Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Get More from Your Hydraulic Press

I don't have my own hydraulic press (yet), but we do have one where I teach. I was able to purchase a square container kit, which included a 4" steel box, a square pusher, 6o durometer urethane pad, a liquid lubricant,  a sheet of plastic to cut as needed for "intensifying", and several 1/4" deep acrylic squares to cut into dies. While it wasn't cheap it was definitely worth it. By containing the urethane within the box, it is forced to spread into the die. This yields a much deeper form than can be achieved without the container. People have made their own with a perfectly cut steel tube, welded to a flat sheet, filled with urethane. I haven't begun to investigate this option, because it is my understanding that working with the urethane in liquid form is highly toxic. I purchased the kit from Rio Grande. If anyone has experience with making their own, I hope you'll post about it.
I'll take some pictures with and without the box shortly. It makes such a dramatic difference that I can't imagine having a press without one, it is officially added to my wish list.


Ginga Squid said...

On one hand I'm glad I live in NZ and Rio Grande is so far away as I would buy heaps of cool tools. On the other hand - what I do buy from them in smaller quantities means I spend a fortune on shipping - as we don't have any similar suppliers with such a range at such reasonable prices over here. Our sterling silver prices (in general) are ridiculous! I want a roller press and a hydraulic press.....

Thea Clark said...

Hi GInga,
I hear your pain. We have other suppliers in the USA for presses, that are mainly used in auto body shops, in fact I have a student who came by one used from a contractor. These can definitely get the job done. I know jewelers that have used theirs on a regular, long term basis. Granted, these are not as sexy or designed to accept fancy accessories, but for the container that I described they certainly work. This kind of press can be had here for at least 1/4 the price of Rio's. Perhaps, there's some equivalent in NZ. One well known US supplier of this kind of press is Harbor Freight.
Rolling mills are another story, although mine is from England I'm sure the shipping can't compare to what you must have to pay. This was my first major tool purchase, one I have never regretted, in fact, I honestly refuse to imagine life without it. I hope you eventually have your tool dreams come true.