Introduction: Making a Isobox for an Air Compressor

About: Hello I'm a college student that enjoys making things with machines and hand tools, using materials like metal, wood, clay, and plastic. I am trying to start my own business in making small crafts, jewelry and…

I just got a VERY cheap Chinese Laser cutter of my own (Still Working on it) and I noticed that the air compressor for the Gas Assist is quite loud. I hate being a nuisance to my neighbors in my apartment complex so I made it my mission to make my new tools as quite as possible.

Recently the Epilog contest is back up and running. My second mission/hope if I don't win is that this tutorial will help the lady or gent that does win the contest to enjoy their brand new high quality laser as much as they can!

Step 1: Materials

1- Five Gallon Bucket (Available at Home Depot for $3.25)

6- One by One Sound Foam (Available at Walmart or Amazon for $10.99 (package))

1- 24inx36in Vinyl Foam Commercial Door Mat (Available at Home Depot for $9.97)

1- Leaktite Two Gallon Bucket (Available at Home Depot for $3.85)

1- Roll of Vinyl Tube (Available at Home Depot for $4.93)

1- CyberPower Universal Power Adapter (120v-12v) (Available at Frys for $17.99)

2- Enermax Marathon 8cm PC Fan (UC-8EB) (Available at Frys for $5.99)

1- Small Scale Continuous Air Compressor (Available at Home Depot for $24.97)

Overall Price = 87.93 + tax

(I didnt actually need to buy the Air Compressor,

and the Fans were a precaution so actual price would be =50.98+tax)

Step 2: Planning and Research

As with all projects make sure to plan everything out. You might not have access to the same materials as me so leave some room for measurement differences. Start off with your size constraints, I really only had the size of a bucket to work with, so a bucket is what I started with. Then I did research on Sound-Proofing, Sound-Dampening, and Vibration-Isolation.

Sound-Proofing: Any means of reducing the sound pressure with respect to a specified sound source and receptor

Sound-Dampening: Dissipates vibrational energy before it can build up and radiate as sound. ENERGY THENTURNS INTO HEAT!

Vibration-Isolation: The process of isolating an object, such as a piece of equipment, from the source of vibrations.


What I learned is the main concerns were Sound-Proofing and Vibration-Isolation and that Sound-Dampening was actually a form of Sound-Proofing as is Sound-Absorption and Sound-Diffusion.

Long story short to prevent sound and vibrations from traveling, you need lots and lots of layers of material that isnt too dense. (Dense like metal dense) Rubber, Foam, Plastic (not as recommended) are all good for Sound-Insulation while oil is amazing for Vibration-Isolation. The oil, historically, is used as a suspension system for engines and motors. Engineers put the Motor/Engine on a platform and put the oil underneath it so whenever the machinery vibrates it just slides along the oil which doesn't allow any more vibrations. As for sound, the semi-dense material doesn't allow the sound waves to transmit all the way through the material very will so you dont hear anything, but that can cause heating of the material. Another route you can take is making a "maze" or zigzag tunnel for the sound to lose power in as it bounces around and distributes the heat better while still preventing sound from traveling to unwanted places.

Main Problem!

The main problems I discovered was the noise from the vibrations of the air-compressor, and the actual sound emitted from the TUBE of the air compressor! NOT THE COMPRESSOR ITSELF! Of course that means the compressor is making noise from inside and is emitting some itself but not as much as the tube. The tube is just the most direct pathway to that noise so it is much louder than anything else. But plugging the tube into your laser or machine will immediately get rid of that noise so no worries there. Then the only other problem was the potential for overheating the air compressor because of the Sound-Dampening.


So I needed to figure out how to get lots of kinda-dense material that blocks sound (or reroutes it) and prevents vibrations from transmitting into an area as small as a 5-Gallon bucket without overheating the motor.

Step 3: Getting Started

Starting off with the bucket. The dimensions of the bucket were 12 inch bottom diameter by 15 inch height by 13 inch top diameter which meant everything had to fit in that area. The air compressor is 4.5 inches diameter by 7 inches and its air tube inner and outer measurements are 0.307 and 0.467. The tube the came with it was much too short so I went and got some clear vinyl tubing from home depot.

Your air-compressor may not be the same dimensions but any continuous air compressor from home depot will be close to size and tubing for those air-compressors will also be available there.

Step 4: Placing Material for Cutting

I used a high density foam mat from home depot as a border around the bucket but it was about 2 feet by 3 feet so I needed to cut it down to 14 inches by 3 feet. Mathematics states that the the diameter multiplied by pi is the circumference so 12 multiplied by (about) 3 is 36 inch so this mat was perfect for the 5-gallon bucket I was using. Once cut down it slid in perfectly to the bucket. You may then place the bucket on top of the remainder of the mat and use it to cut out a nice circle for the bottom of the bucket. Then use the sound foam as a secondary buffer, putting it vertical or horizontal doesn't matter too much, I put it vertical so it fit easier into the bucket. The foam is only one foot by one foot so it doesnt cover all the sides, but that works in our favor later on.

Step 5: Modifications to the Buckets

This is the easiest step, just cutting a few holes out of the buckets. The large orange bucket just needs a small hole cut out of the lid for now. (Two more holes will be cut but that will happen later on). The small white bucket may need a couple inches cut off the top in order to have everything fit as well as also needing a hole cut (3.5 in) into the bottom so that the the air compressor sits nicely and allows air a place to escape.

Step 6: Putting the Pieces Together

The padding has been added, the holes for the air compressor and tubes have been cut, now its time to put it together. If you havnt already, go ahead and attach your tubes to both ends of your air compressor, make sure to leave ample length on both ends. Thread the IN tube through the bottom of the White bucket and let the OUT tube hang out of the top the the White bucket. Sit the Air Compressor bottom nice and snug into the hole you made in the bottom of the White bucket and have the IN tube run from the bottom of the White bucket up along the outside of it. Neatly shove the White bucket into the orange bucket (that already has the vinyl mat and two sound insulation foam pads in it already) and make a real nice snug fit with the IN tube fitting into the gap between the two sound insulating foam mats like in the photo. Go ahead and pop the lid on and give it a test



The two layers of foam and the two buckets are enough to drastically reduce the sound and vibrations emitted by the air compressor. If you want added protection you can cut out a donut shape in the Sound Insulating Foam and put it as a buffer between the air compressor and White Bucket as well as putting some foam around the air compressor itself. Caution this may introduce overheating into the system!


A lot in the final step so pay attention to the pictures.

  1. Start off by taking of the triple connector cables attached to the ends of the black white and red wires.
  2. Use a knife or pin to poke the notch in on the cable connectors and gently pull the wires out. (The wire ends are not needed but makes things faster and simpler)
  3. Straighten out the wire ends and separate the White BLACK and RED.
  4. Single out the White and wrap it completely with electrical tape to completely insulate it.
  5. Wrap the bottom tips of the RED and BLACK to prevent accidental shorting.
  6. Plug in the power inverter and make sure it is switched to the 12 volt. (Less is fine you will just not get as much power to your fans)
  7. Try plugging in the RED and BLACK wires into the power inverter, if it doesnt work, switch positions.
  8. Set the fan on top of the bucket lid and use the fan blades as a reference to mark and cut a circular hole out.(Make sure the hole/fan does not interfere with the hole for the tubes and power cord)
  9. Use a pen or some paint and make a dot through the securing holes found at the bottom of the fan onto the lid for some reference marks.
  10. Cut and drill the holes out form the marks you have made.
  11. Put the fan back on the top side of the bucket and secure it with the screws pointing upwards.
  12. The fan is now secured onto the top of the bucket.
  13. Repeat steps 8-11 on the opposite side of the bucket lid.
  14. Make sure one fan is blowing IN to the bucket and the other fan is blowing OUT.
  15. Take both bundles of wire and separate the BLACK and RED and White wires.
  16. Tape the two BLACK wires together and make sure to leave the ends exposed but pressed together.
  17. Tape the two RED wires together and make sure to leave the ends exposed but pressed together.
  18. Tape the two White wires together and make sure to COVER everything exposed.
  19. Plug the two connected BLACK wires into one port of the power inverter.
  20. Plug the two connected RED wires into the opposite port of the power inverter.
  21. If nothing happens flip the connections.
  22. Both fans should be running now.
  23. Put the lid onto the Isobox and fire up the fans and Air-Compressor

With the setup I have there are no vibrations, and only a slight humming noise that can be drowned out with a closed door and TV with a level 10 volume. I didnt put the extra insulation under the lid or around the air compressor so that may do even more to help but I am fine with what I got going.

Step 9: Fin

This doesn't only have to work with small Air-Compressors. This same concept should be able to work with just about any size air compressor. Use layers to stop and reroute sound. Leave space and a pathway for air to come in and out. Use foam (or rubber) to stop the vibrations. Think about installing a separate cooling unit.

I hope this helps you keep your work spaces a little quieter and more enjoyable.

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