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Old 9th March 2009, 09:24 PM   #1
taj is offline taj
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Default compressor tools for speaker building

I've been thinking about buying a compressor and assorted pneumatic tools that I intend to use for speaker building as well as home remodeling and what-not.

So my question is this: What is the least expensive option (product model or type) that will give me acceptable results and last a decent enough time. I hate crappy quality tools. But I don't have much spare cash either, so I have to be careful to balance the two.

For speaker building, I'd use it for occasional finish nailing, and I'd love to spray paint (or whatever) with it. For other home uses, I would expect medium duty nailing, not framing, but certainly lots of smaller stuff. I'm a serious DIY'er and it's not limited to amps and speakers. I just gutted and rebuilt my home damn house. But the trim work is a major PITA with hand tools. The prefinished hardwood quarter-rounds in the kitchen are damn near IMPOSSIBLE to nail by hand.

So all compressor & air tools advice is welcome! I don't know much about it, especially the spraying.

..Todd
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Old 10th March 2009, 12:10 AM   #2
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Todd:
I have a small compressor and have done a bit of spraying of guitars and the like. For spraying, you will need a whole bunch of stuff to protect yourself, especially if you plan to spray non-waterbased products. Some sort of spray booth is pretty well a must. If you have neighbours close by, you will have complaints about odors as folks are getting very sensitive about 'health issues'- while they watch active people on TV.
Many are switching to HVLP equipment for spraying anyway.
An air nailer is a very handy thing, especially if you don't have three hands. That said, I generally don't put nails in anything much I build.
For dealing with sheet goods I like to use biscuits for alignment and glue em up with clamps.
Air sanders are very nice (light) but you need a big compressor to drive most of them.
A compressor is nice for blowing up car tires and blowing dust out the shop window as well.
Look for one that isn't too noisy- I heard a nice Makita comp last month that was fairly quiet. Most of the 'oilless' models are extremely loud.
Cheers
John
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Old 10th March 2009, 12:28 AM   #3
taj is offline taj
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Hey VictoriaGuy,

Thanks for replying.

How big a compressor is required for spraying? A Home Depot "expert" told me I need a pretty big system for that. But I'm just planning to do speakers, not cars or houses, so a small system is probably fine. How big is big enough?

Yes, I read that the oil free compressors are usually crappy and loud. But other than that I'm not sure what to look for.

I can deal with the safety and the neighbour issues.

..Todd
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Old 10th March 2009, 12:53 AM   #4
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taj

As VictoriaGuy says, buy the biggest cfm (cubic feet per minute) you can afford. I would say it's better to buy a used "serious" compressor than a new cheapie. That said, if there's any damage or bad rust to the tank walk away. If it's under pressure, run!

Air sanders take a large volume of air to run well, and the first time you run low on pressure when spraying, the gun will spit rather than spray. Never good.

A larger tank will take longer to come up to pressure but will give a more usable volume. You dont want the motor running constantly when a tool is in use, it wont last long at that.

Spend some on a good line moisture trap and a pressure regulator also.

One last thing, be very careful with compressed air near your skin. One bubble forced into a cut or pushed through your skin and that's the last speakers you will build.

John
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Old 10th March 2009, 03:22 AM   #5
taj is offline taj
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Quote:
Originally posted by john blackburn
taj

I would say it's better to buy a used "serious" compressor than a new cheapie. That said, if there's any damage or bad rust to the tank walk away. If it's under pressure, run!

Spend some on a good line moisture trap and a pressure regulator also.

John

Great information. Thanks John.

So which are the good-reputation brands, and which are the walk-away-fast brands?

..Todd
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Old 10th March 2009, 04:55 AM   #6
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Bostitch air tools - to build my house I had everything from framing to roofing nailer to brad nailer.

As to compressors - check the Makita line. Found those the most reliable.
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Old 10th March 2009, 05:55 AM   #7
dangus is offline dangus  Canada
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I have some experience with air compressors and tools. The compressor I use the most was put together from a swap meet Sanborn pump and a 1/2 HP motor I fished out of a dumpster. It runs off 120V, makes a satisfactory thumping sound and makes lights flicker, and probably does about 2 to 3 CFM. That's not enough to run high-CFM air tools like a die grinder, sanders, or sand blaster for more than very brief bursts. It's fine for impact wrenches or an air ratchet, and painting, at least with my antique DeVilbiss CH spray gun and a Taiwanese touch-up gun. I also picked up a little direct-drive compressor in a moment of weakness... that thing makes an ear-splitting noise and overheats if I exceed the miniscule duty cycle. Good for pumping up tires if I'm patient, and portable. Probably OK to run an air brush.

So, anyway, avoid direct drive and/or oil-less compressors, since they are noisy and are reputed to have short lives. Belt drive with a cast-iron pump is good, and a motor that is rated in real horsepower, not "compressor duty". If you want to do sandblasting or run die grinders and sanders, a 5 to 7 HP compressor running off 220V is required. Two stage compressors shouldn't be necessary unless you really need high pressures like 175 PSI; single-stage, multicylinder compressors are said to be equally effective at normal working pressures.

HVLP painting may require a bigger than average compressor. Maybe a shop that rents compressors can provide better advice than a hardware store.

There should be some deals out there now on portable compressors now that the construction boom has imploded.

For sanding and grinding you're better off to buy an electric tool. Pneumatic power is inefficient and costly.
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Old 10th March 2009, 06:19 AM   #8
taj is offline taj
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Thanks guys. Lots to chew on...

It looks to me like 4cfm @90psi with 4 gal tank is about the max one can get without moving to 220v. I don't want to use 220v without a workshop. It's too inconvenient for day-to-day stuff.

So, is 4cfm enough for a small spray gun? I know it's fine for small-ish nailers.

Yup, the tool shops seem to be blowing stuff out cheap. I haven't looked for used ones yet, but I'm not sure I'm knowledgeable enough about them to be going that route. I'd be worried about getting a lemon. At least new ones have a warranty and a store to plead with.

What about spray guns? What to look for for versatile speaker spraying?


..Todd
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Old 10th March 2009, 06:38 AM   #9
rjb is offline rjb  New Zealand
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Don't get over enthusiastic about air tools for speaker building. The problem is the stiff air hose makes it difficult to move particularly the cutting tools accurately. You still need electric jigsaw, router, sander etc.

That said, I use my brad nailer an awful lot when speaker building. So much so I hardly use any clamps or screws now.The thin 50mm nails drive below the surface with minimum surface damage, and hold while the glue sets. The very small holes are easily filled and easy to conceal if painting.

I prefer not to paint with an air gun, but others do. My surfaces are either veneered, or decorative, but never very high gloss.
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Old 10th March 2009, 06:58 AM   #10
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Todd-
I notice you are in BC-BusyBee has a small Makita on sale right now-Mod MAC700- for $200. It is quiet.

How much air you need for spraying depends on the gun you get, so you need to research your compressor requirements from the gun end back.
Different guns have different air requirements, and the better guns often need less air, it seems. You need a completely different setup to spray paint rather than lacquer.
Guns:I got good advice from a place in SK- Wood Essence- and bought a (Walcom)gun from them. A decent gun will not be cheap, though lots of folks get decent results with cheap 'jamb guns' from places like Princess Auto. My Walcom gun runs fine with a 4cfm90psi compressor.
See: http://www.woodessence.com/walcomdefault.html for a start- excellent guy to do business with in my experience. He answers email and will talk on the phone as well.

That said, I would not spray speakers, and I have the gun and compressor. There are lots of simpler/friendlier finishes to use if you are just doing speakers as a hobby. Most of the tougher modern lacquers are nasty to work with - real chemistry set stuff. If you are thinking about more production, I'd suggest arranging to have the spraying done off-site, by a pro. (make friends with an autobody guy who needs some small jobs). Many 'boutique' guitar builders send their instruments 'out' for finishing nowadays, BTW.

Cheers
John
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