What We Like
Compressor maintains power effectively
Includes two nailers and one stapler
Includes 15-foot hose
What We Don't Like
Awkward to move around
The Bostitch brand has been around for more than 100 years, and it has spent those years manufacturing fasteners such as nail guns, staplers, and glue guns. I tested one of the company’s core offerings, its 3-Tool Compressor Combo Kit, while rebuilding the deck on my Colorado home. Find out how this compressor helped me employ some new tools and if it helped me get the project done any faster or better.
Design: The perfect starter kit for air tools
This product from Bostitch serves as a great starter kit for anyone who wants to get into the world of air tools. For the uninitiated, air tools (or pneumatic tools) use compressed air instead of an electric motor to power various hand tools. Most home DIYers are more familiar with electric or battery-operated tools such as drills and saws, but the 6-gallon pancake compressor included here opens up the possibility of using other tools such as nail guns and powerful staplers.
This kit includes a 6-gallon pancake air compressor with a maximum psi of 150; psi, or pounds per square inch, is a unit of pressure. It also comes with three tools: a brad nailer that drives 18-gauge nails from ⅝ to 2 inches in length; a finish nailer that drives 16-gauge straight finish nails from 1 ¼ to 2 ½ inches in length; and a crown stapler that drives ⅜-inch crown staples from ¼ to 9/16 inches as well as 18-gauge brad nails from ½ to ⅝ inches. Lastly, a 15-foot air hose and sample fasteners are also included.
This kit includes a simple, functional pancake compressor and three helpful tools.
Bostich also sells this air compressor—which The Spruce featured on its list of the best air compressors—by itself, as well as paired with other combinations of tools. I opted for the three-tool kit in order to test the compressor itself most effectively, but no matter your needs, the brand has a combo for you.
Performance: Time-saving and (mostly) easy to use
The Bostitch compressor fills up fairly quickly. On average, I waited about six minutes for the compressor to reach 140 psi from zero. From there, I could use the separate pressure outlet regulator to deliver the pressure I needed as specified for each tool. The framing nailer, for example, recommends somewhere in the range of 70 to 120 psi. I usually aimed for the upper end of that range because the pressure drops a bit upon each use and the tools seemed to operate consistently within a wide range of pressures.
While it’s not recommended to leave the tank filled for long periods of time unused, I left it full during most of the two-and-a-half-week testing period, which reduced fill time to a minute or less.
Once filled, the pancake compressor was effective at maintaining pressure while I worked, as long as it was plugged in. (The compressor does operate when unplugged, as long as it’s pressurized, but I found it best to keep it plugged in, since it doesn’t take long for the pressure to decrease to a point at which the tools can’t operate.)
In terms of the compressor itself, there’s not much to it, other than the pressure readout and dial for adjusting the pressure level set. I thought that the dial was intuitive to use and found that the compressor responded quickly and reliably.
The compressor was effective at maintaining pressure as long as it was plugged in.
The three included tools are also pretty straightforward in their operation. Like most similar gun-style fastener tools, the brad nailer, finish nailer, and stapler requires simultaneous pressure on the tool’s nose and a trigger actuation to fire—a safety precaution that drastically limits the possibility of errant firing.
As expected from air tools, these three provided a powerful way to apply fasteners to a job—and if you’ve ever done any framing without tools like these, you know the strain it can put on your hands as well as how long it can take. Using the framing nailer, I was able to nail our deck joists about as quickly as I could place them. I also used the brad nailer on some small trim boards that had to be replaced on our siding as part of the deck rebuild, and it saved similar amounts of time and annoyance.
Although the framing nailer was helpful, it did take some practice learning how to angle it correctly to get the proper nail placement. For example, when hammering a nail by hand, you can make slight adjustments to the angle as you go, but since these nailers drive in one fast stroke, there’s no time for micro-adjustments.
Lastly, although I didn’t need the included stapler for the deck project, I tried it on some plywood and found that it worked powerfully. However, if you don’t see yourself doing projects that require massive amounts of stapling, Bostitch sells a compressor kit with just the two nailers included.
Portability: Might need extension cord
There’s no question that air tools have some limitations when it comes to moving them around a garage or a job site. Your tool is tethered to a compressor which is in turn tethered to an electrical outlet. The compressor itself weighs 29 pounds, so while it’s not hard to move per se, it certainly requires more effort than if you were using a cordless drill, for example.
The 15-foot air hose included gives you a good range.
Thankfully, the 15-foot air hose included gave me a good range when nailing joists to beams, as I did repeatedly on my deck project. That said, you’ll reach the end of your hose at some point, and for that reason, I kept the compressor plugged in to a 50-foot extension cord so that the whole apparatus could be moved easily when needed.
Special Features: Could use some basic accessories
While this kit includes three useful tools, I found myself wishing that it delivered some basic accessories that most compressor users will want, such as a blower gun, tire filling adapters, and adapters for other types of tools.
However, I liked that each tool came with a sample pack of fasteners—which was especially nice in my case because the brad nailer’s included fasteners were all I needed for my deck’s trim.
The samples were also helpful because they served as tangible examples of the proper fasteners for each tool. I was able to take them to the hardware store to visually confirm that I was buying the right stuff.
Price: Good value
At around $300, this air compressor combo kit is a great value for home DIYers looking for an introduction to air tools.
Bostitch Portable Air Compressor with 3-Tool Kit vs. Campbell-Hausfeld 6-Gallon Pancake Compressor
For slightly more than $200, you can get the comparable pancake compressor from Campbell-Hausfeld, which is the same size but claims to be the quietest in its class; it produces 68 dBA (a measurement referring to the relative loudness of sounds as perceived by the human ear), while the Bostitch compressor produces 78.5 dBA. If you’re not accustomed to the intermittent loud noise of a compressor—and don’t need all three tools included with the Bostitch—you may want to look at the Campbell-Hausfeld.
- Product Name BTFP3KIT 3-Tool Compressor Combo Kit
- Product Brand Bostitch
- MPN BTFP3KIT
- Price $299.00
- Maximum psi 150
- Compressor Weight 29 lbs.
- Compressor Tank Size 6 gallons
- Power 110v
- Pump Type Oil-free
- Warranty 1-year limited