How to Make a press in garage

Greetings to Ganoskin community!
People I want to make a small but useable press out of 20 ton jack. I read the article written by Susan Kingsley. But there are bot enough details for me. What I have in mind is 4 threaded rods and 3 steel plates. But I need dimensions, thickness. People, can you help me with some plan?
Best regards,

Hi Boris,
This looks like a back of an envelope project.
so you need to start with the height of your jack closed and the height open max.
then you need as you say 3 plates, these need to be 1inch thick or 25mm.
size? 12in wide by 12in deep. No bigger. with 1in plate
Then 4 rods threaded overall 1in dia , id go for 24in long.
Next 6 full nuts per rod, 2 outside the plates top and bottom and 1 inside .
Where you get all this depends where you are?
A structural steel co might be able to plasma cut out the plates and plasma the holes as well.
Use your yellow pages if in the USA. Elsewhere a shipyard or industrial estate.
More advice on size/ height if you post back what size work, dies form tools you plan to use.
cutting 1in plate and drilling 1/,1/16th in holes is not for a garage w/shop.
The easiest bit is painting up a nice colour when youve made it!.
Cost it out then look on Ebay if someone near you has one for sale.
However a more useful tool is a fly press, ie an open throat screw press with a top arm with big cast iron balls on each end. They rarely come in the 20 ton range and weigh at least half a ton.
you might get lucky at your local scrap yard. You wont know till you look and ask.
Await to hear what kind of work you plan to do with it and sizes, types and thickness of materials.

Do you have Susan Kingsley’s book? There are what seem to be complete plans in the appendix.

I ordered the book, it will come soon.
Thank you!

My jack is from 9 3/4 to 15 7/8. the base is 5 1/4
i am planing to do some small jewelry forming- i guess max silver gauge will be 14.

Is it really necessary to have a such thick plate? Wouldn’t 3/4 or even 1/2 inch enough?
The same question about the rods thickness

And another question. If i attach/fix the upper plate with a nut below the plate and nut on the top of the plate,
Then when my jack will lift the pressing middle plate the nuts will be in the way and will not let the pressing plate to touch the upper plate. I probably missing something. Don’t we want all three plates to be of same size?

At 20 tons a 1/2in plate will distort. A 3/4 will bend up to the yield point and not give a flat forming.
rods? what if you find the 20 ton press is not enough? and you find a 30 tonner?
Think!! ahead.
with press work, you always have support bolsters, ie a block say 3 by 3in by 1 in thick under the tooling and likewise on top of the tooling between that and the top plate.
thats to support the tooling sideways as well as up and down.
5. you must have 2 nuts outside the plates top and bottom.
If you dont youll stretch the rods and the nuts will sieze on the threads.
I do a lot of production press work of my own designs up to 250 tons so have a small idea what works and is safe.

I would definitely overbuild. I’m having a 20 ton press built for me by a local welding shop, seems like a reasonable way to go and the cost is only about $100 for the fab work and the cost of the jack. For small stuff I’ve been using arbor presses and a cheap 6 ton press (that I suspect is closer to 3 tons). I’m keeping an eye out for a fly press, I want to use one for striking medallions and as important as the production is, the press will go on site with me to events and the spectacle is a big part of it.


Hi Ben,
a fly press is a very useful machie in any metal shop.
to strike medallions ? with one? It depends on what metal you plan to strike.
Because i can just manage a 1in dia annealed sterling 2mm thick single sided strike with a
10 ton( energy delivered) fly press, that weighs around 3/4 a ton. Thats to coin proof quality tho.
A much better way is to do what I do ,that is make a drop hammer, portable, with a 100lb hammer falling 3 to 4 ft will give you over 30 tons, and whats more impressive as a demo is that you can do hot striking. This softens the metal and that means you can double the size of the medallion.
the first time i minted a 3 by 2in oval plaque in 1mm brass was at the Great dorset Steam fair.
I minted b 1000 over the 5 days all sold off the hammer.
almost a licence to print money. so your idea is a very sound one.
however to build such a machine that delivers as well as a factory installed one is quantum step up . You need a fully equipped machine shop, and the know how to design it.
Ive been very naughty! i made a bigger!! some 275 lb hammer! gives over 80 tons.
As you say over build everything.
i think im the only metal worker on this forum whos work is 90% wrought with drop hammers and coining presses.
Press work and forging is addictive. also its fast!.So financially viable for a one pr hands shop.
Minting a product AT the event FOR the event works very well.
In for lunch in between reorganising Another cluttered work area!

1 Like

Thank you Ted!
You are very helpful!
But i am not a machinist and i am very far from it so please be patient with me :slight_smile:

  1. what is bolster? what do you call tooling?

Is it possible to post a detailed picture/photo ?
I am sorry.

Hi Ben,
I looked up the price of the plates in Order 1" Mild Steel Plate A36 Hot Rolled
and the price of ONE plate is $130

Hi Boris

First of all for 78$ Speedy Metals 1" 1045 Steel Plate

Second something like this look local steel suppliers and fabrication houses. You can get a off cut for a lot less than online sources and no shipping. For something I needed to make (A specilised puller) I got 1 ¼ inches thick 16 by 18 inches for less than 100 Canadian, because I was fine with 18 inches rather than 16 square… so be a little flexible and check locially.

Ref your question to Ted a Bolster in this contecxt can be either a reinforcement or a plate put beteen your dies and the plates of the press to protect both the press and the die



Hi Boris, the press they are building for me is mostly from scrap they had already lying around the shop. Probably paid for by other peoples projects. It does help that the welder’s son is a hobby jeweler and works in lapis that I supply!

Ted, I’m only aiming for a 20-22mm round, but the drop hammer is intriguing. Are you aware of any sites with plans or good photos? Could be a nice and versatile tool, and I do like tools! In fact I can think of several projects that would facilitate as well as the idea of striking larger pieces!

All the best,


Hi Ben,
Janet in Jerusalem asked me for pics of my DS. It was about 12/18 months ago.
Posted here. Ask Seth our admin to dig out the link/pics.
As far as I have found, the 25 yrs ive moving my porta stamp no one else has done this. Guess im the first!. so no sites or plans.
When youve seen the pics let me know what you think.
It was imperative it was in keeping with the date when the original castings were made.around 1889. Hazelwood and Dent Birmingham. no hex nuts! all square and Whitworth threads.
Varnished wood and polised steel.

I found some relatively cheap steel on ebay - they called it HRO A36 steel. What is HRO? Couldn’t find anything comprehensive on google

My husband made me a press. Justin got threaded rods, bolts washers and steel plates, the hardest part was drilling the 3/4 inch holes through the steel plates.

We have it mounted to the table
Hope this helps

Hi Dana,
Thank you for your help and beautiful picture. I still have a couple of questions for u. I would greatly appreciate if you or somebody else could answer them.

  1. HOW you guys drilled a 3/4 hole? What bits did you use? How powerful is your drill press?
  2. How you attached the jack pushing part to the pushing ( middle ) plate?



We have a drill press we used a 3/4 drill bit and lots of bur oil, stops lots of friction. You must mount the steel plate down to drill into it.
It took us a day to get this built. Due to the holes. It’s easy with the proper tools.

Good luck! Hope this helps

Oops, it’s a power cord drill mounted to a portable press. Much rigging to get this drill on to this press. (Picked up this press from ebay for something like 10 bucks)

Our drill was smoking by the time it was finished, so I’m going to say something bigger then what we have, ours was like 30 bucks, cheap thing.
Guess what it still works! Big blue drill, I’m not sure of the make or size. But the price and colour should help!

Boris, you can do it with a ½ inch hand drill if you don’t have a drill press. You just need to start with a smaller drill (say 1/8 or 3/16)and work up to the final size. Slow speed and lube will get the job done.

The type of drills you need is similar to Shop by Category | eBay &_trksid=p2380057.m570.l1313.TR0.TRC0.H0.Xsilver+drill.TRS0&_nkw=silver+drill&_sacat=0 for over ½

And they even have titanium fairy dust coating (just me being sarcastic, most titanium nitrate coating on cheap drills is just for show and doesn’t really do anything. Give me a real hss or even better a cobalt alloy drill any day) but on a one off job you don’t need the best and greatest…

Mounting the top plate can be done many different ways, it could be welded to the jackscrew (fancy name for the end of the jack that comes out, on better hydrylic jacks it screws out). Or weld / attach a piece of pipe that just slips over the end of the jack. |Personally I would unscrew the jackscrew and put a piece of acme threaded rod to screw in place of the jackscrew And thread the acme rod into the plate, but I have a shop outside with a drill press, lathe and milling machine and welder….


Thank you Kay for very comprehensive answer.
I thought to unscrew the jackscrew, then i hope to find a pipe with exactly the same diameter and thread as the jaxkscrew and then i will try to weld this pipe to a pusher plate. I am very bad at welding so it could be a problem to weld the pipe exactly perpendicular. What do you think about this plan?