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Selecting Air Hoses

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Woodworkers seem to be split on which type of air hose is most practical in the shop. Coiled air hose is the least bulky and its self-retracting nature keeps it out of the way, but it is more susceptible to kinking, and some people don’t like the feeling of someone tugging on the end of their hoses while they’re working. We like to use coiled air hose at workstations where the tool or device isn’t apt to require much of a range of motion during use, such as for blow guns at the drill press or for air-clamping devices.

Regular straight air hose is readily available in 25-ft., 50-ft., and 100-ft. lengths, but it tends to get tangled and become a nuisance under foot. The best way to tame long air hoses is to mount them on an automatic reel. You can pull out only the length that’s needed, and the spring- loaded retractor gets it out of the way fast when the job’s done. Using a 3/8-in.-dia. hose is good for most small-shop jobs, but whenever you need a long air hose with an air-hungry tool or device, a 3 hose will result in less pressure loss via air friction.

Air hoses come in a variety of materials, including rubber and various synthetics. Better- quality hoses are made of polyethylene, which is more durable and less subject to kinks than cheaper rubber or inexpensive plastic hoses.

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Next: Installing quick-release fittings

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