Woodworking Business

You are not logged in. [ Login ] Why log in
(NOTE: Login is not required to post)

Cheap air lines....dumb idea????


OK so this is sort of related to my LED shop lights thread but figured I'd do a separate post. Since I'm going to need to rent a scissor lift next month to replace several light fixtures as well as all the bulbs in the shop, I'm thinking of other stuff I can get done as well.

Given that the shortest beams in the shop are roughly 16' off the ground, it's not easy to hang or install anything from the ceiling! I would however like to run air to, at the very least, my wide belt. I've been running it off an air hose on the floor since moving into this new shop about a year and a half ago. I know it probably sounds crazy, but keep in mind that I got kicked out of my old shop, had to find a new one, and spent thousands $$$ on moving equipment and running all the electrical with 3 months notice! Not to mention the 3-4 weeks unpaid vacation to do this all. I spent more than I had and so there was no money left to finish up air or even all the electrical drops needed. I'm still not totally clear of the debt, but the lack of good light with 2 fixtures down has become a priority to resolve.

So anyway to the point of this long winded question....while I have the lift I'll be running several more much needed electrical drops and installing the previously mentioned lights and bulbs. I'd love to run air but simply can't afford to now. I am thinking though of just hanging the air hose from the beams? My first thought is that it sounds like a Jeff Foxworthy skit...."you know your a redneck when....."! But the more I think about it the more I think why not? Sure it's not ideal, but having it on the floor isn't either and is really a safety hazard I could do without. It's been a major PITA not having air in this shop. I have several small compressors that run the nail guns and jump saw, but the wide belt obviously needs a bit more. If I bought say 2 100' hoses I could get air to 3 spots to make life a bit easier. At 16' up they're not likely to get damaged, and they would be quick and easy to just hang with plumbing clips. So figure before I go all out I'd check with the forum and see if anyone has a good reason not to????


2/12/16       #2: Cheap air lines....dumb idea???? ...
Ad hoc guy

Several years ago we bought a bunch of plastic pipe that was designed for air lines. One thing led to another and by the time we got around to installing it the pipe adhesive had solidified and the distributor we bought it all from was no longer in business.

Our temporary solution was red rubber hoses and that solution did just fine for ten years.

If you do suspend from the ceiling make sure to orient your lines so that they first go vertically UP from main trunk. This will help keep the moisture in the main trunk rather than in your dropped lines.

2/13/16       #3: Cheap air lines....dumb idea???? ...
Edi Silva  Member

Website: silvawoodworking.com

When i moved my shop 9 years ago, i was in the same boat as you now, instead of use copper, my buddy who's a Plumber, suggest to run "Pex" for air lines. That was a cheap and easy to install solution. The other day i need to add a line to our line boring, it took me less than 10 minutes, slice the main line with a knife, and place the "T" with the quick connector, done.

2/13/16       #4: Cheap air lines....dumb idea???? ...
Rich Kuban  Member

Website: closetexperts.com

In the unlikely case you have not considered the following: I would recommend larger diameter hoses for lower pressure drop over long distances. No different issue than voltage drop or water pressure drop. Try to avoid sharp angles, begin drop before end point. I would be concerned with hose sag developing over time, and how you may create pinch and condensation points. Consider running a single line to the furthest point without any connectors in between, even if you have to have it made up. None of these will prevent you from using soft lines, but they can affect your operating costs over time. I agree much better alternative than hoses laying on floor. Should result in less repair. But I would always keep spare hoses on hand if downtime is critical.

2/13/16       #5: Cheap air lines....dumb idea???? ...
Hen Bob Member

We did the whole shop in 3/4 PVC, Fast and cheap. I know a lot of guys are against that, but it says right on the pipe its good for 380psi. Just prime and glue the joints correctly, its been 5 years with no leaks.

2/13/16       #6: Cheap air lines....dumb idea???? ...


That PVC is a great idea...........until it isn't.
All pipes eventually fail. When PVC fails under pressure it explodes and the plastic itself becomes shrapnel.

The rubber lines idea is quick and cheap. If you just need to get the shop up and going this will suffice. We had rubber for many years and now have Pex.

We also have drops to every machine with an air nozzle hard piped to the rubber. This keeps the air nozzle where it is needed.

2/13/16       #7: Cheap air lines....dumb idea???? ...
dustmaker1 Member

I set up a shop in 1988 using 3/4" PVC pipe for all air lines. First time I had all the air drops I ever wanted and absolutely no leeks. Less than a year later one of my neighbors called me saying he thought my compressor was running, went back to shop and sure enough forgot to turn off compressor power and one of the PVC lines had exploded. Plastic shards all over the floor. I thought it just must have been a bad piece of pipe given it was rated for way more than the 120psi Iine pressure I was running.

I replaced the section and did not have another problem for the year so I used the shop but have never installed PVC in a shop since, even before I new of the OSHA regulations against using it above ground or not incased in conduit.

My advice would be to skip the PVC and hang the hoses untill you can afford to run proper lines.

Paul R

Osha fines

2/13/16       #8: Cheap air lines....dumb idea???? ...

Thanks guys, so it seems like the idea is not totally crazy. I just took a look at PEX and the pricing is pretty attractive, pretty similar to the cost of using hose actually. I did notice however that it's only rated to 160 psi. Unless you guys are using the aluminum version? My lines I believe are at 135psi now, though I could certainly drop that down a bit. What PSI are you guys running through the PEX? Also are you running just the 1/2"? Seems like that would be plenty large enough for a 1 or 2 man shop.

FWIW I wouldn't consider PVC, heard to many stories and it's not worth the risk. My last shop was all cast iron pipe which was great, just too time consuming and whenever I added a new drop I always seemed to have to go back and fix a leak somewhere! If I owned the building I'd go with copper, but I don't and I can't afford the time or cost right now. With hose, or even PEX I guess, I could run a main line from end to end with several drops in less than half a day for short money. That's pretty appealing.


2/13/16       #9: Cheap air lines....dumb idea???? ...
Edi Silva  Member

Website: silvawoodworking.com

We use 3/4" Pex line at 125psi. Also we have a shut off valve at the compressor, that we close every day, just in case.


2/13/16       #10: Cheap air lines....dumb idea???? ...

Pex is cheap & easy. I'd use it before rubber hose. If you don't intend to add employees, 1/2 is probably fine. If you lay out your pattern like recommended, using a loop system the 1/2" will suffice for having more than one location in use at a time. Slope all runs to a drain point and take all drops from the top of the main line, not the bottom. Condensation damages almost every thing that uses compressed air. The only negative I know of for Pex is some synthetic compressor oils used in rotary screws will degrade it over time. Very good idea not to use PVC! We use copper. There are some really nice aluminum systems available also.

2/13/16       #11: Cheap air lines....dumb idea???? ...
Gary B.

Not sure how deep you're into the PEX, but a few months back we ran the rigid aluminum pipe from these guys. About half the price of the Kaiser pipe for the same thing. We are very pleased. It was super easy to install. They also make a soft pipe version.


2/13/16       #12: Cheap air lines....dumb idea???? ...
Tom C

The Dumb Idea would be PVC Schedule 40.

I set up my first shop 35 years ago with this. First year a board hit a tee, cracked it.
Second year , Someone named "Not Me"
pulled on the rubber hose to hard , shattered to the floor.
2nd ,3rd, & 4th shop I did threaded pipe mains with a lot of red rubber hose drops.
What a PIA..... I suck at sweating copper also...
I agree with Gary B. But we use this.
Present shop- I own the building, Put in Rapid air Maxline HDPE/Aluminum core multilayer tubing.
I also have 16Ft ceilings, But own a forklift,put a skid platform -clamped on and worked off that.
Helper and myself, one weekend ran 200Ft. of 3/4"up at the ceiling,Zip tied to the steel joists.
Hardest part was unrolling the coil to straight.
1/2" Drops down to the shutoff drain T- blocks.
Each one of these has a superflex PVC hose on it.
The Dewalt ones at HD with the quick connects are pretty good for $20/25Ft.
No Leaks 3 Years into it.

View higher quality, full size image (2432 X 4320)

2/13/16       #13: Cheap air lines....dumb idea???? ...
Hen Bob Member

Lesson learned..

2/13/16       #14: Cheap air lines....dumb idea???? ...
Tom C

Part 2 pic and link.
Each block has a shutoff at the top,
and a drain at the bottom.
A piece of scrap Komo board poly glued to the wall to mount it on.
This was Dumb-simple to do.
200 ft.coil of 3/4" at ceiling, 12 drops -14'ft down-200ft. coil of 1/2" with blocks
in a 40 X 120 shop $1200.00 materials

View higher quality, full size image (1080 X 1920)


2/13/16       #15: Cheap air lines....dumb idea???? ...

We have all been there. If you have the rubber hose and can't afford anything else - use it. For a few bucks buy a T, couple of nipples and a valve and fit it in as to "drain" the moisture off Buy what you can afford and save every penny.

We use copper lines and it's been expensive. Some of the adds we are ready to run, we will use "Sharrkbite fittings. We have been using them with the granite shop, we have and had good success

Good luck

2/13/16       #16: Cheap air lines....dumb idea???? ...

Ok so I'm liking the idea of Pex more and more....I was at the big box earlier today and checked out the Pex and they had 1/2" and 3/4" in stock. I may go up to the 3/4" for the main run and use 1/2" for the drops. So 2 concerns/questions....

1st...looks like many connectors are the push type, (shark bite), but I might need a special tool to connect to the shut-offs? I wasn't going to bother and try to find anyone to ask at the box store on a weekend and get totally wrong info. Do you need a special tool for some PEX connectors?

2nd....the first warning on the tubing rolls is not to expose to direct sun. I have a few skylights which aren't really "full" sun, but are pretty bright. How sensitive is this stuff to the sun?


2/13/16       #17: Cheap air lines....dumb idea???? ...
Edi Silva  Member

Website: silvawoodworking.com

Jeff, you can get "shark bite" connectors on one side and treaded on the other so you can do shut-offs. Don't know anything about the exposure to the sun.


2/13/16       #18: Cheap air lines....dumb idea???? ...
Tom C

Hi Jeff
I too had concerns about sunlight.
I have 8 skylights and 9- 36" X 84" windows.
Most sunny days we don't even turn on the lights.
Pic is right now at 4:15 . In N.J. and 17 degrees outside, trying to keep it 60 inside...

I also was at the big box looking at Regular pex....??
2 trips and not much info later, I felt much more confident in this stuff...
The fittings are PRO, the blocks at the end were worth it.
Once again I attach a link to Rapid Air.
Clic on it, I don't work for them.
Check out the Kits and then order parts alacarte.

View higher quality, full size image (1920 X 1080)


2/14/16       #19: Cheap air lines....dumb idea???? ...
B.H. Davis  Member

Website: http://www.curvedmouldings.com

I've got a hodgepodge of air line material throughout the shop including some runs of polyethylene tubing. It was one of the rubber lines that failed over a weekend and caused the compressor to run non-stop for who knows how long. Fortunately a couple years later it is still working strong so it would seem no damage was done.

What I did though as a result was to put the air compressor power line through a relay that is trigger by the shop alarm system being activated. I added a solenoid on the tank outlet that is also on the compressor circuit.

Now when the alarm is turned on the compressor power is disconnected and the air outlet on the tank is closed. No chance for the compressor to turn on and no total tank leak down due any small leak in the system.

Since doing this compressor upgrade I've also added a similar system to the dust collector so it can't automatically turn on if someone leaves a gate in a position where it could vibrate open if a heavy truck drives by.

I set this all up after my alarm company gave me an output on the alarm box to activate a low voltage, low draw relay coil. In my last shop I had a similar setup that shut down power to most of the building when the overhead lights turned off.

I know this is off topic with regard to piping material but thought it appropriate to mention. Personally I think the PEX tubing is a great idea. Once you have the PEX tools it's doesn't get quicker and easier to add to the lines.

BH Davis

2/15/16       #20: Cheap air lines....dumb idea???? ...

My plumber said its tested to 900psi. All I use in remodels.
There are two basic kinds; one where it's ring crimped from the outside, and another where the pex is expanded from the inside and fittings inserted.
Don't skimp on the tool.

2/15/16       #21: Cheap air lines....dumb idea???? ...
Matt Peterson

Jeff, I believe that all that is important is copper line from the compressor to the spray booth. The problems that are caused by PVC, galvanized pipe, rubber, etc., will cost more in finish problems than any money saved. Once you have a run of good line to the booth filters you can do anything you want. Tools do not care about line byproducts or static electricity like finish does.
If you go to the paint booth first, you can even add an oiler to the lines to the tools.

2/15/16       #22: Cheap air lines....dumb idea???? ...

Thanks again for all the info!

So I looked at Rapid Air and while I'm sure it's a great kit, I just can't spend the cash on it now. That's why the thread on option of using hose.....it costs next to nothing. Not to mention the Rapid Air seems to carry the same or similar warning about UV exposure?

The reason for considering the PEX now is that it looks like I could do the main runs and drops for under $150..again pending whether I need to buy a tool or not? Once I have the mains done I can add drops anytime later just using a ladder. It's the main that I need the man-lift for. And the lift rental and electrical supplies are already costing me more than I have to spend right now, but I really need more light and once I have the lift I want to get some other stuff done!

I'm not too concerned about anything happening overnight or on the weekend as I generally shut off the air at the compressor every night. Just concerned with overall day to day safety.

One other question though....In my last shop i bough several feet of braided flexible hose to connect the compressor to the cast iron pipe....to keep vibrations from shaking the pipe. Do you think I would need to do the same with the PEX? Or do you guys run it right up to the compressor?

thanks again!

2/16/16       #23: Cheap air lines....dumb idea???? ...
jonathan mahnken

Website: http://mahnkencabinets.com

Well Im another one who has risked it with pvc. We plumbed our current shop with it about 16 years ago and it has served us pretty well. But we are a two to three man shop and we are pretty conscientious of our movements/actions. I have had two drops rupture/break during this time. this was from yanking on a hose conected to a drop that was not properly secured. The breaks are pretty violent but if you have the piping strapped down about every 2 feet it isolates the break and the damage. Definitely not the most risky thing in my shop.

2/16/16       #24: Cheap air lines....dumb idea???? ...

Thanks Jonathan, to be honest I can kinda see how guys went that route 16 years ago, a lot of guys probably just didn't know any better. But with PEX on the scene these days there is just no longer any argument I can imagine to risk using PVC anymore. Even if OSHA hadn't banned it. From just my little bit of research over the last few days the PEX will be cheaper, safer, easier to install, and easier to add onto later down the road.

Even if all else was the same, eliminating risk at zero cost is an easy choice for me.


2/16/16       #25: Cheap air lines....dumb idea???? ...
jonathan mahnken

Yep If I ever have to do it again Id use Pex. Is there any loss of pressure over the length of a run like with flexible hose? And is it any more OSHA approved than pvc? From what I understand OSHA is pretty picky about what they approve for piping.

  • Post a Response to this thread
  • notify me of responses to this topic
  • To receive email notification of additions to this forum thread,
    enter your name and email address, and then click the
    "Keep Me Posted" button below.

    Please Note: If you have posted a message or response,
    do not submit this request ... you are already signed up
    to receive notification!

    Your Name:
    E-Mail Address:
    Enter the correct numbers into the field below:

    Date of your Birth:

    Return to top of page

    Buy & Sell Exchanges | Forums | Galleries | Site Map

    FORUM GUIDELINES: Please review the guidelines below before posting at WOODWEB's Interactive Message Boards (return to top)

  • WOODWEB is a professional industrial woodworking site. Hobbyist and homeowner woodworking questions are inappropriate.
  • Messages should be kept reasonably short and on topic, relating to the focus of the forum. Responses should relate to the original question.
  • A valid email return address must be included with each message.
  • Advertising is inappropriate. The only exceptions are the Classified Ads Exchange, Machinery Exchange, Lumber Exchange, and Job Opportunities and Services Exchange. When posting listings in these areas, review the posting instructions carefully.
  • Subject lines may be edited for length and clarity.
  • "Cross posting" is not permitted. Choose the best forum for your question, and post your question at one forum only.
  • Messages requesting private responses will be removed - Forums are designed to provide information and assistance for all of our visitors. Private response requests are appropriate at WOODWEB's Exchanges and Job Opportunities and Services.
  • Messages that accuse businesses or individuals of alleged negative actions or behavior are inappropriate since WOODWEB is unable to verify or substantiate the claims.
  • Posts with the intent of soliciting answers to surveys are not appropriate. Contact WOODWEB for more information on initiating a survey.
  • Excessive forum participation by an individual upsets the balance of a healthy forum atmosphere. Individuals who excessively post responses containing marginal content will be considered repeat forum abusers.
  • Responses that initiate or support inappropriate and off-topic discussion of general politics detract from the professional woodworking focus of WOODWEB, and will be removed.
  • Participants are encouraged to use their real name when posting. Intentionally using another persons name is prohibited, and posts of this nature will be removed at WOODWEB's discretion.
  • Comments, questions, or criticisms regarding Forum policies should be directed to WOODWEB's Systems Administrator
    (return to top).

    Carefully review your message before clicking on the "Send Message" button - you will not be able to revise the message once it has been sent.

    You will be notified of responses to the message(s) you posted via email. Be sure to enter your email address correctly.

    WOODWEB's forums are a highly regarded resource for professional woodworkers. Messages and responses that are crafted in a professional and civil manner strengthen this resource. Messages that do not reflect a professional tone reduce the value of our forums.

    Messages are inappropriate when their content: is deemed libelous in nature or is based on rumor, fails to meet basic standards of decorum, contains blatant advertising or inappropriate emphasis on self promotion (return to top).

    Libel:   Posts which defame an individual or organization, or employ a tone which can be viewed as malicious in nature. Words, pictures, or cartoons which expose a person or organization to public hatred, shame, disgrace, or ridicule, or induce an ill opinion of a person or organization, are libelous.

    Improper Decorum:   Posts which are profane, inciting, disrespectful or uncivil in tone, or maliciously worded. This also includes the venting of unsubstantiated opinions. Such messages do little to illuminate a given topic, and often have the opposite effect. Constructive criticism is acceptable (return to top).

    Advertising:   The purpose of WOODWEB Forums is to provide answers, not an advertising venue. Companies participating in a Forum discussion should provide specific answers to posted questions. WOODWEB suggests that businesses include an appropriately crafted signature in order to identify their company. A well meaning post that seems to be on-topic but contains a product reference may do your business more harm than good in the Forum environment. Forum users may perceive your references to specific products as unsolicited advertising (spam) and consciously avoid your web site or services. A well-crafted signature is an appropriate way to advertise your services that will not offend potential customers. Signatures should be limited to 4-6 lines, and may contain information that identifies the type of business you're in, your URL and email address (return to top).

    Repeated Forum Abuse: Forum participants who repeatedly fail to follow WOODWEB's Forum Guidelines may encounter difficulty when attempting to post messages.

    There are often situations when the original message asks for opinions: "What is the best widget for my type of shop?". To a certain extent, the person posting the message is responsible for including specific questions within the message. An open ended question (like the one above) invites responses that may read as sales pitches. WOODWEB suggests that companies responding to such a question provide detailed and substantive replies rather than responses that read as a one-sided product promotion. It has been WOODWEB's experience that substantive responses are held in higher regard by our readers (return to top).

    The staff of WOODWEB assume no responsibility for the accuracy, content, or outcome of any posting transmitted at WOODWEB's Message Boards. Participants should undertake the use of machinery, materials and methods discussed at WOODWEB's Message Boards after considerate evaluation, and at their own risk. WOODWEB reserves the right to delete any messages it deems inappropriate. (return to top)

  • Forum Posting Help
    Your Name The name you enter in this field will be the name that appears with your post or response (return to form).
    Your Website Personal or business website links must point to the author's website. Inappropriate links will be removed without notice, and at WOODWEB's sole discretion. WOODWEB reserves the right to delete any messages with links it deems inappropriate. (return to form)
    E-Mail Address Your e-mail address will not be publicly viewable. Forum participants will be able to contact you using a contact link (included with your post) that is substituted for your actual address. You must include a valid email address in this field. (return to form)
    Subject Subject may be edited for length and clarity. Subject lines should provide an indication of the content of your post. (return to form)
    Thread Related Link and Image Guidelines Thread Related Links posted at WOODWEB's Forums and Exchanges should point to locations that provide supporting information for the topic being discussed in the current message thread. The purpose of WOODWEB Forums is to provide answers, not to serve as an advertising venue. A Thread Related Link that directs visitors to an area with inappropriate content will be removed. WOODWEB reserves the right to delete any messages with links or images it deems inappropriate. (return to form)
    Thread Related File Uploads Thread Related Files posted at WOODWEB's Forums and Exchanges should provide supporting information for the topic being discussed in the current message thread. Video Files: acceptable video formats are: .MOV .AVI .WMV .MPEG .MPG .MP4 (Image Upload Tips)   If you encounter any difficulty when uploading video files, E-mail WOODWEB for assistance. The purpose of WOODWEB Forums is to provide answers, not to serve as an advertising venue. A Thread Related File that contains inappropriate content will be removed, and uploaded files that are not directly related to the message thread will be removed. WOODWEB reserves the right to delete any messages with links, files, or images it deems inappropriate. (return to form)