Hydraulic press Bonny Doon or Potter

Good morning, Xmas is coming and am thinking to put a hydraulic press in my wishlist. Which Hydraulic press do you prefer? BonneyDoon or Potter and why? Thank you!

I have the standard 20 ton Bonney Doon press and am very happy with it. I suspect that I would be just as happy with the Potter 20 ton press, but it doesn’t appear to be available right now other than as a package. It’s one of those tools that, once you get it, you won’t know how you got along without it. Pay attention to sales and the cost of shipping, they are very heavy. Be sure to plan ahead for where you will install it as it will need to be bolted to the top of a bench. They are very top heavy and you won’t be moving it. If you have a welding/metal supply shop nearby, see if they will cut you a collection of 5" square pads out of 1/2" mild steel to use as stacking shims. This way you can vary the height of your work surface as well as where you are working in the range of the rams stoke distance. You don’t want to work at just one end of the stroke distance. Good luck…Rob


Thank you for all the tips!


It depends on what you want to do with it. I have the Potter one and it meets my needs well. It’s a basic design and I use it for pancake dies, silhouette / matrix dies, with my disk cutter, things like that. Kevin Potter has changed the design since I bought mine (~2016-2017), so I can’t speak to the one available now.

I should add that the jack sits sideways in my particular model which makes things a tad awkward, but I have a crescent wrench with an offset opening and that works fine for me. I do not know how the current Potter presses require the jack to be placed.

If you want to make more in-depth or complex items, the Bonny Doon has add ons like deep draw formers and other heavy-duty processes.

Some things to be aware of:

  • The space between the sides varies with the model and brand. Mine has a 4" width side-to-side, but I think the Bonny Doons have 6". That might make a difference to you.

  • There are accessories that only fit certain models. Make sure any you want fit the size and model of press you get.

  • I use acrylic spacers and have both 1" thick and 1/2" thick ones. (4"x4" in my case) Steel ones work fine, too. You’ll want a few because they help narrow the amount of space you have to pump the hydraulic jack.

  • Center everything. Do not use the press at the edges. I’ve marked one of my acrylic blocks with a grid so I can easily see that my die (or whatever I’m using) is centered side to side and back to front.

  • I saw or read somewhere that it’s best to open up the jack at the end of your studio day. I have a small crescent wrench I keep with my press to tighten and loosen when needed. Don’t know if that’s truly needed to keep your jack in tiptop shape, but I do it anyway.

  • Get a gauge, especially if you plan on making multiples of a piece. I don’t have one and get by just fine by ‘feel’ but it would be nice to be able to do some consistent pressure tests and such.

If I had more money and space, I’d probably go with the Bonny Doon and really explore a lot of the possibilities it has available. But my Potter is fine for the small-scale pieces I do. (And it’s purple. :smile: )

A few extras:

  • buy Susan Kingsley’s book, Hydraulic Die Forming for Jewelers and Metalsmiths. It’s older (my copy says copyright 1994) but has comprehensive information that’s invaluable.

  • Take one of Jayne Redman’s workshops if you’re interested in her kind of work, particularly with pancake dies. Currently, she has some online offerings through the Silvera School (hope that’s ok to say). The school is based in Berkeley, CA.

  • Learn about using urethane. It is your friend. It comes in various durometers (squishyness) and each one will aid you in different ways. The Kingsley book sets out some of these, but urethane is much more available than it was when she wrote her book. You’ll have to dig for the info, but it’s out there. Note: I think Bonny Doon color codes their urethane, but that is not universal. Mark the durometer on it as soon as you get it.

Ok, another tome today. There must be something about two-day-old Thanksgiving leftovers…

Hope this helps.



You are awesome Tricia!:smiling_face_with_three_hearts::smiling_face_with_three_hearts:thank you so much!:pray:t2::pray:t2::pray:t2:

I just got a electric Potter press from an estate sale and I LOVE it. I am still finding ways to use it.

Thank you for the feedback! :pray:t2:

I’ve had Bonny Doon presses since they first came out. They hold up well and have all the goodies for making the press the most useful tool in your studio. The basic one is available for under $999 from Rio. Potter presses are a bit more since they don’t include a jack. You will buy one because you have found a use for it - but it will make your studio far more functional and you more creative. My press paid for itself in the first 6 months that I owned it.
Judy H

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Check out Potterusa.com. Also check out Potter people user group. I have had a potter press for 6 years now…started with a manual one with a jack and then Kevin Potter converted it to electric. I can’t say enough good things about my press and attachments. They are a great small company committed to their customers and they stand behind what they sell.

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Thank you Judy!:pray:t2:

Thank you! I ended up getting the Potter. Can’t wait to start using it!

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Good choice Judy. Make sure you check out their Facebook group potter-people.

Hi Trish, I picked up a used Potter press that sounds like the same vintage/size as yours. Wondering if you could post a picture of the setup with jack inserted…thanks!

Hi, akb123,

Sorry it has taken me a while to get back to you.

Here’s a pic of the sideways jack in my Potter medium press:

Potter med press w sideways jack 10-21

The jack came from Harbor Freight and is the one Kevin Potter recommended for it.

I use a small wrench to open and close it. It’s a bit awkward, but it works just fine for me.

Hope this helps.


You’re so lucky! I’ve been scouring Ebay etc. and haven’t seen even one.