Building a small lean-to for the air compressor – Check it out!

One of the side projects I’ve had on my list for some time now has been a small lean-to on the side of my metal building where I keep the CNC Plasma cutter. This side of the building has a large air compressor which feeds the CNC and is really needs to be covered up with an overhead metal roof. Rather than build a small cover for the air compressor, I decided to build the covering down the entire length of the building. The design for the framing is quite simple – 20 feet worth of over head space spanning 8 feet off of the building side 

However, the brush that’s in the way is another story. Before I began, I had loads of clearing to do with a chain saw. This not only benefits me in the way of clearing out these thirsty cedars which rob water from my preferred oaks, but it also just makes the property look much less cluttered. 

I cleared out damn near one full 16’ trailer load of material out of the way to provide room for this lean-to. Some of the larger branches down low were knocked off with this new M18 cordless chain-saw from Milwaukee. If you find yourself growing tired of keeping up with small carbureted engines gumming up with this ethanol fuel (as I am), then you really ought to look into one of these battery operated chain saws. 

This unit from Milwaukee is comparable to a 40cc gas engine in terms of power and runs on the same M18 batteries which Milwaukee powers over a 175 different other tools. So, If you’re already in the family of Milwaukee tools then this will be a no brainer to add to the stable. 

The 16” bar length cuts well through some of the larger logs and branches and features an automatic oil mechanism like you would find on standard gas powered chain saws. Like many other electric motors, the torque delivery is instantaneous! Although it will easily spool to max RPM in less than one second, the “throttle” control is infinitely variable from zero to full speed. 

Although I can work hard and steady on the property, I am not terribly muscular which means I put a high value on a tool that packs a serious punch for demanding work but doesn’t weight a ton. This tool fits well with in this criteria weighing in at a feathery 10.7 lbs. 

The higher branches were another story however. Once I get to cutting brush, I tend to get in the zone and find myself cutting for hours. Consequently, once all the low work is complete, I started aiming at the high branches well above my head. Ladders and chainsaws don’t go too well together : ) Instead of risking it, I opted for this bespoke pole saw kit from Milwaukee. Like the chain saw, this unit also runs on the same M18 batteries and has 6’ reached can extend up to 9 fool feet! Talk about a game changer : ) My 5’4” frame can now easily reach well above my head with this new pole saw kit and steadily but surely cross cut branches till the cows come home. One happy home owner here! 

The pole saw is just one of 5 attachments available on the shelf which include, a hedge trimmer, weed eater, edger, and a 3’ extension pole. Although I don’t have hedges around my property, I can clearly see how having a pole-hedge trimmer would benefit basic yard maintenance for the vertically challenged home owners like myself. : ) The powered base for this tool assembly features the same buttery smooth controls as the chain saw. Instant throttle response controlled by a variable trigger. 

Weighing in at only 12.3 lbs, the powered base is driven by a brushless DC motor using the REDLIINK PLUS intelligence system which optimizes motor performance, reduces the chances for overload, and prevents damage to the battery through intelligent motor control hardware. 

In the end, the benefits to going cordless are pretty exhaustive; between the chain saw and the pole saw with all of its attachments, I’m able to work longer and not fatigue due to a heavy gas engine, reduce my carbon foot print by not emitting loads of C02 from a 2 stroke engine, and I’m able to consolidate 5 different tools into one. 

Once all the brush was cleared from the work space, I could then focus on the real meat and potatoes of this build…cutting all the lumber to length and throwing it up in the air. 

Cutting my lumber for this build was handled by another new tool in my stable…..the DeWalt DWS779 15 amp double bevel miter saw. Talk about a beast of a saw! This corded miter saw is a result of years worth of tried and true product development standing out in the way of it’s fit, finish, and dimensional accuracy. From a power standpoint, this saw had zero issues powering through 4×4 treated lumber and all of the 2×6 ceiling joists. 

The 12” carbide blade feels sharp and precise right out of the box unlike many other cheaper versions you find on some other saws. The adjustable positions of the saw allow you to cut up to 6-3/4” material, 60 degrees to the right and 50 degrees to the left. Tall material nests well on the deck of the saw with the help of the adjacent 8” sliding fence. Like the deck of the saw, the fence slides are made from cast aluminum which is machined to a beautiful flat surface finish. 

Sliding this saw through material could not be any smoother. The twin guide rails slide effortlessly through two high quality captive ball bearing guides in the back of the saw. When you need to transport the saw, the motor head locks securely in position to keep it from surprising you as soon as you pick it up (been there, done that). 

Out of the box, the DWS779 cuts accurately on angled cuts to within less than a degree (as far as I could measure). The only draw back I’ve noted so far is the weight. With power comes weight in the world of miter saws. Consequently, when moving this mammoth, you’ll need to put your back into it. : ) Personally, I think this saw works best as a stationary shop resource and would be less than ideal for the traveling craftsman. This opinion is mainly born out of my renewed romance for battery powered tools. As an example, my Milwaukee battery operated miter saw is a full 5 lbs lighter than this saw. But, if your’e a stout feller and don’t mind the extra weight, then this saw would make for a perfect tool in your arsenal if power, accuracy, and cut capacity are high on your list of demands. 

Finishing out all of the framing brought me to the point I could skin the roof with some sheet metal. I chose to go with standard galvalume R-panel for the roof of this structure. The galvanized finish is reflective enough to reduce inside temps and it matches the profile of the sheet metal on this little building. Keeping the sheet metal screws in a nice straight line is one of the most critical to quality features of building with sheet metal in my opinion. You can accomplish this several different ways but I prefer a chalk line. However!, longer stretches of a chalk line can reduce the reliability of the line since the line gets really “slacked” – Enter the Milwaukee 100’ Chalk Line – This chalk line is almost the size of 550 chord allowing you to put loads of tension into the line with out it parting like the smaller cotton stuff. Spooling the line back in is by far faster than any other on the market with the 1:4 gear ratio of handle to drum turns. The large steel ring at the end of the line allows you to hook onto to just about anything that will fit inside a 1-1/2” diameter circle.

My number two critical to quality marker on sheet metal jobs cut quality. Everyone knows that cutting sheet metal is hot, loud, dangerous work. Ive used abrasive wheels, sawsalls, tin snips and just about every other option available and to be honest, I don’t really care for any of them lol. However, there is a new option currently available on the shelf and I think it has been brought over from the chop saw team of developers at Diablo cutting blades. Not long ago they introduced to the market a new cutting blade intended for metals which cuts at mush lower speeds and temps. The blade technology is known as a “Cermet” which is a combination of ceramic and metal constituents. The blade itself is laser cut out of steel, but features ceramic and metallic blend in the cutting teeth coupled to the outer diameter. These cutting teeth provide an incredibly clean cut that is magically cool to the touch immediately after cutting the material. Whether your cutting stainless or galvanized, Diablo claims you can realize up to 40% longer cutting life when compared to conventional metal cutting blades. This sheet metal roof only required one rip cut on one of the pieces of roofing material. Granted, the cut was not quite as noisy as an abrasive, but absolutely requires hearing and eye protection.

This 7-1/4″ features 48 TPI blade offers a thin kerf and tri-metal shock resistant brazing to keep those cutting teeth stuck to the blade and not on the shop floor. For me, metal cutting blades on the consumer level have been a real game changer and have certainly saved my butt when a plasma or acetylene torch was not available.

Fortunately, this project is a wrap. My air compressor definitely had to undergo some wear and tear in the time is sat out in the weather but I’ve fortunately been able to put a halt to that.

If you’re interested in learning a bit more about the products Ive listed above, feel free to follow the linked titles and check them out at The Home Depot’s website. These tools have been provided to me in support of their ProSpective tool review campaign and have served me well. Thanks for taking the time to learn more about these little projects and have a great day!