Seeking Advice for Workshop…electric vs. air?

Natty Bumppo

5 year old buck +
Hey guys…I am going to put some money into my workshop this summer. I use it for timber framing, carpentry, and all kinds of automotive and tractor service work. Looking down the road I can see myself restoring a tractor at some point, or maybe restoring an old pick-up truck.

Can I ask you guys who have high-end shops what are the pros and cons of using and maintaining air tools vs. electric? Besides the obvious ability to do some sand-blasting and painting, does a a large air compressor and associated tools provide any benefit compared to comparable electric tools (grinders, impact wrenches, nibblers, cut-off tools).

Basically, I am trying to decide if I need an air compressor in my shop for my needs. And if so, do I need I large 60 gallon compressor, or can I do with a smaller, portable compressor.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
IMO air is the ticket for restoration work. You're eventually going to want a blasting cabinet. 60 gal min to run one.
It's also impossible to wet sand anything with electric:eek:
Air is the way to go. Look at any body shop or garage that's what they use.
Another vote for air.
Another vote for air......although I don't have a big capacity compressor nor many air tools these days. Some tools are better electric and many others better by air.

For my old assembly biz....we ran mostly air tools. (safer and better tool life) Early-on had lots of troubles getting the air supply to stay dry. Had water everywhere in our lines. Bought a refrigerated air dryer....and the problems were over. :)
Yea summer humidity can be a pain in the arse for water in your airlines. Most tanks have a bleeder valve on the bottom, just drain the air/water out the bottom of the tank once a day or less depending how much you are using the compressor.
Thanks guys. I appreciate you taking the time to respond. Sounds like I need to budget both space and cash for a compressor.
A use the heck out of a 30 gal. Does everything I need. Wheels on it are handy. It really gets a work out when winterizing sprinklers. Key is a good size motor to keep psi up on the tank.
Good luck
There's a time and place for air vs electric and most of the time it comes down to size or torque. Air sanders don't need much torque, air grinders suck. Air impacts don't generate torque by normal means - they use a piston and hammer to whack the shaft instead of brute torque to twist it like a motor does.

In my shop I have an old IR T30 compressor with 5hp motor and 80 gallon tank. I use it for the impact wrench (electric version is heavier, larger, and more expensive), blasting cabinet (no electric alternative), and air chisel (no electric alternative that I'm aware of). I have an air cut off wheel which gets used only when I can't fit the electric version into the space. I also have a couple die grinders; again, their electric counter parts are huge and heavy. Then there's the typical duties of compressed air like tires and the blow guns. I also have a specialized need for compressed air in that the tool retention release on my CNC mill is air - no way around that one.

Whatever you do, don't get an oil-less air compressor! The noise is deafening and they don't last nearly as long as an oil bathed pump head will. You can also make up for low pump output by adding additional storage capacity to your system. Old 100 gallon LP tanks work good once you get rid of the mercaptan stench.
Thanks again guys. I'm taking notes. Learned a lot!