can't women be amazing carpenters? Admittedly, most of us probably didn't grow up getting garage lessons from Dad or attending Shop Class in high school, but even without a Y-chromosome you can successfully wield power tools.
By no means am I suggesting for your to grab the first power tool you see and flip it on without any knowledge or experience.
Hopefully, that's where I come in. I decided to start this series of posts to help educated and explain before you take a chance on a new power tool. I also recommend finding someone who is familiar with a certain tool (friend, neighbor, guy at Home Depot), and have them show you in person how a tool works.
Lets start with Talkin' Tools #1
I put a lot of thought into which tool I would review first. It didn't take me long before I came up with an electric air compressor. Why?
Well, first of all, it isn't really a tool, but a power source for several tools. Becoming familiar with a compressor is the first step to using a number of other tools.
Secondly, its harder to hurt yourself with an air compressor than other power tools (but not impossible), so I thought it may be a safe place to start for some ladies who have never so much as stepped foot in a garage.
And lastly, c'mon... My name is the Pneumatic Addict. What else would you expect?
Here is my electric air compressor. It's old, ugly, and give me fits from time to time, but I sure do love her. My husband and I "borrowed" it from my father-in-law so often that finally he just told us to keep it.
It has a 4-gallon tank and a 1/5 horse power motor. How big of a compressor do you need? In my opinion, its hard to find one too big or too powerful (I'll explain why in a minute). The two downsides of a larger compressor are lack of portability, and cost. Mine keeps up with me for the most part, but when I'm painting I REALLY wish I had a larger tank.
Shall we have an anatomy lesson?
Next, is the tank pressure gauge. It does exactly what you think it would; it tells you the pressure inside the tank.
The next piece is SUPER critical. Its the regulator and PSI (pounds per square inch) gauge. The regulator controls the amount of air that comes out of the tank. This is why, to me, you can't have too large of a compressor. You adjust the air pressure, through the regulator according to the tool you are using. Most pneumatic tools have a MAX PSI printed on them.
*This is one of those times you really need to "follow the rules"! Remember how I said it isn't impossible to get hurt with a compressor? Tools have PSI limits for a reason. Plus, they typically function much better in that range.
Including the electrical components, that pretty much sums up the compressor itself. Next, it the essential accessory you must have to utilize all that compressed air. An air hose. Air hoses come in a mutitude of lengths, diameters, and materials.
Some hoses come with fittings already attached, some don't. For the most part, you are going to want to use the basic set-up of one female coupler on one end, and one male fitting on the other.
Fittings aren't all the same size either. They come is 1/4, 3/8, and 1/2 inch diameters. Make sure your male fitting fits into the female coupler on your air compressor, and that the female end of the hose fits the male end of the majority of your tools. If they don't fit, no worries. They make adapters.
To join the two fittings, push back the sleeve by pulling on the textured area, and while its pulled back, insert the male end. Let go of the sleeve and it will spring back into place. (p.s. I just blushed typing those sentences).
Once you have your hose and fittings set up, you're ready to plug in a tool and get started. These are the 3 tools I am constantly using.
I could not live without my brad nailer/stapler combo. It changed my life.
I have only been using my HVLP (high volume, low pressure), gravity fed paint gun for about a year, but I LOVE it. I will never brush chair legs again!
Every garage could use an air nozzle! Very handy for blowing dust off of a piece of furniture, or even cleaning the cracks in the concrete floor.
If I have convinced you to buy an air compressor, I would recommend starting either on Craigslist or Harbor Freight.Compressors can be pricey, so you may want to start with something used or just a generic brand until you can invest in a little more expensive one.
I know, I know. "Harbor Freight tools are junk, yadda yadda." I own several tools from harbor Freight and rarely have issues with them. In fact, all my pneumatic and electric tools from there work like champs! They have a little 3 gallon on sale right now for $59.99. If you plan on airing up tires or shooting finish nails through it, it should keep up fine.
I know this post was ridiculously long, but I feel like I barely scratched the surface. If you have any more questions, please feel free to ask. Keep posted for tips on a new tool next Tuesday!
(p.s. I am not affiliated with Harbor Freight Tools. Just a fan)