What is an Air Tool: 4 Must Have Air Tools

Are Air Tools Power Tools

Pneumatic tools have been around since Samuel Ingersoll invented the first pneumatic drill in 1871. In 1890, Charles Brady King of Detroit created the first pneumatic hammer. Although pneumatic tools are not electric tools, they are still considered power tools because they need an additional source of energy to operate, in this case, (compressed air) and not only through manual work as is done with hand tools. (Below) in this article, I will also cover some examples of a few must-have air tools and their exciting aspects and findings.

4 Air Tools You Should Own: For Metal Repair & Fabrication

1. Air Belt Sander

An air belt sander is ideal for cleaning old and new welds or preparing tubes for welding. With its 4-CFM this tool will handle everything from partial bodywork to complete fabrication jobs. Since cars are rarely disassembled in the order they are assembled, it is more than likely that one or two welds will be challenging to reach. Therefore, with the pneumatic belt sander arm, you will have the ability to get to that tight spot.

2. Air Die Grinder

This 7-CFM air die grinder is ideal for using accessories such as grinding wheels, stones, and polishing pads. It can complete and finish many different jobs, but the two most common uses for this grinder include: Grinding hard-to-reach spot welds to remove an old panel. Or after installing a new piece of sheet metal to flatten raised weld seams. Also, the infinitely adjustable trigger makes it perfect for tight hard-to-reach places. For example, when polishing wheels, you can polish where it is most comfortable, along with the ability to reach those areas that a full-size polishing system cannot. In addition, even after prolonged use, you will still be comfortable as the ergonomic rubber grip reduces fatigue while providing better control and handling.

3. Air Drill

With the keyless chuck feature, you can quickly change drill bits or accessories while you’re on your next job. (Air consumption 4-CFM) Since time is money, I personally always like to use a drill with a keyless chuck. So, if it’s time for your next drilling job, an air drill will undoubtedly get the job done. An air drill is a durable tool to add to your toolbox. With the positive locking forward and reverse switch, you’re sure to know exactly which way the drill will spin.

4. Right Angle Air Die Grinder

Once you’ve finished grinding the welds on a new panel, you’ll more than likely want to sand the area in preparation for body filler or primer. And what better to prep a small area than a right-angle air die grinder? Also, another excellent use for this air tool is to remove excess body filler quickly. For example, when filler gets into places where it is unnecessary, why waste time sanding by hand? Plus, this tool not only gets the job done fast, but it also feels better in hand.

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5 Advantages of Air Tools

1. Durable

In general, mechanics prefer to use air tools because they are more durable, and with a single compressor, they can use a wide variety of air tools simultaneously.

2. Powerful

Pneumatic tools offer great power for their size and can often be smaller and lighter than a similar power tool, reducing handling fatigue.

3. Easy to Control

Many of the same features of corded and battery-powered tools are also available on air-powered tools, for example, variable speed and torque control.

4. Run Cooler

Air tools run cooler because they do not have an internal electric motor; therefore, these tools will last longer because they only have a few internal moving parts.

5. Quick Connect

Pneumatic tools are connected to the compressor with a quick-connect fitting, usually on the handle. Also, some pneumatic tools have a swivel fitting for easy maneuverability. Here’s how it works: Air enters the tool and is released by the trigger to turn a rotor in a sander or push a piston in an impact wrench. And, once used, the air exits the tool through an exhaust port.

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Understanding Air Tools to Get You Started

The use of air tools in continuous use will use a large amount of air from the compressor in a constant flow. Therefore, sanders and grinders will need continuous air supplied by a high-powered compressor. (Below) I will cover four key factors to get you started with your air tools as follows.

1. Air Tool SCFM

All pneumatic tools have an SCFM or (Standardized Cubit Feet per Minute) rating. This number indicates the amount of air required to operate the tool. For example, if a pneumatic tool requires 2.7 SCFM at 90 PSI, multiply the SCFM rating of the pneumatic tool by 1.5. to identify which setting you should set for your air compressor. Example: SCFM-2.7×1.5=4.5.

In the above example, the compressor must have an SCFM rating of 4.5 to handle the tool properly. Use the same formula of 1.5 for all of your pneumatic tools so that you can adjust the SCFM of your compressor accordingly. That is why you must choose your air compressor based on the SCFM value of your most powerful air tool. This way, you will have the power you need from your air compressor to run your air tools properly.

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2. Air Tool Hose

Another essential part of using pneumatic tools is the hose to which the pneumatic tool is connected. The hose can be up to 50 feet long, which allows you to keep the compressor in a centralized area. Hoses for pneumatic tools come in two standard diameter sizes: 1/4″ and 3/8″. A large diameter air hose will quickly fill an air tool allowing you to work faster.

  • Type of Air Hoses: There are straight, spiral, and wheel-mounted hoses, both manual and self-retracting.
  • Air Hose Material: Materials also vary from Polyurethane, PVC, Rubber, and composite materials. Rubber and composite hoses are versatile, remain more flexible in cold weather, and last longer with proper care. You can add quick-connect couplers, including universal couplers, to make it easier to change tools when needed.

3. Compressed Air in Air Tools

As air is compressed, the air can introduce moisture into the pneumatic tool. Rust could build up and cause the tool to seize and destroy it. To prevent moisture from entering the pneumatic tool, I strongly recommend installing an excellent in-line water filter that will remove this moisture before it reaches the tool.

4. Air Tool Lubrication

Pneumatic tools require lubrication for optimum performance. Before use, adding a few drops of recommended oil to the air inlet will prevent rust from forming inside the tool. You should add oil if the tool is to be stored for an extended period.