Running Compressed Air Lines in a Shop

Not all pipe can handle high-pressure air

Want to add a compressor to your shop or garage? Learn what the best pipe materials are for a compressed air line— and what not to use.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

Choosing the right pipe

First of all, don't use PVC pipe. If it breaks under pressure, the plastic will shatter and send pieces flying like shrapnel. Use copper instead. It's available at most hardware stores and home centers. Solder it using the same fittings as you would for water supply lines.

If you don't want to solder, use galvanized or black steel pipe. Measure the pipe runs and buy exact lengths; hardware stores will cut and thread the ends for you. Unlike gas and water lines, air compression lines don't require perfect joints, so don't worry if they leak a tiny bit.

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Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • Adjustable wrench
  • Air compressor
  • Air hose
  • Tube cutter
  • Soldering torch

You'll also need a wire brush for cleaning copper joints

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.

  • 1/2-in. copper pipe and fittings
  • Flux
  • Solder