Types of Air Compressor Based on Size and Uses

An air compressor is one of the primary tools needed for doing power nailing or bodywork on vehicles. 

Most of us enjoy puttering around our garage doing small repairs. 

If you are only replacing alternators and doing other small repairs, a simple socket set will allow you to do most of the repairs.

But some of the best-paying and most satisfying work is in body repair. It is truly fulfilling to take a vehicle that is heavily rusted or damaged and repair it back to normal condition. 

When you have this skill set, it can dramatically increase the resell value of the car. It also means that you and your family will enjoy beautiful, fully-repaired vehicles at all time. 

One of the biggest challenges with mastering bodywork is that you need the correct tools. You’ll need grinders, cutters, welders and spray painting equipment. 

None of these tools are especially cheap. As you get into the field of bodywork, be prepared to spend more to get the right equipment. 

Size of Air Compressor Needed

The most important consideration before purchasing an air compressor is that you need to determine the size of the compressor that you need. 

If you are just running tools like a cordless impact wrench or power shears, then you won’t need as much airflow. You can get away with as little as 5-10 cubic feet per minute of airflow. 

However, if you are hoping to do auto painting as part of your repair work, then you will need a much larger compressor. 

For basic auto painting, you will need 9-12 CFM of airflow. You will also need aa larger tank that allows you to paint the entire car in one take without stopping for it to refill. 

If you are doing smaller projects, you might be able to get away with a 30-gallon tank. However, most home garages invest in a larger 60 gallon or even 90-gallon air tank. 

These aren’t cheap, by any means, but they quickly pay for themselves in the highly professional-quality work you can produce. 

Small pancake compressors are much too small for this type of work. 

A Worthy 30-Gallon Compressor 

The Campbell Hausfeld VT6258 is a strong consideration for the home mechanic who is wanting to do more auto bodywork. 

The small size of this compressor means that it will fit anywhere in your garage. As this article points out, They even make a horizontal model so that you slip it under your workbench for ultimate space-saving. 

Since it is only a 30-gallon compressor, it does not require the 220-volt circuitry that a lot of the bigger compressor motors require. 

However, this one can put out 10 CFM of airflow. That is a lot of air for a compressor this small. You can smoothly run a low-volume-high-pressure (LVHP) spray nozzle at this rating. 

It will also easily run impact wrenches, ratchets, and other tools like metal shears and some sanders and buffers. 

This is an excellent compressor for entry-level bodywork. You can start here and then buy the pneumatic tools you need. 

After you get quite a bit of experience under your belt, you can upgrade to one of the other models. 

Cheap But Usable Commercial Compressor

One of the top considerations for an auto body shop would be the PK-6060V Air Puma Compressor. Puma is not as well known of a brand as something like Ingersoll Rand. 

However, it delivers the power where you need it. The two-stage compressor enables you to get a higher pressure than single-stage compressors can offer. 

It also delivers 11 CFM of airflow, which is dramatically higher than many other models. 

The higher airflow will not only power your paint sprayer but can also power an air-powered sander or even a sandblaster. 

This might be the type of tool that you need to put on a credit card and work off over several months. However, once you get it installed, you’ll be impressed with how quickly you can work without wasting time waiting for your compressor to charge. 

How To Gain Auto Body Experience

As you start practicing your auto body skills, expect to spend a lot of time watching youtube and attempting to implement what you see. 

One of the best things you can do is to buy a box of donuts for your local junkyard employees. Talk to them about the cars that they are getting ready to send in for crushing. You may be able to buy doors, fenders, and quarter panels for a fraction of the standard pricing. 

Use these pieces of scrap metal to practice on. 

From there, you can start hunting for damaged vehicles on craigslist. Buy them, fix them up, and resell them. You might only recoup your initial investment, but it will give you a lot of experience for an extremely low investment. 

How To Get More Work

One of the biggest challenges, when you are starting a business, is to get enough clients in the door. 

After you practice a little bit at home, you can easily apply for an entry-level position at a body shop. It doesn’t take but a couple of years to become a highly skilled body mechanic. 

As your skills develop, start doing more work on the side. You’ll start to develop a reputation based on the quality of your work, and that will help you down the road when you are ready to go solo. 

From there, you can try to start your own shop, or approach some of the existing shops to see if they will sell to you. If you can purchase an existing shop, you’ll have the jumpstart of being able to service their insurance accounts and dealerships. 

From there, it is a matter of getting the word out about your business. From car detailers to tow companies, you want to shake their hand and make sure that they know you are the perfect business for them to send their clients to. 

Good auto body specialists are always in high demand, and it won’t be long until you have more work than you know what to do with, and you have to start hiring your own staff. 

It all starts by getting the right tools and beginning to practice your skills.

Jerry Jhonson

Jerry Johnson is a tech & tool geek who loves to talk, discuss and review different tools used for our day to day life. All the tools reviews and guides described in this site are completely from his personal experience and own observations.