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Tool Test: Compact Compressors

Small, quiet, and lightweight, these air compressors handle a bit of everything.

Many builders are supplementing their full-size compressors with compact models designed to handle small trim jobs, punch-list work, and light framing. For this tool-test article, Paul Johnson, a remodeler in Portland, Ore., put 14 compact compressors to work. Along with his review of the top eight contenders, the article includes a list of three features Johnson considers especially important when choosing a compressor: shots fired (Johnson's test included 18-ga. brad nails, 15-ga. finish nails, and framing nails), recovery speed, and noise levels. He also describes seven specs that buyers must understand before making an informed purchase: price, weight, capacity, horsepower, output, draw, and lubrication. For each of the top eight compressors, Johnson lists its specs, features, and flaws, then provides a "bottom line" assessment. Johnson's pick for best overall compressor is the Grip-Rite GR152CM; his choice for best value is the Senco PC1010. Reviews of the remaining compressors are at

Tool Test: Compact Compressors

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