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A homemade wooden hydraulic press

There I go again, being a cheapskate. Instead of buying a nice press I decided to save money and slap something together. What can I say... I don't have a regular use for one and once I got the idea of a wooden one I couldn't resist experimenting! And for you doubters, this thing works! -- May/21/2008

The wooden press

Here it is pressing a stuck spindle out of part of a milling machine countershaft that I was cleaning up. Buying a press for this simple job would have been silly since it's not like I have a huge tool budget. And nowhere near the full 6 tons capacity of the jack was needed. Probably only about 300 pounds of pressure. So wood was quite suitable.

(Click photo for a larger view)

The base

The base is simple a 2x4 board with some spacers beneath it and some plywood sheathing on the front and back. It's all glued and nailed together. The top is a duplicate of the bottom.

Flattened can

Here's something more fun. This press will really flatten things. This soup can was reduced to 1/2" tall before the press' frame began to really creak and flex.

Lionel's Laboratory -- www.BackyardMetalcasting.com
Mapp gas tank in the press

So you think the soup can was too wimpy? Well how about one of those disposable propane or Mapp gas tanks? Empty of course. They're made of fairly thick steel. Since I use Mapp gas more than propane I had a couple empty Mapp tanks laying around doing nothing (and supposedly trouble starts when there’s nothing to do...)

So here is one of the tanks loaded. It's upside down so the threaded neck will fit in the hole in the iron plate (exercise plate) to keep it centered. I drilled a small hole in the tank to release air as it compresses.

the work platform

By the way here is the platform that the work rests on. It's just two 2x4 boards with spreader bars glued and nailed on. The white stuff is some of the undried glue. The wood blocks under the work platform are to adjust the platform's height.

The jack platform

The platform that the jack rests on is a piece of 3/4" plywood which is notched at the ends to align between the 2x4 board side posts.

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Crushed gas tank

Well what do ya know?! The press actually crushed it and pretty easily too. Truthfully I didn't think it'd do it. I had to adjust the height of the ram a couple times since the tank was so long in order to get this much compression. This is the point when the frame started to really creak and flex.

Flattened tank

How's that for compressed gas? Less than three inches tall! I think I'll keep it as a desk ornament and tell people that's what happened last time I got angry!

Click photo for a larger view

Possessor of raw power and finesse

Now don't e-mail me saying how dangerous of a stunt that was! I already know the potential dangers but I like living on the edge. And for legal reasons let me say don't try crushing a gas tank at home, school, work, in a nearby parking lot, or anywhere else for that matter.

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Copyright © 2008 by Lionel Oliver II All Rights Reserved.
This website was created Sept. 28, 2000