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Best Air Compressor for Framing Crew: Our Top 3 Picks

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Selecting the right air compressor for your carpentry job is a critical decision regardless if you're a professional or a hobbyist. Whether you're working on the ground level, roofing, or framing, your success largely relies on how effectively your air compressor runs your tools.

There's always the option to manually use a hammer and nail the old fashioned way to complete a framing project. However, this process is more time and energy intensive, and using the right kind of air compressor facilitates a more effective and efficient framing effort by providing the right amount of pneumatic power to your tools.


There's plenty of air compressors on the market today, and many are solid performers when it comes to framing. Which one you purchase will largely depend on the type of framing gun you'll be using. These are our top three choices for you, read on for more details on each.

Top Pick
Makita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5 HP Air Compressor
California Air Tools CAT-4610AC Ultra Quiet & Oil-Free 1.0 hp 4.6 gallon Aluminum Twin Tank Electric Portable Air Compressor, Silver
PORTER-CABLE Air Compressor Kit, 6-Gallon, 3-Tool (PCFP12234)
Makita MAC2400
California Air Tools CAT-4610AC
Porter-Cable PCFP12234
Tank Size
Twin 4.2 Gallons
Twin 4.6 Gallons
6 Gallons
Operating PSI
130 PSI
120 PSI
150 PSI
CFM @ PSI
4.2 CFM @ 90 PSI
2.20 CFM @ 90 PSI
2.6 SCFM @ 90 PSI
Noise Level
79 dB
60 dB
78 dB
Fuel Type
Electric
Electric
Electric
Pump Type
Oil Lubricated
Oil Free
Oil Free
Horsepower
2.5 HP
1.0 HP
0.8 HP
Price
$308.99
$276.09
$250.00
Top Pick
Makita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5 HP Air Compressor
Makita MAC2400
Tank Size
Twin 4.2 Gallons
Operating PSI
130 PSI
CFM @ PSI
4.2 CFM @ 90 PSI
Noise Level
79 dB
Fuel Type
Electric
Pump Type
Oil Lubricated
Horsepower
2.5 HP
Price
$308.99
California Air Tools CAT-4610AC Ultra Quiet & Oil-Free 1.0 hp 4.6 gallon Aluminum Twin Tank Electric Portable Air Compressor, Silver
California Air Tools CAT-4610AC
Tank Size
Twin 4.6 Gallons
Operating PSI
120 PSI
CFM @ PSI
2.20 CFM @ 90 PSI
Noise Level
60 dB
Fuel Type
Electric
Pump Type
Oil Free
Horsepower
1.0 HP
Price
$276.09
PORTER-CABLE Air Compressor Kit, 6-Gallon, 3-Tool (PCFP12234)
Porter-Cable PCFP12234
Tank Size
6 Gallons
Operating PSI
150 PSI
CFM @ PSI
2.6 SCFM @ 90 PSI
Noise Level
78 dB
Fuel Type
Electric
Pump Type
Oil Free
Horsepower
0.8 HP
Price
$250.00

Here's why the Makita MAC2400 is our top pick:

  • The cast iron parts give the MAC2400 high-durability
  • The Big Bore system allows for extremely solid recovery rates
  • An optimal pressure output supports pneumatic tools required by the industrious crew of the framing carpentry field

If you're in the process of researching air compressors for your framing crew, you'll want to take a look at our top three recommendations. Check out the chart above to compare the specs at a glance.

 

Makita MAC2400

The Makita MAC2400 Big Bore Air Compressor is known for it's power and performance. With a 2.5 horsepower motor, it's an excellent tool for framework, and other jobs and hobby's. It can handle both complex and simple tasks with ease.

Makita MAC2400 Big Bore 2.5 HP Air Compressor

The two 4.2-gallon twin stack tanks can sustain 130 PSI operating pressure, which allows the MAC2400 the ability to deliver 4.2 CFM @ 90 PSI, which can provide you with enough power to drive two nail guns for a framing crew. Be sure to check the requirements on your nail guns.

Weighing-in at 77-pounds, the MAC2400 doesn't lose portability; this is because of the well balanced and designed roll bar handle that also offers additional protection. The oil-lubricated pump runs at 1,730 RPM helping to minimize wear and allows the unit to deliver just 79 dB's of noise. And outfitted with an oil sight glass, you'll be able to check your oil level with minimal effort.

The Makita MAC2400 Big Bore Air Compressor gets it's nickname from the Big Bore piston and cast iron pump. Because the Big Bore piston and cylinder are larger than average, they're able to compress more air with each stroke, and thus deliver higher CFM's and faster recovery times.

Read our full review HERE to learn more.

Pros

  • Long-lasting pump life
  • Low amp draw helps prevent power trips
  • Excellent air filtration system

Cons

  • Weighing 77-lbs the MAC2400 is on the heavy side

 

California Air Tools CAT-4610AC

The CAT-4610AC by California Air Tools is one of the quietest air compressors on the market. It's considered to be ultra-quiet since it only produces 60 decibels of noise. In addition to creating less noise, the 1.0 horsepower motor also creates less wear and can go longer in between service because it operates at only 1680 RPMs.

California Air Tools CAT-4610AC Ultra Quiet & Oil-Free 1.0 hp 4.6 gallon Aluminum Twin Tank Electric Portable Air Compressor, Silver

Outfitted with an oil-free dual piston pump system, with a life cycle of over 3,000 hours before wear, you can expect high performance and durability. The aluminum 4.6 gallon twin tanks help make the CAT-4610AC lightwieght (only 45.5 lbs) and portable.

With high air delivery (2.20 CFM @ 90 PSI), a low amp draw, and safety features like the Thermal Overload Protector, it's easy to see why this is a favorite compressor among many. A steel dual tank design is also available if you prefer, although the unit's weight does increase to 62 lbs.

Pros

  • Easy maintenance, the oil-free pump provides minimal hassle for the user
  • Light-weight at only 45.5 pounds
  • Twin tank set-up reduces the toll on the motor through improved air storage
  • Tank fills from full to empty in 130 seconds

Cons

  • The aluminum lightweight design compromises durability

 

Porter-Cable PCFP12234

The Porter-Cable PCFP12234 is unique since it includes a 3-Tool Combo Kit, which make it an excellent choice if this is your first air compressor. It includes a 16-gauge 2-1/2 inch finish nailer; a 18-gauge 2 inch brad nailer; and a heavy-duty 3/8 inch crown stapler. In addition, a 25 ft, 1/4 inch air hose is also included, as well as a few other accessories.

PORTER-CABLE PCFP12234 3-Tool Combo Kit

The Porter Cable pancake compressor has a 6-gallon tank, a 2 HP motor, and an oil-free pump that can operate up to 150 PSI. It delivers 2.65 SCFM @ 90 PSI and can be plugged into a standard household outlet. You can rest assured that your air compressor will be able to adequately power your framing tools as Porter Cable has specifically matched this combo for the task.

In addition, the lightweight pancake design (only 30 pounds), makes this an extremely portable air compressor. This is a great starter kit as you'll be able to hit the ground running!

Pros

  • Light weight and portable
  • User friendly
  • Includes 3 pneumatic power tools designed to be used with the air compressor

Cons

  • A bit on the noisy side (78 dBs) for an oil-free air compressor

 

Why You Need a Quality Air Compressor for Framing

When purchasing an air compressor you should always consider the CFM requirements of your framing gun. Failure to do so may mean you'll have an under-powered air compressor that will not be able to efficienctly do the job and you'll be left extremely frustrated!  

The amount of pneumatic pressure the nail gun requires is the key to selecting the best framing air compressor. In most cases, framing nailers function with an average of 2.2 CFM @ 90 PSI.

Another question to ask yourself, is if you'll be using one tool or multiple tools at the same time. Multiple tools running simultaneously require more power, and thus a stronger air compressor. If you're running a framing crew, there's a strong possiblity that you'll be running tools simultaneously.

A good rule of thumb is to always purchase a compressor that has a higher CFM rating than what your tools require. Erroring on the side of too much power provides you with a safety net and keeps your tools running smoothly.

Last update on 2020-08-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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