Sunday, October 11, 2009

Tools: Air vs. Electric

I mentioned yesterday that I'm trying to decide whether or not to buy an air compressor for the basement shop. I have one in the hangar that I could bring home, but I then wouldn't have a way to air up Papa's tires. I'll also need it to be in the hangar when it comes time to rivet the larger parts/structures. Carrying it back and forth is simply too much bother, especially when you consider the issues that I have with my lower back.

On the other hand, compressed air in the basement would allow me to use the blind rivet pneumatic rivet puller rather than the hand-powered rivet puller. It would also allow the use of air drills. That's not as inconsequential as you might imagine. Air drills are smaller and lighter, and for tight corners nothing beats the little angle drill that I bought last year. The lightness comes at a cost, though: you have an air hose trailing around behind you, and the noise of the compressor is sure to generate complaints from the white collar workers (aka: family members) in the office space above the Production Floor.

Without compressed air, the next best choice is a battery-powered drill. And for the most part, that's just fine. The only problem with battery-powered drills is their size. Well, and to some degree their weight. That big, clunky battery that they carry around like Jennifer Lopez's butt gets in the way and makes the drill somewhat unwieldy. Figuring that surely the new battery technology that allows for ever-tinier cell phones may have worked its way into power tools since the time when I last bought one, I did some internet searching this morning and found this:

That's the ticket! And at $130, it's less than what I would pay for a beat-up used air compressor before all of the hoses and attachments. It's only a 1/4" chuck, but on the rare (or non-existent for all I know) occasion when I need a 3/8" drill, I doubt that the size of the drill will matter that much if I can just use a uni-bit. And besides, I already have a 3/8" drill anyway.

And then there's this, flagged as "Coming Soon" on Milwaukee's web site:

Well then. That leaves only the question of pneumatic vs. manual rivet pulling. I'll have to pull a few to see if I even care about that or not.


Unknown said...

You might post up on OVRV site to see if anyone has a pneumatic puller they aren't using for awhile. It always seems someone is finishing a plane there. Good luck, Dave!

DaveG said...

I have the puller, just not a 2nd air compressor. This is one of the costs of attempting to split the work between the comfort of the basement and the harsh conditions of the hangar.

I think if nothing else, a compressor in the basement is going to be too loud. It won't kill be to pull a few rivets. In theory, anyway.

Ted said...

So far 99+% of my holes were drilled using battery powered drill. I did not use my air drill for the same reasons you already mentioned. I use this one:

The weight does not bother me at all. The battery charges up very fast and one battery will last a few hundred holes. Of course I use it for screws too. Just dial the low torque setting. You don't want a oil less compressor in your house. It will damage both your ears and your marriage. As I told you before, it does take that much time to pull rivets. Most of your time are spent preparing parts! You do need a compressor bigger than 24 gal. Otherwise, it is going to run all the time. Pulling all the rivets by hand will definitely strengthen your hand muscles if not damage them. After a few rivets you are going to be tired! Do buy a pair of GOOD work gloves. Without it the skin on your hand will hurt by even the cleco plier! Ask me how I know. After building an airplane my hand grip really improved.

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