Some useful facts to remember when looking to invest in some pneumatic tools

A smaller air tool doesn’t mean it uses less air.

Just because it fits in the palm of your hand does not mean it uses less air. Any spinning air tool uses plenty of air flow to drive the moving parts inside. It is true that a smaller wrench will have lower air flow than a larger heavier counterpart but it still uses enough air to deplete a direct drive compressor very quickly. To make things easy just look up the tools specifications in the user manual. MAC-AFRIC™ products will always give you the CFM or l/min number and match that to a relevant compressor size.

You need a 20 % larger compressor than you think you do


Shopping on a budget makes choosing a compressor very difficult. To make things even harder is you have to take into account into how much work you plan on doing and how long that will take in intervals. Most DIY and semi-industrial compressors have a 60 to 80 % duty cycle. This means out of every 10 minutes of running time your compressor needs 4 minutes to cool down. This changes based on room temperature and humidity. Rule of thumb is to look at the air tool you require take that air tools CFM air usage and add 20 percent on top of that. This means your compressor actually makes more air that you use by 20 percent, it will have enough time to cool down in between workloads and heavy usage.

DIY compressors are not workshop machines.

Picking up the cheapest compressor you can get your hands on will always cost you more money in the long run. Smaller machines such as this have lower duty cycles and will not last long enough in a workshop environment. It’s always advised to get at least a belt driven machine as a bare minimum. Also take your CFM usage into account and work out how large of a machine you need. Adendorff stock machines of all sizes from direct drive up to the larger 380V semi-industrial compressors.


4. Air Pressure is important

Almost any compressor with a tank will supply you with 8 bar of air pressure (8 bar = 8 times the atmospherically air pressure of earth at sea level). However most air tools do not require anywhere near that amount of pressure. Most air tools will always have a mark on them near the input of the air pressure required, overdo this pressure too much and your pneumatic tool’s lifetime will be affected. Stick to the recommended air pressure and the tool will actually perform better than at a higher pressure and last longer. This is especially true with Spray Guns, the wrong air pressure means your spray jobs might turn out badly.

Using moving air tools without an filter is looking for trouble

Airline filters AKA Water traps are vital to the care of any pneumatic tool. It removes most of the humidity (moisture) from the air in the line. This results in less moisture build up inside the air tool and reduces rust build up. Not using equipment like this is ill advised and could result in a void warranty. So always use one even if it’s a small direct water filter. All air tools with moving parts require consistent lubrication just like a car engine. Problem is they do not have storage for the oil so it needs to be fed into the tool directly with the air that powers the tool. A lot of technicians would lubricate the tool by simply dripping oil into the air inlet, problem with this is you have no record or control on how frequently you have to do this. The moment you forget or someone goes on break the record is lost and this result in an air tool running without proper lubrication. Auto oilers such as the one picture above will constantly and evenly oil the tool, this also uses less oil than adding by hand.

 Air leakage is costing you money (TOO MUCH OF IT)

One every single air outlet or inlet you will see a coupler similar to the pictured above. However you would notice in many workshops they are not fitted with thread tape. Applying thread tape to your air connectors are vital to prevent air leaks. Air leaks are a problem, they affect the resulting pressure of your outlets but most importantly leaks cost power and affect compressor lifetime. When a line is leaking (only 1 leak will do) this will continually empty the receiver of the compressor, once around 6 bar is reached the compressor will auto switch on to get back to 8 bar. The compressor has run now completely unnecessarily while no-one is using your compressor. Now add this up to once or twice a day for a year and you can imagine the energy wasted.

HVLP spray guns saves you money keeps you healthy

HVLP (high volume low pressure) spray guns like the one pictured above spray a much thicker higher volume of paint at a much lower pressure. This result in larger material (paint) droplets being thrown onto the surface. This means less of the material is lost into the atmosphere. It is known that conventional high pressure guns result in up to 80 percent material loss to atmosphere. HVLP guns are nearly 70 percent more affective in material transfer than older high pressure guns. Because there is so much less material drifting around in the air around the work area, less of it is exposed to the user or anyone nearby. This means that in many industries where health & safety is a factor HVLP or LVLP guns are a preferred and in some cases a mandatory choice.

8. Make your air hose longer not your compressor wire

Air compressors are energy hungry machines and require quite a bit of power to get going so its advised to keep your power cord to a minimum length (10 – 15 meters at the most @ 2.5 mm thick). You hose however does not fall under this restriction so you can easily get a longer hose to distribute air flow access throughout you workshop. If you have one stationary larger compressor install it in a well ventilated area to the middle of your workshop and distribute the air connections from there. You can also use copper tubing instead of the less heavy duty rubber hosing for a more permanent fixture.

The benefits of pneumatic tools vs Power tools

  • Lightweight
  • Safer (no electrical supply to short circuit you)
  • Higher power to weight ratio. Requires smaller lightweight tool to complete the same task.
  • A DIY grade pneumatic tool will last longer than a DIY grade power tool. The same applies to higher industrial grade ones.
  • Pneumatic tools have always been ubiquitous to the industrial trade but is now becoming more frequently DIY used tool.

They are not expensive (at least on the DIY level)

DIY grade pneumatic tools are only slightly more expensive than DIY grade power tools but they will always outlast and outperform them. It’s a common misconception that pneumatic tools come with higher costs. At Adendorff Machinery we keep a wide range of pneumatic tool ranging from DIY to semi-industrial grade.

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11 thoughts on “10 Tips You Should Know About Air Tools

  1. Kylie Dotts says:

    I like how you said that you could get an air hose that is really long if you want. Getting a long heavy duty air tool hose would probably be the safest because then a nail could hit it and not get punctured. That way you keep the pressure high when using your tools.

    • Francois Landsberg says:

      Thats correct. We have gotten many people extending the extension cord to the air compressor causing many problems, and its not safe if you go longer than 10 meters. Compressors take allot of power to start up under pressure and it trips the power. Longer air hose is safer & more convenient.

  2. Isaac says:

    I’m a welder and buy most of my machinery at your store, I have a small work shop and do paint my products when their done. I want to buy 50L belt drive air compressor because I do other job at customer’s place. I can’t manage to travel with large air compressor. My question is that the 50L will it last if I use it for paint spaying.

    • Francois Landsberg says:

      Hi Issac. Short Answer is no, however that compressor does have the pressure to do proper spraying but it does not have the air flow or duty cycle. You will have to do spray jobs that are smaller in scope small areas at a time. That size compressor is considered a DIY type machine and will run for short periods of time. But it will work if you are planning on doing smaller jobs and are patient with the machine.

  3. Neil says:

    Hi i have a 200lt tank and its not running air tools properly. Like sander impact driver and other tools.its filling the tank but just seems as if theres not enough air coming out .can you help on this please

    • Francois Landsberg says:

      We do know 200 liter should be fine for most air tools. Perhaps there is a pressure issue? Take a look at your regulator and make sure the pressure is setup correctly. Around 6 bar and up is what most air tools need.

  4. Jacob says:

    Just wanted to find out if a compressor of the following specs support any air tools apart from spray gun and tyre inflator : 50L, 8bar and 2 hp.

  5. Fanus Swanepoel says:

    Hi There, I have a 50L 2 HP compressor, the Air flow in the manual states 160 l/m but does not give the Bar rating it was measured at. I find it quite weak for a jitterbug sander and a air wrench, what would you recommend? for sanders and air wrenches

    • Francois Landsberg says:

      Hi its a hard question to answer but generally the pump supplies the l/min specified at around 2 bar. Not enough to power tools straight from the pump. You have to wait for pressure buildup first. For those air tools a belt is driven 2.2kw machine would have enough air to keep up at around 60% duty cycle. You will need as much as 12 CFM supply to keep them running for a long period without stopping.

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