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, mscdirect.com, 800-645-7270.
This story originally appeared in American Woodworker September 2006, issue #123.
September 2006, issue #123
Purchase this back issue.