Build your very own 20-ton hydraulic press from scrap

Here's a simple guide to a DIY 20-ton hydraulic press project.
Christopher McFadden

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If you have the need to apply literal tons of pressure to things in your workshop, then you'll be on the lookout for a multi-ton press. Rather than buy a commercially available one, why not consider making one completely out of scrap.

diy 20-ton press complete
Source: Meanwhile in the Garage/YouTube

As you can imagine, you'll need some tools and materials before you get started.

Materials and gear needed

With all your gear in hand, it is time to get on with this great little build.

Step 1: Make the main press

The first step is to take the I-beam, measure and cut it down to size. These will form the main mounting for the motor.

With that done, the motor and other pieces of steel are cut and shaped to build the basic frame of the press mounting. The press is then mounted into place and other pieces are cut and shaped to house it.

diy 20 ton press plate
Source: Meanwhile in the Garage/YouTube

With that done, other parts of the metal are cut and shaped to make the spring-loaded assembly for the main pressing arm. This will be used to gently return the press to its starting position once fully extended.

20 ton press springs
Source: Meanwhile in the Garage/YouTube

The main press arm is then also extended and made "beefier" by cutting and shaping a length of steel cylinder. 

Step 2: Make the dolly

Next, pieces of tubular steel are taken and cut down to size to make the basic frame for the dolly. These are capped off where needed with shaped steel plates and welded together to make the frame. 

The central large tubular steel is also cut open to make a repository for tools. The entire frame is then reinforced using small triangles of steel, and the dolly wheels are also welded into place as shown int the video. 

diy 20 ton press dolly
Source: Meanwhile in the Garage/YouTube

Anti-slip metal sheets are also welded to the dolly. 

Step 3: Build the frame for the press

Next, more lengths of tubular steel are taken, measured, and cut to size to build the basic frame for the press. These are also drilled, etc, so they can be mounted to the dolly and support the press above. 

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Once ready, these are welded into place to the dolly and the press assembly welded to the top. 

diy 20 ton press frame
Source: Meanwhile in the Garage/YouTube

With that done, more steel rods are taken, cut down, and machined to make a pair of support rods for the main press platform. More lengths of I-beam steel are also cut, shaped, and drilled to make the main platform supports too. 

These are then mounted to the frame upstands as needed. 

20 ton press platform
Source: Meanwhile in the Garage/YouTube

Next, some levers are made to make the lifting and maneuvering of the platform as easy as possible. 

Step 4: Make a lever for the press and connect the pneumatics

With that done, a lever is then made for the main press. In this case, the handle from an old pair of shears is modified for the task.

Once done, this is then installed on the press, tested, and adjusted as needed. 

20 ton press main lever
Source: Meanwhile in the Garage/YouTube

With that done, the main pneumatic tubing is set up, adjusted, and installed on the frame and to the press as required. The system is also filled with pneumatic fluid and tested, making further adjustments, and bleeding the system as required. 

diy 20 ton press pneumatics
Source: Meanwhile in the Garage/YouTube

With that done, more pieces of anti-slip metal sheeting are added to the frame for cosmetic effect.

Step 5: Paint the piece

With the basic machine now complete, the entire assembly is partially dismantled, polished, and prepared for painting. A high-pressure hose is used to make the process easier. 

With that done, all parts are cleaned down with soapy water to remove grit and grease. Next, all parts are then painted using a spray gun and left to dry. Chrome or shiny bits are also polished. 

diy 20 ton press parts
Source: Meanwhile in the Garage/YouTube

With all the parts ready, the entire assembly is then rebuilt as required. All moving parts are lubricated too. 

Decals and other decorative features can also be added at this point. 

With everything in place, the pneumatics are finally added, and the entire press is ready to use. Now, all that needs to be done, is wheel the press to where it's needed and get to work pressing stuff!

Well done you. 

If you enjoyed this epic build, you might enjoy some more, less taxing, metalworking? How about, for example, making your own simple rocket stove

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