Notes on the Hydraulic Press and Deep Draw Techniques:

These notes were gathered from the hydraulic press workshop organized by Lee Marshal. They are by no means a complete guide to the use of the hydraulic press but are meant to supplement and clarIfy a few details in the correct use of the machinery and its parts. A more complete and thorough explanationl exploration on the Hydraulic Press and Deep Draw techniques may be found in the following texts:

-Hydraulic Die Forming for Jewelers & Metalsmiths by Susan Kingsley

-Deep Drawing for Metalsmiths: The History Process and results of

Forming in the Hydraulic Press by G. Phil Poirier

-Instruction Manual for the 3" deep Draw kit by G. Phil Poirier

Hydraulic Press .General Notes:

Com ponents:

-Hydraulic Jack with Gauge: Do not raise the lower platen to maxlmum height without any spacer(s) in place. The shaft may be damaged or separated from the jack by this action

-Press Frame: The frame is constructed from reinforced and welded steel tubing.

-Springs: During use only release the spring enough to maneuver your piece in and out of the platens. When done using the press, return the springs to a relaxed state.

-Platens: The platens are two smoothly ground metal plates forming the top and bottom working surfaces inside of the press frame. The top platen has machined and threaded holes to receive screws to hold various accessory tools in place.

~Spa.cers: These are 1" thick plexiglass pieces inserted between the platens and sandwiching your work. Spacers are designed to decrease the amount of pumping required to achieve active working pressure for pressing. The spacers also act to limit the extension range of the piston in the jack. The piston can be damaged or separate from the jack if it is over extended.

-Urethane Pads: Urethane is a material that flows in a semi-liquid state under pressure. As it flows it will apply equal and uniform pressure to any material it flows over or around. The property of uniform pressure application allows urethane to effectively form solid or intricately pierced forms with minimal distortion or loss of detail.

95 Durometer (Red or Orange)

80 Durometer (Translucent Ivory, Yellow, or Orange) 60 Durometer (Clear Yellow)

Note: Never compress a material more than 2/3 of the way through the thickness of a urethane pad. (Especially during the Embossing

process) Excessive compression may result in rupturinq of the urethane pad .

.. Intensifiers: Small pieces of hard urethane that can be cut to fit specific shapes and increase the depth of tight shapes during pressing. Intensifiers are placed in the desired zone on top of the urethane next to the metal.

.. Master Holder: Primary tool holding accessory that affixes to the top platen.

-Forming Blocks: Fabricated steel containers used to perform contained pressing. Contained pressing with urethane pads increases the effective movement/flowIng of the urethane under pressure creating greater depth during pressing.

-Pushere: Machined aluminum pleces designed to fit into the openings of forming containers. The top of the pusher protrudes above the top edge of the forming container providing. a contact point for the platen providing pressure.

-Kevlar Fa.cePlates: A rigid and durable plastic material used to create matrix dies.

Accessories: (For specific details on accessories See: Hydraulic Die Forming for Jewelers & Metalsmiths by Susan Kingsl.ey)

-Brake/Bending Die

-Tubing Former

-Large Oaps& Mushroom Formers

-Dap Adapter

-Saw Guide

Basic Press Techniques:

Note: For all of the techniques using the press the metal is always placed in the middle ... sandwiched between urethane and your die or embosslnq material. . Normally this stacking is then placed between spacers and positioned on the bottom platen of the press.


(Forming metal in shallow relief to create a surface pattern or texture on both sides of the metal. Noncompressible flat items are ideal for embossing. Normally oompressible materials (wood, fabric, etc.) will not yield clear detail when embossed into metal on the press. Soft materials are more effectively pressed and embossed through Roller Printing. Found materials, matrix/plexi dies, and 16 g. auge pierced dies are frequently used for ernbossinq. During ernbosslnq

. -

thinner metal reveals greater detail than thicker metal)

Order of Operations:

-t.Anneal, Clean & Dry Metal.

~.2.Place Metal between urethane and embossing die. Use 90- durometer urethane for embossing. Harder urethane pads hold embossed materials more securely.

-3.Compress usIng between 6000-9000 psi.

~4.Repeat process until desired detail and depth are achieved.

2.Matrix Dies:

Piercing one or many opening's in cast acrylic, Kevlar, 16-gauge brass or 18-20 gauge steel forms matrix dies. Metals is forced through the opening(s) in the die by the urethane to create a volumetric form. Spacers must be cut with the same opening as the die and placed next to the die to prevent the formed metal from bottoming out against the platen or spacer. Matrix dies can be used. with or without forming boxes. Forming boxes will act to constrain the flow of the urethane resulting in a more dramatic movement of the metal being pressed.

Making dies: Matrix dies are frequently cut from cast acrylic. Lee Marshall promotes the use of Kevlar dies. Kevlar is more durable and capable of withstanding numerous pressings without edge degradation. Instead of Kevlar, brass or steel. faceplates may be used in combination with acrylic dies. Use the Boney Doon saw frame guide for cutting gO-degree walls in the pierced opening of the matrix die. Carefully cut acrylic liners to exactly match the edges of the pierced opening in the metal face plate; undercuts will cause the metal face plate to bend over the edge of the acrylic during pressing. Pierced cut openings in the die should be centered and a minimum of 3/4 inch from edge of the die. Metal being pressed in a matrix die should be at least 1/2 " larger than the opening cut in the die a flange should be maintained between 114" and 3/S" all the way

around the piece being formed. .

Reversible Matrix Dies: Matrix dies may be used to create mirrored halves of a hollow form. A perfect 90-degree vertical wall is critical in the creation of reversible dies. The die is flipped to create front and back volumetric halves of a hollow form. To form identical halves you must apply the same pressures/pressing technique to both halves, so make note of your procedure.

Split Matrix. Dies: A variety of shapes (Amphora, Wave Patterns, and Stepped undulations) can be created by using a die with a split or pierced opening breaking the plain of the edges of the die.

Order of Operations: (For Baste M.atrix Die Forming)

-1.Use saw guide to pierce die. Dress interior walls of die with a file and sandpaper as necessary. Make sure walls remain perfectly vertical with no rounding. All sharp edges and burs should be removed.

-2.Anneal, Clean, & Dry Metal

-3. Place Metal between urethane and matrix die. Use gripping

action of 90-durometer urethane for initial pressing to establish a flange line. Use approx. 4000 psi.

-4.Following the initial presses to set the flange switch to a softer urethane pad and compress the metal and die until the desired depth is achieved. Excessive pressure will cause the form to split.

~5.After 2-3 pressings (before the piece reaches max depth) anneal the metal. Regulate or flatten the flange by pressing the metal, die, and spacers without the urethane. Reinsert the urethane and continue to press the metal until the desired depth is acquired.

Order of Operations: (For Assembly .R.eversible die Hellew Forms) Note: Always provide a vent hole for hollow constructions. ~1. Achieve desire depth of two halves.

-2. Anneal, Clean, & Dry Metal.

-3. Regulate flange by reinserting and pressing the metal die, and

spacers to insure flatness of the flange.

-4. Remove the flange from the form. Carefully cut the flange at the point where the wall of the volumetric form begins.

-5. Sand each half of form on Float glass/ True Flat surface until the vertical cut marks made by the saw are removed from the outer edge of the form where the flange was removed. Do not sand too much.

-6. Check and correct any misalignment in the matching of the two halves.

-7. Solder the two halves together. Use a syringe run a thin bead of liquid solder along the lower inside lip of the top half of the hollow form. The solder should be placed no more than 1/16" above the lip of the seam on the top half. Carefully realign the two halves. The halves may be wired together to prevent slippage. Place the form on soldering screen and tripod. Using a large flame heat primarily from the bottom. The solder will melt and be pulled downward by gravity.. Look for the liquid silver solder flash to be pulled along the seam by oapillary action and directional heating.

-8. Clean hollow form and remove pickle from interior.

Tube Making Process:

The Hydraulic press may be used to form tubing. The press does not entirely replace traditional tube making. In some cases tube making by hand in a V-Block is actually a faster method. The press, however, offers the ability to form special tubing like: large diameter tubing, thick walled tubing, and pierced wall or textured tubing.

The tube making attachment comes with an incremented series of tube making mandrels. The mandrels are used to form and maintain the inner diameter of the tubing. Consult Susan Kingley's book for information of determining the blank size needed to form tubing of a given diameter and wall thickness. Alternate formulas for tubing blanks are:

Blank of a given metal thickness for a giVen outside diameter:

Blank = Outside diameter-Metal Thickness x 3.14

Blank of a given metal thickness for a given inside diameter:

Blank = Inside diameter + Metal 'Thickness x3.14

If you are using the included tube mandrels be sure you accurately measure and include the diameter of the mandre.1 in your equations. The mandrels may be secured to the tube former with two rubber bands, one placed at either end of the mandrel and over the former.

Tube Making Order of Operations:

~1. Use appropriate formula to determine width of metal blank. ~2. Anneal, clean, and dry metal.

-3. Locate and mark the midline of the blank with a Sharpie.

-4. Position the blank beneath the tube making assembly and

between a 95~durom:eter pad (minimum 1/2" thick pad) .. The mandrel should run along the length of the midline of the blank. If the tubing is longer than the mandrel, the tubing will have to be formed in increments.

-5. Press the blank until the walls have risen to form aU-shaped channel.

-6. Remove the mandrel from the tube making assembly and place it inside of the U-shaped channel. Be sure the mandrel has been pushed all the way to the back of the channel.

-7. Place the mandrel and partially bent tubing between a 1/2" 80 durometer pad (topside) anda 1/2" 95 durometer pad (bottom

side). During the pressing process the difference in durometers of the two pads allows more control over movement of the metal being formed. The softer pad on top will move more when pressed creating a more dramatic shaping of the tubing walls.

-8. Dog-Ear aU four corners of the U-channel around the mandrel. The corners should be bent inwards until their points touch and reach the surface of the mandrel. The bends will keep the mandrel in place against the back. of the tubing as it is formed.

~9. Press the U- shaped channel and the mandrel between the two pads until the topside of the channel conforms snugly around the mandrel. .

-10. Flip over the partially formed tube between the pads. Used a rolling action to pull the unformed side securely up against the top pad. Repeat step 9,

-11. With the seam of the tubing against the top pad and mandrel in place, press the assembly to complete the closure of the tubing seam.

-12. Remove the mandrel and pickel the tube. Solder the tubing. If additional forming is needed after soldering, reinsert the mandrel

and mallet the tube in a forming block. Repressing it between the urethane pads may also reshape the soldered tube.

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General Things to remember. Metal is always in the middle.

Pressure Gauge information source - constant.

2.S times between 20 and 50 ton press 8,000 pounds on 20 tons = 10,000 pounds an 50 ton. Thicker the metal deep the pull.

The thinner the pad. the more reaction/movement. Never go 2/3rd of the way through the pad.

Never use lexan (very low melting point extruded melting fuses- weak) use Cast Acrylic type Om (pencil lead to line up hinges for soldering)

Sa.w blade treatment Diamond lap

PuU through 3 or 4 times Not Arkansas stone EZELap


Pad to use: 80 Durometer pad.

Pressure: 10,000 to 12,000 lbs. On a 50 ton press.

Embossing good for piercing, enameling, inlay of another metal, simulated engraving by pressing back out to flat.

Relief material can be plexi-glass (1/2") (will lose detail over time). wire, screen, pierced sheet, tape, etc.


Cold Connection.

Used to enclose metal that cannot be heated Slide insert (texture) into & middle

Blanking Die

Dye-Kern - machinist tool paint, good for scribed line

Can be used for: Disc Cutter, marriage of metals. hidden binges, Blanking Die Flat ground tool steel

Heat treated 1000 pulls Non-Heat treated 100 pulls

The thickness of the die blank and the size of the saw blade used determine Angle for the Die, Example: 1/6 steel + 4/0 saw blade = 10112 angle

Use Saw Guide and protractor

The Die can Oldy be used. one way

It can also he combine with pad to create a matrix combo by soldering (w/stay-brite tin solder) to die Shapes and forms not to use: organic, fingers, round, 90 angles

1. Cut in between holes at 0 degrees

2. Cut shape with at angle

3. When cutting start at right hand hole cut cutter clockwise. 4.. Stack order important

If you break a blade mid-stream drill hole approx, 1/S" from break and saw in

(See attached)

.MatrixDie Materials used:

Plexi, duro pads, lubricant, Spiral Saw Blade, double stick tape Benefits:

Pad tends to give you a smooth dome shape (NO PLANISHING) Potential for lots of'volume.


Use double stick tape to attach dies Use the thickest pad possible

Use Lubricant between pads

Saw Cut must be absolutely vertical Angles and Small areas do not work well Leave 3/8" all around shape

Use 3 registration points

Split Matrix Pressure: 1O,0001bs.

Pad used: 95 Duro (Red)

Win allow for flexibility, organic, movement, and spontaneity Tips:

Use a simple, generic shape. This will allow for more possibility.

Hollow forms 'essure: Varies

.l"ad used: Varies normally 80 to 85 duro Remember to always flip each layer of the die.

To make acomplete sphere

1. Anneal before removing the flange

2. Put back in press with dies against platen with no pad to flatten out flange

3. Cut Flange (To Solder)

Paste solder all the way around 1116" from the top edge only

Formj)ox Pressure: 4,OOOlbs.

Pad Used: 60 duro (Transparent Yellow) Tips:

Opening gets smaller as it goes down

All levels get flipped individually not just top

The only perfect edges needs to be on top & bottom only parts metal will see.


Raises small points higher

Pads are used to reduce/prevent the sharp edges of intensifiers from transferring to your piece. Intensifiers reduce the surface area -- concentration


L Have original

2. Make punch handle

3. Use release agent on original

4. Fill original with epoxy steel

5. Adhere to punch


Tubiog Pressure: Varies

Pad used: Start with 95- Duro pad, 85 Duro Press till walls come up

Rotate till one side comesaround touches tool Press again until metal is U shape

Dog-ear both ends so rod does not move Press again with 85 duro pad

Continue pressing until closed (Flipping regularly)


You can. force a tare in the metal by pressing the metal once by taking a burr to the inside of the piece and thinning the metal in the areas you want to rip