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codrus (Forum Supporter)
codrus (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
2/15/24 10:28 a.m.

Batteries in the trailer for use at the track, air tools in the garage where I've got the space and permanent power supply.

kb58 UltraDork
2/15/24 10:42 a.m.

This is timely. I'm designing a power draw bar for my mill instead of paying $800 for one. Virtually all the commercial ones run on air, and being too lazy to wait for the compressor to build pressure, this project will use a battery-powered impact wrench. It also aligns with the reality that air tools seem to be going away (in home garages at least), so the electric draw bar project should have wider interest.

Overall, I'm gradually giving up using air in the shop. Even blowing things off happens rarely because again, the compressor has to be turned on. Also, being in an ordinary two-car garage, using an air gun just moves stuff from places it's not wanted to other places where it's also not wanted. So, yeah, the air tools and eventually the compressor will be going away - more space for other stuff!

CAinCA Dork
2/15/24 10:49 a.m.

I never use my air tools anymore. I bought the Dewalt DCF900B 1/2 drive 1000ft/lb impact last year because my 3/8 drive wouldn't always crack the lug nuts on my cars. Frankly, if it won't break something loose I'd rather take it to a shop and let them deal with it. We don't have to deal with salt corrosion out here. 

ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter)
ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter) Dork
2/15/24 11:01 a.m.

Haven't touched an air tool in probably 5 years.  My Makita 18v impact is easily as powerful as the air impact I had been using. Sold my large air compressor and replaced it with a mini pancake compressor from the Hammer Store. I don't think I've actually used it though. 

Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter)
Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter) UltimaDork
2/15/24 11:10 a.m.
Keith Tanner said:

In reply to Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter) :

I'm talking about my home garage :) I have Ryobi electrics to as well (I have a few cordless drills for some reason) but they're not the latest. Nice thing about air, there's no need to keep buying the latest version that has another 2V :) What do 6 Ryobi batteries and a multi-charger run, about $500?

Well, the charger is currently $52 on DTO. The batteries were various sales and promos or they came with tools, I don't know the total, but it wasn't that much.

The Ryobi stuff isn't the best quality. I started making the switch to them about a year ago, and I've already had a couple of things fail. But it's cheap, capable enough for me, and there's a huge selection of tools that use the ONE+ battery. Also, that battery interface hasn't changed in 20+ years, though the batteries themselves have gotten better.

xflowgolf (Forum Supporter)
xflowgolf (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
2/15/24 11:11 a.m.

Since buying the M18 Fuel Milwaukee 1/2" impact, the compressor rarely comes on except for tires or blowing something off.  

Nockenwelle Reader
2/15/24 11:14 a.m.

Air is still my go-to. Maybe because that's what I grew up with, maybe because I'm too cheap to throw down the coin for all the Milwaukee tools I would need to replace them. Air does not run out when you've got a nasty, large, rusted bolt threaded halfway out, or when you are halfway up the step drill putting a hole in the firewall while upside down under the dash laying on the cage bars.

Now, having said that, I have spent some time working in my brother's garage who uses electric for everything possible. I do far prefer the electric ratchets over the air version, and I should use my M18 driver more than I do instead of the manual ratchet because I too have wrists that are expressing dissatisfaction with 25 years of wrenching abuse.

Cousin_Eddie (Forum Supporter)
Cousin_Eddie (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
2/15/24 11:21 a.m.

I have a big drawer of Milwaukee electric tools.

But, I still run an 80 gallon compressor in my shop because I use my blast cabinet about daily. 

Also I do a lot of suspension work and frequently use a big nasty air hammer. 

And, a man needs to be able to use a blowgun if he mechanics much. I wouldn't want to work at a bench without air and a blow gun there by my side.

A little painting here and there like most guys

Seating beads on tires, beyond the normal inflation needs. 

I cannot ever foresee me not needing a significant air supply and tools with the types of projects I do. 


dculberson MegaDork
2/15/24 11:25 a.m.

I finally sold my 80 gallon air compressor to my brother because I hadn't used it in so long. With the proceeds I bought a small quiet Makita that has been flawless for me. I still use it for blowing air at things, inflating tires, running my pneumatic staplers (I'd hate to see what a battery box stapler would cost!) and the like. If my 1200lb-ft Milwaukee battery impact can't take a bolt off, my Earthquake air impact probably can't either. I have yet to encounter anything it can't take off, though.

So, mostly battery, but still some air.

gearheadE30 Dork
2/15/24 11:27 a.m.

Air still wins for me when it comes to die grinders for bodywork, metal cleanup, wire brushing stuff, etc. The electric stuff is so much more bulky. Body saw and the air hammer don't seem to have great electric alternatives. Otherwise though, I do like my electric tools.

DirtyBird222 PowerDork
2/15/24 11:34 a.m.

I'm still half and half. I enjoy the versatility of the battery tools and not having a air line to fumble around with but, sometimes air tools just get the job done better. Especially when it comes to paint and body things. 

ShawnG MegaDork
2/15/24 11:50 a.m.
Keith Tanner said:

In reply to Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter) :

Lug nuts are far more effort than they should be...

There isn't much that won't come loose with a big 1/2" impact and a weighted socket.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
2/15/24 11:51 a.m.

Bought a compressor right as battery tools were coming up to speed. Got rid of the compressor soon after. I have limited space and just couldn’t justify the size of the compressor. 

Antihero PowerDork
2/15/24 12:08 p.m.

I'm even using battery powered nail guns for construction.

codrus (Forum Supporter)
codrus (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
2/15/24 12:58 p.m.

Looking over what people have said, I think it depends on what specific tools you're interested in using.

- battery ratchets are better than air ratchets.  They weigh about the same, are about the same size, will do the same things, and the battery ones are MUCH quieter.

- battery impact guns are almost as good as air impact guns.  They're heavier and bulkier, but will do most of what people want out of an impact (mainly wheels) and not needing to mess with the air hose and compressor is enough of a benefit to overcome the previous for many people.

- battery die grinders are noticeably inferior to air ones.  Much bigger and bulkier (and with a tool that you often want to be able to get into small spaces) and don't have the power or stamina of a good compressor.

- battery "air hammers" basically don't exist.


rattfink81 Reader
2/15/24 1:05 p.m.

In reply to codrus (Forum Supporter) :

air tools I miss the most are die grinders, cut off wheels, and air hammer.

battery ones in my experience are not as good and are bulker.

ShawnG MegaDork
2/15/24 1:13 p.m.

You guys turn your compressors off?

Mine just sits in the shop, ready whenever it's needed. It rarely cycles if it's not being used.

dj06482 (Forum Supporter)
dj06482 (Forum Supporter) UberDork
2/15/24 1:17 p.m.

I'm all-electric at this point, I have the Milwauke 2767-20 1/2" impact and that's been all I've needed. I have a small compressor that's really never used, my battery powered-impact is way stronger than my air impact at this point. Plus, not having to work around hoses is a big advantage in my book.

For certain things (pin nailer, air hammer, etc.) I'll pull out the compressor, but I use it very rarely now.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
2/15/24 1:19 p.m.
ShawnG said:
Keith Tanner said:

In reply to Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter) :

Lug nuts are far more effort than they should be...

There isn't much that won't come loose with a big 1/2" impact and a weighted socket.

Agreed, which is why I use a 1/2" drive air gun and not a 3/8" battery impact :) I've had to bring in a 3/4" to take the flywheel off a classic Mini...

Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter)
Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter) UltimaDork
2/15/24 1:31 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:
Agreed, which is why I use a 1/2" drive air gun and not a 3/8" battery impact :) I've had to bring in a 3/4" to take the flywheel off a classic Mini...

Yeah, I have a 3/4" air impact that I inherited from a friend's father when he passed. Thing is an absolute beast, it must weigh 15 pounds, and by the markings and such, I think it's from the 50s if not earlier. I don't use it very often, but once in a while, you run into a job where it's the only tool for the job, and on those occasions, it's awfully nice to have.

rdcyclist HalfDork
2/15/24 2:00 p.m.
ShawnG said:

You guys turn your compressors off?

Mine just sits in the shop, ready whenever it's needed. It rarely cycles if it's not being used.

Exactly. Put a ball valve on the output of the tank and close that off when you're not using it. Instant shop air! You're wearing out your compressor if it has to fill the tank every time you use it. I'll shut power off to mine if I'm going to be away from the shop for more than a few days but otherwise the powa is always on.

rdcyclist HalfDork
2/15/24 2:08 p.m.

I'm mostly electric. I've had a 5hp - 1750rpm, two stage, 80 gallon monster for decades and it mostly exists in the garage because I need it for the tire machine, airing up tires, blowing E36 M3 off and the aforementioned air hammers and die grinders. And I don't want to move it outta the corner it's in. And then I'd have to pull down all the plumbing.

I've got about 20 Milwaukee 12 and 18v tools covering all kind of things. The new 3/8 compact impact does most of the work. I forget what it's called but it's about an inch shorter than the old one I was using and way more controllable too with the variable torque button. I've almost but not quite tightened small fasteners past tight with the old one. Very almost.

Ratchets are great. Wish they would make a smaller extended one for work on German cars. For some reason Audis, Porsches and BMWs have the most fastners down rat holes...

The cordless drills have made my corded ones entirely redundant. I haven't had a cord out in years.

93gsxturbo UltraDork
2/15/24 3:05 p.m.

Air tools fall into that "from my cold dead hands" category.

I use my die grinders with carbides, whiz wheels, roloc disks, etc almost every time I work in the garage.  I have 3 of the mid-tier ones and have one each with a different bit, plus a right angle one with a roloc wheel setup.

I use my IR2135Ti all the time.  Despite being 20 years old, its still a champ.  Not down on power, never needed a rebuild.  Just goes and goes and goes. I am doing the suspension on my big dumb van this weekend and for the teardown there was no way an M18 high torque would have gotten in there.

I do have an M18 high torque my buddy who works for the red tool company gave me with a custom flashed firmware "don't ever sell this, give it away, or take it in on warranty or I won't have a job" sort of firmware and holy E36 M3 that thing rips.  But its giant.  And it coasts when you let off the trigger which is very annoying.  And at the end of the day I still don't think it has any more power than my IR2135Ti on 135 psi.  


dean1484 MegaDork
2/15/24 3:48 p.m.

I am still mostly air. I have a extremely small impact/screw gun thing that zipped off small stuff. It came with a small drill. It was a Milwaukee kit. They are handy but I still use air for just about everything else. I have two compressors. A small one that is extremely quiet that I use 99 percent of the time. And a large one in my bacement that I use when I need the big impact or I am using things that require high CFM and or high pressure.  150psi at 18cfm thought my HF earthquake gun has almost never failed to convince nuts and bolts to come off.  If on the off chance it does not work I bust out my old IR impact. I have to be careful with it as it will brake/shatter sockets not rated for impact use. 

06HHR (Forum Supporter)
06HHR (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
2/15/24 3:59 p.m.

Horses for courses.. I've been upgrading my battery electric stuff.  Went with Dewalt since my wife bought me a set that had 2 batteries, a cordless drill and 1/4 inch driver and some other stuff.  Got a 3/8 and 1/2 inch impacts and so far so good.  It's really nice not having to drag out the air hose, and junkyard trips are much easier with the battery impacts.  Sometimes though you just need air, especially working on suspension stuff.  Installed lowering springs front and rear on my truck and there were a couple of bolts the 1/2 inch battery impact wouldn't budge.  Ye old Earthquake at 125 psi zipped them right off. 

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