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Making Conforming Dies with Devcon for a hydraulic press

Hi everyone, I have been doing a lot of research on hydraulic pressing in jewelry making. The process intrigues me, but the price deters me. I ran across an article in ganoskin detailing how to make your own dies using Devcon (plastic steel). I really like the idea of this knowing that my pieces could be my own one of a kind design, but repeated easily by me only. I don’t really like the idea of spending $50 on a die and many others could be using the same one as me. Does anyone have any practical advice for me on doing this process? Any practical advice on assembly a more cost effective press option than a Bony Doone or Potter press?

I don’t have a press or any of the equipment yet. I have been watching jewelry sales sites trying to find used equipment that satisfies my picky taste. With no in person art fairs this year, I probably won’t be buying anything soon, but I like to plan ahead.

Thanks much for any advice anyone can offer.



Bernie, you don’t need a 20 ton press for what you are talking about.

A 1 ton arbor press might work but I’m not sure about that. I have a 2-ton arbor press and that would do what you want, certainly with thinner gauge metal. With heavier gauge metal I’m not sure how your Devcon dies would hold up unless they were contained in steel.

My arbor press cost $99 some years ago. I got it at a ranch/farm-supply type store. It weighs 100 lbs. but some parts are removable so you don’t have to lift all that weight at one time. Most of it, but not all…

Two ton presses are substantial, including the lever rod. I use a 3 ft. length of pipe inserted over the lever rod for extra leverage. I don’t think you’d have problems applying enough force to your work.

An arbor press is a lot quicker to use than a hydraulic press where you have to work the pump handle a few dozen times.

I use 60 durometer urethane for fairly deep impressions on open cavity dies. It works well and doesn’t require the force that 95 durometer would. It doesn’t hold up as well as stiffer urethane but I’m still getting plenty of use from one piece. That shouldn’t be an issue with male/female die sets in any event.

Hope this helps…

Neil A


Lots of information in the archives about using a hydraulic press, making/buying dies and so on. Take a look at Susan Kingsley’s book Hydraulic Die Forming For Jewelers & Metalsmiths. There is lots of good information in this book about presses and all kinds of dies. Last I knew Both Dar Shelton an Kevin Potter will make a custom pancake die for you, but there are lots of stock dies that you buy and even better, figure how to make them yourself. I have a 20 ton press that I use all the time. I was going to make one, but after an especially good Christmas selling season I had the money so I bought one. You can use other, less expensive, solutions as Neil A describes and they will serve you well. I would encourage you to start somewhere and let your experience drive you, but also have a roadmap of understanding from more research and Susan’s book to guide you. Good luck…Rob


Use Jett Sett (I believe they are making Jett Sett with Kevlar which should give it more strength)in lieu of Devcon… Work in a containment system to protect yourself in case.


Great information for me to do some more research. I didn’t know an arbor press would work for impression dies, but that is good to know. Also, I like the idea of using Jett set as it would be more economical and reusable. I’m even thinking if Jett sett would work, I could make an impression die, get some lead fishing weights, and my husbands giant hammer from the garage, and try it out. Does anyone have any actual experience using Jett set to make impression dies? Thanks

I just came upon this video from Ottofrei a few days ago because I too wanted to know something about Jett Sett. Hope this helps you. :woman_artist:t3::cactus::hammer:

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I have used Jett Sett and imprinted brass Indian amulets into the material and applied extreme hydraulic pressure. the material did not shatter in the containment system. I used very thin guage copper sheet - 30 guage, I only did 2 impressions so don’t have much experience here/ I posted the info on Facebook several months ago, Have fun.

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I just tried Jett Ballistic to make an impression die.
I was able to get a pretty good looking impression from an old button, but when I tried it in my 12 ton press with annealed 24 guage cooper , it just mushed out the details & the impression itself spread a little wider.
So, my question is , does it need a containment to work ? Or am I wishing for things that won’t work at all ??

Hi ,
I’m wondering if you could compare the “pressing power” of a standard 5 inch bench vise to the pressing power of an arbor press: 1 ton, 2 ton etc. I’ve used the vise with steel dies to press patterns into 24 gauge sterling sheet but it’s a slow process and requires an extension (2 foot length of pipe) to the handle.

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A hydraulic press made for jewelry work is a very different tool from using a vise or a small arbor press. I’m not sure of your question - making or using a Devcon die - which are you trying?
Judy Hoch

My question might make more sense in a new thread so I started a new topic.