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Hydraulic press dillema

I have a friend who is thinking of taking the two day Bonny Doon
workshop in Tucson. Who has this machine? Are you glad you got it?
What do you love about it? What do you hate about it? Have you used
it enough to justify the money you spent on it? I’m thinking of
taking the workshop with her, but know the machine is not in my
budget for 2008.

Thanks for any input!

Jenny Levernier
jmml designs
Minneapolis, MN

What, are you kidding? I love this press, it has helped define me as
an artist as well as providing a tool for small scale production in
a one man studio.

The question about if it has paid for itself has to be asked by the
person buying it. For me I can not afford to buy tools that don’t
pay for themselves so yes, it has paid for itself but, I have
designed my jewelry to take advantage of the press and it’s tooling.

Look on the Bonny Doon forum site and you will see many people who
are currently using the press to it’s full advantage.

One of my favorite tools for the press is Dar Shelton’s pancake dies
which cut shapes with the press instead of me hand cutting
everything. Dar is a constant contributer to the Bonny Doon site so
you can talk with the top people in the field about any press
questions. So the press allows me to cut and form many items I used
to hand produce. I spent the money for the Bonny Doon instead of
making my own press because I wanted the service from Bonny Doon for
maintanece and questions I have had about operation and tooling. I
tried to get service on my press localy and found it lacking just
the way Phil Poirer siad it would be lacking and ended up sending
the press to him in Taos anyway, paying twice for the same repair.
If I had just sent it to Phil in the first place I would have saved
money and had the job done correctly. I alss wanted to be able to
buy the tool and use it, not spend the time to make something that I
wasn’t sure would be able to take the pressures I want to work with.

If you have any questions about the press you can contact me off

Sam Patania, Tucson


If you’re doing production work, it’s nearly a requirement. I use
mine enough that I built my first hydraulic press, and then bought
one of Lee’s MKII’s once I could afford it. They’re invaluable. (Of
course, everybody has one, so most of the easy ‘puffed’ pieces have
been done to death. ) The hard part is using it to make what you
want, rather than letting it use you to make what it wants. It’ll
be a whole lot more useful to you if you pick up some basic
tool-making skills along the way. By all means, take the workshop to
learn what it can do.

Brian Meek.

Jenny; I have had my press for over 10 years I go sometimes a year
without using mine but I do a lot of lowerend production with stones
which are my bread and butter and get caught up in the cranking out
of stuff I can sell and make fast. If you are into more one of a
kind, expensive pieces which is when I use it,it could be a good
thing. I started out with a workshop with susan kingsley who wrote
the Hydraulic Die Forming for Metalsmiths a must have if you get
one. One thing that is a little of a set back now with the price of
silver is that you need about 3/8 border when doing anything but
small forming to keep the metal from deforming. There can be quite a
lot of waste which of course can be recycled at a slight loss but has
to be factored into the pieces I think the rate can run 50% on and
average size piece for me. If you are on a tight budget it may be a
consideration. For certain applications however I love it. I might
suggest taking the workshop and then decide if it is right for you.


One of my favorite tools for the press is Dar Shelton's pancake
dies which cut shapes with the press instead of me hand cutting

You can also pop these out with a less expensive screw press,
providing that your dies aren’t too big or your sheet too thick.

M’lou Brubaker
Minnesota, USA’louBrubaker


I have attended a Bonnie Doon workshop and purchased a 20 ton BD
press. I use it regularly for all sorts of things, but I still do not
utilize it to it’s full potential. One caveat, I think I made a
mistake by not buying a press closer to the class. By the time I
received mine (over a year later) I had forgotten much of the class.
It is a quality product, but has specific uses that a goldsmith
pursuing fine jewelry may not need, but I find very useful…

Have fun.

Thanks to everyone!

I really appreciate the responses to the Bonny Doon and hydraulic
presses in general. Both on this forum and off. I have passed the
responses on to my friend who will be taking the workshop in Tucson.
She is more fired up than before, I’m still questioning whether to
take the workshop or not, so I’m guessing I won’t this time around. I
also liked that each of you touched on a different aspect of the
press. Thanks again.

See you at the Orchid dinner!

Jenny Levernier
jmml designs
Minneapolis, MN