MOTHER's Homemade Air Compressor

This homemade air compressor is easy to make and invaluable for your home workshop, includes step-by-step instructions, detailed diagram and materials list.

| July/August 1978

Diagram: MOTHER's homemade air compressor, build it from junk for less than $60.

Diagram: MOTHER's homemade air compressor, build it from junk for less than $60.

Diagram by the MOTHER EARTH NEWS staff

Build MOTHER's homemade air compressor using these step-by-step instructions.

MOTHER's Homemade Air Compressor

Sooner or later every home workshop needs a good little air compressor. Nothing fancy, you understand. Just a rugged piece of equipment that will put out air at a pressure of up to, say, 80 pounds per square inch. Something that can handle all those paint spraying, sandblasting, air-blast cleaning, portable pneumatic tool, and "keep the tires inflated on the family bus" jobs that constantly crop up.

Everybody with a home shop knows that. But not everybody with a basement or garage workshop finds him- or herself able to shell out the $100 to $150 or more that a good little air compressor costs these days. And that's exactly why Dennis Burkholder and Emerson Smyers — two of MOTHER's research staff — recently scratched their heads, went to work, and came up with this nifty air compressor that any home craftsman should be able to whip together from mostly "junk" for less than $60 (Plans for MOTHER's Homemade Air Compressor).

Now it should be noted, right in the beginning, that the machine you see here consists of three basic parts: [1] duotanks to hold air after it's compressed, [2] a pump to do that compressing, and [3] an electric motor which turns the pump . . . all connected with the proper valves, controls, air lines, and other hardware.

And it should further be noted that there are untold numbers of storage tanks of countless design . . . an equally vast selection of discarded air pumps . . . and an incredible variety of old electric motors — all of which are suitable "raw materials" for a project of this nature — quietly rusting away in carports, cellars, attics, storage rooms, back yards, junk shops, and scrap piles in every part of the country right now.

And yet another point should be noted too: There undoubtedly are as many ways to combine any randomly selected tank, pump, and motor into a serviceable air compressor . . . as there are home shops that can use such a piece of machinery. There is-in other words-no "set" or "best" way to recycle a castoff tank or tanks, pump, and motor into an air compressor. But for an example of just how easy the job can be done . . . well, read on!

4/24/2015 2:33:48 AM

I was just thinking whether it could be used for storing natural gas as fuel during the excessive gas supplies to be reused during supply shortages?

6/2/2013 11:15:58 PM

It shows the inner parts of the air compressing solution. It is useful when reassembling the air compressor after repairing. Proper periodical maintenance will avoid major defects.

jeff rehberg
10/26/2012 12:18:52 AM

I freakin love it. we've had a hell of a time with compressors for work. just gathering the last of the materials for a build it yourself air compressor. would love a good illustrated step by step on this one. bein i think im gettin into the fixing n selling is

1/11/2008 5:57:59 PM

I build one from compressor off of car and it does everything I need it to do. Air tank I made from propane tank 100 # tank, it holds 100 # propane, it worked prefect. Thank you, Joy DeTienne

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