The Expert Handyman Way Of Using Air Tools
Friday, May 3, 2013 5:10:57 PM Australia/Sydney
Whether you’re putting in a new deck, respraying the motorbike or building a bookshelf, air tools can make the job faster and easier. Light, efficient and versatile, air tools or pneumatic trade tools are driven by a gas, often compressed air from an air compressor.
Once found mostly on professional work sites, in recent years air tools have become more popular in the home workshop as well.
With the number of air tools available, you can do almost anything with them.
• Use an air impact wrench for jobs when you need high torque, like loosening tight nuts to change a tyre.
• When you want high speed, rather than high torque, use an air ratchet wrench, anywhere you’d use a socket set.
• Air die grinders are great for grinding or polishing metal, plastic or wood, especially when you need a precision finish.
• Air orbital sanders are best for fine sanding jobs, and are smaller and lighter than their electric power equivalent, meaning less fatigue.
• An air blower is very useful for inflating tyres, as well as for blowing dust out of machinery or anywhere else you want kept clean.
• Air drills get to higher speeds than electric drills, making them perfect for cutting, routing and grinding, as well as drilling.
• Air nailers will make short work of that new deck, not only much faster than a hammer but also saving you from pilot holes and reducing the chance of wood splitting.
Air Spray Guns
Another popular air tool is the air spray gun or air brush. It’s important to use the right air pressure for your spray gun, to get the best finish without wasting too much paint.
If the air pressure is too high, you’ll lose a lot of paint and have a lot of overspray. But if it’s too low, the paint won’t atomise very well. There are high pressure spray guns, which should be run between 45 and 55 psi, and low pressure spray guns, which operate at 10 to 50 psi.
Another thing to consider is how far your spray gun is from whatever you’re painting. Too close, and you’ll have ripples in the paint. Too far, and you risk an inconsistent finish and losing a lot of paint. In general, about 20cm is a good distance to aim for, but make sure you adjust your distance if you notice ripples or a lot of overspray.
There are as many different types of air tools as there are electric power tools, and in general, they’re lighter, cheaper, more versatile and easier to use. With less moving parts, they last longer, and are less likely to break down.