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Hydraulic press choices


#1

I am finding that I am wishing I had a hydraulic press for particular
jobs often enough that I am thinking of picking one up. I’ve looked
at the various Bonny Doones in Rio’s catalog and thought they looked
good… but pricey for what they are. I don’t need this for
production work, just an occasional job, but then I also hate it when
I under-buy on tools. I’d rather just buy the press I need now and
the one I’ll be glad I have in the future. There’s nothing worse than
buying something and then buying another “Better One” later while the
first one still works.

Which hydraulic presses do people have and still love after lots of
regular use?

Mark


#2

Mark, My hydraulic press is made from the plans in the Kingsley
book. Several of us took the plans to a tool and die shop, and had
some made. They are faithful in detail to the Bonny Doone and even
take all of the attachments made for it.

We saved a lot of money, and the press does a wonderful job. You
might want to check out the plans and discuss them with a tool and
die maker, then decide whether you want to have one made or to get
one of the ready made ones.

Alma


#3

Kevin Potter, who writes the most entertaining blog on Orchid has a
video on Youtube:

and shows off his new design for a hydraulic press. If I were to get
a press, I would get his, just because of the simplicity and beauty
of his design. Tool as Art.

Richard Hart G.G.
Denver, Co. 80210


#4

Alama.

My hydraulic press is made from the plans in the Kingsley book. 

Please give more details on “The Kingsley Book”

David Stitt


#5

I can tell you what I have: My first press was a manual 20 ton Bonny
Doon but I didn’t have the strength to pump it to the max that I
needed for some embossing projects. So a few years later I got the
electric model. I kept the original frame and just swapped out the
presses. I still have the manual one for back-up.

I like that there are so many accessories specifically tooled for
the Bonny Doon - although many of their items can be used in other
presses - and the fact that the system is designed with jewelry
designers in mind.

I don’t have the skill to make my own press but I admire those who
do. So for me, the Bonny Doon was a great choice.


#6

Kevin Potter does make a beautiful press…and he’s funny. I also
appreciated the Alma’s tip about the press design in Kingsley’s book,
I have that book and didn’t remember that! I’m still thinking about
which way to go, some times I enjoy the deliberation as much as the
new tool. And that Bonny Doone it tempting too David. It’s all set up
and ready to go, there is something to be said for that. Hmmm…

Thanks for the tips.
Mark


#7

I went the Bonny Doon route, and I’m very pleased that I did. It is
a quality tool from a quality company, Rio’s service and tech support
is top notch. I highly recommend it, especially if time for messing
around with tools of this sort is short. Set it up, bolt it down and
start pressing. We named ours “Crusher, the Wonder Squisher”, and
what a wonderful job of squishing it does.

Several of us took the plans to a tool and die shop, and had some
made. They are faithful in detail to the Bonny Doone and even take
all of the attachments made for it. 

I’m a little surprised that some here would find it OK to knock off
the Bonny Doon press, especially after all of our discussions about
the many very good reasons for not copying other people’s work. I
would love to hear what Lee Epperson, Phil Poirer and Cynthia Eid
might have to say about the plans in Kingsley’s book. But having
read some of those people’s classy writings, I doubt they would
publicly express opposition, let alone take any kind of legal action.
Still, it’s got to be a bit of a kick in the gut for them. Anyone
that has ever been knocked off knows what it feels like to see their
design in someone else’s portfolio.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? BS.

This is the main reason I would go with the Bonny Doon. These folks
have spent a large part of their professional lives perfecting the
design and manufacturing of their product. I for one am not about to
take advantage of their years of experience and their willingness to
share what they have learned without including them in my purchase.

Dave Phelps


#8

Hi Dave,

Thank you for your excellent comments.

A slight correction, Kingsley pioneered this design along with other
people, and her plans, totally different than Bonny Doons were
arrived at long before Lee got going and improved the options, and
Phil improved Lee’s designs.

best
Charles


#9
I'm a little surprised that some here would find it OK to knock
off the Bonny Doon press, especially after all of our discussions
about the many very good reasons for not copying other people's
work. I would love to hear what Lee Epperson, Phil Poirer and
Cynthia Eid might have to say about the plans in Kingsley's book. 

It appears that I owe Susan Kingsley an apology. I did not perform
due diligence in researching the correct chronology in the
development of the hydraulic press. Susan Kingsley was in the
forefront of using pressure to form metal, before Lee Epperson and
Phil Poirer and Cynthia Eid. I humbly apologize to Susan Kingsley,
and also to all those who have used her plans for a hydraulic press,
for my lack of research.

I also humbly apologize to Alma for using her post as a means of
displaying my displeasure at what I assumed was a blatant knockoff.
As the old saw goes, when you “assume”, you make an “ass” of “u” and
"me". The operative terms here are “ass” and “me”.

I am truly sorry, Alma.

Dave Phelps


#10

Dave, your comments are appreciated, but as Charles points out,
“Kingsley pioneered this design —long before Lee got going.” In
the preface to her book, she gives credit to Lee Mashall whose work
opend the process of hydraulic forming to a larger audience, and who
has "added to the safety and range of possibilites for die forming.

I feel certain that when she decided to include plans for the press
in her book, that the inclusion of certain features which made the
press capable of using the various accessories developed by Lee
Marshall was done with his full knowledge and consent.

Of course many would prefer the Bonny Doone press, but for those who
simply cannot afford them, the Kingley plans offer a great
opportunity.

Alma Rands


#11

Hi Charles,

I have already received another correction, and I will apologize for
assuming incorrect chronology. As I said to another, you know what
they say about the word “assume”, break it down into it’s components,
ass, u and me. It appears the operative words here are “ass” and
"me".

Thanks for pointing out my error.

Dave


#12

I appreciate what Dave Phelps said about hydraulic press designs.
While it is perfectly okay to use the plans in Susan Kingsley’s book
to make a press, in my opinion, that press will not be as sturdy or
safe as a Bonny Doon press. Lee Marshall and Phil Poirier have worked
very hard, since 1990, to refine Bonny Doon press designs to make
them as sturdy and and safe as possible—with options in a number of
sizes and prices, for different needs. Copying Bonny Doon designs
does not seem ethical to me.

Recently, when I taught at Bonny Doon in Taos, NM, I was impressed
when I saw how Phil Poirier and David Reynolds stress-test their
press designs far beyond what they will receive during normal use. My
first press was welded up by someone else, and it looked fine when it
was new, but after a while, the top bars bent. I upgraded to Bonny
Doon.

Bonny Doon hydraulic presses and tools are sold through Rio Grande.
Rio Grande has half a dozen jewelers on their staff----whose job at
Rio Grande is to be familiar with the tools and products that Rio
Grande sells, so that they can answer questions. I’ve met these
folks, and they are top notch. You can count on Rio Grande and Bonny
Doon to be around for a long time, to take care of any problems or
needs that may come up.

Cynthia Eid
http://www.cynthiaeid.com


#13
Rio Grande has half a dozen jewelers on their staff----whose job
at Rio Grande is to be familiar with the tools and products that
Rio Grande sells, so that they can answer questions. I've met these
folks, and they are top notch. 

Just want to second the comment on Rio’s support, and to say that is
part of the reason I buy most of my tools from them. Whatever
question I may have down the line they are more than happy, and
competent, to answer. That kind of long term support is worth a huge
amount to me!

Beth Wicker
Three Cats and a Dog Design Studio
http://www.bethwicker.com


#14
Dave, your comments are appreciated, but as Charles points out,
"Kingsley pioneered this design ---long before Lee got going."

To put the record straight, and give credit where credit is due, it
was Mark Paisin that wrote the paper in 1979-1980 and was published
in “The Metalsmith Papers” (out-of-print) that outlines the designs
parameters for building and using a hydraulic press, both welded and
bolt together frames.

"Practical, Inexpensive, Hydraulic Pressing and Die Forming for
the Artist Metalsmith"
by Marc David Paisin
[The Metalsmith Papers - 1977]
http://www.ganoksin.com/borisat/nenam/practical-die-forming.htm 

It was Mark’s paper that inspired me to try out hydraulic forming in
1980. I was on my third home-made press in 1990 when Lee introduced
the original Bonny Doon press with it’s safety features and gauge!.

The bolt together style press design actually goes even further back,
we just got rid of one which was rated at 100 tons and built in the
30’s (using 2 1/2 " diameter bolts and nuts). It is a good design if
engineered correctly. The issue of safety with the external springs
is where Lee Marshall designed safety into the original Bonny Doon
press by locating the springs inside the vertical columns.

Sincerely,
Phil


#15

I make a line of hydraulic presses. I don’t know if any of you have
seen them. They will be available from Otto Frei soon.

I make mine from 1/2 inch steel plate that is plasma cut. There are
only two critical welds on the whole press. The platen is 1 inch
thick steel which has been fly cut to make it totaly flat. The upper
platen is a tool holder that accepts tools from both me and Bonney
Doon as well as any having a 1 inch shank. I have recently changed
the design to use a larger platen. The pics of the old design are
still on the website but the video shows the new design.

A nice feature that I came up with is a guided platen. It is guided
by uhmw guides that keep it aligned with the upper platen. The upper
platen is a tool holder you can install a larger accessory platen if
you need, but most people are happy just using the tools and the
different pushers. This design lets you look down on the work and
not have to put your face near the opening of the press. I know that
the presses are expensive, that is why I decided to make my own.

After alot of research and testing I came up with the design that I
am using. It is significantly different than any other press out
there. I wanted to make it as affordable as possible. The biggest
expense for me has been the bottle jack and the gauge. The bottle
jacks from Harbor Freight are fine, but they are not of the best
quality. I was concerned about using them because I didn’t want
people calling me to complain about the jack. I found a real nice
high quality jack and gauge but they are expensive. We are debating
on offering the press with different options: 1) being a high quality
jack provided, 2) being a cheaper jack, and 3) you provide the jack
since the only person making any money off the jack is UPS and the
shipping company.

I have posted a link to my site so you can see the differences in
presses on the market. If you have the tools and the will, you can
defintely make your own press. I don’t know if you will save much
money, I make all of the presses and stakes myself in my own shop. I
guess it comes down to, do you want to make a press or use a press
to make stuff? I have fallen into the "I want to make tools"
category.

Video is on homepage of website, but also through You Tube:

Thanks,
Kevin
http://www.potterusa.com


#16
I make a line of hydraulic presses. I don't know if any of you
have seen them. 

I have only seen them in your video, but I sure like the aesthetics
of them. I love a lovely tool. I don’t need one (I have access to one
where I teach) but I sure would like one!

Noel


#17

with all due respect to the very accomplished jewelers comments on
this subject. The concept of “copying” ideas, Patents, Design
patents, Copyright and Trademarks is complex and not at all clear
both legally and ethically.

Consider that the Doon press is simply a hydraulic jack (used for
many decades for lifting and squeezing) mounted in a welded frame.
Should we fault him for “stealing” the hydraulic press concept or
"copying" the skill of welding, without with his press would not be
possible?

Ideas and skills of individuals as well as societies are built on
copying/combining previous concepts. Surely there are examples of
clearly egregious, illegal and immoral" knockoffs in all industries.
But in my humble opinion, individual jewelers seem in general more
concerned than necessary about the above type of 'theft"

zev


#18

I’ve heard some discussion about copyright or patent infringement,
but a hydraulic press like the type I make, I don’t believe is
patentable. Maybe the basic design of using a steel plate instead of
tubing, that might be, but the few number of presses that are sold
each year would never justify a patent. I just figured I would make
a good product at a fair price and hope that people would rather buy
it than make it.

It’s complicated enough that your average do-it-yourselfer is not
going to be able to make something like this. And if they have the
equipment and skills, there would be no stopping them anyway. I’ve
found that if it looks like you can make it in your garage with a
hacksaw and welder, people will give it a shot. But the big question
is, will you actually make it yourself? I know I see things that are
real simple to make and I make them myself all the time, just
because I can. I’ve made power hammers, 150 ton hydraulic presses,
forges, heck, I even made a 350 pound anvil. Trust me, that is not
worth doing, I didn’t save a dime. As a matter of fact, I could have
bought one for less than I have into it, and had a better anvil to
boot.

Like I said before, it all comes down to whether you want to make
tools or make jewelry. How do you want to spend your time?

Kevin


#19
But in my humble opinion, individual jewelers seem in general more
concerned than necessary about the above type of 'theft" 

I would have preferred to let this thread go, but I feel I must
defend, or at least explain my and other’s concerns.

Zev, with all respect, I wonder if you would view these concerns as
unnecessary if it was the theft of your design and the negative
effect that theft had on your livelihood that we were talking about.

I think the reason individual jewelers get upset about this kind of
thing is that we, pretty much as a whole, are subject to it all the
time, from both sides of the issue. If your house burns down, all of
a sudden you begin to pay more attention to the things that cause
fires.

Consider that the Doon press is simply a hydraulic jack (used for
many decades for lifting and squeezing) mounted in a welded frame. 

Of course the Bonny Doon press at first glance is a variation of the
same kind of hydraulic press used in the automotive industry. But
examined in more detail, it is far more than just a welded frame with
a hydraulic jack. The designers went to great lengths to increase the
safety for end users. They increased the strength of the frame
substantially, not only through the use of heavier metal but through
engineering a much stronger design and subjecting it to rigorous
testing and improvement. They also incorporated features that make it
far more useful to metalsmiths than a generic press designed for
installing wheel bearings. They also put considerable effort and
money into marketing their products and convincing people that their
designs and products were superior. The main reason they did all of
this was to put food on their tables and put their kids through
college.

Please understand, I’m not accusing anyone of doing the following,
I’m using it as a demonstration of my position.

When someone takes measurements of that specific design to a shop
without the permission or approval of it’s designers to have it
reproduced in detail for the sole reason of saving money, they are
using someone else’s labor, financial investment, knowledge and
experience unfairly and are in effect, cheating the designers out of
their hard work and their return on their investment. If the design
has a patent in effect, they are also breaking the law. That is a
completely different thing than drawing up a frame design on
someone’s own, or using an older design that is no longer (or that
never was) protected by copyright or patent and going out to the
garage and welding it up.

It is also completely different for someone to use the same basic
concept of a frame mounted jack, examining current designs and
applications and then designing what they consider to be a better,
safer and more useful design than their competitors and pursuing
their own livelihood in it’s development, manufacture and marketing.
That is the essence of what I believe you were referring to in your
comment about copying/combining previous concepts, and I agree, it is
that constant process of competition, evolution and improvement on
which our modern life is built. It’s also why the distributor is on
the front of Ford V8’s and on the back of Chevy’s.

Should we fault him for "stealing" the hydraulic press concept or
"copying" the skill of welding, without with his press would not
be possible? 

Patent law was established to allow innovators to reap the harvest
of their work for a limited time without having to worry about others
copying and profiting from their work. Without this protection, much
of the incentive to innovate would be removed, and creativity and
evolution might be severely curtailed. Patents have expiration dates
specifically to allow for the evolution you referred to. Brand name
and generic drugs come to mind.

It is the legal and ethical protection of those new and original
ideas and the profit that comes from their creation that is at issue.
Surely you must see the difference.

Some of the major jewelry designer/manufacturers have entire legal
departments with the sole purpose of finding, identifying and
stopping copyright infringement. We can disagree about whether the
extent to which they pursue infringement is over the top or not, and
whether a specific design or concept is protectable or not (those
issues can be and often are explored and decided in a courtroom), but
it is my humble opinion that the basic right of an individual or
business to protect their original ideas and designs shouldn’t be a
topic of disagreement, regardless of the professional field. Nor do I
think that coming to someone’s defense when this issue comes up is
unnecessary or just esoteric nit-picking.

Coming up with new, original and innovative solutions to problems or
making substantial improvements to existing ideas is how some people
make their living, and as you point out, is the cornerstone of human
development. Taking such a person’s or firm’s ideas and designs and
directly copying them for personal gain on the other hand, is not
only in some cases illegal, it’s just plain wrong, and I will defend
the original designer at every opportunity. If that makes me
hyper-sensitive to the issue of copyright infringement and the
protection of someone’s livelihood, so be it. That is a position for
which I will not ever apologize.

Dave Phelps


#20
know that the presses are expensive, that is why I decided to make
my own. 

I love the look of your press Kevin, and it’s great that you’ve
found a way to make it more affordable! I hope you find a good market
for it.

Elaine
http://www.CreativeTextureTools.com