How to Make Your Own Hydraulic Press
A simple hydraulic press is surprisingly useful, particularly if you work on cars or motorcycles frequently. You also don't necessarily have to use a large hydraulic press for basic shop needs. In many cases, a relatively small, 12-inch opening is sufficient to work on a number of things. Of course, you can make the press as large as you want to accommodate any of a number of items that you may need to compress.
Cut two lengths of rectangular steel tube to 16 inches. Lay them parallel to each other on a work surface. Cut two, 24-inch pieces of rectangular steel tube. Place these two pieces between the first two pieces to form a rectangle. This will comprise the outer frame of the hydraulic press.
Lay the bottle jack on its side within the frame so that the base of the bottle jack is in the middle of the frame and the extending arm of the jack is touching one of the 16-inch steel tubes. Lay a spring on each side of the bottle jack.
Lay the steel I-beam across the pair of 24-inch tubes so that it touches the bottle jack. Position one end of the I-beam halfway over one of the 24-inch tubes. Mark the I-beam where it meets the halfway point of the other 24-inch tube, using a permanent marker. Cut the I-beam to this length, using the reciprocating saw.
Draw two lines on the inside of the frame from the base of the bottle jack to the bottom 16-inch tube. These lines will provide a guide for you to cut a channel into the sides of the 24-inch tubes. When the lines are drawn and even, cut them with a die grinder fitted with a cutoff wheel.
Cut a 2-inch flange off each side of the I-beam. When looking at the profile of the I-beam, you will be cutting off the top and the bottom horizontal bars of the "I" shape, but only to a depth of 2 inches. This will allow the vertical bar of the "I" shape to slide into the channel you cut into the two 24-inch tubes. If you wish to create a press base for the bottom of the channel, create two I-beams in this fashion.
Clamp the bottom 16-inch tube horizontally into a bench vise. Place a 24-inch tube on the top and to one side of the 16-inch tube. The channel you previously cut should be on the inside of the "L" shape. Use a framing square to ensure that the two pieces are in place. Apply spot welds to the metal joints to hold them in place. Perform the same operation on the opposite side of the 16-inch base.
Insert the cut I-beam into the channels, leaving it loose. If you are installing an I-beam base on which the first I-beam will press, insert the second I-beam now. Spot-weld the upper bar of the hydraulic press frame to the two 24-inch uprights. When you can be certain that all the parts are lined up correctly, finish the welds on all four corners of the frame. If you installed two I-beams, weld the lower I-beam to the channels and the bottom 16-inch tube.
Position the hydraulic jack in the center of the I-beam and raise it to be certain that the hydraulic ram comes fully into contact with the upper steel bar. The crank for the jack should be positioned straight out to the front of the press. Spot-weld the hydraulic ram to the upper 16-inch piece, then spot-weld the base of the bottle jack to the I-beam.
Things You Will Need
- Rectangular steel tube
- Reciprocating saw
- Bench vise
- Hydraulic bottle jack
- MIG welder
- Die grinder
- Cutoff wheel
- Steel I-beam
- Use the hydraulic press with a bench vise rather than building its own stand. This will make it easier to store the press when not in use.
- Use a relatively small steel I-beam for this project. A beam in which the upright is approximately 3 inches and flanges of 2 inches is sufficient for this purpose.