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I Forge Iron

Benchtop Hydraulic Press


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Reading this forum was very helpful in getting ideas for building my own press so I thought I'd show what I came up with. Since my space is limited I wanted something with a small footprint. I ended up with a benchtop forging press that suits my Damascus steel making needs perfectly.

After lots of research I decided to focus on speed rather than tonnage. The result was a 19 ton press using a 4" cylinder with 2.25" ram. To keep noise to a minimum the motor & pump assembly are mounted independent of the press. I also mounted the pump on a shop built bracket made from 1" steel plate to reduce vibration.   Power comes from a 7.5 hp electric motor driving a single speed 6 gpm vane pump. Ram speed is ~2" per second.  I'm currently running the press at under 1500 psi and making ~12 tons which (to my surprise) has been plenty for my initial 6x2x3 billets. 

Here's a very brief action video.


The design is pretty self explanatory but any questions are welcome.

Thanks for looking,

D. Crawford 

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The only comments that spring immediately to mind are:-

...That I would put the pump unit in a box to reduce the hum

...Most importantly I would swap the connections on the spool valve so that pulling the lever down moves the ram down, and lifting the lever up raises the ram...when you are concentrating on the workpiece, intuitive control directions are a great help.

I have very similar arrangement on my log splitter, when I first set that up I had it working the opposite way like yours, not for long....

My vertical metalworking presses are operated by foot pedals...you push the pedal down for the ram to come down...

Looks neat and tidy as far as I can see from the video, I am sure your work will be well repaid.


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Alan, yes I definitely need to reverse the hoses between the valve and cylinder. Thanks.

Pike3e, thanks. Not yet but I'll post when I do.

Flemish, the press weighs a bit over 200 pounds with the cylinder.      

Thanks Gehljoe. I took about 2 years to read up on hydraulics, draw lots of sketches, and collect the parts little by little. I rummaged for scrap steel & bargain shopped all the parts except for the hoses and fittings. I probably have $800 or so in it. The build itself wasn't too bad and could be done in two or three weekends.



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Eddie, I picked a single stage vane pump for two reasons. 1) They are supposedly much quieter than a log splitter type gear pump.

And 2) A 6 gpm pump gives me the same speed after contact w/ the work piece as a 28 gpm two stage pump. The 28 gpm gives a quick approach speed but slows down to 1/4 of that once your pump switches to the high pressure mode.  My press only has a max of 8 inches of travel so a fast approach speed would be of little value. I wanted speed after contact with the dies was made.  



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  • 4 weeks later...

The hum in the video is more likely exaggerated by the auto sound level on the camera. Still if there is anything to be done to quieten it would be good news. The less noise in the workshop the easier it is to hear what is happening to the workpiece and the tool.

I had to take the heavy cast aluminium belt cover off my 100 ton Finlay press and replace it with a wire mesh cage. The solid cover was acting like the sound board of a guitar and amplifying the rattle of the cam operated plunger pumps.


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Wow that is a loud pump! sounds like it is cavitating. Are you sucking oil up from the tank? if so you may have a small air leak and that will make the noise and kill the pump. If the suction line is undersized that will also cavitate the pump.


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