Portable Air Tanks for Powering Nailguns

A 50-cubic-foot scuba tank can take the place of your compressor for light-duty nailing. May 6, 2006

Do any of you use portable air tanks? All of our work is custom installs into existing homes. Generally just shooting some 23ga and 18ga sizes for the final trim work. I'd love to leave the pancake compressor at home. I've seen the portable air tanks around, but not sure how many shots you would get from one of these.

Forum Responses
(Cabinet and Millwork Installation Forum)
From contributor G:
I use the 4 gallon model, and get about 6 or 7 shots out of the 18 gauge finish nailer. They are really great if all you have to do is tack up a bit of molding somewhere. Also useful for filling your tires. Harbor Freight has a larger model than the one I use, and I think I'll buy it. You'll get a lot more shots with the 23 gauge.

From contributor D:
We run a c02 tank - 3 gallon, works great for the quick items like toe skin/upper btm skin, a filler here or there, some small moldings. We use it probably once or twice a week when we can't justify pulling out the Thomas compressor. Lasts about 4-6 months and costs about $10-12 to refill.

From contributor C:
This is an ideal situation for you to buy a Passload. Just when you need those tanks to shoot 1 more nail, they will die.

From contributor W:
I use Senco's small one gallon air compressor. Works wonderful when using an 18 ga. or 23 ga. and weighs only about 20 lbs.

From contributor R:
I second the vote for the Senco, but I say it weighs more like 10 pounds, max!

From contributor M:
I use a 50 cubic foot scuba tank (not the large size you typically see on divers' backs) which can be filled for $3 or $4 at any dive shop to 3000 lbs. It lasts for months with 18 or 23 gauge trim nail shooting. These tanks cost around $100 and are also used occasionally by paintballers who can wear them on their backs as you can also do with nail guns to give you complete mobility. I also have the Senco mini compressor, which works well if you have a place to plug it into wherever you are shooting. (It only allows about 10 shots before having to pump up the tank again.)

From contributor G:
Contributor M, a great idea! What type pressure regulator do you use, and how much does that cost?

From contributor M:
You have to use the upper part of a diving regulator (called the "first stage"), which gets the 3000 lb. pressure down to the 100 lb. range and is adjustable. It also handles the unique connection to the tank that dive tanks have. This part costs as little as $20 on E-bay for an old one, which is all you need since the mouthpiece is what wears out and you aren't going to use that. That's really all you need, unless you want to put an additional regulator with gauge in the hose line somewhere to fine tune your nail gun pressure.

From contributor F:
Have any of you guys with the air tanks ever used cordless guns? And if so, why would you prefer dragging a tank and hose around over a cordless gun?

From contributor K:
I agree with contributor F. I've even hooked a quick disconnect air hose from my Porter Cable cordless brad gun to power my Senco headless pinner and BEA mini pinner. Works as good as a cordless screwdriver with an extra battery.