I decided to make a small scale shop press since over the years I had an occasional need for one while doing projects, but never had the justification for a typical "real" one. My design criteria was based on the lowest cost to achieve a quality product, and so that called for creative thinking as to materials and the maximum tonnage I would need to impose. The most expensive item purchased was a 4- ton H. F. hydraulic bottle jack, about $15, and I mounted it in the usual way as found in higher tonnage units. The rest of the build materials were roadside gifts such as a bed frame's angle**, and scrap hardwood (pallet hardwood, even glue- ups). A composite of steel and wood can yield a very serviceable bit of kit, and for assembly conventional fasteners were used instead of weldments- in fact nothing is welded, and one can build this project using the most modest of tools.
Step 1: The Results; an Overview
*Some additional information:*
For our metrified friends: 355.6 mm Deep X 330.2 mm Outer Wide X 203.2 mm Column I.D. X 406.4 mm Max. Retracted Ram X 127.0 mm Ram Stroke X 838.2 mm High.
Springs were needed that would retract the ram without overkill on the return force, I found a pair of 7/8" (22.22 mm) dia. x 6" (152.4 mm) L. X .091 (2.31 mm) wire worked just fine from Home Depot.
Mounted to the Waist Plate is a 3/8" (9 mm) NPT Floor Flange and 2" long (50 mm) nipple which serves as a ram & tool attachment system.
The overall height was simply the length of bedrails cut in two. Your dimensions may vary depending on needs and materials, thus height customization may even allow for under workbench storage if warranted.
Step 2: the Tool Holder
Running a round file inside to remove the weld and hacksawing an "X" down the threads makes this tapered pipe fitting an adjustable squeeze collet, thus one can make unlimited special adapters based on need. For starters I just modified a 1/2" (12.7 mm) capscrew to use as a general purpose nose.
Step 3: Clamp It
Tighten the fitting's flats and the nose tool is held fast yet can quickly be swapped out for other tools.
Step 4: A New Perspective
The Waist Plate rides up and down the column angles with about 1/16"clearance all around, this helps direct the force precisely where needed. A nice linear stroke is easy to predict.
Step 5: Squaring Things Up
The base of most bottle jacks are rough cast, and need a little filing or sanding to fair and flatten them so that force is evenly distributed across the Waist Plate. Finish off by boring through mounting holes on all 4 corners.
Step 6: Think Safety During the Build
Although I turned a Socket Plate for the jack's ram, a ferrule or other device can be used to house that part. The object is to safely restrain the jack yet allow it to do it's job. The final step was to make sure the jack was centered, then drill and mount screws through the pump's base plate mounting holes to the wooden Waist Plate.
I next loaded the press and applied maximum pumping pressure, checked for square, and retightened all fasteners. Deflection of the Head Rail was barely perceptible across the top during this operation.
Step 7: Let's Do Some Work
First use of my new shop tool is to assist in the removal and replacement of a motor bearing set, an outstanding success story that is documented here:DeWalt MBF Motor Restoration.
Step 8: Customize the Width
Adjustable Flank Supports are simply set in or out to a scale scribed on the Foot Rail to ensure even, parallel force application
Step 9: Carry On
A used cabinet door pull makes a nifty carrying handle, and a little filing and tapping permitted me to mount an old valve wheel handle to bleed the cylinder off without using a tool.
Step 10: a Squeeze Play
Here it is used to help construct a 32" long glueup that will be resawn into cabinet legs. Note the large batten strips used under the waist ram and atop the flank supports, they help spread the force over a larger area. The major amount of compression is imparted to the middle with handscrews taking care of the ends. This method can also be used for small flat panel veneering jobs of appropriate size.
Step 11: More Applications
A short list of other possible uses for a shop press are:
- PRESS BRAKE
- BOOK PRESS
- CUTOFF SHEAR
- HONEYCOMB PRESS
- CLICKER DIE
- HOLE PUNCHING
- WIRE ROD BENDING
- RIVET AND GROMMET SETTER
- METAL FORMING
- HERB, FLOWER, INSECT PRESSING
- BRIQUETTE FORMING
NUT OR OLIVE PRESSING
The design of course depends on desired end results, but not having a shop press is now unthinkable in my workshop.
Step 12: Parting Thoughts
It should be noted that in most instances the precision use of force will be more influential than the bone- crushing type, which is why I made sure the frame and it's parts were all very square in relation to each other. With even a modicum of care in machining and assembly, perfect results can be expected.
** I will also note, for the record, that bed frame angle can be unpredictable as far as workability goes. Some will hacksaw and drill just fine while others need an abrasive saw to be cut and carbide drill bits to bore with, so when you pull up to that free bedframe roadside, just keep that in mind and good luck with your build.