Air Compressor Guide


April 12, 2013 By Mike Lee
Last updated on July 27, 2015

An air compressor is a must have tool for the diy mechanic, although I must admit it’s use for bodywork projects is what has made it worth while for me. We’ve listed some of the more popular air tools, spraying equipment and associated sundries and materials to give you an idea of what you can add to your purchase of an air compressor.

Air Compressor
Air Compressor
Your choice of air compressor should be decided by your intended use for both now and in the future. There are a few things to consider, such as the power rating, a 2hp compressor can put out around 7 CFM (cubic feet per minute) and a 3hp compressor can put out around 10.5 CFM. Also what tools are to be used, will the compressor produce enough pressure (PSI) and enough air, and run long enough (how large is the receiver “tank”). Tools that require long sustained use will require a larger tank and smaller short use tools can use a smaller tank (common sense really). The one I have is rated at 3hp and has a 50ltr tank, automatic Stop/Start control, 2 air outlets, 2 pressure gauges and does most anything we need. 5hp and 150ltrs would be better for those wishing to spray a whole car, depending on the type of spray gun being used.

Impact Wrench, Ratchet Wrench
and Impact Socket Set

Impact Wrench
Handy for those persistently awkward nuts and bolts

Spray Gun
Spray Gun
This is a basic spray gun, but you can do most any job with these. Check the CFM ratings. You can also buy high volume low pressure (HVLP) guns, but these require lots of air.

Orbital Sander
Orbital Sander
Err… for rubbing down your cars paint work or filler.

Various Air Compressor Tools
Various Air Compressor Tools
Just a few of my other air tools; tyre pressure inflater/gauge, oil guns, grease gun, waxoyl gun and needle scaler.


Spraying Safety:
Warning: Some car paints are hazardous to your health. Some can even penetrate through your skin and into your blood stream. Make sure you know what type of paint you are using and it’s hazards. Purchase protection if required (see below).

Chemical mask
Chemical mask
OK these are expensive, but what price is there on your health. You can buy half masks and full masks, depending on the paint you’re using.

Nitrile Gloves
Nitrile Gloves
Cheap, buy a large box, you can use them for just keeping your hands clean doing other jobs as well.

Spray Suit
Spray Suit
Again cheap to buy. Get a suit to protect you and keep you clean.

Dust mask
Dust mask
Wear one, even for small jobs and sanding.


Other Car Spraying Bits:
Paper Roll and Masking Tape
Paper Roll and Masking Tape
Cover up those bits that you don’t want spraying. Old newspapers work fine aswell, but cheap masking tape can be a pain, so don’t skimp on them.

Tak Rags
Tak Rags
Handy for getting those last bits of debris, grease and finger prints off the car before spraying.

Paint Filters
Paint Filters
Most people can’t be bothered, don’t blame me if you’re in the middle of spraying when your spray gun gets blocked!

Various Paint Preparations
Various Paint Preparations
Paint stripper, Zinc primer (helps protect the naked metal bodywork from rust), pre-wipe degreaser (paint will not adhere to a greasy surface, no matter how much rubbing down you think you have done) and paint thinners (you do realise that you have to mix that paint, don’t you?).

There are many more useful tools available to help with your bodywork project. Why not take a look at the Bodywork tools article.