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The User-friendliness and portability of pancake compressors make them popular among homeowners. Although compact, a good quality pancake air compressor offers enough power to run many pneumatic tools like nailer guns, jackhammer, air spray guns, drills, sanders, etc. From DIY projects to small workshops, a pancake compressor is an excellent budget choice to power several pneumatic tools.

There are still many people who think that air compressors are only good to be used for nailers, air spray guns, and pneumatic drills. But little that you know, you can use an air compressor for many jobs. And this detailed article will guide you through the capabilities of a pancake air compressor. Keep reading to learn out the box uses of an air compressor.

What Type of Work Can a Pancake Air Compressor Do

Where are pancake air compressors used?

DIY Auto Repairs

A reciprocating air compressor is best used for DIY auto repairs. Use the tool for small jobs like changing a filter or PCV valve. Other than that, you can use the mechanical device to reach tight spaces easily. And not to mention, but there are several bolts in your automobile that are hard to lose using only an air ratchet. And that’s when a pneumatic compressor helps the most. An air ratchet + pancake compressor reaches tight areas easily as well as saves time and energy.


This is one most popular use of a portable air compressor. From large truck tires to small balloons, the compact air tool can inflate them all. In fact, many car owners deliberately keep an air compressor in their vehicle to fix a flat on the go. While others use them to inflate a thousand balloons for a big event.

Clean surfaces with blowguns

Cleanup of machinery or surface is important after the work is done for the day. Sure, you can use a small leaf blower to blow away dust and debris but the problem arises when you have to blow the dust off a piece of sensitive machinery. Instead of a noisy leaf blower, take out your blowgun, connect it to a reliable pancake compressor and start cleaning. The pressure is not too high nor too low. In short, it is safe to clean dust and debris off various surfaces.

Power Pneumatic Nail Guns

It is easy to spot a pneumatic air compressor at the worksite, especially when the roofing work is on. Here, you do not require continuous air pressure. The pressure is only necessary while nailing down a shingle or other materials. And portable pancakes air compressors work best for pneumatic nail guns. The below points will help you select the best compressor according to the type of nail gun.

    • Pin nailer(2.0 CFM) – 1-gallon tank capacity
    • Brad nailer(2.0 CFM)  – 2-gallon tank capacity
    • Finish nailer(2.0 CFM) – Upto 3 gallon tank capacity
  • For intense nailing work like framing or sheathing, you require a more powerful tool. A twin shag or hotdog compressor serves these heavy-duty tasks the best. They offer more CFMs for uninterrupted task completion.

Painting with Air Brush

Paint like a pro with a good air compressor. Air spraying is common nowadays as it is quick and convenient. And the right pneumatic tool delivers enough power to paint spray various small and large objects in one go. Boundary fences, walls, RV’s, trucks, etc, are only a few of several things you can paint with an airbrush + a good pneumatic air compressor.

Home Applications of Pancake air compressor

Home Applications of Pancake air compressor

Pancake compressors make an excellent tool to use for home applications. This is because they are user-friendly, portable, and easy to operate. Below listed are a few popular home uses of a pneumatic air tool.

Can Blow Dust Out of the Car

Even with the windows up, there is some amount of dust you can find on your car seats especially if you use the vehicle daily. Taking your car to the cleaning shop frequently can cost you several bucks. So instead get a blowgun or a small blower and pair it up with a portable pneumatic air compressor. This will help you clean the car/truck interior flawlessly.

Blow Air in Your Grill For Better Fire

Grilling chicken or bbq on a charcoal grill increases its taste. But if you’re in a hurry and lack enough time to lit a charcoal grill then take out your portable air compressor. The only thing you need for an instant fire of coals is to find a sweet spot. Turn the pressure down for proper and safe firing of coals.

Paint Your Backyard

Spray cans are convenient to paint small objects. But you can’t rely on little spray cans for painting a large surface. Pair your air spray gun with a mid-size pancake compressor and paint your whole house conveniently. A good quality tool will supply air continuously to finish the painting of walls, doors, and other large surfaces. And needless to say but an air sprayed surface looks elegant than using a brush.

Inflate Pool Tubes

As soon as summers arrive, all we think about is having watermelons and cool juices by the poolside. And the easier way to inflate your outdoor inflatable pool tub is with the help of a portable pancake compressor. Set the right pressure and the tool can inflate a large inflatable tub in a matter of minutes. You can also use it to inflate kid’s pool tubs, hot tubs, and portable jacuzzi.

Tools Commonly Used with an Air Compressor

Tools Commonly Used with an Air Compressor

First of all, let us get this thing clear. An air compressor is a device and not a tool. It is a device with two main components, a piston, and a cylinder. These two factors determine the PSI and CFM of a compressor.

Here, the PSI stands for Pound-Force per square inch. It simply means the amount of pressure created during compression. And the other one is CFM, i.e, Cubic Feet per Minute. CFM of a compressor tells us about the rate at which the air moves through the device.

Different tools require different operating power. And thus, you need to set the PSI according. The detailed guide below will help you understand PSI/CFM required for operating common machinery.

Paint Sprayer

One of the most popular uses of an air compressor is to spray paint various objects. Thanks to the user-friendliness of new air devices that provide you perfect finish in one go. Many DIYers are amazed by the results of using a paint sprayer with a pneumatic compressor. Most HVLP(High volume low pressure) guns operate on lower PSI that can be easily achieved with a pancake air compressor.

  • Average CFM required – 0.3 to 12 CFM

Air Hammer

Cut ferrous metals or carve a stone easily with an air hammer. This powerful pneumatic tool is easy to spot at a construction site especially that involves redoing a building or home. Or a ship-breaking yard where you need to remove rusty bolts off a metal surface. But other than that you can use an air hammer to make a sculpture out of a stone.

  • Average CFM required – 3-10 CFM @ 90PSI

Pneumatic Guns

There is a list of pneumatic guns that are powered using air compressors. These include braid nailers, grease guns, angle grinders, pneumatic drills, pneumatic rammers, etc. All of these are essential tools for a large project. In fact, you can spot some of them in a handyman’s toolbox.

  • Die Grinder – 4-6 CFM @ 90PSI
  • Angle Grinder – 5-9 CFM @ 90PSI
  • Grease Gun – 3-4 CFM @ 90PSI
  • Brad Nailer – 0.3-0.5 CFM @ 90PSI

Tire Inflator

One common use of pneumatic compressors is to inflate tires. Be it of your car, RV, trailer, or food truck. You need a gauge to inflate tires to maintain optimal tire pressure.

Impact Wrench

A common power tool in many households. An impact wrench is great for general tightening and loosening of bolts. Mostly, we use an impact wrench to loosen tight nuts. And a pneumatic air compressor delivers enough power to loosen even a rusty nut off. Similarly, you can fasten a bolt without damaging to wall or metal itself by adjusting the required pressure.

  • 3/8-inch nozzle – 2.5 to 3.5 CFM
  • 1/2-inch nozzle – 4-5.5 CFM


Craftsperson, DIYers, hobbyists, homeowner, or a professional, a portable pancake compressor is helpful in various fields. From inflating a tire of the car to spray painting walls, pneumatic air compressors are highly versatile. And now that you know various uses of an air compressor you might want to try out different projects.


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