Air Hose Reels
Auto shops used to leave air hoses lying on the floor. They were a tripping hazard but were always handy for the mechanic.

Today, retractable air hose reels offer an affordable option for hose management without the trip hazard.

One of these reels' most significant advantages is that you can stage them in multiple areas around the shop. For example, you can install one in each auto bay. This setup makes it easy to provide a ready-to-access supply of air for each mechanic.

While it is possible to buy reels without hoses, most of these are sold in a preloaded combo package with a hose.

As ToolTally points out, an air hose reel will help prolong your hose's life by reducing the chance of kinks or something heavy being dropped on the hose.

They also make you more efficient as you don't have to stop to hang the hose when you are done.

When you spend more on a hose reel, you are buying better bearings and springs. This both increases the lifespan of the tool and

Harbor Freight air hose reels use a simple design. It's a basic hose reel, based on one of the oldest and most proven designs. For the home DIYer, their reel can be a good option for the money. I don’t see them mentioned in many of the blogs, but I have handled this one at my local Harbor Freight store and is seems to be ok.

The Goodyear L815153G seems to be the internet's general favorite when looking for the highest-quality air hose reel.

I've seen these used in several professional mechanic shops, and they seem to hold up well. The single-arm design pivots freely, making it easy to access the air hose from any angle.

The all-metal design and reinforced hose promise a longer lifespan. It also has a large hose ball stop that always ensures the proper amount of hose hangs down, keeping it in easy reach.

Departing slightly from the internet's top-pick for a minute, the CoxReels model is extremely robust. It is made in Tempe, Arizona, bringing that made in America quality to their product.

The axle is better supported by bearings than some of the cheapest models. This creates a smoother-rolling experience.

This is one of the most robust hose reels on the market. The retraction spring is so strong that it has the fastest retraction, letting you work quickly and put the hose back even more rapidly.

However, if you want the best air hose reel for the money, the Flexzilla has a lot to offer.

The enclosed plastic case helps to keep dust out of the internal mechanisms.

The hose itself is made from a hybrid polymer that is designed not to hold a "memory" shape. This ensures that the hose is always flexible and is less prone to kinking.

This is especially handy since it stays pliable in a wide range of temperatures. You get good movement out of this hose from -40 degrees on up to 150 degrees Fahrenheit.

It also comes with aircraft aluminum anodized fittings. While I am a fan of brass fittings, these aluminum options are more affordable.

A protip is to adjust the spring when it arrives to tighten it. This improves the auto-retraction performance of the hose.

Is it Possible To Replace The Hose On A Reel?

If you have an old reel with a bad hose, it is possible to remove the old hose and replace it.

Extreme care should be used as the reel may be under pressure. Those springs can be deadly to work with.

If it is a fully-enclosed reel, such as a Flexzilla or a Goodyear, you will need to first remove the screws holding the exterior cover.

Then remove the inlet hose and the 90-degree fitting and save them for later.

That allows you to remove the cover and deal directly with the hose reel.

Unspin the old hose from the reel and put a new one on.

When you re-assemble everything, make sure to spin the hose reel 2-3 times to preload the spring and to provide some retraction capabilities.

If you can find an old air hose reel with a leak on Craiglist or at an auction, it might be a cheap way to buy one for your shop.

What Size Hose Reel Do You Need?

Most shops use 3/8-inch hose in 50-feet or shorter lengths. This is a fairly standard setup and should work with just about any hose reel.

If you want to use a wider diameter hose, or if you need a longer hose, you may want to do more research to ensure that the model you are looking at can handle that length.

The longest reel that I was able to find could handle 100 feet of hose, but it did not have an auto-retraction function.

For the small woodworking shop, 50 feet is generally more than enough. If you need a longer length, you might consider installing two hose reels instead of allowing for a more workable hose length.