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AW Extra - Plumb Your Shop With Air


Plumb Your Shop With Air

Flexible Hose Saves Time and Money

by Richard Tendick

Moments after I tripped over the air hose and dropped an armload of boards, I decided it was time to plumb my shop for air.  I was tired of having 50 ft. of hose on the floor and dashing back to the compressor to adjust the line pressure. I knew a permanent system could deliver the right amount of air where and when I needed it—without a big hose snaked dangerously across the floor. 

Every article I read on plumbing air lines advised using either iron or copper.  Because my basement shop holds a lot of obstructions, using iron or copper would result in a whole lot of threading or soldering of short little pieces. Besides, copper and iron fittings are costly. 

Ultimately, I decided on a solution I had used many times in my 27 years as a manufacturing plant engineer. When installing printing presses and other large machines, I used rubber air hose as a flexible pipe to route compressed air in and through the equipment without having to do a lot of complicated plumbing.

That approach would certainly work with all the obstructions in my shop. I chose a rubber hose rated for 250 pounds per square inch (psi), plenty for my little pancake compressor. The 1/2-in. inside diameter meant no reduction in air pressure would occur along the length of the run.


(Note: Product availability and costs are subject to change since original publication date.)

MSC Industrial Supply,, 800-645-7270.

This story originally appeared in American Woodworker September 2006, issue #123.

September 2006, issue #123

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BRYANT BETSILL wrote re: Plumb Your Shop With AIr
on 10-23-2009 3:24 PM

CONGRADULATIONS!!! You guys got this one right and spot on. ..  I was fearing you were going to advocate using PVC piping. The manufactures of PVC shudder evertime they see PVC being used for compressed air lines. Just because pipe and plastic both carry water, does not mean they are both built or rated to carry air. Think of it this way. If an water line of PVC suddenly erupted like from a hammer blow, how far would that splinter fly? Not far. Now consider what does a splinter of PVC become when flung by compressed air of say 120 pounds? A flying razor blade, no?

fatboy03 wrote re: Plumb Your Shop With AIr
on 11-10-2009 3:47 PM

Don't be paranoid about using PVC for airlines.  PVC is reletively safe up to about 120 psi in a shop (out of direct sunlight.  fatboy03