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Hydraulic press from harbor freight


#1

Hi. I tried to find the conversation regarding buying a hydraulic
press from Harbor Freight. Could you person who bought one and is
using it explain how it works with which dies? Is the $69 one okay?
Any info would be good.

Joy


#2

Some one mentioned the bought an hydraulic press from Harbor Ft. I’m
wondering how he uses it. Can you use purchased dies for it, like
from Rio Grande? I don’t get it. Appreciate any help…thanks, Joy

Joy Kiefner
Rhapsody Jewelry Design


#3

Hi Joy,

In a word, no.

Unless they’ve started knocking off the bonny-doon presses while I
wasn’t looking, what they’re selling is a bearing press. It’s
intended for pressing the wheel bearings on car axels. Way too much
slop and deflection to be much use for jewelry. This isn’t to say
that some haven’t made them work, but they’re not the best answer to
that question, and to be blunt, you’ll spend half your time trying to
jury-rig the thing into something that’ll never work as well as the
real thing.

Regards,
Brian.


#4
... they're not the best answer to that question, and to be blunt,
you'll spend half your time trying to jury-rig the thing into
something that'll never work as well as the real thing. 

To some extent I don’t disagree, but the last of a very nice pinot
noir is telling me to anyway, so I will.

Not everyone can afford the best answer to the problem. The choice
can be between a workable answer, or no answer at all. There is
nothing wrong with ‘no answer’ - do something else. But if you really
want an answer, even if it is not the best answer, then you make do.

I paid $159 for my Harbor Freight press (on sale), which was hard to
pass up when the only other readily available press at the time cost
more than ten times that. The people at Bonny Doon know what they
need to charge, and I know what I can afford to pay. There wasn’t any
overlap in our positions. Had the Potter been out at the time I’d
have gotten it. I still might. It is definitely what I would
recommend over the Harbor Freight, if you can afford it. As to

you'll spend half your time trying to jury-rig the thing into
something that'll never work as well as the real thing. 

I suppose it depends on what you want the press to do. I did jury
rig mine, it didn’t take much time, and it works fine. As well as
the real thing? Who knows? It works well enough to get the job done
properly. Is spending 10 times more going to make 'done properly’
any better?

To be specific. The H.F. press has a four inch shaft that pushes
down. It is maybe 1.5" wide, which isn’t much of a platform for
attaching and stabilizing a tool. So I cut squares of plywood and
drilled 1.5" holes in the center, and stacked the plywood until the
bottom one was level with the bottom of the shaft, giving me a nice,
wide platform for supporting tools. I drilled a hole in the end of
the shaft and tapped it for a 1/4" bolt (I believe). End of
jury-rigging, which didn’t take all that much time and cost very
little.

My customized press supports the Bonny Doon bracelet forming kit.
The magnetic fixture bolts to the shaft and is firmly supported by
the plywood.

The 3" steel container with urethane rests on a thick steel block
supported by a cross-bar on the press. It takes about 12 pulls on
the bottle jack to fully form a section of a bracelet, and if you
had a manual-jack Bonny Doon it would take about the same, I would
think. A bottle jack is a bottle jack. This kind of job does not
require the precision of a stone-setter doing pave’ under a
microscope. This isn’t goldsmithing. It is simple metal forming. And
it does not take anywhere near 20 tons of pressure - a little
pressure does it. The process is repetitive in that you move the
metal blank a small bit and form another section, etc. etc. etc. It
would work the same on a Bonny Doon or on a Potter. I have a large
compressor so I bought a Harbor Freight pneumatic / manual 20 ton
bottle jack for $79 on sale, and if I want to form more than one
cuff bracelet

I use the compressor to power the jack, bing, bing, bing. Works
really nicely! Very kind on the shoulders, too. The Harbor Freight
setup set me back less than $240. You want to know what the Bonny
Doon bracelet kit cost?! (Not saying it isn’t worth it, it does a
nice job.)

I also got a Bonny Doon mushroom former and use it to dome pierced
overlay pendants prior to enameling. The H.F. press and the mushroom
former work effortlessly together. Let’s be clear, the mushroom
former would work fine with a 2 lb. brass mallet. You do not need a
press for it at all, at least for what I do. The press is more
controllable and gentle than amallet, so I do it that way.

Bonny Doon sells deep draw forming kits for @ $2000 and up, to make
boxes or tubes. They sell a DVD showing the kits at work, and I
recommend the DVD highly, if only for the entertainment value. It is
something to see. The DVD says the kit pushes the limit of a 20 ton
press. I WOULD_NOT use the H.F. press for that application. If you
are going to use a press at its rated limit then by all means stick
to a Bonny Doon or a Potter.

So what I’m disputing is the notion that you have to buy an $1800
Bonny Doon or a $600 Potter if you really cannot afford either, and
that nothing else can do any good work. If you can work below the
rated 20 tons of a Harbor Freight’s capacity, don’t mind doing a
little customization, and don’t need to work with micron precision,
something other than ‘the best answer’ can be plenty good enough.

I also heartily recommend the 2009 Pinot Noir by Pietra Santa,
California vineyards, as being most definitely good enough. (Tell
them Neil sent you and maybe I’ll get a freebie.)

Best wishes,
Neil A.


#5
Someone mentioned the bought an hydraulic press from Harbor Ft.
I'm wondering how he uses it. Can you use purchased dies for it,
like from Rio Grande? I don't get it. Appreciate any
help....thanks, Joy 

One more time - no. the tooling for an art press - Bonny Doon being
the standard - doesn’t exist for the Harbor Freight press. That
cheapie is intended for pressing bearing races on and off. That’s
what the set of dies Harbor Freight is for.

We have one of those things and I thought - wow, no need to spend
serious bucks for a press. Well, I tried to use it for pancake dies
and it immediately went all wonky. It got worse when I tried to use
it for non-conforming dies.

If you fix cars, buy one - it will be useful when you give up on it
for die forming. Otherwise, buy one of the presses suited for your
purposes. And if you don’t know what that is - take a class first.
Then you will know if you need one and what the uses might be.
Everybody has to start somewhere and a good class really helps on the
learning curve.

Judy Hoch


#6

Just to set the record straight, The Bonny Doon Classic press is
only $995 (Rio#110501), not $1800 as posted, the taller, larger MKIII
press is $1534 for those that want/need deep-draw capacities up to
goblet/small teapot sizes. Both presses have the best ram(jack)
available, it is not a Harbor Freight jack. The ram is not made in
China or Taiwan, it is forged, not cast, completely sealed and
welded rather than screwed together. The frames are built to provide
the most rigidity and highest safety, the springs are hidden within
the uprights, and the orientation puts the user behind the uprights
for added protection.

http://www.riogrande.com/MemberArea/ProductPage.aspx?assetname=110501

And yes, do take a workshop! Cindy Eid is one of the best
instructors of hydraulic forming, you can see her website at:
http://www.cynthiaeid.com/ and click on “Events” for upcoming
workshops. Also check Rio’s new website: http://www.rioinmotion.com/
for upcoming workshops.

I hope this clarifies the facts for all.
Sincerely,
Phil


#7

Neil A. wrote: (among other things)

So what I'm disputing is the notion that you have to buy an $1800
Bonny Doon or a $600 Potter if you really cannot afford either,
and that nothing else can do any good work. If you can work below
the rated 20 tons of a Harbor Freight's capacity, don't mind doing
a little customization, and don't need to work with micron
precision, something other than 'the best answer' can be plenty
good enough.

I have an advantage of having used several different press
configuration s,from the very bottom level up to the Bonny Doon, and
a few inbetween. Neil, you’re completely right that lower-end
presses can do useful work. You’ll hear from makers of the more
costly (and better) ones why it’s a bad idea and why it’s not safe to
use cheaper presses, and a person definitely should go into this
armed with as kuch knowledge, advice, and input (from such people who
know what they’re talking about) as a person can be.

That being said, I have done a ‘ton’ of blanking with pancake dies
in the past, on cheaper presses.

The most important thing about that route is, as Neil brought up, to
not use the press up near it’s max capacity much, if at all. The
other critical thing is to not try and use it as a substitue for the
better presses, in regards to the operations that those presses are
designed for. Be very careful what you do with it. Simple doming like
Neil describes is probably as elaborate as you want to get, and I’ve
been told that even that can be rather dangerous if your tooling is
not adequately mounted and stabilized. Some of those presses have
play in their action and if tooling or parts come loose under
pressure, you can have serious trouble. The original BD press has
platens that are not locked in alignment either, and will tilt if
loaded off-center, so care always has to be takes when dealing with
high tonnages.

My first press was a jack mounted to the underside of a steel table
; completely funky, but functional for a few years, when we got a
Carolina 50 ton H-frame press. I mounted 10" by 24" by 2" thick
platens to that, and got the biggest hand pump Enerpac makes to
drive it, and we blanked out millions of parts with that, until we
went electric, and Bonny Doon.

I’ve been told that the repeated shock of stamping parts fatigues
the metal in the frames, and that the flexibility of the structural
members in those and similar-desinged presses is bad in the long
run, and will lead to failure, but it’s not like the thing can blow
up in your face, and that’s something that really takes a lot of
cycles to create. Me, I had to get what would last as long as
possible, and operate as fast as reasonably, and safely, as
possible. Now I use 3 old-style BD frames, industrial cylinders, and
fast electric pumps.

The new design BD frames have been extensively re-analyzed and
tested, more so than the original, and much more so than Potter’s,
and are, for all of our intents and purposes, indestructible. Not
everyone needs indestructible, but everyone who wants to press needs
to know how to decide what press is ‘the best’ choice for themselves,
and why overkill is always a good idea , and what the dangers and
drawbacks are of cheaper units. Personally, I wouldn’t do anything
but blank parts with a cheap hydraulic press. I have a 3-ton arbor
press that I do a lot of dapping with, but I also have that tooling
adapted for my big presses. The 3 ton, and even a 2 or 1 ton arbor
press will work for blanking small parts.I have a one ton that I have
put through the wringer by using it to break in all the dies I make
for people, and it should lest another 20 years of that. I even have
a cheater bar on it, so I’m overloading it constantly. Small arbor
presses are fine for blanking small parts, as are kick presses. Neil
is right:

take a class, and read some old posts here… it’s probably all
there.

Dar Shelton (somebody wanna proofread that for me ? (^; )
http://www.sheltech.net


#8

My apology to Bonny Doon for misquoting the price of their press. I
did look it up in my Rio Grande catalog first, but what I saw was the
price for a Mark III kit, not just for a stand-alone press.

Phil Poirier described the quality of the Bonny Doon press very
well, and it is indeed admirable. No question about it.

Dar Shelton’s post covered important points about some safety issues
(centering of tools, for example) that one needs to know about
before doing anything with a powerful press. Those thinking of
acquiring such a tool need to do all the research they can before
using one. That goes for all of the serious and potentially dangerous
tools and materials used in this field.

The only point I wanted to make was the following which I’ll quote
from what I posted:

The choice can be between a workable answer, or no answer at all.
There is nothing wrong with ‘no answer’ - do something else. But if
you really want an answer, even if it is not the best answer, then
you make do.

I should have stated more clearly, as Dar said, that you need to
keep in mind that you are making do, and that you should not treat a
’make do’ tool as if it were best-of-class. Know the limits of what
you’ve got, and keep within them.

Sincerely,
Neil A.