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20 ton hydraulic press on a budget


#1

Does anyone know if you can use a 20-ton hydraulic shop press for
jewelry making? I realize I would need to purchase urethane pads to
do this. If not, is it possible to build a press from a 20 ton
hydraulic bottle jack? At this point, I only want to use it to cut
stamps and for a little forming, so I don’t want to make the big
investment.

Thank you. Georgia


#2

Georgia, You can find complete instructions for making a 20-ton
hydraulic press in the Susan Kingsley book. I had mine made following
her instructions, and it works just fine.

Alma


#3

Hello Georgia, I have been using a 20 ton press of my own making for
years. If I can anyone can. Just build it sturdy,20 tonsis a lot of
force.

Have fun.
Tom Arnold


#4

Yes as a matter of fact I just built a 50 ton press for my shop. I
welded it together with heavy stainless steel plate and angle iron.
I use it to form everything from belt buckles to earrings. I found
the hydraulic jack on Ebay for $25.00. I would caution anyone who
either buys one or makes one that the pressure exerted by these
presses can cause pieces to explode. I suggest you buy some books on
press forming, and also a jack with a pressure gauge so you can
repeat any mold by watching the gauge. I’ve seen these presses made
from threaded rod with bolts and 1/2" plates on the top and bottom
with holes for the rod to feed thru. I think this is a very dangerous
short cut, as I described. I suggest you go to
bonnydoonengineering.com for ideas from their pictures on how to
build one.


#5

You can use a shop press but they are not really designed to do what
you want. I have sold modified attachments to people who have
converted them, but in the end they have bought a jewelry press
since they are easier to use and not flimsy like shop presses, that
are designed to press out wheel bearings.

There are several companies selling presses, the oldest being Bonny
Doon. They make a great product. I also make a press - mine is
different than the others out there. It is made from a steel plate
and the platten is guided by the frame so it can’t tip and shoot your
work across the room. I sell it with or without the jack so that you
can buy any 20 ton jack you want and it will fit in my frame, You
also save a bunch on shipping since you can buy a jack local and
install it yourself. I also make a 12 ton that is less expensive
that can do almost everything that the 20 ton will do.

Kevin Potter
www.potterusa.com
(Sorry for the shameless self-promotion.)


#6
I've seen these presses made from threaded rod with bolts and 1/2"
plates on the top and bottom with holes for the rod to feed thru. I
think this is a very dangerous short cut, as I described. 

As a happy owner of 3 Bonny Doon presses I can say that a properly
engineered and welded 20 to 50 ton press frame will work just fine.
Over the years I have spent lots of hours at Lee Marshall’s shop and
watched the assembly of the original Bonny Doon presses there was a
tremendous amount of care and engineering that went into that press
and the new Bonny Doon presses improve on the original in that
regard. But if you are not a trained structural welder I would rather
see you make one from the appropriate threaded rods and plates. You
need to get the right quality of threaded rod properly sized and the
right thickness plates but if you do so then the only issue is
assembling them in the correct fashion which Susan Kingsley’s book
covers. As for welding a frame it is way too easy to make a good
looking weld that does not have adequate penetration or one that
under cuts or otherwise damages the metal when you do not understand
how to make a proper structural weld. For what it is worth most large
(hundreds to thousands of ton) press frames are made with threaded
tie rods bolted to cast and forged top and bottom assemblies and not
welded because welded structures are not an acceptable method for
handling those kinds of loads.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#7
I've seen these presses made from threaded rod with bolts and 1/2"
plates on the top and bottom with holes for the rod to feed thru. I
think this is a very dangerous short cut, as I described. 

That depends on just what you build, and with what sizes of rods and
plates. If you go back to when Susan Kingsley was first exploring
hydraulic presses, before Lee Marshal came up with the Bonny Doon
press, She, and pretty much everyone else, were using home built
presses pretty much like this (though not 1/2 inch plate. That’s too
thin, as I recall). She’d had some engineer folks do the calculations
on what was needed, and designed a safe home built press. It was
published in an issue of Metalsmith, as well as in her book, I
think… That design, if built as specified, is sturdy enough to be
safe. I built one for under a hundred bucks when I found a garage
sale bottle jack and some scrap steel plates the right size. The
thickness of the steel plates, diameter of the threaded rod, number
and placement of the nuts, are all important, so don’t “wing” this.

And remember that with any press, home built, shop style, or Bonny
Doon style, even if the press is safe, workpieces placed in there may
not be. You don’t need the press to fail if what you put in it does.
Under a few tons pressure, bits of broken dies or tooling can attain
high speeds as they exit the press if you’ve not set it up safely.

If you’re working with hydraulic die forming, and you’re not sure
what you’re doing, especially beginners or those who’re self taught,
get a copy of Susan’s book. Well worth every penny.

Peter Rowe


#8

And to all Orchidians

I bought the 20 ton Hydraulic Press with Gauge that Potter USA
makes, and it is a dream to work with! Really a happy customer!

Thanks to Kevin
Rose Marie Christison


#9

I don’t want people to get the impression that hydraulic presses are
really dangerous. If they are used properly, they are very safe.
Most of the pressures that jewelers are working at are very low. It
does not take a lot of pressure to deform a piece of 20 gauge
silver. Keeping your work in containers also helps prevent objects
from flying out of the press.

I build presses and have tested mine to destruction. They don’t
explode and wipe out the room. they don’t make a big loud noise and
go bang. they go “tink” and then all the pressure is released and
then nothing. I broke mine at 96 tons - it split about 3/4 of an
inch at the bottom of the plate on one side. First it started to
bend on the bottom and then I kept going and it ripped slowly and
quietly with just a little “tink” sound. The press comes with a 20
ton jack so there is no way you will ever even come close to the
break point.

If you build one you will be hard pressed to save much money unless
you are really good at scrounging parts. If you have to go to the
steel yard and buy 20ft lengths of steel and have them cut it will
cost alot more than if you just buy one. If you are good at building
stuff, by all means make one. It is a fun project, but if all you
want to do is use one, then buying one is a better option. Check out
Bonny Doon (http://www.bonnydoonengineering.com) and Potter USA
(http://www.potterusa.com). Both of us make a great product and you
won’t be disappointed.

Kevin Potter


#10

I second Rose Marie. Kevin Potter’s 20 ton press is awsome and Kevin
is very helpfull with any questions you may have. You won’t go wrong
with any of his products.

A very happy customer.

Paul Brackna
PBJewelryDesigns.com


#11
I don't want people to get the impression that hydraulic presses
are really dangerous. If they are used properly, they are very
safe. Most of the pressures that jewelers are working at are very
low. It does not take a lot of pressure to deform a piece of 20
gauge silver. Keeping your work in containers also helps prevent
objects from flying out of the press. 

Kevin I agree that in the hands of someone who has an understanding
of what is safe practice under normal use the 20 ton press is
typically not a dangerous tool. But I have seen hardened dies shatter
and throw steel across the room. I have been hit by such a missile.
Luckily I have not witnessed anyone being hurt by this and I was not
hurt when my die shattered. You are talking about 40,000 psi, you can
indeed break things that are not properly supported, or not able to
handle the force that they are exposed to and in some circumstances
those things can become the equivalent of shrapnel. So one should
always treat the press and its tooling with a great deal of respect
but not fear. Knowledge of proper safe use will make the likelihood
of a problem almost nonexistent.

BTW your press looks like a great design, someday I hope I can try
one out.

Jim

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#12

I’m with Kevin here, I see lots of posts about making tools and as a
working metalsmith I feel I can spend time making tools or spend time
making jewelry. I don’t know about the engineering of stuff like
hydraulic presses in terms of pressures and what materials to use. I
could follow Susan Kingsley’s directions and thought about that allot
when I was first starting to get interested in hydraulic press work
but, I wanted to be able to talk to the company behind the press and
ask questions. I had no idea what I was going to do with the press
and if what I was going to do was going to be safe so to be able to
ask the people who made the press was a resource I was willing to pay
for.

I also wanted to talk about the tools available for the press and
what they were going to be used for. If I started the whole process
by making my own press, or, as I have seen suggested on Orchid a few
days ago, copy Bonny Doon’s design I would not have the community of
tool makers and press workers to talk to. I couldn’t live with myself
if I copied Bonny Doon and then needed to talk to them about the
tools they were making for their presses. What I did was go with a
tool making company who knew what they were doing in order to buy a
safe product and their current tools and up coming tools for forming.
I also applaud Kevin Potter for generously referring Bonny Doon as
well as his own, that is the spirit of Orchid.

Sam Patania, Tucson


#13

I appreciate everyone chiming in on the safety issue I may have
underestimated some of the issues, I work with these presses
everyday as well as build and design them so I am very confident when
I am using them. I dont work with students very often so I have not
been witness to any accidents but I have been informed by some very
competent individuals as to what can happen if you are not properly
educated in the use of these things. I have designed my press to
have a platten that locks onto the frame so that the work cannot tip
out of the press if it is not properly centered. That is one of the
biggest safety concerns I had when I built my press was platten
stability. I also left out the large upper platten so that you can
look down on the work and not put your face in front of it to see
what is going on. Education about safety is very important and I
appreciate all of the teachers who are helping students learn how to
properly use these products.

Thanks again
Kevin Potter


#14

I have been reading about using a hydraulic press for making jewelry
parts. One advertisement said you can get one for under $1,000
($999). Went to Northern Tool’s website and found a large, floor 20
ton press for about $315. Just wanted to pass it along.

Rick


#15

Questions from someone who never even considered a press before this
thread came along:

Do you really need 20 tons worth of pressure? What can’t you do
with less? When I move from my house in a few years, how hard will it
be to take along with me? (Into a mobile lifestyle, in an RV.)

There is a 6- and 12-ton press being marketed here:
http://www.jewelrypress.com/ Obviously a lot less engineering,
structure than the Potter or Bonny Doon press. For those of you with
experience, can you please comment on the 6 ton model? I just need
to stamp out shapes and fom ovals, etc.

A video is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v’dDXYotp5U

Thanks very much,
Kelley


#16

Hi Rick,

I have been reading about using a hydraulic press for making
jewelry parts. One advertisement said you can get one for under
$1,000 ($999). Went to Northern Tool's website and found a large,
floor 20 ton press for about $315. Just wanted to pass it along. 

While the price is right & the press will provide 20 tons of
pressure, the ability to keep things lined up for jewelry work is
something these presses can’t provide.

These presses are designed for use in shops to press bearings,
in/out of larger parts & to do other jobs on large mechanical parts.

For jewelry work, the ability to keep the die & punch in close
alignment is an absolute requirement.

Dave


#17
There is a 6- and 12-ton press being marketed heRe:
http://www.jewelrypress.com/ Obviously a lot less engineering,
structure than the Potter or Bonny Doon press. For those of you
with experience, can you please comment on the 6 ton model? I just
need to stamp out shapes and fom ovals, etc. 

Those presses appear to be dangerously under designed in both the
thickness of the uprights and the location and type of weld.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#18

I have looked at those presses from jewelry press.com they do seem
kinda light. The thing that causes press failure is metal fatigue
the best way to prevent that is to have lots of steel in the right
places and to minimize the number of welds. I make a 12 ton it looks
very similar to my 20 ton only it is much smaller and lighter it
would travel well in an rv and you will be able to use most of the
accessories that I make as well as bonney doon, I dont believe that
press is compatible with the tooling that I make or bonney doon
makes. The accessories are what make a press so versital.


#19

Dave, I know many many people who use a shop press for jewelry and
they have no problems whatsoever in ‘keeping things lined up’. Can
you elaborate on what exactly you’ve experienced or have had relayed
to you?

Janice


#20

Hi Janice,

Dave, I know many many people who use a shop press for jewelry and
they have no problems whatsoever in 'keeping things lined up'. Can
you elaborate on what exactly you've experienced or have had
relayed to you? 

I’m sure there are presses made by many different companies, some
with better quality control than others. Having used several for
other shop work, I found the ability to keep lateral position of the
top & bottom close wasn’t there. It was necessary to ensure the
alignment was as desired before every press. With the Bonneydoon &
Kevin Potter’s presses this isn’t the case.

Generally the shop presses also take up much more floor space.

Dave