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I’ve been using a simple hydraulic press powered by a bottle jack for years to produce our stamped jewelry. The old bottle jack was a Harbor Freight 20-ton model that finally gave up the ghost. What I hated about the jack was how much pumping it took just to get to the point where it was acting on the die, so I decided to look around at other options. While I’d love an electric powerpack with a ram, as used on the Bonny Doon presses, the cost was beyond our tool budget. Likewise an air over hydraulic jack would have required a larger compressor than we have. And an Enerpack with a long lever? Maybe next time.

So I decided to try the Northern Hydraulic Torin 20 Ton Fast Lift jack. It promised quicker ram travel than a regular jack and the price was reasonable ($49.99). I installed the jack in my press and was amazed at the difference it made. I now only need a couple of strokes to engage the die — then there is a sound that is probably related to whatever bypass valve switches over for greater force (I’m guessing here, but I think that’s how it works) and it completes the pressing in another couple of strokes. Less time equals more money and less boredom.

Above, you can see the jack in my homemade press (the top isn’t that curved; it’s an artifact of the camera). As you can see I added a knurled handle for the pressure release valve so I wouldn’t have to use the jack handle every pressing. While I don’t have a huge amount of confidence in the longevity of import jacks, generally, if the jack even lasts a year of use it will have saved me a huge amount of time. My only complaint thus far is that they painted the jack with thick red paint that flakes off.


11 Responses to A New Jack For My Hydraulic Press

  1. Dale says:

    What is your “stamped jewelry”?


  2. river1 says:

    how about a more detailed post on your press, it looks like it is very useful.

    thanks jim

  3. Old Coot says:

    Yeah, what river1 said. I’d like to know more.

  4. Jim Crockett says:

    Anyone know if this type of press could be modified/used for veneering small objects? It would sure be easier than using a dozen or more clamps. I don’t do enough veneering to make a vacuum press worth the cost and besides, I don’t have the $$$.


  5. ShopMonger says:

    Jim, there is veneer press jigs that can be made with some all-thread and MDF search i google for this, much cheaper than a vacaum bag, (althug an afternoon and some cheap stuff from Harbour friehgt and oyu would have a venner press bag)


  6. Caelestis says:

    Where did you get your press? Did you make it yourself? I’m jonesing for one, but can’t afford a Bonny Doon just now…

  7. Tracy says:

    Would you mind posting some pics of your jewelry? Do you sell it online? I like that style and am just interested. thanks

  8. Patti O says:

    I’m looking all over for specs on building the press frame for the 20 ton like the one above. I have someone willing to build one, I just need the details. It will be bench mounted and as compact as is practical.

  9. Tara says:

    How has it held up so far??

  10. river1 says:

    As I just purchased a used shop press with a painfully slow jack I also would like a long term assessment

    Thanks jim

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