Jigsaws and Routers
A pneumatic jigsaw may seem like an odd tool, but its smaller size makes it a good choice for curved cutting jobs in cramped areas, like doing plumbing cutouts on the insides of kitchen cabinets. Air jigsaws are also a terrific choice if you need to do repairs while lying on damp ground under a house or work on a boat that’s still in the water — there’s no hazard of electric shock.
One company, Beaver Tools, makes a line of pneumatic routers and laminate trimmers which are very compact, yet powerful. Accepting only 1/4″-shank bits, these routers are nimble to use for inlay and detail work, as well as for trimming veneers, plastic laminates and solid-surface materials.
Reversible and Right-angle Drills
Sporting keyless chucks and rotation-reversing levers, air drills are just like electric drills, only smaller. Just like a clutch on a cordless drill, you can change air pressure on an air drill to control the amount of torque. Lacking the bulk of an electric motor, right-angle air drills are small enough to get into the narrowest compartments, making them great for drilling holes for furniture and cabinet hardware.
Right-angle and Die Grinders
If you build curvaceous furniture or sculpt or carve wood, you’ll find air-powered grinders extremely useful. Fitted with a carbide-burr wheel, flap-sanding disc (available at welding supply stores) or a carving disc such as the Arbotech Woodcarver, a pneumatic right angle grinder is a wicked wood-eating tool. But using a standard grinding wheel, the tool comes in mighty handy for occasional metal work as well — say, reshaping part of a door hinge.
Air die grinders pack a lot of power into a small package. Their 1/4″ collets will accept a wide range of wood burrs, cutters and sanding wheels/discs, making them great tools for carving and refining details — wooden handles, escutcheons, furniture feet, and so forth.