Air Tool CFM Requirements

Share:

When looking to buy an air compressor, the most important number you should be looking at is CFM at 90 PSI. Forget about horsepower which means next to nothing. Depending on what you plan on using your compressor for, you may realize that the shiny new compressor you're eyeing will actually not meet the minimum requirements of the air tools you plan on using. The chart below shows some of the most common air tools and their corresponding average CFM requirements. They are sorted from lowest to highest.

NOTE: For tools which are intended for continuous use such as die grinders, it's a good idea to multiple the average CFM number by 4 since air tools are rated on a 25% cycle (in use for 15 seconds out of each minute).

Air Tool

Avg. CFM & 90 PSI

Brad Nailer 0.3
Framing Nailer
2.2
Impact Wrench – 3/8"
2.5 – 3.5
Ratchet – 1/4"
2.5 – 3.5
Drill
3 – 6
Chisel/Hammer
3 – 11
Grease Gun
4
Hydraulic Riveter
4
Nibbler
4
Impact Wrench – 1/2"
4 – 5
Mini Die Grinder
4 – 6
Cut-off Tool
4 – 10
Ratchet – 3/8" 4.5 – 5
Speed Saw 5
Angle Disc Grinder – 7" 5 – 8
Orbital Sander 6 – 9
Rotational Sander 8 – 12.5
Shears 8 – 16
Needle Scaler 8 – 16
Impact Wrench – 1" 10
Dual Sander 11 – 13