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Minimum specs for a hydraulic press


#1

I’d love to get a hydraulic press. I work only in silver, and only
for jewelry. I want to be able to use pancake dies to cut out parts
more quickly, and I want to “puff up” forms, because I love the way
they look.

Does anyone have any opinions about the minimum tonnage I would
want? Also, even though I am not particularly mechanically inclined,
I would like to know if there is an economical way I could assemble
what I need from places like Harbor Freight, as opposed to just
plunking down the $1K+ for the manually operated entry-level Bonny
Doon press. Or is there actually something about those that make them
worth it?


#2

Starting with the $1000.00 for the BD press, you need to ask what
else can I get for that money or less? that would do the same job.

The answer will depend on where you are, how near you are to any
industrial metal working area and the space you might have or not
for some other machine, like a fly press.

This can be anything from 1 ton up to 10 tons energy delivery,
weighing from 100lbs or so up to 1 ton.

This had a heavy cast iron or steel frame, a base with a hole in it
a large screw above the base with an arm on this with balls of iron
each end.

These can weigh anything from 20 lbs to 200 lbs each.

Hand operated, fast and accurate if not worn out. as to size for
what you want to do, from 4 ton upward, tho if youve space for 2,
then a 2 ton and a 6 ton would do all you would want.

Where to find these? SH machinery dealers, within say 100 mile
should be where you start looking. Go and look at them.

Gogle fly presses for pictures. The small ones can be bolted to a
strong wooden bench.

the bigger ones come with their own cast iron base that needs
bolting down to a concrete floor.

Do your research into all Ive said. These presses are standard in
the birmingham jewellery workshops in the UK. More versatile than any
hyd press.

Tho its nice to have some of each. There too slow for modern
production but ideal for folk like us.

A good one will last you all your life and the next generation after
that. There ideal for blanking pressing, bending, embossing, doming
etc.

Costs dont finish once youve the press installed, the tooling will
usually cost more than the press.

Research tooling as well.

Its a great journey getting one of these tools. AND there a pleasure
to use.


#3
as opposed to just plunking down the $1K+ for the manually operated
entry-level Bonny Doon press. Or is there actually something about
those that make them worth it? 

Safety and ease of use.

Elaine
CreativeTextureTools.com


#4

I’d love to get a hydraulic press. I work only in silver, and only
for jewelry. I want to be able to use pancake dies to cut out parts
more quickly, and I want to “puff up” forms, because I love the way
they look.

Does anyone have any opinions about the minimum tonnage I would want?
Also, even though I am not particularly mechanically inclined, I
would like to know if there is an economical way I could assemble
what I need from places like Harbor Freight, as opposed to just
plunking down the $1K+ for the manually operated entry-level Bonny
Doon press. Or is there actually something about those that make
them worth it?


#5

From the beginning vantage point:

Bonnie Doon is among the most expensive, but they have a huge
following, great customer service before and after the sale, the
backing of Rio, and an incredible line of tooling and trinkets. Not
to be underestimated is the depth of technical support available
there; if you have a question Rio can’t answer, they may give you
the maker’s contact info. I’m pretty sure anything I can think of to
do witha hydraulic press or tooling he’s already done hundreds of
times. Also, the BD line has a staggering resale percentage value
and their line is finished as if it were jewelry.

I myself have a Potter press. I bought it because I don’t use it
every time I work metal, it’s 20 ton, andcan be finagled to take the
Doon items if I need to. It was primarily afinancial decision, but
I’ve learned that Kevin and wife are easily reached and they always
want to do the right thing. Kevin is also very clever - for instance,
he converted a torque wrench to be used with the press, which was a
considerably lower cost than a hydraulic cylynder with a
guageinstalled. And, there’s something to be said for calling him and
hearing “Hold on just one minute; I’m on the fork lift”. (Check out
his video on the Potter USA page “The Last Stakemaker”)

I was also looking atthe one mentioned in the really great book
"Hydraulic Die Forming for Jewelers and Metalsmiths" by Susan
Kingsley.

I evidently caught them during a move and by the time they got back
to me I’d bought from Kevin.

My research (and others know better, I’m sure) indicated that
thissums up what was commonly available in the jewelry specific 20
ton rangethat Susan Kingsley suggests. There was also a "how to"
section in her book to make a press, and if I’d known about those
scrap metal places in NH posted by another user just the other day I
would have built one. I did not consider the 6 ton range of presses
and any non-jewelry presses based upon advice found in Susan’s book,
but again, other’s here undoubtedly know much more about that.

I have never actually used a smaller press myself.

Good luck, and have fun!
Bob


#6

Hi Ted,

Fly presses aren’t as common in the States as they are in the UK.
Once you get off the East coast, they get downright rare. Not
unheard of, but nothing like the quantities you see in blighty.

So depending on where she is, that may not be an option. Tooling
would be a real problem for most studio metalsmiths over here too.

Getting back to the OP’s question, as Robert Adkisson mentioned, the
BD presses have a staggering amount of tooling and widgetry.

The biggest issue with a real jewelry press versus a Harbor Fright
frankenstein is rigidity. The HF presses aren’t intended for doing
this sort of work. They’re intended for pressing bearings off of
shafts, which takes a whole different setup. When set up to squash
things between plates, they don’t set up well for it. Which means
there’s a lot of flex in the frame. Every bit of energy that goes
into bending the frame is energy that’s not going into forming
your metal. Yeah, they’ll do it. but you’ll have to work harder for
it, and it won’t be as accurate and repeatable.

The real question is one of seriousness. How often do you think
you’ll use the press? How much of your production (livelihood) will
depend on it? If it’s only once or twice a year, go for whatever you
can scrounge. If it’s more like 2-3 times a week, start thinking
about a real press. If it’s 4-5 times per day, get the real press.

Regards,
Brian


#7

Hi Marie!

I got my press from Kevin Potter of http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/lc

I have been very happy with it. For $500, you can’t really beat the
price and it takes up very little space. He also has pancake dies and
other die accessories. I did a lot of research before finally
deciding which one to get and I haven’t regretted that decision.
Kevin is also very helpful in answering any questions you may have.
hope this helps.

Dara


#8

My hydraulic press was made following the exact instructions in the
Kingsley Book, shortly after the book was published. Several friends
and I got together, and had them made by a machine shop. They work
perfectly. The only problem we had was finding springs of the right
length and size to fit properly. However, after much search we were
able to locate some.

The source of our urethane pads was the dumpster behind a factory
that produced urethane sheets. They only sold wholesale, in huge
quantities, but when we explained that we were going to use them to
form jewelry items, they invited us to scrounge through the
dumpster—no charge. We got some scrap pieces, cut them to size
using my Beverly shears, and they work just fine.

Unfortunately the factory has moved and we no longer have access to
scrap pieces. However, the pieces we got have not deteriorated, and
are still workable.

Alma


#9

Marie

Contact Kate Wolf for she’s got a handmade sort of hydraulic press
minusthe jack.

http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/ep80jd

You can also use a vise to punch out your pieces from the dies. As
for the Bonny Doon, I have a handmade hydraulic press with a 20 ton
jack that was made locally. A weldingshop can make one for you if
you give them the specs. I think the Hydraulic Press book by
Kingsley has a diagram for making your own. Mine is bare-basic, no
pressure gauge, nothing fancy. I go by feel when I’m die-forming and
know when to back off. However, you got to make sure the welds are
secure for the welding was crappy on mine and I had to have it
reinforced by a welding friend.

Just alternatives. We New Englanders (and also Midwesters) are
resourceful - if we don’t have the cash, we find a way to get what
we need moreaffordably.

Hope that helps
Joy


#10

Marie - If all you want to do is stamp out things with a blanking
die - there are two reasonably inexpensive options -

  1. Use your vise and squeeze the die.

  2. Have Dar Shelton at sheltech. net cut your die and produce the
    stampings.

The first one is really cheap, the second one is not hands on.

Then on to the hydraulic press - if you search the Orchid archives,
you will get masses of on the subject - here is one on
point.

https://orchid.ganoksin.com/t/before-purchasing-a-hydraulic-press

Taking a class in use of the press prior to deciding what to
purchase is a really good use of your time and money. It will open
your eyes to all the things you could do with a proper press.

The thing that most folks don’t understand prior to laying out some
serious money for a press, that is just the beginning. Tooling the
press will cost many times more than the cost of the press. The
standard for tooling is Bonny Doon. It is a complete tool for
jewelers. Period.

The Potter presses are a reasonable choice if all you want to do is
stamp dies, and he actually makes a number of standard shape dies.
The do not however have a taper that cuts the metal, they are a
vertical cut. They are certainly usable, but you are limited to his
designs, and to metal thicknesses of 16 to 20 gauge. You can of
course cut your own tapered dies.

I’ve had my Bonny Doon press for 15+ years. You will pry it out of
my cold dead hands. I love it, have many tools that save me gobs of
time and effort.

Just go and look at all the things you can do with a Bonny Doon
press.

Here’s one - http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/ep80ji

I’m a fan of Bonny Doon - it was by far the most expensive tool I
bought at the time. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

And to answer your initial specific question - 20 tons is a good
size - but that means 20 tons across the platen, not just in one tiny
place.

Do some research. Take a class. Get the book - Hydraulic Die Forming
for Jewelers and Metalsmiths by Susan Kingsley. It is $25 and no
matter what you do about presses, it is an invaluable resource. It
has the specs for how to cut a die - angles, steel, saw blade
thickness. It is outdated with reference to currently available
presses, but the theory is there.

Judy Hoch


#11

Its a pity that fly presses are rare away from the E coast.

That doesnt mean you shouldnt have a wish list of machinery to add
to your w/shop.

If you do visit a machinery dealer, get him to put you on his
mailing list, hes a living to make too and will look out for you in
his travels.

For example, most of my machinery came from dealers or via tip offs
from other s/smiths, including iron smiths.

Think outside the envelope. Find out what other smiths use including
the mass production factories. You can never know enough about the
trade.

Tools are the extension of your hands and head.

How you use them comes from your heart. Put passion into your work,
it will show!!


#12

Oh good. It’s not just me who had never have seen one before. I
worked as an apprentice in a machine shop for 2 years and tried to
learn the use of as many machines as possible. I always did like the
older type of tools like the English Wheel as opposed to newer
machines. So thanks for bringing up the Fly Wheel. I have never
heard of it but after googling it I now realize what I saw in an old
German museum. The best old tooling I’ve seen in the states is often
the old ww2 lathes, mills, and other stuff that are still being used
in some shops but I never see this in Florida with the exception of
one old timer who moved his entire motorcycle frame building shop
from Ohio to Florida. He had 5 or six industrial lathes from the
1940s as well as huge breaks and even older hand operated mini
breaks. It was something you would never otherwise see in Florida.
Itwas fun working with tools that help build b-24s.

Rick Powell


#13

Just wanted to add a few details. The tooling for the Bonny Doon is
completely interchangeable with my press and my tooling is
completely interchangable with the Bonny Doon. So if you’ve already
bought tooling, you can buy either Bonny Doon or Potter USA and your
tooling will still work.

Just to help you out, we make 4 presses:

-20 ton bolt together that ships in a flat rate box anywhere in the
world

-20 ton standard height that will fit any jack on the market with
gauge or without Electric hydraulic presseso

-50 ton electric press

-100 ton electric press

And, you can put any press on layaway and pay when you have the
money.

We also sell pancake dies of pre-cut shapes. Dar Shelton is great
for custom shapes or dies needed to cut thin metal. We recommend him
highly.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Kevin Potter
Potterusa.com