Build a 10 Ton Hydraulic Press




About: general bloke type of tinkering
A press is something you dont use often in the home garage, but when you need one, nothing else will do.
I needed to straighten a bent bike axle, and after pricing one in a machinery shop ( I've bought a car for less, admittedly that was in 1984 though), I figured I could make one, I mean how hard could it be?
Pretty easy it turns out, all you need is some big bolts, heavy duty steel and a hydraulic jack, after some labour in the shape of welding, drilling, cutting and grinding, a 10 ton press appears.

Some research on the topic of presses soon revealed some aspects of design and usage functionality:
  1. Some presses had winches to raise the lower work table and had never used that function.
  2. Most presses in the 10 ton range had fixed hydraulic rams, no side to side movement, so everything had to be centered for it to work.
  3. Bench presses were limited in their use due to small size and large floor standing ones were heavy and had wasted space.
  4. A return spring speeded up the process and made working with the weight of a 7kg jack much easier.
  5. A gauge was nice to have but not a necessity.
My intended use was to straighten a bent axle so a gauge wasnt needed and a medium size unit between bench and floor sizes would suit me just fine.
I also wanted the bottle jack to be removeable in case it was needed to do duty elsewhere.

Step 1: Safety First

A small amount of welding will be needed on the upper and lower bottle jack brackets and also on the stabilizer feet.
With that in mind, all the cautions regards welding apply, ie long sleeves, proper welding gloves and helmet for arc welding. Bear in mind that you can get uv burns on the neck area that isnt covered by the bottom of the helmet, especially when welding objects on the floor. Proper footgear (safety boots or at least leather shoes) while welding is also a must, its hard to get neat welds while dancing around in slip slops with hot molten metal drippings on the toes.
Its very advisable to weld outdoors due to the fumes, be very cautious of welding on gavanised metal because it releases clouds of white toxic smoke.

Lots of grinding and cutting of the steel is involved.
With that in mind, eye and hearing protection is a must. An angle grinder with  a cutoff blademakes a racketwhich soon causes a ringing in the ear without proper protection, it also sprays a shower of sparks which can bouce back off nearby objects, beware the hot spark bouncing back off a wall over the top of your safety goggles, its not a fun experience.
A pair of work gloves is good insurance against a wire brush if it should slip, as well as cutting down on the vibration being transmitted to your hands.

The 20mm holes were drilled with a Blu-Mol bi-metal hole saw in a drill press and it flings hot shavings everywhere.
With that in mind, eye protection is amust, its also a caution on the outside of the blu-mol box. When the hole saw binds it can exert force on the work piece, so said work piece should be safely clamped to revent rotation.

Step 2: Parts and Tools

  • arc welder
  • drill press with a Blu-Mol bi-metal 20mm hole saw, recommended cutting speed is 440 rpm.
  • a 115 mm angle grinder + cutoff and grinding disks
  • 4 metres taper flange 100mmx50mm steel channel, (the taper flange is cheaper and stronger than the parallel flange)
  1. 2x 1metre side uprights
  2. 4 x 560mm cross bars (my 2m piece measured 2.24m so I just quartered it )
  • 1.2m 30mm equal angle iron for stabilizing feet.
  1. 460mm cross brace
  2. 2x 350mm side braces
  • 8 x 20mm bolts for cross members(I had 4x 20mm bolts on hand and bought 1 metre M20 allthread plus 8 M20 nuts).
  • 4 x M8 bolts for the feet.
  • 10 ton bottle jack.
  • 1x 200mm x 100mm x 20mm for top jack bracket. (flame cut at a speciality steel shop)
  • 300mm x3mm mild steel for bottom bracket.
  • 1 x 300mm x 10mm rebar for top bracket return spring mounts.
  • 2 x 200mm x 100mm x 20mm flame cut V-blocks. (flame cut at a speciality steel shop)

Step 3: Starting at the Bottom

Figured I'd cut and weld the foot brace once I knew that the cross members were 560mm, this resulted in the bottom foot cross brace being 460mm long, being the distance between the side posts and 350mm for the side braces seemed stable enough.
Then it occured to me that it would be easier to drill the 8mm fixing holes before I welded the cross brace on. So first I marked out holes in the brace then drilled with a 2mm pilot bit, once that was done I laid the angle iron on the side upright channel to transfer markings across.
This resulted in nicely centered holes which will only fit the corresponding foot brace.

Step 4: The Frame

That Blu-Mol bi-metal munches easily through 8mm steel and was still sharp even after 32 holes. It does leave a nasty ridge on the other side so be careful when brushing away metal shavings those ridges are plenty sharp and will be grinded down before painting.

A point to consider is that taper flange channel can result in pieces not fitting properly once assembled, the choices are to either file the mating surfaces flat or allow more clearances in the top sliding bracket.

I marked out the holes on cross members 30mm in from the edges and found that instead of the hole centers being 40mm apart(100mm width minus 60mm combined inset should have been 40mm remainder), it was actually a better fit if I made them 39mm apart when laying out the center punch marks on the side uprights.

A 2D cad file with the basic measurements has been attached.

Step 5: Bottle Jack Brackets

I welded a section of pipe onto the top bracket to locate the jack screw top, then attached some bent rebar for the return spring mounts when I eventually find a pair. In the meantime a pair of elastic luggage straps works well enough.

The bottom bracket was bits of scrap steel offcuts welded and bent to contain the jack base, the chain links being for the elastic cords while I look for suitable springs.

A caution on the elastics reads, dont stretch beyond 50% of original length, check often for damage, fraying etc, dont put face or body parts in path of stretched cord should it break.

Step 6: Testing

It easily bends 10mm rebar over a wheel brace, only to 90 degrees though, so I had to use fence posts and long levers to bend them in a U.

The only bottle jack mod was pressing out the original valve pin and putting in a much longer one to make it easier for finger use.

Thought it might be cool to do some die pressing but the thin pepsi can burst at the seams, thicker metal might do the trick, or possibly thinner wire than the 1.23mm stuff I used.



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    13 Discussions


    8 months ago

    Wish I'm gonna make a hydraulic press once, a 3 ton .but anxious should I make it small ie, 3 ft or so. Curious that if I could turn it into a log splitter after use.

    petercdAn account

    Reply 3 years ago

    Not if it has Chuck Norris on speed dial.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    I really like how the top carriage piece can move left to right. I might suggest considering a couple of things to add for safety... The first would be a thicker plate at the bottom, just seeing as how the base of the jack is cast iron. The other thing I'd do is to add a rod or devise a way to keep the jack from kicking forward and backwards under stress. In the red one pictured above you can see how the base travels up and down while inside the vertical framework. You could easily have that same channel just by swapping your vertical pieces and putting the cup on the inside of the framework. Then you could use that channel like the commercial unit does. The tricky part is coming up with a base that still allows the side to side movement.

    3 replies

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    The vertical sliding ways would definitely have been an upgrade but at the loss of sideways maneuverability, I havent been able to resolve that issue yet.
    I just went with the steel I had on hand to spread the load on the jack base, but thicker would definitely be better as you have pointed out. In practise it is a bit fiddly getting the jack perpendicular to the work but once it is then it works well.
    thanks for the input.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    I had a thought today about the base design. Let's say you flip the verticals so that it creates a channel inside. For the base, essentially use the same carriage design as you do for the top. In other words, have a piece that would capture the channel on the verticals (I'll call it a guide) then have a base on the jack that slides along the guide. So essentially the jack base would keep the guide piece from falling down, yet also have a carriage piece that allows side to side movement. Another way to think about it is the guide piece would completely float between the jack base and the vertical channels. In this way you'd still get your side to side movement of the jack.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Could work, would need a rework on the base or maybe just longer bolts. The thing that initially put me off the inside channel as a sliding guide is the fact that its a taper flange and not parallel. One would need very little play inside the channels for it to work which would probably scrape the heck out of the paintwork.

    I'd thought of 2 angle iron pieces riding on the outside but there it stopped because I hadnt thought of an inverted top carriage on the bottom attached to the jack, hence my verticals in their current config. Its something to consider now, thanks.


    5 years ago

    I have a home build press similar to this one; great for pressing resins.

    1 reply

    Reply 5 years ago

    Im guessing you mean "Amsterdam" resins and not fibreglass resins, so we wont be seeing any intructables on that method anytime soon. :)


    5 years ago on Introduction

    I built my own hydraulic press years ago and used to use it. But I don't do so much of that kind of thing anymore. I used it mainly for pressing drive shaft cups and control arm bushings. I still have all of the parts laying around but I haven't put it together since I moved. I've often thought about rebuilding it and making it a smaller bench style press. Because I really don't have the room for my floor standing press anymore. I used to keep it outside at my old place, but I've nowhere like that here now. With the jack off there isn't much that can be hurt with the frame of the press. I don't really have any free bench space I could dedicate to even a little bench press right now. But like you said, if you need a press nothing else does the job. I've broken a few vises trying to press things. That was what got me to build one in the first place. I got tired of breaking vises. I wish I had a picture of my homemade press to share but it was never anything I gave much thought to, so I never took one.

    1 reply

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    I hear you on the vise press, I used to use a length of pipe on my vise handle to get more squash out of it.
    Im still in playtime mode with the new toy, bent some 10mm square steel rod into hanger brackets for my bicycle, nicely out of the way on the garage beams now. thanks for the comments.