uses for an air compressor?
December 7, 2005 4:51 PM   Subscribe

I had to buy an air compressor to blow out some outside plumbing for the winter. What are some other fun/useful things I can do with it? Already know about: airbrush painting, snowmaking, inflating tires. Others?
posted by stupidsexyFlanders to Home & Garden (18 answers total)
Balloon animals!
posted by Kickstart70 at 4:53 PM on December 7, 2005

Watch the Fight Club DVD sfx video. They used a short burst from an air compressor in Edward Norton's mouth to simulate the blast from a gun. He said it hurt like hell. Could be fun.

(you asked)
posted by devilsbrigade at 4:53 PM on December 7, 2005

You can use it to power a nail gun which is handy if you're doing any home improvement.
posted by nicwolff at 5:04 PM on December 7, 2005

Here's an air compressor's buyers guide from one vendor, which notes the wide variety of air-powered tools you can use. Not just nailers, but sanders, drills, and others. Of course you need to get the right one -- not just any compressor will work with any tool. But it's how professional contractors get more done.
posted by dhartung at 5:49 PM on December 7, 2005

Make Peking duck! And my dad liked to make dart guns that ran on compressed air. The one that really sticks out in my mind is actually one his friend made, that was a fire extinguisher refilled with compressed air, with a long metal tube to replace the normal funnel. This tinkering was fueled by narcotics, so I wouldn't really suggest doing that unless you really figure out what you're doing first, and even then it's pretty iffy from a safety standpoint. So probably just the duck.
posted by JackarypQQ at 5:58 PM on December 7, 2005

Some safety tips.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 6:04 PM on December 7, 2005

A Pneumatic Potato Gun is far, far more powerful than a propellent version. There are a few designs floating around the internet. Just be careful.
posted by tumble at 6:22 PM on December 7, 2005

"Honey, I had to buy the air compressor. The tool rental place doesn't rent them!" (Just saying...)

posted by bricoleur at 7:44 PM on December 7, 2005

I would think twice before preparing food with an air compressor -- there can be oil in the lines.
Many articulated-piston compressors are oil lubricated. That is, they have an oil bath that splash-lubricates the bearings and cylinder walls as the crank rotates. The pistons have rings that help keep the compressed air on top of the piston and keep the lubricating oil away from the air. Rings, though, are not completely effective, so some oil will enter the compressed air in aerosol form.

Having oil in the air isn't necessarily a problem. Many air tools require oiling, and inline oilers are often added to increase a uniform supply to the tool. On the down side, these models require regular oil checks, periodic oil changes and they must be operated on a level surface. Most of all, there are some tools and situations that require oilfree air. Spray painting with oil in the airstream will cause finish problems. And many new woodworking air tools such as nailers and sanders are designed to be oilfree so there's no chance of fouling wood surfaces with oil. While solutions to the airborne oil problem include using an oil separator or filter in the air line, a better idea is to use an oilfree compressor that uses permanently lubricated bearings in place of the oil bath. (from here)
posted by misterbrandt at 7:57 PM on December 7, 2005

Pnematic Hammers are awesome.

I have access to a really powerful compressor and it's the best tool I've ever used. Get the "dentist drill" attachement with the abrasive cutting wheel... that's a good one. Get a general pistol like head for it so you can deliver blasts of air precisely.

Hitting someone in the face with a puff of air (from a safe distance) provides hilarious reactions.

Did I mention the Pneumatic Hammer? Because it's just the coolest thing ever.

Oh, and projectile launchers of all sorts are fun, dangerous, and easy with an air compressor.
posted by phrontist at 8:08 PM on December 7, 2005

best way, by far, to iinstall and remove bicycle handlebar grips. lift at a corner, insert nozzle, and slide in either direction: on or off. beats the heck outta hairspray.
posted by RockyChrysler at 8:21 PM on December 7, 2005

You can get the full-monty air horn assembly off of a truck at the wrecking yard.

Don't honk indoors. Especially if people are working nearby with sharp tools. Just sayin'.
posted by Triode at 10:00 PM on December 7, 2005

Pump air into a brick kiln filled with charcoal briquets, and watch the bricks melt. Drip, drip.
posted by Aknaton at 10:42 PM on December 7, 2005

You magnificent bastards! These are great. Thanks!
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:20 PM on December 7, 2005

You can paint cars/buildings with a nice compressed air spraycan.

You can get impact wenches and rotary sanders that run on compressed air.

If you can find an old-style fire extinguisher that can be re-pressurized, you can make a bad-ass squirt gun. Mine shoots a stream of water 1cm in diamter 30-40 feet. Takes 100psi, holds 4.5 gallons. That's just using the original water-extinguisher.
posted by Four Flavors at 8:54 AM on December 8, 2005

I'm surprised no one has mentioned one of the most basic uses: cleaning the shop floor of dirt/dust/debris/shavings.
posted by Rhomboid at 9:24 AM on December 8, 2005

They used a short burst from an air compressor in Edward Norton's mouth to simulate the blast from a gun.


Be very cautious with high-pressure air: it can and will inject into surface blood veins, causing life-endangering embolisms. It can easily kill you. Do not use high-pressure air to "wash" your hands, do not playfully "goose" a co-worker with air, etc.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:19 AM on December 8, 2005

put the nozzle twixt your fingers to make many different, animal in distress sounds,can scare neighbors and children.
posted by hortense at 6:14 PM on December 8, 2005

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