Arbor presses

I have a question does a 1/2 ton or 1 ton arbor press work like a
heavy hammer to do stampings? I am not sure quite of the tools use
but noticed it mentioned.

I have so old stamps from WWI cap badges from UK that I want to
stamp out in silver so…will this press act like a powerful hammer ?
Or can it be used to cut out shapes in silver? not sure thought I
would ask :slight_smile:

I am wanting to do both things If I can cut out shapes it would
solve some production problems I am having…

When you create a stamp to cut out a shape would you cast it in iron
or brass from a wax carving?

hope I am not asking stupid questions


A half ton press is limited, I use a 20 ton press and for the
forming methods I use it is enough. I think that for the badge dies
you are talking about it would be enough depending on the metal
thickness you want to work with. The thinner the metal the more
detail you will get, in general. I assume the badge dies are two
part steel dies.

The press can be used to cut metal with a metal cutting die although
the half ton would not cut very thick metal, maybe 26 gauge would be
the thickest. I use many pancake dies made by Sheltech in
Albuquerque, NM US for cutting up to 16 gauge sterling with my 20
ton Bonny Doon press. These are inexpensive one piece dies. The
cutting die would not be cast it has to be machined because it has
to be made out of relatively hard steel to take a cutting edge, like
a knife edge.

For making forming dies I have carved wax and had it cast in bronze.
I then use the bronze part to push the metal into urethane although
for the amount of detail this type of die will get I prefer carving
Delrin. Take a look at the Bonny Doon forum and website. A book I
got very interested in was Hydraulic Die Forming for Jewelers and
Metalsmiths by Susan Kingsley, that book inspired me to work with
the press for forming and cutting. Urethane is a fantastic material
for forming with a press. One problem I always had with an arbor
press is attatching the tools to the ram and if anyone has ideas
about that I would be interested to hear.

Sam Patania, Tucson

There’s two kinds of presses in the world - “squeeze” presses, and
“shock” presses. Arbor presses and hydraulic presses are “squeeze”
presses, punch and coining presses are “shock” presses. What arbor
presses are really made for is installing bearings on shafts - and
then whatever else anybody wants to use them for. What punch presses
are made for is punching - “tool and die” - they don’t squeeze, they
strike. You could punch out simple shapes with an arbor press in
thinner metal - you must use hardened steel if you make your own, but
not a lot more. Little punch presses are 20-30. Coining presses,
which actually form the metal, run up into 200 and 300 tons. It takes
a whole lot of force to shear a 1" circle out of 18 gauge silver.
Bottom line - arbor presses are cheap for small imports, but the
effort you’ll put out making a tool and die, and affixing them to the
press, might give you some results, or might give you no results in
the end.

Hi Teri and folks…

Well…I’ll guess I’ll ask an even more “stupid” question…

I have one of these things…it’s a Harbor Freight type of half
ton press…

Was given to me (right place, right time scenario), and the pack rat
that I am, could not refuse…

Anyway, what can one do with these things, other than press bearings
or “smoosh” stuff…

Is there an “Arbor Presses for Dummies” book or site available out
there that will give me some ideas what to do with this thing…

How does one attach stuff to the ram, etc…?

I like the idea of having that kind of force to play with…

But I’m really not sure what I can do with it…

But it obviously has potential…

Gary W. Bourbonais
A.J.P. (GIA)

I have a workshop here every year called Benchtop Presses. In it, we
cover uses of the arbor, screw, and hydraulic press. I believe that
there are about 30 attachments that I’ve made over the years for
bending and forming operations. I have plans for a few more, but it’s
one of those things that just get put aside until the day you
actually need the parts…

They are economical, quick and don’t take up much bench space. Must
be about 5 of them in my personal shop - from half ton to 3 ton.

Arbor presses are not just used for removing and installing

Brian P. Marshall
Stockton Jewelry Arts School
Stockton, CA USA

Depending on the shape of the shaft used to extend the force to what
you are using the press for. With round or half round ends you can
use a close fitting dia. section of gas/black pipe welded to a plate
to attached the stamp or impression die to. To keep it tight and
attached to the shaft, you can drill and tap a hole in the pipe
section for a 1/4" or 5/16" screw with a hex head( makes it easier
to get off with a wrench after you over tightened it).

You also can use a pipe that fits tightly to the corners on a square
shaft. Put a screw in one side to hold it in position will in use.

It should look like an upside down capital T with the flat part the
mounting surface for the stamps or impression dies. You can mount
them to the plate with bolts and hold down clamps or have a pipe
section centered on each one and welded.

For short/ limited number of item runs you can do the same thing out
of wood and glue and screws. The only thing you will want a thick
layer of plywood as a base 1" or 1 1/2" thick can be glued and
screwed of thinner sheet.

Then you drill a hole centered in the back of the stack. Some find
it helpful if you glue a couple layers to drill the ram hole in the
back of the plate keep the hole size as close to the ram shaft size
as you can. When you try it if it wobbles/dances around to much. You
can use a low temp melt hot glue to fill the voids around the
ram/wood. Here are a couple more links for jacks and rubber casting

The harbor freight is a good source on info because they have most
of the instructions on line they also now have a 20 ton
air/hydraulic bottle jack on sale at the stores till the 25 of Sept
lot #41487 its almost 50% off but they have them on sale regular.

They have a 20 ton shop press Lot 32879 You really should get this

Been there done that and it feels so good when the pressure is
released !


Wow thanks all it may only be 40 bucks for a ton press but it saved
me investing in a tool that would be frustrating me from the get
go. :slight_smile: I will go drool at bonny doon again lol

Silver & Cameo Heritage Jewelry

1 Like

Hello, I think it would really depend on the type and gauge metal you
would be using and the type of design stamp you would be working
with.In general I think a really thin gauge metal would stamp to some
degree with lots of effort.I would say however that you should
probably go 10 tons and higher for stamping. A 1/2 ton or 1 ton arbor
is not like say a 50 ton press that we use to stamp items.The stamp
depth is only about.010 or less,however it takes a significant amount
of force to make that impression.

Or can it be used to cut out shapes in silver? not sure thought I
would ask :)

It would be possible to “blank” out parts but it would be for lighter
gauges of metal.If you get a longer handle you could help the
leverage to not be so hard.

When you create a stamp to cut out a shape would you cast it in
iron or brass from a wax carving

Well I guess theres different ways to do it.A standard would be from
tool steel and the design is machined,cut or it could be cast steel
but not usual. I think instead of making this a long thread I would
recommend a tool and die making book if your interested in making
tool stamps or allowing a machine shop etc make your tool for you.If
you have ten items to make it might not be worth the tooling cost but
if you have masses to make it might be useful. Also you might be
suprised that you can pick up used presses if you are willing to go
get them or can arrange shipping.Usually a press might not go for
much on ebay but the shipping would be through the roof unless you
pick it up.I will say this,there’s a whole world of manufacturing
equipment out there and if you willing to invest time,money and have
a need it can be very rewarding…

Daniel Wade
Infinities Jewelry

Hi Gang,

Arbor presses are just a basic tool to apply pressure to something.
The shape of the ram on most of them is square with a flat bottom.

With a little creativity, it’s easy to make a specialized part that
attaches to the ram to form, draw, cut or perform some other
function. The base (anvil) of most arbor presses is usually circular
with a number of different width slots in it. The anvil can be
rotated to any desired position. If the slots present problems for
your application, the anvil can usually just be lifted of & replaced
by a square or other shaped piece of steel of a suitable thickness.
If you replace the anvil with one of your own, consider adding some
tapped holes to be used for holding dies in position.

The amount of work that can be done with an arbor press is
determined by it’s size & your weight. The more you weigh, the more
work you can do.


The harbor freight is a good source on info because they have most
of the instructions on line they also now have a 20 ton" 

One of the best things about is that they have
maybe couple of hundred manuals for all sorts of things online,
freely available. Lot’s of times if you’re thinking of making or
buying something that can be real useful…