What Size Air Compressor for Woodshop?

What Size Air Compressor for Woodshop?

When it comes to setting up a woodshop, one of the essential tools you'll need is an air compressor. An air compressor can power a range of pneumatic tools that are useful for woodworking, from nail guns and staple guns to sanders along with spray guns.

But this question may come into your mind: what size air compressor do you need for a woodshop? So in this article, we'll take a closer look at this question and explore the factors you should consider when choosing an air compressor for yourself.

So, without wasting any further time, let's take a look at it.

Understanding Air Compressor CFM and Tank Size:

Before we dive into the specifics of choosing an air compressor for a woodshop, it's important to understand the two key factors that determine air compressor size: First is CFM (cubic feet per minute) and the second one is tank size.

CFM: It refers to the amount of air that an air compressor can deliver at a given pressure and this is important because different pneumatic tools require different levels of CFM to operate effectively. The higher the CFM rating of an air compressor, the more air it can deliver and the more powerful tools it can support.

Tank Size: On the other hand, the tank capacity refers to the volume of compressed air that an air compressor can store. A larger tank size means that an air compressor can deliver a more consistent supply of air to your tools, which can be helpful when using tools that require a lot of air such as sanders or spray guns.

Factors to Consider When Choosing an Air Compressor for a Woodshop:

Now that you understand the basics of air compressor size, let's take a closer look at the factors you should consider when selecting an air compressor for your woodworking:

Types of Tools You'll be Using:

The first factor to consider is what types of tools you'll be using in your shop. As mentioned earlier, different tools require different levels of tank size and CFM. For instance, a nail gun typically requires a CFM of 2-5 while a sander might require a CFM of 6-10, so make a list of the tools you plan to use in your woodshop and their corresponding CFM requirements. This will give you an idea of the minimum CFM rating you'll need for your air compressor.

Size of Your Woodshop:

The size of your woodshop is another important factor to keep in mind. So if you have a small workshop, you may not need a large tank size or a high CFM rating. On the other hand, if you have a larger workshop or plan to use your air compressor for extended periods, you may need a larger tank size to ensure a steady supply of compressed air.

Power Source:

Another factor to consider is the power source of the compressor as air compressors can run on electricity, gasoline, or diesel fuel. Electric air compressors are typically more convenient to use and produce less noise than gas-powered compressors. However, gas-powered compressors may be necessary if you're working in a remote location without access to electricity. Consider the power source that is most convenient and efficient for your needs.


Budget is always a consideration when setting up a woodshop as the air compressors can range in price from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. While it may be tempting to opt for a cheaper model, it's important to consider the long-term cost-effectiveness of your purchase as cheaper models may not last as long or may not be as powerful as more expensive models, which could end up costing you more in repairs or replacement down the line. Determine a budget for your compressor and look for models that meet your needs within that budget.

Recommended Air Compressor Size for a Woodshop:

Based on the factors above, the recommended air compressor size for a woodshop is typically a 20 to 60 gallons tank size with a CFM rating of at least 6-12. This size and rating should be sufficient for most woodworking tools, including nail guns, staple guns, sanders, drills, etc. However, if you plan to use larger or more powerful tools or if you have a larger workshop, you may need to consider a larger tank size along with a higher CFM rating.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):

What is the ideal CFM rating for a woodshop air compressor?

The ideal CFM rating for a woodshop air compressor depends on the air consumption rate of your pneumatic tools. So, it's essential to calculate the total CFM required for all your tools and choose a compressor with a higher CFM rating and tank size to ensure optimal performance.

Can I use a small air compressor for my woodshop?

A small air compressor can be used for a woodshop, but it depends on the size and demand of your pneumatic tools. If you use smaller tools for small projects, a small compressor may suffice. However, if you work on larger projects or use larger tools, a big compressor with a higher CFM rating and larger tank capacity may be necessary.

Is a two-stage air compressor better than a single-stage compressor for a woodshop?

A two-stage air compressor is better than a single-stage air compressor for a woodshop if you use larger, more demanding pneumatic tools. A two-stage compressor can deliver compressed air at a higher pressure, making it suitable for larger tools. However, a two-stage compressor is more expensive than a single-stage compressor.

What is an air compressor used for in a wood shop?

An air compressor is a versatile tool in a wood shop that is primarily used to power pneumatic tools, such as nail guns, staplers, sanders, etc., making woodworking tasks faster as well as more efficient.

How do I determine the PSI requirements for my pneumatic tools?

The PSI requirements for your pneumatic tools can be found in the tool's user manual or specifications. It's essential to select an air compressor with a maximum PSI rating that meets or exceeds the requirements of all your pneumatic tools.

Can I use an electric air compressor in a remote location?

An electric air compressor requires access to electricity, so it may not be suitable for use in remote locations or areas with limited access to power. In such cases, a gas-powered air compressor may be a better option.

What should I look for in a workshop air compressor?

When looking for a workshop air compressor, it's important to consider factors such as the size and power of the compressor, its maximum pressure and airflow, the type of motor and pump it uses, and any additional features like noise reduction or portability that may be important for your specific needs.

Can I use a woodshop air compressor for other tasks such as inflating tires?

A woodshop air compressor can be used for other tasks such as inflating tires, but it's essential to check the tool's appropriate PSI rating. Some air compressors may not be suitable for certain tasks, so it's important to read the user manual as well as specifications before use.


Choosing the right type of air compressor for your work is an important decision that can impact the efficiency and effectiveness of your woodworking projects. By considering the types of tools you'll be using, the size of your workshop, the power source, and your budget, you can determine what compressor will be best for your needs.

Remember to also pay attention to the CFM rating and tank capacity as these are key factors in an air compressor's performance. Found this article helpful? Then share it with others and have a great day.