Project Garage Part VI: Air Tools


Air cutting toolAir die grinder
The Central Pneumatic (CP) 5490 cut-off tool uses a 3″ standard cutting disk.  It consumes 4cfm at 90psi required pressure.The CP 875 90 degree angle die grinder can fit where inline die grinders can’t reach.  It uses a ball bearing motor, has a 1/4″ collet, and consumes 4cfm at 90psi.

An air cutting tool or die grinder comes in handy often. I’ve used one to drill a hole in the firewall, remove a stubborn bolt, or for cutting piping, but they also work great for smoothing out sharp edges or polishing and grinding. Air die grinders work well for small holes and cuts, deburring, and grinding. The Central Pneumatic air die grinder kit has a 90 degree angle head, uses 4 cfm to operate and spins at 21,000 rpm- if only I could redline half as high! It also includes 1/4″ and 1/8″ collets (where you insert the grinding tips), three aluminum oxide mounted grinding stones, and two wrenches. The similar 16 piece kit includes all of the above except the wrenches, but has 10 grinding stones and a carrying case.  It also has a trigger lever with safety latch so you don’t accidentally start it up and lose a finger. 

IR air die grinder
The CP 47050 compact inline die grinder shares similar specifications to the above, but comes with an 1/8″ and 1/4″ collets, three aluminum oxide mounted grinding stones, and two wrenches.

The Ingersoll Rand 301 die grinder is just 5″ long and has 1/4″ collet chuck, self-locking throttle and ball bearing construction. Match with one of their die grinder kits such as “-K”, which includes 10 mounted grinding tips, or the “-MK”, which includes a few coarse and medium grit surface conditioning pads. Northern Industrial sells a complete die grinder kit which includes a cut-off tool and right angle die grinder with 20,000 rpm free speed, 2 discs, 5 grinding stones, 5 buffers, 3 collet wrenches, 1/4″ NPT air inlet, and carrying case. Both tools require 90 psi at 4 cfm and 3 cfm, respectively. The Central Pneumatic 3″ extended reach air cutoff tool cuts offer an additional 5″ of access so you can cut through mufflers, piping, broken engine studs, and other steel or metal pieces. 

If you’re lazy or like the all in one stop shop, there are a number of pneumatic tool kits priced from Flinstones slow to turbocharged.  These kits typically include a 1/4″ die grinder, air hammer, 3/8″ ratchet wrench, 1/2″ impact wrench, and sanding drum as well as various grinding stones, collets, blow gun, adaptors, chisels, and spanner wrenches all in a pretty little carrying case (man purse). The Ingersoll Rand mechanics air tool kit has a 1/4″ ratchet wrench and a 1/2″ drive impact wrench as well as 5 impact sockets, an adaptor, and a case.  Don’t use regular, chrome sockets on impact tools, and especially not with high torque settings.  They can end up damaged or worse, shatter and take out an eye!

Impact wrench socketsAir hose reel
You can never have too many sockets!  Standard and metric sets from Harbor Freight are cheap and will keep you from wasting time looking for the size you need.  These Pittsburgh brand are black phosphate coated (inhibits rust) deep wall sockets so you can reach bolts on longer studs.A wall mounted hose reel can usually hold 50-100 feet of air hose.  Mounted in the center of the garage, the hose reel allows you to use air tools for virtually every corner of the garage and keeps the hose from getting twisted up.  This small investment has saved me lots of aggravation! 

There are many other air tools that benefit house projects as well. From screwing in drywall to building a deck to sanding a furniture project to installing hardwood floors, air tools let you work hard without working you hard. The pneumatic polisher kits can be used on metal, wood, or plastic to remove small scratches or flaws on base and clear coat paint jobs.  You can buy cutoff replacement wheels for all sorts of jobs from metal to masonry. Invest in some air drills, hammers, chisels, and saws and fix up your house as much as you do your car. 

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