Working with a shop press regularly, there’s nothing worse than needing something that you don’t have. That one punch is just the right size for example. It’s important whether your project involves a floor-mounted shop press, a bench mounted shop press, or even an ironworker.
This is a list of shop press accessories we used in our fabrication shop over the years that made metal fabrication all that much easier. These accessories will also give you an edge on the competition if you are pricing out a job that requires a lot of fabricated parts made with repetition. They are also a must-have for any automotive or home garage shop.
A good set of arbor plates are essential for your shop press. Over time, they can wear and warp. If you ever set a project on the press and notice the two plates are no longer perfectly flush then it’s time to replace the plates. These plates take a lot of stress when you use your shop press so it’s important to maintain them and replace them as needed.
Oftentimes arbor plates can be purchased as a part of an accessory kit. They can also be purchased separately but are much more commonly found as a part of an accessory kit. At least, online this seems to be the case.
Some arbor plates or press plates are specially fit for a specific model of shop press. And other times the plates are somewhat universal. Just make sure you get plates with the appropriate rating for the shop press that you will use them with. Here are a few examples of shop press plates.
Arcan Shop Press Plates — 2-Pc. Set, Fits 20 Ton to 50 Ton
These shop press plates by Arcan come in pairs and are rated for 20 to 50-ton shop press models. The plates measure 10” x 3” x ¾” thick and weigh in at 13-lb. These plates are also covered by a 12-month manufacturer warranty.
Sunex Shop Press Plates — 2-Pc. Set, Fits 100 Ton
This set of shop press plates is much thicker and heavier than the first set we looked at. The Sunex shop press plates shown here are rated for 100 Ton. The size of these shop press plates is 20” x 2” x 4” and they weigh in at 27.5-lb. And like the first set of shop press plates, these too come with a one year warranty.
Similar to the arbor blocks or shop press plates we were just discussing, the v block is quite similar. The one gaping difference between a v block and a standard shop press plate is the center cutaway.
For smaller shop presses, this 20-ton rated v block accessory set is perfect.
If you’ve ever been pressing a bearing when it explodes in front of you, then you’ll know why a bearing shield isn’t just a good idea, it’s a necessity. Bearings can explode under pressure and those balls inside can fly out like bullets. Having an appropriate shield to protect you from this sort of accident is a very smart idea. And having a press guard is also a good idea, but I’ll get to that.
Typically bearing shields are a component that is included in a shop press accessory kit. You can see the black bearing shield in the kit below.
This particular shop press accessory kit comes with three punches, ½”, 1” and 2”. It also comes with a set of bed plates measuring 14” x 3” x 1”, as well as the bearing shield mentioned previously. The kit is rated for presses up to 50 tons, but you can easily find other kits rated for different sized presses.
Punches & Dies
If you use a shop press regularly and for a variety of tasks then having a variety of punches and dies is essential. Punches and dies often come in a variety kit such as the one shown here from Northern Tool.
This kit from METALpro jis intended for use with a METALpro ironworker press. The kit includes punches to suit ¼”, 5/16”, ⅜”, 7/16”, ½”, ⅝”, ¾” and ⅞” bolt holes with a 1/32” clearance.
If individual-sized punches are what you prefer, or if you don’t have an ironworker, then perhaps a Sunex punch is more along the right line of tool for your shop press.
This ½” punch by Sunex is made of 1018 steel. It is also zinc-plated for improved durability. The punch is designed for use with 12-ton, 20-ton, 40-ton, and 50-ton presses.
Another punch by Sunez, this is the same as the previously mentioned Sunex punch except this one is ¾”.
As you can see, you can easily get punches of multiple sizes, whether it be in a kit or separately purchased.
Depending on what sort of work you’re using the shop press for, you may need further punches and dies.
Here is another kit, this one a 5 piece set of punches. These are also made by Sunex, one of the more common punches available online.
If you work with a lot of bearing then having a bearing splitter is an essential component of the shop press accessories in your toolbox. This one shown from Northern Tool (made by Arcan) can handle bearings with a maximum diameter of 5 ¾”. The spread is from 1 ¾” to 6 ½” and the tapped hole size in the splitter halves is ½”.
Have you heard of bearings exploding? I can tell you that it can be enough to put the fear of God into you. There’s nothing more disturbing than doing a routine press when a ball bearing goes flying past your head and imbeds in the wall behind you. When you realize that it could have embedded in you instead, it’s a good idea to get yourself a guard for your press. Better yet, don’t wait until something explodes, just get a decent guard and keep on pressing in safety.
Shop Press Brakes
Having an accessory like this shop press brake assembly by Edwards can add a new dimension of versatility to your Edwards shop press. This 24” assembly is rugged and easily transforms your press into a sheet metal brake.
This bender/brake attachment is suited for hydraulic press ratings from 12 to 20 tons according to the seller. And is also rated for 12 or 20 ton hydraulic press. With a 12” brake surface, this small attachment goes a long way in a workshop.
Brake Tooling Kits
Having a brake tooling kit is another necessity of any shop press accessory toolbox when the press is used for auto repair. Edwards makes a really superb quality 6-piece brake tooling kit that is good to be used on 20-ton and 40-ton shop presses.
Even if you have a shop press guard in place, having a pair of safety glasses is always smart practise.
These safety glasses, made by 3m, are a smart sport-styled way of increasing your safety while not sacrificing comfort. And the 99.9% UV protection protects your eyes in case you need to venture out of the shop and into the sun.
The impact-resistant, polycarbonate lenses are firmly attached to the brushed nickel frame on these glasses. Unlike all-plastic versions for the same price, these sporty safety glasses offer value and style along with the protection your eyes deserve.
Shop Press Maintenance Accessories
There are a number of things which are handy to have around to maintain good working equipment. And your shop press is no exception.
Oftentimes, a shop press is left in place either as a stand-alone unit or a bench mounted unit. For obvious reasons, a shop press is not typically portable. With that being said, unfortunately for the press, these shop fixtures are often left and forgotten about in terms of maintenance.
The shops I’ve worked in have all had shop presses and they also never did anything until the machine broke down. I can tell you that if your work relies on working equipment, then doing a few routine things for your press are a good idea whether it’s a hydraulic, pneumatic or mechanical press.
When thinking about maintenance, I’ll refer to the hydraulic type of shop press, as this is more common than the pneumatic or even mechanical presses. Here is a quick list of tips for better maintaining your shop press. I’ll go over each after and offer some suggestions for materials I have around for this purpose.
- Keep Your Press Clean
- Maintain Clean Hydraulic Oil
- Inspect Equipment Each Use
Keep Your Shop Press Clean
Remember that the hydraulic press uses a smooth piston and that metal can be scared, damaged and seals can also be damaged. Pay extra attention when doing any kind of welding or grinding near your hydraulic press. The filings from grinding can get on the seals of your press piston and greatly decrease your machine’s lifespan.
All you need to do is ensure you aren’t doing any grinding where the sparks or debris can get in contact with the press. I like to keep some rags around and wipe down my equipment after each project and give it a quick cleaning. This ensures that not only does my equipment stay clean, it also acts as a checkpoint for me to notice any leaks or wear.
Maintain Clean Hydraulic Oil
Over time, all hydraulic power packs tend to break down inside. The seals will slowly wear, adding debris to the oil. Metal components slowly wear down as well and all this debris can build up over time in your hydraulic pump and reservoir. Whenever you have a hydraulic powered system, be it a shop press or otherwise, it’s essential to keep the oil clean just like in a car.
Most systems allow for the addition of an oil filter where one is not present already. If there is no existing oil filter and no way for you to add one to the system, then checking the oil regularly is wise. The user manual for your equipment should detail the type of oil and give direction for the frequency of recommended oil changes on the equipment. As a general rule, I like to take whatever a manufacturer says and do it about 25% better.
For example, if they say do an oil change every 100 days, I like to do it every 75. That way I am maximizing the life expectancy of my equipment. Of course, each piece of equipment is different and you should, at very least, follow the manufacturers recommendations.
Inspect Equipment Each Use
I think this is an often overlooked and yet vital part of working with a shop press. Every time you use the machine you should give it a quick once over. Check the oil, test the machine to ensure its running properly, make sure all safety guards are secure and in the correct position.
If you do this circle check each time you use the machine, you are more likely to be able to correct issues as they arise or even as a preventive measure. This will prolong the equipment’s lifespan and thus value to you.