Deep Draw Die Forming

I’m interested in building a deep draw press for forming some
chalice bowls from sheet sterling, using a standard 50-ton press from
Harbor Freight Tools. I can get a machinist to make the dies and
collars, but I need a book or on the how-to part.

Rio Grande no longer carries the Poirier book. Does anybody have a
copy I could buy? Or advice on how to set it up? Any information
would be deeply appreciated!

I got a copy of the Poirer book this past fall from Rio…are you
sure they don’t have it?

You could check some on-line used book sellers- A.B.E. is one.

Good Luck,

You will find the you seek at While I am not sure if Phil’s
book is still available, the CD should answer all of your
questions. In addition, BD has a discussion group that would be glad
to help direct you.

Lee Marshall’s presses and tooling are the best way to go and I don’t
know if I would take a risk with a home made 50 ton press. Lee will
service his presses as well which is a big plus, and there is a
large variety of tooling made specifically for the 20 ton as well as
the 50 ton.

You might even be able to find some used presses around if a new one
isn’t in your budget. Contact me offline and I might be able to
direct you to someone who might have one available.

Susan Ronan
Coronado, CA Thank heaven the rains have stopped!

Rio Grande no longer carries the Poirier book.  Does anybody have
a copy I could buy?  Or advice on how to set it up?  Any
would be deeply appreciated!

Hello George,

We still carry this book and they’re in stock. Sorry for any

1-800-545-6566 stock # 550-662 $49.95.

All the best,

Thackeray Taylor
Rio Grande Technical Support

I think you need to to for this
Mr. Poirier has revised and updated the original book.

Bonny Doon Engineering, Inc.

  Designers of metalsmithing equipment. Manufactures of the 20
  ton press. Offers annual workshop series mostly in die forming

Help others make informed buying decisions with Bonny Doon
Engineering, Inc. We welcome your opinions and experiences with their
products, ordering, customer service and and over all satisfaction.

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Hi George,

I imagine that you are going the do-it-yourself route to save money
over buying the Bonny Doon press and tools. I certainly understand
where you are coming from—I started with a press that I had someone
weld up for me, too, because the Bonny Doon prices seemed too steep
form my pocketbook. As I worked, though, the frame began to bend,
and I came to understand why it is worthwhile investing in a Bonny
Doon press. Lee Marshall has been making these for years, and
understands where the frame needs to be strong to withstand the
pressures of the work that we do. I am concerned that your plan is
going to wind up in the “penny-wise, pound-foolish” category.

I suggest that you read through the posts on the Discussion Group at

There have been past discussions there by people who learned the
hard way that they got what they paid for when they used a
“home-made” press. There are some details that Bonny Doon has
learned to put into a press to make it safer and stronger that are
not immediately obvious.

I also would like to point out that Lee Marshall and Phil Poirier
have worked long and hard to develop the deep draw system on a scale
that contemporary metalsmiths can use. (The idea is from around
1850–some of the presses were the size of a building! For fun, take
a look at the movie Schindler’s List. You can notice that the pots
made in the factory are done by deep drawing.) For myself, I feel
that copying the system is sort of like photocopying a book rather
than buying it. In general, I think that authors and inventors tend
not to get much money for their work. Personally, I try to be aware
of that. I don’t say this to “put you down”. Each person has their
own set of circumstances, and I try not to stand in judgment of other
people. I’m just putting my thoughts out there for consideration.

Best wishes,
Cynthia Eid

With respect to your enthusiasm, I’d suggest a visit to

They make a sturdy, reliable press and the dies for deep drawing.
They also have the Poirier books. At one time, I tried to make a
Harbor Freight press work for minimal shaping. I destroyed it in
less than an hour. To do deep drawing requires many steps, multiple
dies, and precise machining of the dies. You have to hold the metal
in the die in a particular and precise way. To do the deep draw that
you would need for chalice bowls would work just fine in the new tall
20 Ton press with the 6 inch deep draw dies. If you could, take a
class from Phil Poirier on the subject. He’s a fabulous teacher and
splendidly knowledgable. Phil can be reached at

And your website, is fascinating, especially for bread

Judy Hoch, G.G.

I built my own press I used 8x8 1/2 inch thick square beam with 1/2
inch thick by 15 inch tall c channel in an H frame style the pins
that hold up the table are 2/1/2 inch 4130 round bar the ram is
made from a cat tractor hydraulic cylinder that I cut down so it
would have a 15 inch stroke the ram is 6 1/2inch in diameter and
double acting so I can push and pull with it. I have never taken it
to its max but in theory it should put out just under 200 tons
approxamatley at 10,000 psi. I have never needed more than 20 tons
honestly but I have a small tool complex if I can lift it by myself I
dont want it if you need to hire a rigging company to move it [wow
now your talken tools ]. There is a book put out by lindsy
publications that tells you how to make deep drawing dies it is a
reprint from books published around the turn of the century it is
geared toward machinests and tool and die makers but it offers alot
of real useful info and it is real inexpensive I think i paid like 7
or 8 bucks for it and it is a couple hundred pages it also shows lots
of diagrams as to how tins are made (altoid candy tins) and cans the
same processes could easily be adapted to silver and other metals.

Sincerely Kevin Potter

I got a copy of the Poirer book this past fall from Rio....are you
sure they don't have it? 

This book sounds interesting. What scale of work does it address?
Would the techniques be applicable for larger holloware or sheet
steel work in a larger press? My husband has a large press that he
uses for making damascus steel and hammers. I know I could make
dies, with stops, and adapt the press to my own uses (for chased
wallpieces, perhaps holloware) but I need some examples and
guidelines to start with.

Are there any other books you would suggest, preferably something
that I don’t need to be an engineer to understand.


that book is great it deals with holoware in the five inch to six
inch and smaller range I could not think of any other way to
describe it the book is tailored to the bonny doon press. I am
familiar with the type of press your husband has and it would work
well for forming holloware just dont go to fast with it i know alot
of blacksmiths like the press to move real fast so the metal does
not cool off.

Kevin Potter

Thank you all for such informative responses! I am very grateful to
Ganoksin for all the help that’s here.