Compact Air Compressors - Canadian Woodworking Magazine

Know Your Tools: Get the most out of your air compressor. Compact air compressors can power a range of tools, including pinners, nailers, staplers, drills, ratchets, and sprayers.

Compact Air Compressors

Compact Air Compressors

By Carl Duguay
Illustration by Len Churchill

Their small, compact size means they don’t take up a lot of shop space, they can be stored under a bench or even suspended from the ceiling, and they can be easily transported to a job site, or used around the home.
One of the most important factors to keep in mind when choosing a compressor is that it must have the capacity to deliver sufficient air for the tools you’ll use it with. It’s a good idea to choose your air tools before you choose the compressor. The key specification you want to look at is the CFM that the tool requires at a pressure of 90 PSI – the pressure requirement for most air tools.
Price: $100–$500
Weight: 20–75 pounds
Capacity: 1–4 gallons
Power: 1/2–2 HP
Output: .75 CFM at 90 PSI to 4 CFM at 90 PSI
Warranty: 30 days to 1 year

Get the Most Out of Your Air Compressor
Read the Owner’s Manual
Know your compressor before you use it. Most require a break-in period, and all need periodic maintenance.
Drain the Tank
Prevent the inside of your tank from rusting by opening the drain valve at the end of each work day. Release the air pressure in the tank first.
Clean the Air Filter
Prevent excessive wear on the motor and compressor pump by cleaning or replacing the air filter regularly. The more dust in your shop, the more frequently you should clean the filter.
Don’t Exceed the Duty Cycle
Most small compressors aren’t meant to be run all the time. Persistently exceeding the compressors rated duty cycle will reduce the life of your compressor pump.
Adjust the Regulator
Not all air tools require the same amount of air pressure. Adjust the regulator to match the pressure requirement of the tool you’re using – it will extend the life of your air tools.

Air Out Your Shop (June/July 2015)
Small Shop Compressors: 3 Gallons and Under (June/July 2015)

Related Articles

Compact 12V Drill Drivers

Shop Tools:  With leading edge battery technology, the new generation of 12V compact drill drivers deliver superior performance in a smaller package.

Small Shop Compressors 3 Gallons and Under

Tool Comparison: For a small shop there’s nothing like a compressor to give you that helping hand. Learn about the different small compressors on the market so you can decide which one is right for you.


Air Tools: From framing a wall, to using tiny headless pins on a fine piece of furniture, compressed air drives a multitude of tools that make these tasks a breeze.