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Hemmings Motor News Blog

Hemmings Motor News has been around since 1954. We're proud of our heritage, but we're also more than the Hemmings full of classifieds that your father subscribed to. Aside from new editorial content every month in Hemmings, we have three monthly magazines: Hemmings Muscle Machines, Hemmings Classic Car and Hemmings Sports and Exotic Car.

While our editors traverse the country to find the best content for those magazines, we find other oddities related to the old-car hobby that we really had no place for - until now. With this blog, we're giving you a behind-the-scenes look at what we see and what we do during the course of putting out some of the finest automotive magazines you'll ever read.

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Power Tools: Air vs Electric

Posted November 05, 2020 6:42 AM by dstrohl
Pathfinder Tags: power tools

Power tools are the great enablers, helping us to either do what we could not manage manually or to simply get it done more quickly. We've been relying on them for more than a century and they continue to evolve, gaining capability and efficiency. Not so long ago, impact wrenches and other automotive-focused garage power tools were the exclusive province of professionals, and almost all such implements were powered by compressed air. Today, air tools are commonly used by hobbyists in home garages, as capable air compressors, and the pneumatic tools they power, have steadily become more affordable.

Yet, while air tools were becoming more accessible, a new breed of power tools for the garage was emerging. Battery-powered electric tools are not new, but the variety of different items that can be run with rechargeable battery packs has expanded significantly in recent years as the power levels and efficiency of the batteries themselves has improved. So, where once a cordless drill might have been the only battery-powered item in a professional's tool chest, now impact drivers, cut-off wheels, chop saws, and other high-draw power tools are commonly seen.

This leaves professionals and hobbyists alike with a relatively new choice to make: air or electric? We're going to take a look at the pros and cons of each, to help you sort out the criteria you should consider when facing this decision yourself.

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#1

Re: Power Tools: Air vs Electric

11/06/2020 9:31 AM

I often use a crown stapler when working with mouldings . I first used an air powered porter cable stapler but soon tired upon bringing a air compressor into a customers home ( the compressor weighs about 20 lbs and makes a lot of noise) , so I switched to a ryobi battery powered electric stapler. Quicker, quieter and at about 3 lbs easier to work with.

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#2

Re: Power Tools: Air vs Electric

11/06/2020 10:12 AM

Back in the day I sold Industrial supplies in Florida. This was the introduction of Makita tools to America. I made a nice retirement nestegg off of those tools. I had one customer actually create a tool for Makita, the drywall screw shooter. Sold them by the case. it was crazy.

Compressed air will still run longer and stronger, but the trade off in convenience and usability goes to battery tools hands down.

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Re: Power Tools: Air vs Electric

11/08/2020 8:10 PM

If you make your living with power tools, in a shop, I'd say air is the way to go.

If you are a hobbyist, I think batteries are for you. A compressor to run air tools is not cheap.

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#4

Re: Power Tools: Air vs Electric

11/15/2020 11:50 PM

Depends on the hand tool, who using it preferences and what you’ll be doing.

with a drill motor, with the higher performing batteries, battery powered. When I had my fabrication shop, the fabricators always grabbed the cordless over the corded.

the polishing, it was always air, with the exception of specialty tools, which were corded, as long as you had a good air supply. Some of the polishing tools such as the Dynabrades use 18 CFM’s, or more, depending on if it’s maintenance. I had a 100CFM screw air compressor to keep (3) running, plus some misc 1/4” grinders. (Keep in mind, along with a good supply of air, you should also have a air drier along with it)

In carpentry, some of the framing, depends on who you talk to... some air operated, some gas operated, some .22 caliber operated... each have their good and bad points.

for roofing nail guns, normally air.

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