I work in construction. I don’t do any big jobs, but I do mostly contract work for home remodels and such. In this industry, you need to have the best equipment.
One piece that I use on a constant basis is an air compressor. Whether I’m powering tools or using it to paint an area, a quality air compressor is necessary for a job well done.
One of the best companies for air compressors is Makita. For years, I’ve been using Makita products, and today I’ll talk to you about one of the most powerful and versatile compressors they make, the MAC700 Big Bore Compressor.
I’ll also be showing you the basics of air compression and what to look for when buying one.
Air Compressor Types
When it comes to compressing air, there are three primary ways to do it. Piston, rotary, and centrifugal compression all have benefits and downsides. Here are the main distinctions of each type.
Piston-driven compressors (also known as reciprocating compressors) are by far the most common model, since they are easy to build and work well in a variety of applications.
This device works similarly to your car’s engine. A metal piston pushes air into a tank to increase the overall air pressure. Most piston units are lubricated with oil to keep everything running smoothly.
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Rotary compressors use two screws to push the air into the tank. The way it works is that the screws are set up so they drive air one way, but still create an airtight seal.
Rotary compressors operate much more efficiently than piston models since they can continuously push air into the tank without having to recycle. Also, since the screws never actually touch each other, they don’t need lubrication to stay in working order.
The downside of rotary compressors is the cost since they are usually more expensive than piston models.
The most powerful type of compressor is a centrifugal model. The way this unit works is that impellers spin rapidly and drive air into the tank.
Centrifugal compressors can generate a lot of pressure, and they inherently provide clean air, which are the two main reasons to use one. Usually, however, centrifugal units are bigger and costlier than rotary and piston models.
Keeps In Mind
If you need an air compressor, there are certain factors that you need to consider when making your purchase. Since there are so many varieties to choose from, you need to look at the following options to make sure that your compressor will fit your needs.
If you only do small jobs at home or at a workshop, then you shouldn’t need a very large air compressor.
When comparing different compressors, you need to look at the size of the reserve tank to get an idea of the amount of pressure it can generate and the level of performance it will have.
Simply put, the smaller the tank, the less power it will have, and vice versa.
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Since air compression is the whole purpose of this machine, you need to look at how much pressure it can generate to ensure that it will perform adequately for your needs.
There are two main numbers to look at: the PSI (pounds per square inch) and the CFM (cubic feet per minute) rate. Certain machinery will only operate at a particular level of PSI, so you need to make sure that your compressor reaches that amount.
The CFM rate will determine how fast your unit recycles, so you know how long you can maintain that max pressure.
As with all mechanical devices, air compressors make noise. In some cases, they can make a lot of noise.
If you work in a shop with other people or need to keep the noise level down, look for a compressor model that doesn’t operate at high decibels. A good measurement is human speech, which is usually rated at about 76 decibels.
If your compressor is as loud or quieter than that, you’re golden.
Even though there are only three types of compression systems, there is a multitude of compressor models from which to choose. Here are the most common.
Inflator: if you just need a quick and easy device to inflate tires, balls, and other household items, an inflator is perfect for you. Usually, inflators just pump air directly, rather than storing it in a tank to increase the overall pressure. In essence, whatever you’re inflating is the reserve tank, and the inflator is the compression system.
Pancake: for small compression jobs that require more PSI than an inflator, a pancake model is best. This compressor is so named because the shape resembles a pancake.
Hot Dog: whoever named compressor models must have been hungry, since hot dog compressors resemble, you guessed it, a hot dog. This type of compressor is usually a step up from the pancake models since the tank is typically larger.
Twin Stack: if you want two hot dog tanks stacked on top of each other, a twin stack design is ideal for you.
Pontoon: this model is similar to a twin stack compressor, but instead the tanks are side by side and resemble a pontoon boat. Usually, pontoon compressors are much larger and can generate more PSI and a higher CFM rate.
Wheelbarrow: one of the biggest styles of compressor that isn’t mounted to the wall is the wheelbarrow model. These compressors can resemble a pontoon model but have a wheel system that is similar to a wheelbarrow so that you can move it around much easier.
Truck-Mounted: if you need maximum power but still need your compressor to be relatively portable, then a truck-mounted model is the one for you. These compressors are big and bulky, but as long as they are on a truck, you can move them from place to place while still maintaining maximum performance.
When choosing your air compressor, you want to keep in mind any other accessories that may come with it.
For example, a lot of compressors don’t come with a hose (or a flimsy one), so you may need to buy a hose just to use it.
Also, look for hose attachments, filters, and any other add-ons that can enhance your compression experience. If you want clean air, then look for a model that comes with a cooling system attachment so you can get much cleaner air than you would otherwise.
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- High performance
- Durable construction
- Low noise levels
- Large capacity tank
- High output with lower RPM
- Lubricated for less maintenance
- Uses less power
- Easy to check oil
- High PSI and CFM output
- Stable construction won’t topple over
- Hard to maneuver since there are no wheels
- Heavier than other similar models
- In rare cases, the unit may come damaged
- Not ideal for applications that need clean air
- Top-heavy and can be cumbersome to move
- Cast-iron and steel construction
- Big bore cylinder and piston deliver 130 max PSI
- 3.8 max CFM output
- 2.6-gallon tank
- Two-horsepower motor
- Oil lubricated for better performance
- Drain included to change the oil
- Sight glass lets you know how much oil is left
- Operates at 1720rpm
- Quiet operation only creates 80 dB
- Low amp draw (12.4) means less tripped breakers
Q: Can I use this air compressor for spray painting?
A: As long as you cool the air down, yes you can. However, be aware that this machine is oil lubricated, so the air will not be clean. This can affect the paint job. I’d only use it for painting wood or other pieces that don’t need to be pristine.
Q: Is this powerful enough to use with a framing nailer?
A: Yes, the output of air and pressure is more than sufficient for a framing nailer or other nail gun.
Q: I’ve noticed a high-pitched squealing noise coming from the device. What should I do?
A: That could indicate a snapped belt or a high-pressure leak. Do not use the compressor if it starts making that noise. Instead, get it serviced and checked out.
I’ve always been a big fan of Makita products, and the MAC700 Big Bore is one of my favorite tools. Since I got it, I’ve used it practically every day, and it works just as well now as it did on day one.
What I like about this model is the quiet operation and the fact that it uses much less power than other compressors I’ve used.
Sometimes we have to work from a portable generator, so it’s nice to have a powerful machine that won’t trip the breaker every time I use it. I also like the size and shape of this model. Since it has a roll bar attached, I can pick it up and move it relatively easily (at least for me).
Some people may think it’s too heavy and bulky, but for me it’s perfect. I don’t like that it’s a little top-heavy, but I haven’t had any problems so far. Overall, I really like the MAC700 Big Bore Air Compressor.