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What size air compressor ?

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  • What size air compressor ?

    I've finally gotten tired of trying to brush the chips off my mill/lathe, parts, etc., and would like to get a small air compressor.
    What is the minimum size needed? And do I need a tank?

    Size is not a big consideration, but $$ is.
    Noise shouldn't be a huge factor, as I can put it in my garage, which is next to the basement, so there will be a wall between me and it. On the other hand, my dining room will be right over the unit, so that has to be taken into account.

    Any advice will be appreciated.


  • #2
    Have you tried using a small shop vac yet? I installed one on the wall next to my bridgeport and use it all the time to clean up the chips. I would think blowing them with air will just make a mess?



    • #3

      3phase is right; use a vacumn. Using compressed air drives
      chips into places where they're not wanted. I find a shop vac
      w/ a 2+" hose to work really well, and it doesn't make a mess
      of the rest of the garage or propel chips into anyone's eyes.

      - Bart
      Bart Smaalders


      • #4
        I'm going against the grain. I have worked in shops for 25 years and have never seen anybody use a vacuum to clean up chips, graphite yes chips no. I use one daily on a mill and the thing is 10 years old and still in great shape. If all you want is a compressor to blow off chips get a small unit with about a 2-5 gallon tank on it. Like these:

        Air compressors can blow chips into areas where there not wanted but I have never tore up a machine from this. You're not suppose to go nuts with the thing, just a quick blow on the table or part to clear the chips. These can be had from Harbor freight, Lowes or Home depot or homier for $60-$80 or there abouts.


        • #5
          I vote for a heavy-duty shop vac. You're going to have to clean the chips up sometime, anyway, and blowing them all over the shop first just makes it harder.
          Try to make a living, not a killing. -- Utah Phillips
          Don't believe everything you know. -- Bumper sticker
          Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects. -- Will Rogers
          There are lots of people who mistake their imagination for their memory. - Josh Billings
          Law of Logical Argument - Anything is possible if you don't know what you are talking about.
          Don't own anything you have to feed or paint. - Hood River Blackie


          • #6
            I worked in air hose happy shops all my life and I could never understand the economic benefit from blowing chips off the table to sweep up later. It's a matter of econimics and housekeeping. Your spouse certainly wouldn't allow you to air gun the dust out of the living toom. An air blast distributes the debris over a wider area. A vac concentrates it in a bag or cannister.

            There are certainly times and places for an air blast but general chip movement isn't one of them. I've dismantled many machine tools in my day and I could easily tell if there was good compressed air discipline at the home shop by the amount of chips in the sumps and inner spaces. Ideally the operator will have an cheap paintbrush or a corn broom, an air hose, a shop vac, AND the wits to when to use which.

            Larger machine tools makes larger chips that will not simply vaccuum but small lathes and mills can be cleaned with a shop vac very easily especially if the operator is skilled at chip control.

            As for negligently blowing chips around it isn't safe. They fly everywhere and under everything. Another point is it makes the other guy's job that much harder.

            [This message has been edited by Forrest Addy (edited 12-17-2005).]


            • #7
              Air hoses are great for blowing wood sawdust around and making big clouds, but there's nothing like getting a face full of cutting oil when you shoot it at machine tools. It's so easy to make up special vacuum hose attachments you can use to suck chips out of T-slots, etc.

              Here's my little T-slot tool:



              Frank Ford


              • #8
                I agree with most of the others about using a vacuum instead of the air hose to clean up with. The shop I work in uses air hoses and lets just say that it isn't pretty. I use a 1 gallon shop back that sells for 19.95 I believe from walmart and it works great for mill chips and I figure if I burn it up or ruin it I will just pick up another. One with a bigger hose would be good too though. I also use covers over my table that run up against the sides of my vise when milling to help keep the t slots clean.
                Jonathan P.


                • #9
                  Thanks to all for the input.

                  I've got a shop vac but never thought to use it for chips. I can see where it would clean up loose chips on a machine, but I also need something for blowing chips off parts, out of tapped holes, etc.

                  I've worked in and around shops for many years, and I've never seen one that didn't use air for cleanup. Anything else just takes too long.



                  • #10

                    I use one of these. They mount to the wall so they don't take up any space. It sucks the chips out of the T-slots easily, and also cleans out taped holes, etc.. I manually pick up all of the large strings and vacuum up the rest with this.. It comes with a narrow adapter that fits inside T-slots so it's perfect.

                    Grizzy is selling them for $69. Yahoo:




                    • #11
                      <font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I worked in air hose happy shops all my life and I could never understand the economic benefit from blowing chips off the table to sweep up later. It's a matter of econimics and housekeeping. </font>
                      Well thats easy, a 2 second air blast every 10-15 minutes will clean off the part or table and then 5 minutes at the end of the day to sweep the floor. Air blasts are the only economic way to clean an average mill up, the lathe is different as alot of the chips are stringy and the shop vac won't work on them anyway. You can do what you want but I can run a mill all day long for 15 years and never wear a single thing on the machine with an air hose (an idiot can break an anvil) and clean my machine all day long and at the end of the day sweep it up and put it in a garbage can and not have wasted 15 minutes. By the time you sweep it with a brush, suck it up in a shop vac, clean the shop vac evey other day. Replace the shop vac at least once a year, you have wasted a butt load of time and money. Sorry just stating fact, the air blast is the most economical way to deal with chips on the average milling machine. If your machines are placed right the mess can be kept to a minumum. Besides you have to sweep the floor anyway, your mill will automatically throw chips on it.

                      [This message has been edited by Mcruff (edited 12-17-2005).]


                      • #12
                        Has anyone thought about doing a central vac system in the shop? My folks used to have one in there house and that thing would outperform any shop vac I have ever used. I use a shop vac but hate dragging it around. A central system where I could plumb my benches and run a line to each machine would be great. At least I think it would be.
                        James Kilroy


                        • #13
                          We probably agree, McGruff, except in emphasis and scale. I make no assertions to absolutes. Most home shop users make small amounts of fine chips easliy handled with a shop vac. The vac I use on my turret mill and lathe is 18 years old and it gets a fresh hose every time I melt a hole in it too big to patch with duct tape.

                          The inevitable haywire has to be handled differently but the small regular milling chips and the 6's and 9's from the lathe can be readily vacced up as they're made at no cost to productivity.

                          In a production setting the chip volume can overwhelm a simple shop vac with even a small increase in scale. 5 spindle HP seems to be the upper limit.

                          Moving up in scale to full HP cuts in a 75 HP. 72" King vertical boring mill machining a big forging: the chips would fit about 2 to a coffee mug and are far too heavy to be shifted with a blast from an air hose. Here you need a helper shoveling chips full time.

                          The small to mid-sized machine benefit from judicious use of an air hose particularly for machines equipped with effective chip enslosures and a chip conveyor. Even then only for gaging or some other open door activity.

                          You have to keep the boss happy. You handle chips and clean up as you go while the spindle is cutting. You clean up parts and de-burr only when the next part is in cycle. You don't stop anything to tidy up unless you're waiting for a fresh batch of parts.

                          Remember my words: "Ideally the operator will have an cheap paintbrush or a corn broom, an air hose, a shop vac, AND the wits to when to use which." In the home shop where the space is small, machines are compact, and the operator maybe less than skilled and working without a mentor a shop vac is a better choice.

                          In a roomy commercial shop ete the McGruff school of thought should prevail.

                          In the center bay of a heavy machine shop where the big machine tools dwell, there's no replacing a fit, hard-working helper when chips by the ton per hour have to be handled with shovels, hooks, and hoes. Air hoses one man can handle are plain inadequate for this setting.