Air Tools Buyers Guide- The Top 10 Pneumatic Tools You Need

Pneumatic powered tools are something that have been around since the 1800’s and are used daily in today in auto garages and industrial applications. With technology advances and air powered tools becoming more common (and affordable) home hobbyists have turned to pneumatic power in their garages and around the house. A small to medium sized compressor can run a number of pneumatic tools that can help speed up jobs you may need to do around the house or in the garage. We decided to put a list of our top 10 air tools that you need when getting an air compressor.

  1. Pneumatic Impact Wrenches– Whether you’re removing lug nuts, changing the brakes, or just tightening hardware when servicing your lawn mower, a good impact wrench or impact gun is one of the first air tools you should buy. Not all impact guns are created equal and there’s everything from light duty impacts to brutal bolt breaking impact guns. We suggest going over what your budget is vs. what the heaviest hardware you’ll be removing or installing is. If you’re a restoration hobbyist working on classic or antique vehicles you may want something strong enough to break rusty hardware loose. But if you’re servicing your lawn tractor or just rotating your daily drivers tires you might not need something as heavy duty. We suggest comparing the torque ratings AND CFM requirements on each gun. That fancy bolt-breaking monster impact gun you want may require more CFM than your small compressor can put out to work to its full potential.
  2. Air Operated Body Saw– A pneumatic body saw or saber saw uses a very thin blade that can cut through sheet metal and other metals with ease. The thin, fine tooth blade allows you to make accurate cuts straight and curved cuts. These saws can also take your wood jigsaw blades to cut wood on the fly around the house if need be. We reach for this before a large reciprocating saw since it is a little less violent when cutting.
  3. Blow Gun- Sometime the most simple tools are the ones you use the most often. Use a pneumatic blow gun to clean dust off of things or blow dirt out of your shop, dry water off of something, or clean spider webs out of hard to reach areas on your property. The uses are endless and this is one of the top tools you should get when purchasing an air compressor.
  4. HVLP Paint Gun– Being able to paint out of a paint gun at home will save you time AND money. You no longer need to pay someone to paint for you and buying paint by the pint, quart, or gallon is cheaper than aerosol cans. Also with some practice you can spray like a pro and get a finish you can be proud of. Not all HVLP guns are created equal and they do need to match your air compressor. Some HVLP paint guns like the Eastwood Concours are designed to work well at lower CFM’s and smaller home compressors. Do your research before you take the leap into buying a paint gun.
  5. Cut Off Grinder- These are a life-saver. Cut through metal with ease and retire your hacksaw! Cut off grinders use thin cutting wheels that can cut thick and thin metal and the tool will last you forever if you keep it oiled. Cut-Off wheels are consumable and will wear differently depending on what you’re cutting, so definitely keep a few extra in the toolbox. We also suggest getting both a short and long reach cut-off grinder to cover all cutting jobs.
  6. Air Hammer- An air hammer or air chisel is one of those tools that you will need when you last expect it. This is the tool you reach for when things are stuck and you’re arm is tired of swinging a hammer and you’re voice is gone from shouting! Pneumatic force drives the air motor back and forth propelling the chisel, hammer, or punch at up to 4,500 blows per minute! An air hammer will vibrate loose hardware free, hammer stuck bolts out, or even chisel and cut rusty metal. If this is your first air hammer make sure you get a kit with all of the necessary attachments to fit your needs.
  7. Tire Inflator– Unlike a wrench, hammer, or other pneumatic tools we mentioned above; compressed air is something we can’t just produce ourselves. Well, not enough to air up a tire or other inflatable item! A good tire inflator will save you the hassle of running to the gas station to fill top off your car tires, fill your daughter’s bicycle tires, or fill your kids’ soccer ball. Some higher quality inflators or tire chucks will have a built in pressure gauge that saves you digging out a pressure gauge as well.
  8. Pneumatic Drill– A good air operated drill will allow you power to drill holes anywhere your air hose will reach. These are handy to have when you’re working on a project and you have other air tools already out. Swap out for the drill and you’re off and running. We suggest getting a pneumatic drill that will accept up to 1/2″ shank bits so that you can drill larger holes.
  9. DA Sander- A dual action sander spins and vibrates as it runs making quick work of any sanding project you have. The grit and type of paper you use allows you to work on anything from delicate work to wood work to aggressive sanding on metal or rust. Palm sanders are the easiest to control and allow you to get into tight areas and work well for small automotive and household jobs. If you plan to sand out large areas a larger DA that requires two hands may be better for you. You can also upgrade your sander with a velcro pad that will make switching sandpaper quicker and easier. It also allows you to reuse paper if it isn’t worn out when you remove it!
  10. Pneumatic Ratchet Wrenches– An air ratchet will work in smaller areas than your impact gun. A nice feature with most air ratchets is that you can break bolts loose quickly by hand like a normal ratchet and then use the speed of the air ratchet to loosen the bolt. Alternatively you can also add a little extra torque when tightening a bolt or nut down. All air ratchet wrenches vary in size and rating, so make sure you make sure your air compressor can keep up and that the ratchet will fit in the areas you need to work in.

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