Introduction: Make a 30tonne Hydraulic Press. Squash Anything!

Picture of Make a 30tonne Hydraulic Press. Squash Anything!

This instructable will show you how to make a 30tonne hydraulic press. In my press i use some serious hardware, and the final press is going to end up weighing 86kg, which is 164lbs or 13.5 stone. I use M42 threaded rod which is 42mm wide and weighs a tonne. There is nothing to stop you using smaller hardware, I am told that M30 rod (which you can buy from RS for 10 quid will take 26 tonnes, so two of those would handle it fine.

However you build it, its a nice project, and the finished product is great fun to use.

Below are some damage photos. Theres also a video i made of a santa candle being crushed. I sped the video up so its not too long, the press does not operate at this speed...

Step 1: Gather Materials....

Picture of Gather Materials....

This is a relativly simple project, once you have the bits and peices its very straight foward to put it all together.

You need two upright supports. If you cant get rod as hefty as the stuff I managed to find, you could use four thinner threaded rods instead. You could also use smaller box section.

Anyway, if you want to build one just like mine, you need the following:

6ft of 150mm box section. I got mine from a local steel fabrication place for 50quid. It needs to be cut into three 2ft sections. You can either do this with a big angle grinder, hack saw or an oxy acentaline torch. I did mine the lazy way and i got the steel works to cut it for me.

Two 1m lengths of M42 (or similar sized) threaded rod. I got mine off a friend, the two meter peices with all the nuts and washers for £20.

8 M42 Nuts I got mine with the M42 rod.

12 M42 washers 16 washers would be ideal, but for non-load bearing points, you dont need a nut. My freind with the M42 rod only had 12 washers.

Some suitably sized steel bar - for use as feet, if a machine this heavy fell over it would break through the floor.

An appropriatly sized square steel plate - This is optional but is necessary if your box section is significantly smaller than the base of the jack.

30 Tonne bottle jack - This is obviously the component where all the power comes from. You dont have to use a 30t jack, you can use a 50 or a 15t if you want, you can use an air powered one too if you ahve a compressor, The jacks are compleatly inter-changable. Just make sure your steel can handle the load.

Now, the tools....

Step 2: Gather Tools...

Picture of Gather Tools...

For using hefty materials like this you need some pretty hardcore tools. Perhaps the most important would be a way of drilling a large bore hole in the steel. If you are using thinner rods you can get by with a large drill bit in a power drill. I was using 46mm rods so had to resort to a big bore cutter on a huge pillar drill to cut the holes for the rod. When you get the steel, ask the steel works if they would dril it for you.

If your steel works does not cut up the steel for you, or if you fish it out of a skip, you will need to cut the steel. You can do this the long, laborious way with a hacksaw, or you can have abit more fun and use a big angle grinder. Beware of the 15ft shower of sparks though!

For the feet, you would also need a saw. Either the grinder or a hacksaw. I used a powered reciprocating hacksaw. You will also need a way of joining the feet onto the base section. I welded it, but you could bolt it.

You also need a massive spanner for the M42 nuts. From RS a 65mm spanner is 250 quid, so that was out of the question. To be honist, the nuts dont have to be that tight, only the nuts on the base have to have any tension in them, the nuts that hold the top bar in dont have to be tight as the pressure from the jack will hold them there. I was not going to shell out 250 quid on a spanner so I quickly bodged one up from a sheet of aluminium which is more than enough to move the nuts.

A wire brush to clean out the threads and scrub the crap off the steel is also useful.

Step 3: Mark Up the Steel...

Picture of Mark Up the Steel...

Now you need to make up your steel. The way you do this will vary depending on what size steel you use, but I did it by finding the centre of the steel section, then measuring 22mm out. I used a 90degree centre finder to mark a cross then measier 22mm up from the middle. You need to leave enough space between the edge of the hole and the edge of the steel. My holes are 46mm, and I have left 57 between the centre of the hole and the edge of the metal. This leaves:

57 - 23 (the radius of the hole) = 34mm.

Marking a thin, precise line on dull steel is quite hard, so I put afew inches of masking tape on the surface to give me something to draw on. I made the markings with a simple biro pen.

This is obviously a crucial stage, if yoru finished holes don;t line up, your press will be wonky and wont move!

Step 4: Cutting the Holes.

Picture of Cutting the Holes.

This is the hard bit. If you are using steel the size I used, you will find it very hard to cut the steel unless you have a fully equipped machine shop. You can buy hole saws but to be honist, cutting steel this size (especialy ten holes) is not really practicle with a hole saw. If you did decide to go the holesaw route, you would need a pillar drill, a hand held power drill would break your wrists!

The floating and the top section need four holes each, however the base section only needs two, as the nuts will be inside the section to allow more vertical pressing area, and also prevents needing very deep feet to accomodate the nuts.

You can also use 10mm rod and use 4 or 6 rods, which would make drilling the holes much easier, you could just use an 11mm bit.

I used a 46mm heavy duty hole saw in a massive 20 year old pillar drill. It took about 5mins to do each hole....

Its likely that either the floating or the top section will bind slightly. Thats not a good thing, so you can solve this with abit of filing to widern the holes in the appropriate direction.

Step 5: Making the Feet.

Picture of Making the Feet.

Obviously, this press weighs a lot and if it fell over, it would casue a lot of damage. I used two 450mm peices of 40mm box section. I cut the box section on a large reciprocating hack saw which took about five minuets per cut. After cutting the metal, it was welded onto the bottom section.

I arranged my feet so they were directly alligned with the vertical shafts.

Step 6: Strengthen the Sliding and Top Section With Concrete.

Picture of Strengthen the Sliding and Top Section With Concrete.

Oh dear. I tried my press on a tea spoon and after closer inspection it seems that the pressure of the jack has pushed and distorted the foating steel section. To be honist, this is not a **really** bad thing, since now there is a little dimple for the ram to sit in. To prevent this happening again, I decided it woudl be best to fill the floating and top sections in with concrete. This practicaly doubles the weight, so be careful!

you could do this many ways, but the way I came up with worked quite well. I covered over the holes and filled the section with sand up until the fill level. I then put a peice of tinfoil in the bottom to prevent too much water seeping into the sand and making it harden with the concrete. I then filled the box up with concrete to the second fill level. I stood the box section in a plastic bag so that when i lift it up, the sand underneath the concrete will be contained.

Because the top section is ment to be adjustable for height, I decided rather than to fill the whole thing with concrete, to just do a 8 inch block right int he middle. Anyway, most of the crushing will be in the middle, so this is not going to cause a problem. It also makes the top section more manovourable and lighter.

Not only does this strengthen the metal enormously, but it also makes it much easier to push the piston back into the jack body. Because this is designed to lift 30 tonnes, it takes a huge ammount of force to push he piston back into the jack. The extra weight of the concrete helps to push the piston back in. You might also find that standing on the floating section will push it back quicker than just waiting.

Dont forget you need to leave a big enough space for you to tigten the nuts up.

Step 7: Putting It All Together

Picture of Putting It All Together

So, you have drilled the holes in the metal, welded the feet on and filled the floating and top section with concrete for strength. Now you get to put it all together.

Dont forget the top and floating sections will weigh **a lot** with the concrete, be careful when lifting them, and whatever you do make sure your feet arnt ontop of the base section, if you drop it you wont have any toes left.

The putting it together stage is faily self explanitory, just make sure you do the nuts up on the base section.

You must be very very careful when lowering the concrete reinforced section down onto the rod. The thread in the rod can catch skin, and with that much weight behind it, esepecialy if you are hon your own is bad news. The sections weigh a lot, and if you drop them they can crush your toes or anything else delecate that may get in the way. Its best to get a frenid to help you.

Step 8: Tadaaa

Picture of Tadaaa

Now you can crush, press and stress to 30t. Dont forget, if you are pressing things that could posibly break free and fly off, use eye and face protection. better still, erect a perspex screen infront of the press to catch any fall out.

Have fun squashing stuff, email me if you ahe any questions.

Please see my site at .

I would like to thank my freind Tim at Fabrication Solutions who helped me cut the holes and weld the feet. My garage dosn't have that equipment (yet),

Any damage to life, limb or property as a result of using or following this instructable is purely the responsability of the builder and operator. I am not to be held responsable for any accidents including death, injury or damage to property through the use or misuse of the device featured in this instructable.


Yonatan24 (author)2016-08-11

Hi, I've added your project to "The Ultimate Collection of DIY Workshop Tools" Collection

Here is the link If you are interested:

phydraulic (author)2014-12-02

How you measured the press without
measurer? How much does it cost?

marqitox (author)2013-04-21

you can´t put a measurer on press??

backchatter (author)2010-06-15

To be serious for a moment.......could this press be adapted for use as an 'etching press'. If so, does anyone know the size of print that might be achieved using a hydraulic press rather than the usual 'roller' type. (This gives something like 6000 p.s.i. along the line of the roller. I am based in 'rural' France so finding rail track could be rather difficult.

howk101 (author)2010-03-23

i wouold  build hyedrolic press fore recycling matireal like plastic , batols pipse ore wotar . genaraly plastec ,, with power off 10 -20 tons. ??

The Lightning Stalker (author)2007-07-21

Soapstone is the thing to use to mark steel. It should be available at any home improvement centre.

We tend to just use a wipeable marker pen. Great on stainless as it vanishes without a trace.

The thing with soapstone is that the mark is heat resistant so you can still see it when you use a cutting torch or plasma cutter.

metal marking paint is also pretty good its made by suremark its yellow

instructa-fan (author)2007-03-29

why did you take parts from a 80tonne press to make a 30tonne press??????????????????????????

with no hydraulics make any sense to you?

kronkoburg (author)2008-03-30

How much does it cost???

_soapy_ (author)kronkoburg2008-06-16

I cold knock one of these together for nowt, but YMMV. Probably you will need to buy a bottle jack. Machine Mart do them pretty cheap.

stalkingcoco (author)2008-06-16

I drilled a 40mm hole in a gas cylinder with a holesaw. I broke a couple of teeth off the holesaw, but it still works. If it had been a flat surface and I had turned down the speed a bit I'm sure I could have holed the cylinder and not damaged the holesaw. Using a 10 quid woolworths drill and a B and Q holesaw no less. So a pillar drill is not essential, that said a massive 20 year old pillar drill would be the way to go if you get yours hands on one.

donmak (author)2008-06-16

This is hilarious! There are also some clips of David Letterman squashing all kinds of crazy stuff over at

David Letterman Hydraulic Press Clips

recon506 (author)2008-03-25

what i would recommend doing is going to a scrap yard and finding a 6 foot section of railroad track. Because of its I beam design, it wont bend or flex under pressure and it would drastically reduce your weight.

The Lightning Stalker (author)2007-07-21

The easiest way to drill would be with the torch.

We did think about that, but we had teh right size cutter. It didnt take too long....

Virtualgoose (author)2007-07-14

Y'know, you could maybe make a really nice pipe bender with something like this... It'd probably have to be sideways for longer pipes though.

hoarp001 (author)2007-03-29

The upright poles originaly came from an 80 tonne rubber vulcanizing press. The rubber press wasnt mine, it was just lying in a freinds garage with no hydraulics so i just bought two of the large steel poles off him....

hay_jumper (author)2007-01-10

This is a great idea. I was just thinking the other day about ways to make one of these, and your instructable got me thinking in a whole new way. I used to use a press like this to make sculpture and stuff using plexiglass dies and heavy rubber with a sheet of copper sandwiched in between. Since I got out of college and no longer have access to one, I started using a large bench vise and twisting it up real tight(maybe a new instructable is in order??). But I like this a lot. Thanks!

Machine (author)2007-01-02

Can I name your hydraulic press? How about 'Squasher Mark 1'?... It looks nice, does the anvil show any damage from pressing sharpish objects?

hoarp001 (author)Machine2007-01-02

Hmm, no more than you would expect, the concrete in fill seems to hold it back. The press is called Harold :-P hehe

all_thumbs (author)2006-12-23

I like the "squash anything" promise. The statement "the finished product is great fun to use" isn't really necessary after that...

rob1616161 (author)2006-12-05

damn this is ace we jus build one to crush up to 50t its fun to use for crushing the random thing in ma garage but i dont know what else i could use it for anyone got any ideas? email me at with ideas and we'll get some videos of stuff being crushed on our site.

piper1234 (author)2006-12-05

or stam a die too

piper1234 (author)2006-12-05

:P haaa man did u tried to fold metal? or adapt to twist metal tube? u can made a chair, tables or metalic insertions, rivets, seal tube extremes, etc, good invention ; )

cartufer (author)2006-11-30

wouldn't be too hard to turn this into a rubber press and form sheet metal

meddler (author)2006-11-18

Anyone have any ideas on how to make a simple apple cider press????

hoarp001 (author)meddler2006-11-18

this design could easily be modified to do that. You could build a woodern base and sliding peice and use thin threaded rod on each corner. You could use a screw jack from a car (just get one out of a written off car down at the dump) and that would press apples. All you would need is a clean metal dish to catch the juice...

crapflinger (author)2006-11-02

how are you actuating the jack? (sorry didn't watch the i'm at work) is this an "up and down" lever type jack? or is it one of those "stick a thing in the thing and turn it" types? have you concidered using an electric motor to do this with the push of a button/flip of a switch? that would tie into your lazyness... if it's a up-and down type of could get an electric motor and attach a wheel to the end that would move an arm up and down that would pump the arm on the jack (sort of like a locomotive wheel) or if its the turny type you could just interface the motors shaft with the turnie deal... then you could use a smaller motor to turn the release valve... with enough initiative you could probably even create some form of auto loader for the thing for rapid fire mass destruction

hoarp001 (author)crapflinger2006-11-02

Hi, its a levery type one. Im quite happy levering it, i dont use it that much so rapid fire and stuff isnt really necesary. I might attach a pnumatir ram or linear actuator or something...

Robotrix (author)2006-10-30

Damn you've created a monster for the power of recycling cans efficiently!

spinach_dip (author)2006-10-28

pretty cool, but tell me you didn't just build a press so you could squish stuff. You are using it to replace wheel-struts or press axle-shafts or something, right?

hoarp001 (author)spinach_dip2006-10-29

its for pressing fireworks but it will squasah most things....

Hoopajoo (author)2006-10-28

Dude, I would SOOOO visit a website with just videos of crap getting crushed in a hydraulic press. I've seen some home-built presses in machine-shops before, but none as pro looking as yours! Cheers mate!

hoarp001 (author)Hoopajoo2006-10-28

well im going to mount a camera mount onto the floating section to get a nice view of the stuff crushing. Then il make a montage type thing and put it on my site. check my site out at

TheCheese9921 (author)2006-10-28

that is so FREEKING SWEET i agree with Hoopajoo about making a website you should do it even if its a free blog

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