Air Compressor Selection Advice for a Comressed Air Novice???

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Forum topic by Rex B posted 02-08-2013 08:07 PM 1556 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Rex B

320 posts in 3218 days

02-08-2013 08:07 PM

Topic tags/keywords: air compressor cfm scfm rolair

Jocks, I need your help picking out an air compressor. I have been doing some research, but there are a lot of varying applications for compressors and I need some woodworker-specific advice.

The initial reason for this purchase is to paint a few interior doors using a spray gun. I see myself using it to spray paint and finishes, run a few different nailers (mostly smaller ones), and general homeowner stuff like filling tires. I want to buy a nice unit that will last me for a good long while. The ideal price range would be up to around $300.

A big consideration is noise level. My dad has an 8 gallon Campbell Hausfield that is just obnoxious. I work in a small garage shop and would like to keep the noise level as low as possible. From what I’ve read I should steer clear of oil-free compressors for this reason?

The second consideration is size. It will spend most of its life under a workbench, but it would be nice to be able to bring it in the house to hang trim, etc. every once in a while. I think the sweet spot would be somewhere around 5-6 gallons.

What SCFM ratings would you guys recommend? I have heard great things about Rolair compressors, and they seem to have units that meet my criteria (like this one). Any other good brands to look for?

-- Rex

8 replies so far

View PurpLev's profile


8642 posts in 4616 days

#1 posted 02-08-2013 08:24 PM

for HVLP you’d want the big 30+ gallon compressors. not the portable ones.

nothing worse than losing/varying air pressure in the middle of a spray run.

for “less” noise levels you’d want an oiled compressor.

SCFM is one thing, but how long can the compressor maintain that SCFM is another. for HVLP you’d want a compressor that can maintain the high SCFM as long as possible, especially for larger surfaces like doors.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Loren's profile


10921 posts in 4616 days

#2 posted 02-08-2013 08:26 PM

You don’t need a lot of CFM for spraying or running
nailers and pneumatic clamps. Sanders and things
like that need a lot though.

The oil compressors are definitely quieter in general.

You’ll have to put a filter on the line to get the
oil out of the air you use for spraying, so if you get
a hose with the compressor, do not use it until
you get the filer installed in front of it. Even a
little oil will contaminate the hose.

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3939 days

#3 posted 02-08-2013 09:10 PM

Recently reviewed in a woodworking magazine, but I forgot which one, and rated very high.

The GMC Syclone, twin cylinder, low speed (1680 RPM) very long life (3000 hr), oil-free design.
70 db noise level, 2 hp rated motor, 7 cfm at 40 psi, 5.3 cfm at 90 psi, rust free aluminum 4.6 gallon tank.

I don’t have one like this, mine is a 40 year old, 2hp, oil lubed, cast iron Craftsman, but I paid about $290 for mine where this one is about $340, but that’s amazing considering the time span..And they both have about the same specifications except the new one is quieter. With a 2 hp compressor I can paint, nail, impact wrench, grind, and chisel. Also, I can do some light sanding with an axillary 20 gallon tank.

For a value over time reference, the same time I bought my compressor I ordered from the local GM dealer a brand new Olds Cutlass Supreme, 400hp, 4barrel Holley carb, with Hurst shifter, air, cruse, and every other bell and whistle I could think of and it set me back $4350.00. A similar car today would be $35,000 to $40,000.

View Rex B's profile

Rex B

320 posts in 3218 days

#4 posted 02-08-2013 09:24 PM

Great advice here. Michael, the reviews around the web for that GMC unit look awesome. I may have to save up a bit more cash and go for that one.

I know I won’t be able to use a pneumatic sander or paint my car with a compressor of this size. I just want the capability for small spray jobs.

-- Rex

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4083 days

#5 posted 02-08-2013 09:30 PM

you want to have an compressor that can give you about ten bar and minimum
300 liters a minut if you want to use sprayguns even though most of them operate
around 2-3 bar 150 to liter a minut and you want the airtank as big as possiple ( mine is 140 gallon tank and deliver 500 liter a minut) and even that is not enoff when spraypainting and using fullface airfeeded mask
there is all kind of air tools you can imaging out there and alot of them is realy
haevy users of air :-)
for nailers and other tools that don´t use air continiusly a compressor with a small tank good enoff


View AustinK's profile


9 posts in 2901 days

#6 posted 02-08-2013 10:07 PM

Each pneumatic tool will tell you how much CFM is required to use it. Pick out the highest value and base your purchase off that (most likely the sprayer).

If its small painting applications, you shouldn’t have a problem with the smaller tanks, just make sure you don’t continuosly hold down the trigger.


View kizerpea's profile


775 posts in 3335 days

#7 posted 02-10-2013 12:42 PM

this thread was helpful to me to….i,m looking at the emglo 810-4m $350 on amazon. my good friend said its the one to buy. he,s been swinging hammers all his life..on the job sight.


View Rex B's profile

Rex B

320 posts in 3218 days

#8 posted 02-11-2013 10:18 PM

Right now I think I’m leaning towards the GMC unit that Michael suggested. It seems to be about the quietest available. I’m planning to get one of Harbor Freight’s gravity feed spray guns. This should give me the capability to spray small projects on occasion, and if I find I want to use it a lot more I will step up to a real turbine-driven HVLP like an Earlex or similar.

I see myself primarily using the compressor for nailers and just blowing off dust.

-- Rex

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