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Compressed air has long been utilized throughout the woodworking process, from the cutting of trees to furniture manufacturing. Air-operated tools are often easier to use and lighter than other woodworking tools, and with recent technological advances leading to better-performing air compressors, these machines have become even more vital in the day-to-day operations of companies engaged in various woodworking-related activities.


Woodworking pneumatics are used in various applications and systems, including the following:

  1. Automated nailing
  2. Controlled movement of wooden boards
  3. Power drill feed systems
  4. Power hot melt dispensing applications
  5. Coating surfaces with automated sprayers or air-powered hand tools
  6. Monitoring various aspects of production for quality control

The size of woodworking air compressors normally depends on the scale of the operation and the type of work involved, but the typical woodworking shop can make do with portable and more affordable machines to power their tools. Conversely, larger-scale operations may require larger and more expensive compressors.


Air compressors are used for a variety of mill working, lumber processing, and furniture manufacturing applications. More common lumber processing uses include:

  1. Holding logs with hold-down rolls

  2. Cutting logs to standard lumber length

  3. Cutting lumber for use in woodworking operations

  4. Sorting lumber by size and length into bins

When looking for an air compressor, make sure that it can handle the woodworking tool or equipment you’re planning to work with. If the air supplied by a compressor isn’t enough to meet the demands of your tools, this may result in the compressor breaking down, leading to a stoppage of operations. Knowing how to determine the appropriately-sized compressor for your specific needs is essential.

Some air compressors are lubricated with oil, while others do not use any oil at all. There are pros and cons to using both, but in general, the more popular oil-less air compressors are noisier but more durable. Air compressors also come in one- or two-stage pump models, with the latter type preferred for use in woodworking. This is due to the fact that most two-stage models can deliver higher pressures, are much quieter, and don’t heat up too much.

Portable compressors have one or two tanks containing between 4-6 gallons of air. These are ideal for nailing and other small tasks.

Mid-sized compressors can have tanks containing as large as 25 gallons and typically possess wheels, allowing them to be moved about. These machines can a wider range of pneumatic tools.

Larger air compressors have 60-gallon tanks and can handle nearly any type of application using a variety of woodworking tools.

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