Total Gym, Total Shop Press




About: I love making things and learning new skills. Usually one hobby leads me to another, and another, and another.

The Material: About a year ago someone had left a total gym by the side of the road for free. I thought it looked interesting so I picked it up. I quickly realized after trying to put it back together that it was broken, missing parts/cables, and the rollers were shot. I try not to throw anything away without giving it a second chance at life so I cut the tubular steel from it and saved it. The steel spent a long time in my shed waiting for this day.

Purpose: I needed something that could exert a lot of force to flatten out items similar to a shop press. My end goal is to have the ability to flatten out the melted HDPE #2 recyclable material into a slim and usable material after melting. I tried using clamps, boards, even standing on it (230lbs) and could only get it flattened out to about 1/2"-1/4". I came up with this idea after seeing shop presses online but I didn't want to spend $70-250 on a cheap model so I had to make one.

Step 1: Drill Pilot Holes

*** Put on proper eye protection***

The 6 pieces of steel were cut into 20" lengths but you could essentially make the lengths to your own specification or need.You can cut them with a angle grinder, hacksaw, sawsall, or any metal cutting device. For my purpose I wanted a square shape that I could use my bottle jack and apply 2 tons of pressure. Drill the small pilot holes square to the end of the bars the same distance from the bottom to the sides so that its centered. When drilling through metal its a good idea to use a dab of oil which lubricates the drill and keeps the metal shavings at bay. Drill through both sides. Add a little oil here and there to keep things cool and running smoothly. If things start smoking when drilling take a break. Then using a 1/2" high speed drill bit for metal, drill through the tapped holes and through both sides.

You should now have six steel square tubes of 20 inches with the 1/2" holes near the ends now and we're ready to move onto bolting things together.

Step 2: Bolt It Together, Grade 8 Is Great!

For the 1/2" holes we drilled were going to use four 1/2"x4" hex bolts with nut and two washers each in grade 8. Parts list:

4- 1/2"x4" course thread grade 8 hex bolts

8- 1/2" grade 8 washers

4- 1/2" course thread grade 8 hex nuts

I used grade 8 hard ware but you could possibly get away with grade 5 if that's all you have available.

Please assemble the frame as shown in the picture with the vertical pieces sandwiched between the two horizontal pieces. Please see the order below when running the bolt through the steel 1/2" holes. When doing the final tightening please insure that the frame is square using a speed square or a piece of factory cut material.

Hex bolt>Washer>Steel>Steel<Steel<Washer<Nut

To tighten the hex bolts and washers you will need a combination of crescent wrenches, socket sets, or channel locks. Get them as tight as possible.

Step 3: Total GYM, Total Shop Press!

What we've created is a strong frame that can handle extreme forces applied to it. I'll be using it with a 2 ton bottle jack that I had previously purchased to level out my shed. FYI the scissor jack included with most vehicles has a working lift capacity of about 1.5 tons and would also work for this project. I'm hoping that you enjoyed this and lets get to crunching stuff with the power of Chuck Norris.




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    6 Discussions


    16 days ago

    Have you ever seen the Hydraulic Press Channel on you-tube?
    You may not have the same level of force available but don't try to crush any ball races just in case! ;-)

    1 reply

    Reply 15 days ago

    Whoa, that was awesome. I'll be staying away from those. Crushing things is oddly satisfying.


    19 days ago

    Love this may have to build something similar would make a great Trash compactor so I can fit more in the bin lol
    Love seeing old things turned into new as I hate buying stuff lol
    And best of all the jack can still be used on the car, dual purpose for the win!

    1 reply

    Reply 18 days ago

    Totally. theres a ton of uses for this and you can easily swap out the jack and use it for other projects. Later down the road I'll hit the metal shop and get some U Steel and upgrade to a 20 ton model. The jacks are pretty cheap on ebay. The 2 ton model I have here was $13 with free shipping. I like the garbage compactor idea. Happy inventing!

    Penolopy Bulnick

    19 days ago

    I think this looks great and it's awesome to hear you giving new life to what would have just been trash :)

    1 reply
    AndrewG328Penolopy Bulnick

    Reply 19 days ago

    Thanks Penolopy,
    I'm going to use this in conjunction with another process I'm working on to recycle HDPE plastics into usable materials. I checked out your instructables and there awesome! Have a great day, Andrew : )