Workshops have 2 things in common, dust and noise and the more you can reduce both of these, the healthier it is. We all know that controlling dust is a priority, but we seldom think much about controlling noise. Audiologists and Eat Doctors tell us the noise above 85 decibels will cause hearing loss and even something like a 90 decibel sustained noise, like the sound of an idling motor, over time will cause hearing loss. And we all know the the louder the noise the more damage it will do.
I always wear hearing protection (and eye protection) even when I am just making a quick small cut. It does 2 things for me, if helps preserve my hearing, and it makes me slow down, take my time so I don't cause myself an injury.
When I am cutting wood on the table saw, planing wood or jointing wood, it is often in runs. There are normally several pieces so for those I don't mind using hearing protection, but when all the cutting and sanding and trimming is done and now it's time for the assembly, NOW is the time I don't want to have wear hearing protection any longer. I want to enjoy the assembly process.
But if I am using a compressor, and one of my favorite air tools, a 23 gauge pinner, if the compressor is LOUD it's still imperative for me to wear hearing protection. And THAT is why I have updated my compressor to one of the new Quiet Versions that have come on the market in the past few years.
I recently sold my older very loud compressor to a roofer, who uses it outside and doesn't care because it's far away from him and suits his work perfectly. For me, in my workshop it was way too loud ...
My old unit, even though it was classified as portable, at 60 pounds it wasn't all that portable, and it so noisy that it meant having to wear hearing protection all the time because you never knew when the unit would re-cycle.
There are a number of Quiet compressors on the market, and I'm sure they are all very good machines. The reason I selected the California Air Tools 1610A was for a few reasons. First of all, it was quite, around 65 decibels which is great. I also liked that it only weighted 35 pounds AND that the storage tank is aluminum, which means it won't rust if I forget to release the air out once in a while.
Another important factor for me, even though I am mostly only using the compressor for pinners and staplers, I wanted one that could handle a bit more if I needed on rare occasions, but mostly it needed to have a maximum of 120 pounds, because I use it to pump up the times on my bicycle, that I use almost daily. Very important factors for me.
When I was checking out compressors, at one of my favorite tool stores KMS Tools, as I was looking, one of the sales guys came to help me, and am I glad he did. I told him what I was looking for and he showed me one quite compressor, plugged it in and we watched as the tank slowly filled. Then he showed me another, similar version, and again the tank filled slowly. Then he showed me the California Air 1610A, still quite, but the tank was filling up in half the time. The reason, it has 2 pumps driven by one motor. This means from zero air in the tank, until it is filled and the motor cuts out - time is less than a minute. That was twice as fast as the others, and the storage tank was slightly larger.
I really need to thank the staff at KMS Tools, they knew their stuff and helped me find exactly what I needed.
I know this little compressor is not for everyone. If you are using air sanders, cutoff tools, larger framing guns and similar tools, you need a BIG compressor with high duty cycle and a large storage tank. Small portable compressors will simply not work under high use, high volume air requirement situations.
Here are some links to some air tools that you may find useful ...
California Air Tools
Copyright - Colin Knecht