Hydraulic presses

Susan Kingsley has written an excellent book, Hydraulic Die Forming
for Jewelers and Metalsmiths, 20 Ton Press, 1993. Inside are plans for
a homemade 20 ton press, which is adequate for most, and within the
means. The Bonny Doon press is made with quite a bit heavier
materials, but once having made the one, making another with your own
personal improvements isn’t that difficult. You will find it adequate
for most 3-D forms, but not for the deep-draw methods. A 50-ton press
is still required for that. The 50-ton just means you’re using a
50-ton hydraulic jack, along with seriously beefed
up frame and platens, not how much the whole press weighs :slight_smile:

Hello to Everyone, I am looking for a source for a decent Hydraulic
Press that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to buy as well as ship. I
am not going to be making vessels or large forms, etc. I am simply
looking for a way to put some volume into my work which is
predominantly functional jewelry and pretty small in scale. I went
into Ebay and they have several presses but they are either around 6
Ton capacity or 100-200 Ton meant for industrial use. The presses I
see in most jewelry catalogs are around 20 Ton. Can anyone lend any
experience to what a 6 Ton press could do?? Would that simply be
too chintzy for a jeweler’s needs?

Greatful for any light you can shed, as always.

Grace S.

THE source for small hydraulic presses is:


Here you can also find the book:

Hydraulic Die Forming For Jewelers and Metalsmiths by Susan Kingsle

This is a must have reference . It does include plans for a
homebuilt press.

You can get help at the site discussion group.


Grace, One option is to build one for yourself. There are plans for
one in Susan Kingsley’s book, “Hydraulic Die Forming for Jewelers &
Metalsmiths”. This book used to be available from 20 Ton Press, PO
Box 222492, Carmel, CA 93922. I’m not sure if it is still abailable
there. ISBN 0-9635832-0-4.

Another option is to look in the Harbor Freight catalog. They
usually have a few different capacity presses. I have no personal
experience with these as I have been using a Bonny Doon press,
expensive, but very well made, durable and trouble free. Joel Schwalb
@Joel_Schwalb www.schwalbstudio.com

Grace: The BonnyDoon press available from Rio Grande or Bonny Doon is
probably about as light weight as you can get for the tonnage and
still have a properly engineered press. A six ton press would
probably be ok for light blanking , straightening or flattening stuff
and maybe changing a tire on your car. 20 tons would be the minimum I
would look at for forming. My press is 50 tons and yes I use all
100,000 lbs. of pressure it provides. It is amazing how much pressure
it takes to do some pretty simple stuff.

There is also a good selection of tooling available for the BD
press. Unless you are equipped and capable of modifying or producing
your own tooling this is an invaluable resource.

There is a reason you see 20 ton presses in jewelry catalogs,
because that is how much pressure you need to do much of the work you
see jewelers doing with presses.

A good press is an investment and a good one at that. I built my own
press, it was not cheap or easy to do and weighs about 800 lbs. It
has paid for itself many times.

I have no business interest with Bonnydoon other than being a

Ken Gastineau
Berea, Kentucky

A group of us in my metal’s guild had our 20 ton hydraulic
presses made by a local machine shop. The machinist followed the
plans in the Susan Kingsley book, with some modifications. We
saved a bundle, and the presses work just fine. They are made so
that they can take the accessory items developed specifically for
the commercial hydraulic press sold by several jewelry supply houses.

You might consider this as an option. Alma

Go ahead and buy the 20 ton jack from Bonny Doon, if you want the
pressure gauge (and you do), you can’t save money by buying the jack
and guage separately elsewhere and installing it yourself (the gauge
I mean). I researched this extensively.

Maybe you can save by having the frame made or welded up by a local
welder. If you do, make sure the 1 inch steel plates top and bottom
are threaded to match Boony Doon’s so you can still use all their

Elaine Luther
Chicago area, Illinois, USA
Certified PMC Instructor

Check out R & D Evices for the jack and press. They sell them for
half the price of a doon. www.rd-evices.com

Have a good day.

Grace, for small jewellery work such as you mention you can do a lot
with a decent size engineers bench vice.

Have you read Susan Kingsley’s book “Hydraulic Die Forming”, which
has details of a proven build it yourself design using, I think, a
twenty tonne hydraulic jack. The size she describes handles the
larger stuff that you say you don’t need.

Kevin (NW England, UK)

I too, tried to find a cheaper hydraulic press when I first started
using the tool. I had one welded for me. After using it a while,
I sold my cheapie to a friend and upgraded to a Bonny Doon. I have
come to realize how well thought out these presses are, and what a
terrific guarantee they come with. Get the good tool. It won’t let
you down, and it will hold its value if you should ever decide to
sell it. Just my opinion. Cindy www.cynthiaeid.com