They sometimes sit in shops waiting for flat tires, but the knowledgeable handyman knows they are so much more.

Air compressors quickly air up a flat, but the utility options for this versatile tool are numerous. Air tools, such as spray guns, impact wrenches, staplers, and nailers create quick work of tasks that normally take precision and muscle.



A properly sized air compressor with enough pressure and a large enough or small enough tank is invaluable in many circumstances. Air hose length is a consideration as well. Use this calculator to determine premium lengths.

How are air compressors versatile?

We used to take our portable air compressor in the back of the pickup when camping, so we didn’t have to blow up our air mattresses (note: it empties the average portable compressor). Maybe this is a bit excessive, as there are other options, but it worked.

More reasonable uses are that they can be used to quickly repair a board that comes loose from a privacy fence by either using the nailer or a penetrating stapler when appropriate.

A dusty car is remedied by using the blowing feature to remove dust from impossible-to-reach places. There are car detailing attachment sets available for these tasks.

Finish work is also eased with a finishing nailer, which shoots the finishing nails into wood deep enough that one can barely see where it entered. This is as opposed to using a hammer, which can scar the wood if not done properly.

Paint jobs of all sorts are accomplished quickly and more evenly with a paint sprayer. It also uses less paint, and if proper prep work is done to prevent over-spray, cleanup is easy.

So you have an air compressor, now what?

Say you have a 20-gallon air compressor. This means that you are not limited much by your tool choice. Smaller compressors are not great for jobs that require a lot of air, such as painting or blowing. A small tank is good for short bursts of air, such as small nailing or wrenching projects. A larger tank is less portable, but fairly large tanks have wheels and can be pushed around like a dolly cart.

Consider the type of compressor you have, and then consider the jobs you’d like to make easier. Is there an air tool available to make that happen? Will that tool work with your compressor? If your answer is yes, then know that most air tools are very affordable. They become irreplaceable staples in the garages of most handymen.