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Making hydraulic press

I am determined to make a press. I own an old, well made 20 ton
bottle jack and wonder if it can be used for the press.

My mind says that the calibrations on the gauges would be little
more accurate than pumping.- especially when each job would require
experimentation on amount of pressure to achieve desired effect. It
would not be so, I would think, with any automated systems .

Would anyone who has used a hand powered bottle jack in presses
making jewelry please tell my if they can be reliably used without a

Thank you so much!

There are instructions for making a press out of a 20 ton bottle
jack. I believe I saw them in the Kingsley book. I’ll have to check
on that. As far as using a press without a gauge goes–I think you
will get more consistent results if you use a gauge. I’ve learned to
operate a press without a gauge – one gets used to the way it feels
when you’ve reached the right pressure–but I wouldn’t want to rely on
that. --Vicki Embrey

my press is a replica of the one in the Susan Kingsley book and works
just fine. It is important to bolt it to a sturdy table which is
level or else the plattens get out of adjustment and gouge the pipes
they slide up and down on. I have a regular bottle jack, with a
gauge, but tend to rely more on feel than the gauge. I anneal my
metal before pressing and have had no problems. Susan Kingsleys book
is filled with good and I highly recommend it. Alma

It’s not the bottle jack and the gauage that’s the problem. It is
the scientific forces and the potential dangers. The exact support
structure of the frame to contain and control the forces involved. I
think is is worth buying the appratus from Lee Marshall or a company
similar. I do know that the gauge is not the really necessary part.
I buildt mine. I am happy without the gauge. I did NOT build it
alone. I was in a controlled situation. The scientific forces were
worked out and engineered by a machinist. I did not appreciate the
forces involved until I took an intensive workshop with Lee Marshall.

I weldes, tapped, and assembled my press and 2 others. They all
function. My hands did the work. But, a greater mind than mine
engineered for tolerences etc. I realize now that the me building
it was a lot like going to a computer factory and holding, fassening,
plugging in premade components to “make” a computer.


  {making jewelry please tell my if they can be reliably used
without a gauge? 

I find in making any jewelry with the press the gauge is essential!
Especially in making any reproduction of the same item.As I make an
item I must bring it to, say 2000lbs, anneal, and put back in press
and then take it to, say 4000lbs, in order for it to fill the ‘mold’.
If not this procedure, the metal will crack or split. I write down the
pressures as I make something new to know what the limits are for a
particular piece. Also, different gauge(thickness) metals are going
to react differently at pressure. Sure you can build a press, but I
would be EXTREMELY CAREFUL, as at 8000lbs of pressure, something
broke or went wrong…anything could happen! I suppose a gauge could
be put on any pump… but it’s not the pump that is the expensive part
of the press, it’s the engineering and construction, mainly for
saftey. You could get on the forum at
…and ask the folks there these questions. Probably get a more
accurate answer than mine. Thomas Blair