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Using a Portable Air Tank For Nail Gun – Example

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This page shows you an example of how you can have portable air for nail gun. The example below is a portable air tank for brad nailer, however, the process can be followed attentively as a portable air tank for nail guns. Whether that be:

  • a portable air tank for framing nailer
  • a portable air tank for finish nailer
  • a portable air tank for palm nailer
  • a portable air tank for siding nailer
  • a portable air tank for pin nailer
  • a portable air tank for brad nailer

Table of Contents

Using a Portable Air Tank For Nail Gun – Example

“I do a lot of woodwork around the building, and that work often involves using a brad nailer,” says Mr. Jim Graham.

Brad is a small, thin, tapered nail that is often used for attaching wood trim. A brad nailer is an air-operated nail gun that is built to handle brads.

Brads are purchased from almost any major hardware store, in a variety of lengths, and come in boxes containing “bars” of brads that fit into the brad nailer compressed air gun.

A brad nailer is a nifty air tool. It is a pneumatically operated nail gun designed to drive the brad into the woodwork each time the gun lever is pressed, and do so leaving a minimal or no footprint on the wood trim.

If used properly, after the brad is in place, the brad hole is almost invisible.

Jim goes on to say, “My building is multi-level, and it’s sometimes just not desirable to drag a portable compressor up to the floor I’m working on, particularly if there’s limited work to do for the brad nailer.

To get my compressed air supply conveniently to the floor I wished to work on, I built this portable compressed air supply for my brad nailer.

Brad nailer tank
Brad nailer tank

Item 1 in the photo is a portable air tank that I purchased from a Canadian Tire Store in Canada. You can find also find these at auto supply shops, some hardware stores, and so on. Make sure the tank is rated for more than 120 PSI. This one is about a 5-gallon tank.

I installed a “tee” into the main port of the tank (item 2).

Item 3 is a small in-line ball valve that allows me to shut off the air so that it cannot exit the tank when I don’t wish it to, and also, opening this ball valve allows me to pump air to the brad tank from my compressor when it needs recharging.

The tank is filled by attaching an air supply from your shop compressor to the connector (item 4). If I were building this tank again, I would make this connector a “checked” one, meaning that air would only flow into the tank through it, but if it tried to escape, the check-in the connector would prevent air from getting out.

That would be a good feature just in case I forgot to shut the ball valve after filling the tank. I’d still have the ball valve though, for backup in case the checked connector failed.

Item 5 is the tank air gauge that I watch when I’m filling the tank up to the 120 PSI level. Be careful not to over-pressurize your tank. In my shop, that’s not likely to happen as I have set the discharge pressure from my shop compressor to 120 PSI. That’s the highest pressure possible that I can pump into my portable tank.

Next is item 6, a mini-regulator that I use to set the pressure that’s going to my brad nailer. You want to set this pressure as low as possible and still have the nailer work properly. This will extend the life of the air charge in the portable air tank. I set this regulator for 80 PSI as that is the pressure that my brad nailer works best at.

I deliberately plumbed the air from the mini-regulator into a 3/4″ copper tube (item 7). This pipe also connects to the coupler (item 8) and it’s this coupler that I plug the airline to my brad nailer into. The 3/4″ tube provides a mini-reservoir of air, ensuring that when I press the lever on the brad nailer, there’s plenty of air instantly available to drive the brad home.

I plumbed it over the existing handle on the tank so that, when carrying, the hand naturally grabs the pipe and the tank handle, ensuring that damage won’t occur to the pipe when it’s being carried.

This next picture is of the same tank taken from a different angle.

Another view of portable brad nailer tank
Another View of Portable Brad Nailer Tank

Item 8 in this photo is the same item 8 in the previous picture and is the coupler to which I attach the air supply line for my nailer. This coupler is “checked”, meaning as long as there is no connector inserted into it, air can’t flow through it. That way my air charge stays in the tank until it’s actually needed.

You can clearly see in this last photo how I attached the mini-reservoir (the 3/4″ copper pipe, item 9) to the air hog handle to ensure that it won’t break or be inadvertently used by itself as a handle for the tank.

And yes, I still go out to the neighborhood to help out the kids with their sports balls from time to time. Item 10 is the small 2/2 NC air valve, push-button, spring return type. When I push on the little silver actuator shown, air slowly flows (I can adjust the rate) down the line to the ball-filler needle on the end, and into the soccer or football.

So, not only does this rig allow me between 40 – 50 “shots” on my brad nailer when I’m doing woodwork around my building, but it also allows me to fill up the local soccer and footballs for the kids, as well.

I can take this portable air supply anywhere.”

Many thanks to Jim Graham for another useful contribution to this site.

Other nail gun related pages you may be interested in reading:

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Can you use a nail gun with an air tank?

Yes, a lot of people do it often and it works really well. Most nailers don’t use at all that much air, therefore, if the tank is as full as the air compressor can manage, you should be able to successfully use the portable air tank with the nail gun.

What size tank do I need for a nail gun?

For most nail guns, you will be able to get away with a portable air compressor with at least a 2 CFM rating and 2 to 6-gallon tank capacity. However, for more demanding nail guns like the framing nailer, roofing nailer, or siding nailer, which all require a higher air consumption, you may need an air compressor that can provide 4 to 6 CFM with a 6 to 8-gallon air tank.

Can you use a nail gun without an air compressor?

While no nail gun requires a specific air compressor, each has specific air requirements. Nail guns operate between a range of pressures measured in pounds per square inch (psi). In addition to pressure, nail guns require a minimum volume of air for correct operation. This volume is rated in cubic feet per minute (CFM). You can, however, opt for a cordless, battery-powered nail gun that doesn’t require an air compressor and instead offers more flexibility.

If you have any questions regarding using a portable air tank for nail guns, please leave a comment below, with a photo if applicable, so that someone can help you!

By Bill Wade

About Air Compressors has been helping folks with their Air Compressor Problems since 2002 online. We're a community of DIY and Compressed Air professionals who are keen to support everyone across the globe with their air compressor issues and troubleshooting. Whether you're trying to identify an old air compressor, or troubleshoot an error code on a sophisticated new industrial air compressor - the community at About-Air-Compressors.com is here to help you

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