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Mini Hydraulic Press


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This is my version of a mini hydraulic forging press first introduced in Don Fogg's Bladesmith Forum by T.A. Toler. T.A. had a wonderful idea and several of us have built various take offs on his original concept. It's motivated by a Harbor Freight 20 ton air over hydraulic jack. Does a bang up job of smashing billets of pattern welded steel, as long as you keep the size within reason. My first effort was an 11 layer billet of 1/8" x 1&1/4" x 5" 1084 and .058 15n20. The machine easily handled the 1+" billet so I could probably get away with 13 or maybe 15 layers. Sure beats swinging a heavy hammer all to pieces!

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This is my version of a mini hydraulic forging press first introduced in Don Fogg's Bladesmith Forum by T.A. Toler. T.A. had a wonderful idea and several of us have built various take offs on his ori

Ken that is awesome, great work how fast does it work?


Sam,

I can get 5 or 6 good squeezes in every heat, sometimes more if I'm lucky. I keep the dies adjusted close to the work so I can maximize the "speed of squeeze". I use a 5 hp 26 gallon Sears Craftsman compressor to power the jack. It has an air flow rate of about 5 cfm at 120 psi with this jack. Might be able to get more speed if I had a bigger air compressor. However, it works a xxxx of a lot faster than I do with a 4-pound hammer and the tendonitis in my old feeble shoulder is doing just fine.

ken
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Ken,
That's good looking press you build, nice work. What kind of steel are the dies? I like to the scale sheild that you have to protect the jack ram seals, great idea. I've wanting build one these also for quite sometime. I think with the proper dies you could do forging, and maybe light punching.

Thanks for sharing.
Larry

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Ken,
That's good looking press you build, nice work. What kind of steel are the dies? I like to the scale sheild that you have to protect the jack ram seals, great idea. I've wanting build one these also for quite sometime. I think with the proper dies you could do forging, and maybe light punching.

Thanks for sharing.
Larry


Thanks, Larry. The dies are mild steel I had laying around the shop. I will eventually try to track down a little tougher steel for the drawing dies because I think the mild steel will wear rapidly in use. Yes, it can do forging easily and that's why I built the beast. I'm starting to make pattern welded steel and that is impossible for me just using a hammer. The types of dies you can use in the design is limited only by your imagination and the physical size limitations of the machine. The 20 ton jack provides a lot of power. It is certainly not a replacement for a full size hydraulic forging press but it does a heck of a job on this first billet of 1084/15n20 I welded up. I think I could even go larger than the 11 layers I started with.

Where's Clifton? I grew up in Monte Vista down in the San Luis Valley. Went to Adams State College in Alamosa and UNC in Greeley.

Ken
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I dont get it , how did you hook up a air compressor to a jack ram? could you explain?


In the picture of the back of the mini press you'll see a silver cylinder attached to the back of the jack. This is an air motor which has a piston that drives the hydraulic fluid. The air motor does the same thing the jack handle does in the manual mode only much quicker and with far less effort than doing it by hand. Harbor Freight and Northern Tools sell the air over hydraulic jacks for about $70 when you catch them on sale. If this one wears out I'll get another one just like it.
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Yep! This machine will do a bang up jog of welding cable. T.A. Toler, the guy who thought this concept up, made a video of his machine welding up some what looks to be 1" cable. You can find it here on his web site Mini Hydraulic Press

Here's a materials list for my version:

1 - 20 ton air over hydraulic jack from Harbor Freight or Northern Tools, about $70 on sale
2 - 24" lengths of 2'x'2"x1/4" wall steel tubing (3/16" wall will also work)
4 - 10" lengths of the 2" tubing for the base
1 - 8"x10" piece of 1/4" plate to reinforce the top of the base
2 - 8" lengths of the 2" tubing for the anvil cores
2 - 12" lengths of 3/8" x 2" hot rolled flat bar for top anvil sides
2 - 12" lengths of 1/4" x 2" hot rolled steel bar for the bottom anvil guides
3 - 8" lengths of 3/8" x 3" hot rolled steel bar for the bottom of the top anvil and the bottom and top of the bottom anvil
You'll also need a small amount of 3/4" or 1" stock to make drawing and flattening dies, a foot or two of 1/4" x 2" flat bar for die plates, and something to make the brackets to hold your dies on the anvils.
2 - 4&1/2" x 1/2" grade 8 bolts plus washers and nuts to hold the upper anvil in place (if you want to make an adjustable top anvil)
- A couple of pounds of 1/8" 7018 welding rod

Rather than lengthy explanations I'll post some pictures I took during construction. They should be sufficient to show you how to make one for yourself.

alphairon/Press - Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
alphairon/Press drawing dies II - Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
alphairon/Press first run - Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

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Ken,

Clifton is located on the western slope of Colorado, about six mile east of Grand Junction. I live 32 miles form the Utah border. My father lived in Creststone for while as well as Center, Colorado. So I know where Monte Vista is located. I'm a Colorado native. I've lived here most of mine life. Except during the 1980's recession was gone for about eight years.

Have fun with that press
Larry

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Wow, what great timing. I just bought one of those 20ton hydraulic jacks to create a mini-hydraulic press out of to weld billets together. This is exactly what I had in mind when I started noodling on it about a month ago. Thinking about the project has taken more time that actually building it (don't all projects?). Of course the thinking is alot cooler than doing this time of year (100-110+ degree days here). Not to mention trying to figure out what I had for stock versus what I might need to buy has me slowed.

Great minds think alike! Or at least the same needs/solutions seem to recur repeatedly.

That's why I love this site!!!

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I took a look at those videos/pictures and they have inspired me. Some good pictures there. Coincidently, I have some of that 2X2 square tubing that I was going to use as the frame for my mini-hydraulic press too. I got them to use as legs for a work table project but never got around to that project. Priorities have to be adjusted now. I'll have to measure it but I think I have enough for this project. This may end up costing me next to nothing (well time spent anyway) + the jack. ;-)

Have you thought about a combo die that would have both the flat and the fullering on one set? That's how I was/am going to do the dies. It would keep from having to switch out the dies between the welding presses and the drawing presses. You would just need to make sure they are at the same height.

Thanks for the info and pictures. This will help me get through this project in a hurry.

Much appreciated post!!!

Thank you.

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I only had to buy the tubing and a little more 1/4" flat bar myself. Everything else was just hanging around the shop waiting to be put to good use...well, except for the jack which I found on sale at the Harbor Freight store in Lexington. It didn't take too long to build the project as it's a fairly simple assembly. I spent more time lining things up real square and clamping it prior to welding than I did cutting the parts.

The combo die is a good idea but it won't work with this press. The work has to be centered over the ram of the jack to avoid tipping and binding of the bottom anvil since it just rides on top of the ram and is a sliding fit between the uprights. Therefore, the separate dies are more or less mandatory. Be generous with the radius of the drawing dies. My first set had a 3/8" radius and wound up acting more like fullering dies than drawing dies. I made another set from 1" stock and rounded the top to a 1" radius and that works much better.

And, continuing with the dies...try to come up with a better way of securing them than I did on the first attempt. I used four 10-32 socket head screws to hold the dies in place. I quickly found out that was a mistake. First, the dies are hot as blazes after you work a piece of hot metal so you can't work around them without gloves. Second, it is VERY difficult to manipulate an allen wrench while wearing gloves. Third, the socket heads on the lower die set quickly fill up with scale preventing the allen wrench end from enteriing. Fourth, you can't blow hard enough to clear scale from the socket of a socket head screw. So I am pondering how I'm going to change this. Probably will wind up using two of the 10-32 tapped holes with thumb screws instead of the socket heads.

K

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Use pins instead of screws to hold the dies in place. Much quicker than either type of screw. So to lower the ram do you have to turn the valve on the jack? Or is there some way that it's regulated with the air cylinder? Are you operating it with a foot switch of some sort? What type of air valving are you using? Fill us in on the rest of the program please? I'm kind of digging that thing. A lot!

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I'll probably go to pins when I get the time to modify the machine. Until then I'll limp along with the socket head screws. If I only tighten the front two on each die they do OK holding them in place. I'll make the switch to pins this winter when I have more time to play in the shop.

I made a T-handle out of some drill rod to operate the valve. If you want to get real fancy you can attach a spring return air cylinder to do the job but the T-handle works just fine for me.

The jack comes with a 4 ft air hose attached to the air motor equipped with a valve to supply the air to run the jack. T.A. hangs his within easy reach with a piece of bent welding rod. I used a C-clamp to attach mine to the table saw I'm using for a base during my piddling and testing phase. I will build a stand for it when I get the time and make a more permanent arrangement.

Some folks route their air hose through a foot valve but the silly things cost a bundle. In the early stages of using this thing I don't see any real advantage to be gained from a foot valve over using the hand valve and T-handle. I can operate the controls one-handed fast enough to take full advantage of a heat. Maybe on down the road if I can find a foot valve for the right price I might invest in one.

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A foot valve can be simply some brackets with a plate to press on with your foot, if built correctly you could have it use the hand valve and simply press the lever for you with a spring return that raises the foot plate off the valve. You could even arrange for a lever to actuate the presser relief valve on the jack in a forward push of the foot valve... your imagination is your only limit?
The advantage I can see of a foot valve is the ability of using 2 hands to hold and guide the worked piece.

How well do you think the 50 Ton version of this jack would work? It seems to have a little bit more working distance and over 2x the presser (@2x the cost).

Edited by NateDJ
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Yeah, I've thought about various ways to use the existing valve and I will probably put together something along that line this winter when the outside work dies down a bit if I can't find a foot valve cheao. Still have to build a stand for it too. Lot's of things to play with during the off season.

The 50 ton jack would be fun to play with but would require stronger construction of the press and a bigger compressor to run. Bigger compressors cost more money and you might get to the point that you would be better off to invest the money in a larger hydraulic press or power hammer. This press at its present size fills my needs for the moment so I'm satisfied with it.

K

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hmmm... I have a fairly large compressor already but would have to buy the steel for either the press or an air hammer, would buy most from the scrap yard but would still have to buy it. Which do you think would be cheaper / more affective to build? The 50 Ton press operates just a little faster than the 20 but the air hammer would not have near the 50 ton power, though it would hit far more often... I would have to buy the steel for a 20 tone press too... hmmm decisions....

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  • 4 weeks later...

O i'm glad i found this. I must say im new to this forum. I'm on bladeforums mostly, as JTknives. I have been wanting to build a press for some time but don't really have the need or the funds for a large press. i was thinking of making a 50 ton version as some of my round stock is 2.5" L6 round that i need to press down. I have one question. Why cant your leave the air valve on so its pumping all the time then just raise and lower the press with the T handle. I have access to a 20 ton press at work that we use for pressing bearing and other things into place, and i have noticed that if the valve is open it does not matter how fast you pump nothing happens but once you close the valve it starts going up. i don't see why this wont work with an air jack. If some one that has an air jack wants to try it i would be very excited to see if it works.

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  • 2 weeks later...

You could use a 50 ton jack I suppose if you built the press extra strong. However, I have been informed by people who have 50 ton jacks that the ram speed is too slow to be of much use for forging. If you just wanted to put a big squeeze on something they would probably be fine but not for drawing out billets. This little press is meant for little jobs. If you want 50 tons of pressure I think you would be far better off to build or buy a full sized machine.

As for leaving the air on all the time...My compressor isn't big enough to allow that. I would also worry about wear on the air motor. Mine works just fine with the manual valve.

If you consider the limitations, this little press is very useful and a lot of fun to build. Not a difficult project at all and not all that expensive if you can scrounge the steel.

K

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thank you Ken Kelley!
I have been waiting for this post for a long time and just did not know it.
Thanks for sharing the information about the mini hydraulic forging press, it will do everything I need it to do for me. ;)
I am going to build one for sure!
Ted Throckmorton

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Ken,
I followed the explanation and the path of photos you provided for us.
They were awesome, I feel I am ready to move foreword with this project. In fact I am going to order my jack tonight.
But, I have one LITTLE question at this time. :rolleyes:
How wide is the gap in-between the dies when fully opened?
Or, another way of saying it (I think). How much Ram travel do you
recommend between dies (in inches)?
I am very excited about finding this device, thank you!
Ted Throckmorton

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Ted,

The Harbor Freight jack can net you 9 and 3/4" of travel between the ram travel and the screw-in extension so that's the absolute limit between die faces. My upper anvil is adjustable. In the bottom position there's about 3" of distance between the die faces when the jack is screwed down as far as it will go. I can make fine adjustments in height using the extension. Since my billets rarely exceed an inch in thickness that suits my needs just fine. And when I need to square the edges up I've got plenty of room to work. The ideal is to adjust the dies so they barely clear the hot steel so you don't waste heat waiting for the die to make contact and start squooshing steel. There's about 6" between the dies when the anvil is in the upper position. I did that in case I need to press a bearing or bushing in place rather than for squeezing hot steel. Again, I urge folks to consider the limitations of this design and that it's really meant for work more towards the small end of the scale. It does a great job of smashing down reasonably sized billets of pattern welded steel and I've read of at least one guy using his version to break down 7/8" high carbon bar stock. It will work great if you don't expect full sized press performance out of a pint sized package.

It is certainly a very useful machine and is a lot of fun to build.

Ken

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