Shape cutters in hydraulic presses?

I’ve been researching various kinds of “disc cutters” - both those
that make circles as well as those that make shapes such as ovals,
hearts, etc.

They fall into two camps: those that lock down and those that don’t,

the two steel plates are a fixed distance from each other. It seems
that if I am going to be using a hammer to strike it, the locking
models are superior. Because if you need more than one blow to make
the cut, there is no danger that the metal will shift between
strikes. However, the non-locking models are much less expensive. And
so my question: can I use a hydraulic press instead of a hammer? Then
I don’t need to worry about the double-triple blow problem.

Hi Marie,

Yes, you can use a hydraulic press to drive your disk cutters. (So
long as we’re talking bonny-doon style ‘bottle-jack-in-a-frame’ type
presses, not industrial power presses. Right?) (You can use those
too, but you have to be much more careful about it.)

Just pump carefully until you hear the cutter ‘pop’ through. I
watched Phil Poirer (Bonny-Doon) get together with the Swandstrom
guy at a show a while back, and use a 20T BD press to drive some of
the Swanstrom square punches through 3/16" brass sheet. I never
would have thought it’d work, but it did, and no apparent problem
with the die either. Much less effort than bashing on them with
mallets as well.


Yes you can use a press instead of a hammer…

Marie, I have never had a problem double or even triple hitting a
round punch into a fixed sided cutter, once that first hit is made
the metal is deformed into the die which locks it in. If the punch
is not moved it is sitting in the deformation and ready to hit again.
Practice with copper or brass until you are convinced this is the
case. I use a 5 LB brass mallet on my disk cutter for thick disks or
a lighter one for thinner, much cheaper than a press. I use my BD
press for lots of things and I have used it once to cut 14 gauge
sterling disks after I had seen Phil doing it at one of the last
Catalog in Motion trade shows Rio used to put on.

Sam Patania

Hi Vernon.

I use the press to cut out disks all the time and have come to
prefer it over using the hammer. Most of my work uses thicker
material (18g +) and I find using the press easier. It’s not as fast
as using a hammer but I’m ok with that. Just be sure to center the
punch over the ram between the platens. If you are using the
Swanstrom disk cutter with the handle you can use the Bonny Doon
Press adaptor for the Swanstrom Disk cutter. Or you can take the
handle off, most of the time that will work, just be careful not to
squish the handle mount.

Hope this is of some help.

Mark N Tech
Rio Grande