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Air Tool Accessory Kit

08/25/10 | by theprofessor [mail] | Categories: Air Tools, Hot Buys

Link: http://HarborFreightReviews.com/HFRreviews.html

Air Accessory Kit
Item: Air Tools Accessory Kit
Item number: 42716
Retail price: $9.99
Target price: $7.99 (with 20%-off coupon if necessary)
Item Link

Most air compressors out-of-the-box contain nothing to get you started except the compressor itself. You'll need several other parts to make your new air compressor useful. We recommend that you start with one of the air accessory kits offered by Harbor Freight. Our selection of the particular product reviewed here is based on our intended uses and still leaves you without a necessary air hose. You might consider one of the other kits (e.g., 20-Piece Air Compressor Starter Kit; retail price: $14.99) which includes a coiled hose if your intended use differs for your air compressor. (See below for a brief description of how we use our air compressors.) For most purposes we suggest this air tool accessory kit combined with one of Harbor Freight's 25- or 50-ft rubber hoses.

There are always exceptions: We generally recommend buying this air tool accessory kit and adding a 25- or 50-ft rubber hose for most users. However, if you are buying a lightweight, hand-carried air compressor you may want to purchase an air tool accessory kit that includes a coiled air hose (e.g., 20-Piece Air Compressor Starter Kit). We don't use a coiled air hose very often, but there are a few situations where we find it very useful. (Note that the kits including a coiled hose do not include some of the 'odd' pieces included in this air tool accessory kit which you may find later that you need, and they include fewer quick couplers.)

We have a small, hand-carried (very) portable air compressor that we use for inflating bicycle tires and for blasting debris and dust at various locations. The coiled air hose works great for these applications. We also find the coiled hose useful when we combine it with our air manifold that has several outlets on our larger, medium-sized air compressor. Here we frequently use the coiled air hose with an air gun for blowing debris and dust from bench tools located near our main air compressor.

FYI: Coiled air hoses generally wear out much faster and are subject to damage much easier than are rubber air hoses.

With this sit you receive 4 male quick couplers. Two will be used immediately on your air chuck and on your blow gun, and that leaves only two for your other air tools. The quick release coupler attaches to your air compressor output line. The female quick coupler, 1/4" nipples, and other couplings are likely to remain in your toolbox for a while until you have special needs for them. You could just purchase the couplings (e.g., 5-Piece Solid Brass Quick Coupler Set; retail price: $4.99) but the air blower is very useful and the air chuck a necessity, so you would mostly likely find yourself later purchasing them separately at an increased cost. Moreover, we found use for some of the other 'odd' pieces immediately with our air tools and would have to had paid a couple of dollars each for the other pieces. All-in-all, investing in this low-cost air accessory kit was the right choice for us to get started as we feel it will be for most other novice users. Not only is it likely to save money in the long run (compared with buying each component or set of specific parts separately) but more importantly it saves frustrating trips to the hardware store when we would have been 'short' that one 'odd' little piece to get our tool running.

FYI the obvious or the not-so-obvious if you haven't purchased your first air tool yet: Most air tools come with 1/4" NPT connections and do not have quick coupler fittings or other necessary connectors included. You need to purchase these separately and this kit gets you started with four of these quick couplers. When you need more purchase them in small packages not individually. You'll find that you need more and more as you increase the number of air tools that you use.

Some online reviewers have complained about this set, but we like it for getting you started in the world of air tools or for purchase with your first air compressor. This kit contains the components which are an absolute must for getting started; the complaints have been mainly about the air flow rate through the quick couplers (see below) and are most likely from people who use their air tools more 'seriously' that we do for our applications.

It's all relative and here's our point of reference: We do not use air tools on a regular basis, except perhaps for our blow guns. We do not usually disconnect and connect several tools daily nor even use our air compressor every day. On a busy day with our compressor we only swap air tools several times, and busy days are likely to occur only once or twice each month. Of course on occasion we have used our air tools throughout the day for several successive days; we have tackled a few bigger projects requiring this more serious type of use. But our normal pattern of compressor use is irregular and sporadic, with only several uses each month. Our evaluations are based on this type of use, not sustained regular use of these products. Be advised that professional use may require higher-quality products than those reviewed here. We occasionally use air tools such as our high-speed air cutter, air hammer, die grinder, impact wrench, and air socket. We don't use a paint gun or a sand blaster. We have fun and we save a lot of time on projects for which we use our air tools, but we don't do regular, professional work with an air compressor nor have we tested any of these products under these conditions.

You can purchase different air couplers that are rated for high air flow (i.e., 4-Piece Hi-Flo Male Plug Set; retail price: $2.99). They have a larger internal diameter than do the standard couplers included in this set and the quick couplers used by many (most?) people. These high-flow air couplers permit higher levels of air flow to your air tool thus increasing its power. However, we find that for our uses the standard couplers work just fine. In fact, we have a medium-sized compressor that runs out of high-pressure air long before we might have problems with its rate of air delivery influenced by any constriction in our air line. In other words, our compressor can't really handle the sustained high air flow that some tools require and that the high-flow couplers are designed to permit. So who cares? The standard couplers work quite well for us.

How much would you like to pay? Amazon (who has consistently been beating eBay on prices for new items) sells a very similar accessory kit for $29.99 marked down from a list price of $44.99. You do get a case for that price, but most of the items in our air tool accessory kit are being used around the shop, so the case would pretty much be empty. At our target price, the equivalent item from Harbor Freight is less than a third of the price at Amazon! Click here to view the product sold by Amazon.

FYI: We like Amazon and have bought lots of items from them over the years. We recommend them for many other products, but they just can't touch Harbor Freight's prices.

As you build your arsenal of air tools you will quickly need additional quick couplers. For your next purchase, we recommend you do invest in a set of high-flow male connectors (i.e., 4-Piece Hi-Flo Male Plug Set; retail price: $2.99). The price is great and you might as well invest in the higher flow rate just in case it does eventually make a difference. Of course to make full use of the high-flow connectors you would need to also purchase high-flow female connectors too (i.e., 2-Piece Brass Hi-Flo Female Air Coupler Set; retail price: $4.99). Be forewarned that some users have reported problems with the female couplers failing and you may need to invest in a more expensive female coupler purchased elsewhere.

Bottom line: This low-priced air accessory kit from Harbor Freight is one of several possibilities for getting you started with your new compressor. Don't leave the shop without it or without a similar accessory kit, or you'll find that the only thing your new air compressor does is blow air in the garage.

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This review and discussion forum was created for those of us who love Harbor Freight(tm). It's well known to those who frequent the store that the prices are always cycling up and down, and most of us usually accept it as a personal challenge to get the lowest price possible. It's also well appreciated that some products at Harbor Freight are good, even very good, but that many others are also substandard, yes, even junk. This review and discussion forum is dedicated to the savvy Harbor Freight shopper and is intended to provide some guidance to the best and the worse buys. Similar products from other retailers will also be reviewed from time-to-time. Please be advised that everyone's experience is unique, and what works well (or doesn't work at all) for the reviewers here may or may not suit your personal needs. With this caveat and with notification that Harbor Freight Reviews assumes no liability for the accuracy of information provided here for educational purposes, enjoy the forum and good 'sa(i)ling' at Harbor Freight!


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