Introduction: Impression Die Press (Homemade)

I recently (pre COVID) acquired two colonies of bees. The family become "Bee Crazy" and everything about bees was en vogue. As I was searching the internet, I came across a big steel block with a bee impression. After doing a little research, I found out that it was an impression die. The idea is that you use this mold and using a lot of pressure, you can impart the shape to whatever medium (steel, aluminum, copper sheet). I immediately needed one...however the press was NOT cheap. So I looked around a little bit and tied into welding one together. It was a great project that my son could help me with.

Before I get into the build, I want to share a couple websites: : This is where I bought the bee impression, but they also have great videos about how to use all the equipment. Priceless. : this is where I bought the high density urethane, but he also has some great dies that I will look into purchasing shortly.


20 ton bottle jack

42 inches of 2 inch square tubing

48 inches of 3 inch angle iron

24 inches of 1 1/2 inch angle iron

1/2 inch thick steel plate (for the bottle jack to sit on) 5 in X 6 inches

3/8 inch thick steel plate (for the top of the press)

3/8 inch steel plate for the business end of the jack

2 1X6 boards cut to desired press height. (mine is 13 inches between centers but could b

Step 1: Cut and Weld

Like many of my projects, I think about instructables after the fact. However it is a fairly straight forward build and hopefully I included enough photos with some dimensions. If there are questions, happy to answer them.

I started with two 12 inch pieces of 3 inch angle iron, and two pieces of 21" 2 x2 square tube. I set the angles together with the tubing between then and tack welded them. (photo 1, lower note)

Building toward the top, i cut two 1x6s to the desired length. I set those on the lower angles between the square tubing. This gave me a "platform" to place the upper angles on the press and tacked them in place. (photo 1, upper note). This helped me build a square and parallel setup.

For added stiffness, I welded in the 1 1/2 inch angle iron. This provided a table for the jack. This can also be seen in photo 1.

The next step was the platform for the jack. I used a piece of 1/2 in steel that was larger than the base of the jack. (Photo 2)

For the top of the jack, I kind of kluged something together to sit on top of the piston. I changed it later to add the spring, but it really isn't that helpful. What you really need is a flat level surface on top of the jack.

For the top of the press, I welded in a piece of 3/8 in steel. Again just a flat and parallel surface to ensure you can get even pressure.

Step 2: Put It to Use!

I have attached a video of how to use this thing. Really there is some technique involved that Mr. Potter does a great job of explaining.

The second picture shows the small pieces of urethane used to apply pressure and "push" the medium into the die. The third photo shows another type of die, called a pancake die used to cut circles out of the copper, which creates a nice round blank for the press.

The attached photo was me pressing bees into whatever material I had laying around :-)

Step 3: Get Creative and Make Your Own Impression Dies

I also have made my own dies (from aluminum) and you can do the same using one of my other instructables: Great use of CHEAP Eleksmill CNC Machine.

Steel is obviously the most durable die material, but you can use aluminum, brass, or even cast plastic to create dies.

Best of luck with the build. Please comment with photos of stuff that you have made with your new press!

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