The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on December 7, 1997 · Page 365
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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 365

West Palm Beach, Florida
Issue Date:
Sunday, December 7, 1997
Page 365
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Page 365 article text (OCR)

Air-powered tools put muscle into projects Power washing is a great way to clean your house in preparation for painting. By EDWARD R. LIPINSKI New York Times News Service Mention power tools and most people think of electric drills, routers and circular saws. These tools have one thing in common: They are all powered by electricity. In addition to electricity, there is another power source for tools, air. The air pres-: sure is generated by a compressor, which i in turn is powered by an electric or a gasoline motor. might consider buying your own. Compressors are rated by their size (designating horsepower, abbreviated hp) and air delivery. Air delivery is the volume of air (expressed in standard cubic feet per minute, abbreviated scfm) at a specific pressure (measured in pounds per square inch, psi). Small compressors have half hp motors that pump 1.5 scfm of air at 90 psi. These compressors are good for inflation tasks, light spray painting, and for cleaning and dusting. Medium compressors have 1 hp motors that can pump 4.0 scfm of air at 90 psi. These will power most air tools, and can be used for spray painting and sandblasting. Large compressors have 2 hp motors that can pump 7.8 scfm of air at 90 psi. These are good for high performance spray painting and with impa. Many motors are mounted on an air reservoir tank. The tank stores air, making it unnecessary to keep the compressor running continuously. The reservoir tank is a must if you work with air-power tools, but small inflation and cleaning jobs don't require a tank. If possible buy an oilless compressor. These have Teflon piston rings, molybdenum cylinders, low-friction coefficient materials. They are virtually maintenance free and are very durable. Air power can be very useful around the home, but high-pressure air can be dangerous. to install trim and molding. Nailers capable of driving galvanized roofing nails or wide-crown roofing staples are also available. For heavy-duty nailing, it's important to use a large compressor with either a three-eighths-inch- or half-inch-diameter connecting hose. If you use the smaller quarter-inch hose, you'll find that the nailer will not drive a nail each time you pull the trigger. Instead there will be a momentary lapse while the compressor charges the air reservoir in the tool. Another air powered tool is the impact wrench. Auto mechanics use them because they drive nuts and bolts quickly, and because they can deliver enough torque to loosen rusted nuts. They also have applications in carpentry. They can be very useful if you have to bolt a deck together or bolt new framing to an existing structure. Some air tools can be expensive to buy. Power nailers, for example, can cost from $350 to $500. Other air tools like power washers and sandblasters are more economical. You can usually find good deals at most rental outlets. If you use compressors much you want to use a unit rated at 1000 to 1500 psi; the larger units can produce a high pressure jet with enough force to break windows, cut into human skin or pulverize stucco. For cleaning the second story you can attach an extension wand to the pressure hose, but be careful working with the wand around overhead electrical lines. Another air-powered tool available at rental stores and home centers is the sandblaster. While this may seem like an ideal tool for removing paint from a masonry surfaces, it has a serious downside. If you attempt to sandblast a surface with lead paint, you can create a serious toxic hazard. For this reason, many communities prohibit the use of sandblasting except in carefully controlled areas. It is essential to check all local codes and regulations. Jobs like driving large nails to frame a wall, or stapling shingles across a roof can be physically demanding and time-consuming. Using an air-powered nailer is a good way to save time and labor. Special strips of nails, from 6d to 20d, are loaded into a slot in the nailer housing. Larger nails are used for construction work, while the smallest nails can be used Even if you have a full complement of electrical tools, there are some compelling reasons to consider air-powered tools. They can accomplish some heavy-duty tasks that would be difficult or impossible with electric tools. A paint sprayer is a typical air-powered tool. It allows you to paint intricate pieces like shutters or gingerbread trim or make quick work of big jobs like painting fences. Compressed air sprayers are also ideal for applying clear finishes like varnish or lacquer. They are not good, however, for all mediums. An electric airless sprayer is "i better choice for spraying latex paint, because it produces less overspray (the paint thrown past the work). Another useful air tool is the power washer. 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