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Looking for press solution

My most popular bread-and-butter item is my titanium bird earrings, and
years ago I had Dar Shelton make me a pancake die to save me all that

Now I’ve moved to Asheville NC and I no longer have access to a hydraulic
press. I can’t afford to buy one, so I’m looking for a good alternative. A
small screw press would work, but they are not easy to find used.

Any ideas?

I also need a wax injector if anyone wants to sell me one cheap.


I know we have discussed the hydraulic press issues before and I believe Brother Rob had one built or is having one built. I also know Harbor Fright has a typically cheap, large , and clunky press in their stores. Has anyone tried that particular press? Don Meixner

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Dar will cut them for you. Or someone in the area with a press might rent time. Isn’t there a school there?

I am up in Virginia and willing to punch them out. A little far to drive but depending on weight mail or UPS maybe a day in transit. Islandmaples

Never pressed titanium so this suggestion ay be dead from the gig. I use an early version of a $90-110 press from Amazon. nHad a welder affix some 1/2" steel plates to the cross beams. use a 7 ton jack, I think it can take up to a 10 ton jack. I get deep presses on 18g Cu and sterling.

Hope this helps.

I use small pancake dies in an old heavy vise. It works fairly well, as long as the cut-out design is not larger than the sides of the vise that touch during the squeeze.

The old screw presses and arbor presses are extremely difficult to find in the South. It’s due to having been an agrarian society suffering for nearly a century in poverty, beginning with the Civil War and ending long after the depression.
Compared to the North and Midwest, there was very little manufacturing in the South until the mid 20th century. By then the hydraulic press was favored over the old manual presses.

You can’t rig up a bottle back somehow?

@Noel_Y I have a 2-ton arbor press that, with a cheater bar, does much of what my 20 ton shop press can do, and a lot quicker.

Do a web search on “2-ton arbor press” and you should find one that you like.

Here is one I found on Amazon. The ratcheting and hand wheel additions look intriguing:

A 1-ton press might be adequate for pancake dies (ask Dar), but they are smaller and you might not have as much room for your work.

You might put a 4" bench block over the pancake die to distribute the pressure.

Neil A

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I’ve tried to use pancake dies with an old 2 ton arbor press that has a one and a half inch arbor.

Even when I used bench blocks with it and the pancake die, the bench blocks did not expand the arbor’s working area when used with a die design larger than the arbor footprint. Although, I refuse to hang on the lever, use a cheater bar or hammer the top of the arbor, because the press is in immaculate condition and I don’t want to be the first person in 70 years to abuse it by bending the lever or mushrooming the top of the arbor.

Even when I was successful with using the small pancake die designs less than one and a half inches, it required a lot more effort than using the big old vise which works with the same size of die designs.

Sounds reasonable, as long as the jaw faces of the vise are smooth, and large enough to cover the entire design. Speaking of my dies, of course, which are heat treated tool steel, and can break if mistreated. One way of mistreating them is to not fully cover the design, and one popular way to do that is to use them in a vise without jaw faces that are big enough.

Bang for buck, arbor presses don’t compare well to cheap hydraulic units, because for all but the smallest designs, arbors aren’t powerful enough , so it’s prohibitively expensive (just go price a 5-ton arbor press :wink: ) to try and get decent power . I steer people in this direction and their floor models are even cheaper .

DS :sunglasses:

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So, I’ve never had to cut any significant amounts of Ti parts. I’m curious how many you’ve cut with that die , and what ga., what alloy ?


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To update my previous response regarding how the manual 2 ton arbor press required more effort on the pancake die than using the vise; I was inspired by @neil_a3 to figure out why the arbor press was not performing up to it’s potential, and found that the arbor press was not bolted to the table.

Hi Betty,
Glad you have found one reason why your press isnt working.
Thats why it has holes around the base, usually 4 off for 1/2in dia bolts.
Next you mention table, now you need a table thats man enough for the following.
If you put say a 3ft length of 2in water pipe on the leaver and put you weight onto it, your feet off the ground! the bench must NOT tip over toward you. a kitchen table wont do.
It needs to be made from 2 by 4 the minimum with 6 by 2 in thick top boards all bolted together.
Talking of which a sound bench then is good to put a mill on, again bolted down and then maybe an anvil or slots in the top to take stakes for hammering on. Depends if your up to making one! if not, some nice helpful person!!.
Get it right.
I use screw presses from 2 to 15 ton in working pressure, and the big ones HAVE to be bolted down to a solid reinforced concrete floor , if there not, when the 2cwt of iron on the 5ft top arm comes round the whole press will rotate around itself and no work is done.
A pancake die acts like a pr of scissors, it cuts a little bit at a time, not all at once. When you have blanking dies for my buckle backs a 2 by 3 in oval in 1/10th 70/30 brass or bronze you need 15 tons to blank out this size.
A 3in dia by 1/4in thick medal blank in copper or silver needs a 25ton powered crank press.
Then to mint same I use a 250 ton hyd press made for the job.
Why be limited in your dreams by the lack of the tools to
to make them come true?
Metal is a hard master, but can be subdued with the right tools.