Air Plumbing Help Needed - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 11 Old 03-15-2008, 08:02 AM Thread Starter
 
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Air Plumbing Help Needed

Hello, all,

I'm thinking I would like to run an air line down the center of my shop ceiling with tapoffs every 8' or so, so I can run air tools in various parts of the shop without tripping over the hose all the time.

I know I've seen articles on doing this in the past...can anyone point me to any articles (or advise me) on what kind of plastic hose, fittings, etc. I need to put in?

This will mainly be for air brad/staple guns, but I'm also curious about how big the tubing needs to be (and what pressure I need to run) to run sanders, etc.

Thanks for any advice, and sorry if this is a question that has been hashed to death in the past -- I didn't find the threads, if so.

Jeff
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post #2 of 11 Old 03-15-2008, 08:38 AM
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The only advice I can give you is not to use plastic pipe! For two reasons, one if it ruptures the pipe will explode and you can have plastic shrapnel flying all over the area. Second reason is if there is a fire and the plastic pipe melts and bursts it will supply a nice steady stream of oxygen to the fire and basically make a super blowtorch until the wiring shorts out. I've personally seen the affects of this when a local shop burned from what started as a small fire until the airline melted.

I would suggest to use the old standby of black pipe. But, with black pipe you have a all the "bull work" involved of cutting threads and the weight. Copper costs are sky high, but there is less labor connected.
Also, the when running the main line I think the bigger the pipe the better that way you gain more of a reservoir for air.

Jim

Last edited by Suz; 03-15-2008 at 08:43 AM.
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post #3 of 11 Old 03-15-2008, 10:07 AM
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Don't forget to include drip legs in your system.

Last edited by sweensdv; 03-15-2008 at 10:13 AM.
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post #4 of 11 Old 03-15-2008, 11:54 AM
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If you check. Schedule 80 plastic is approved for this purpose as long as you stay under their max pressure but I also do not approve of this action. I have personally seen the shrapnel that is produced when schedule 80 explodes due to a surge in pressure and it is devastating. Removed a 20x20 section of ceiling that luckily didn't hit anyone. We now have all black pipe regardless of the price. I like a drip leg at each outlet. Water will destroy most air tools very quickly.
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post #5 of 11 Old 03-15-2008, 01:32 PM
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Piping

I piped my airlines in copper. Mainly 1/2". Easy to work with and sweat joints, long lasting and don't have to worry about rust or flaking inside the pipe. First shop I plumbed was over 20 years ago and some of that copper went into my personal shop the other year.

I have a 60 gal vertical compressor and I suggest in this case: one water collector about 5' from the tank and one on each of the drops by the connector. I did that and have absolutely no water problems at the outlets.

Paul
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post #6 of 11 Old 03-15-2008, 04:35 PM
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I used schedule 80 for years without a problem, but I agree, it is not the best. There are other possible suspects. They do make a hose that is meant for permanent installation. I suspect that PEX would work well, and certainly cheaper and easier than copper, and wouldn't explode into bits. My current shop has copper, (and commercial dryer), but I wouldn't worry about the size of the air line really. As they say in air tools, you don't worry how long the run is, unlike with an extension cord, it is all a reservoir. And if you think about it, 1/2" copper pipe will certainly keep up with any demand you might put on it. Think an abrasive blaster, one of the biggest users I can think of, and the size of the orifice is certainly MUCH smaller than 1/2".

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post #7 of 11 Old 03-15-2008, 06:40 PM
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I have plumbed quite a few auto shops with air drops from the giant IR compressors out to a drop on each side of the garage door, and one on the back walls behind them. For the reasons mentioned above, never use plastic pipe. I know you CAN use sch 80, but the risks are too great. Since it will be indoors, and exposed to minimal salt / moisture, (you are using drip legs with the drains / moisture separators right?) I would STRONGLY advise you find your least expensive source for 1/2" black iron pipe. Many Ace Hardware dealers will sell you 20 foot joints of pipe, and custom cut / thread your pipe to your requirements. Be prepared to shell out a bit for this. Black Pipe, fittings, couplers etc... are not cheap.

I have heard of some guys using copper pipe. I am not sure copper will hold up to pressurized air very well. I have never seen a professional shop plumbed with copper...

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post #8 of 11 Old 03-15-2008, 07:28 PM
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I would agree that black pipe is certainly more common, probably now because of the cost of copper, but I've also seen plenty of copper systems. It certainly is strong enough. And it won't explode. We have a large warehouse with a large screw type compressor, at least 40 hp, and we have copper feed and drops. Whole system was put in by pros. I don't think it matters which you put in, 1/2" copper or black pipe. Whichever is cheapest and easiest for you. I put in copper in my own shop because it was easier for me working alone to maniuplate the lengths of copper high up in the shop.(because of weight) I have them running across on each of the main collar ties.
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post #9 of 11 Old 03-17-2008, 08:24 AM Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the replies. I'm glad I asked ... I was thinking that plastic pipe was the "standard" way of doing it -- WRONG!
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post #10 of 11 Old 03-17-2008, 10:13 PM
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Plastic pipe IS cheaper, but the safety concerns simply don't make it worth the risk. When black iron ruptures, it simple tears apart at the seam where the pipe is connected. (you know pipe starts out as flat sheet iron right?). When the plastic pipe ruptures, it explodes in little bits.

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post #11 of 11 Old 03-22-2008, 01:26 PM
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Hi Capt Crutch
I would plumb with 3/4 inch black steel pipe and put tees in every eight to ten feet. Put a filter/water trap and a regulator between the compressor and your system, and if you are using any tools that need oil, ie staplers/nailers add an oiler at the outlet where you are going to be using these pieces of equipment. Some may think 3/4 pipe is overkill, but if you decide to upgrade your compressor down the road, you'll be glad you did. Also, 3/4 pipe and fittings are very common, and any leftover pipe can be used for pipe clamps.

Gerry
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