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Urethane substitutes

For occasional pressing (with my fly press), is there any
inexpensive substitute for using urethane? I found brief references
to leather and to hard wood, but would value more detail and other

Judy Bjorkman

I use rubber, same as in shoes :). I think that you can find it in
hardware store. Be carefull with using wood !!, I don’t think it is
good idea.

Urethane is really the best material for dieforming.

A great source for urethane sheets at good prices:

So much depends on the application ! Other rubbers can work for some
light-duty work, but will wear out quickly with more demanding jobs.
Cheap urethane can also wear out prematurely ; Bonny Doon has a
formula that is meant for pressing. You could look in the MSC
(Industrail Supply) catalog for other rubbers, and they have cheaper
urethane (‘polyurethane’ in the catalog), and a briefing on
durometers (hardness).

Basically, harder material is needed for picking up detal and even
surface texture. I do embossing in solid plastics like
Lexan/Polycarbonate (NOT acrylic/plexiglas, because it will
shatter), Delrin (acetyl), and Polyethylene, Nylon, and hard
urethane. Softer material is used for shaping with more volume.

Using wood in the press is a terrible idea ; hard wood can shatter,
and softer wood will just get crushed. Containment is also
essentialin some situations. I generallyuse pads 1/2" thick, or less,
so I don’t need containment often. I have exploded a nylon block that
I was using as a dapping block in the press. Bad idea ! I still do
it, but only at lowpressures. I thought that when Nylon failed, it
would just crack and fall apart, but it blew up, loudly. Everybody
using a hydraulic press needs to readup some on safety and basics of
forming, if they haven’y already. There’s a bleepinggood reason they
have containment boxes and cans for this kind of work, and why they
sell urethane. .


I have seen all of the following used: Neoprene. Rubber gasket
material from hardware store. Rubber roofing material. Urethane not
made to Bonny Doon specifications.

The non-urethanes did not last as long as Bonny Doon urethane. So,
they are less expensive in the short term, but not in the long term.
I have 20 year old Bonny Doon urethane that still works well.

I also have some urethane that a friend sold to me when I first
started using a hydraulic press. He said he bought it at a great
price. Well, these don’t have the working qualities of the Bonny
Doon urethanes, so that money was pretty much a waste, too.

I do not know what Lee Marshall and Phil Poirier have the
manufacturers do to the Bonny Doon urethanes beyond the colors, but
in my experience, they truly are superior.

Cynthia Eid