best shop press accessories for automotive and fabrication.

Best Shop Press Accessories for Metal Fabrication, Automotive

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. When you need the best shop press accessories, it’s good to have them handy.

This is a list of the best 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.

Arbor Plates

Arbor bed plates are used on a shop press as a sturdy base.  These plates can be spaced according to the project.  A typical process where arbor plates would be used is the removal of bearings, bushings, and arbors.

A good set of bed 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.

Sunex 100-Ton Bed Plates – Pair, Model# 57100BP

Sunex 100-Ton Arbor Plates
Sunex 100-Ton Arbor Plates

These shop press plates by Sunex come in pairs and are rated for 100-ton shop press models.  The plates measure 20” x 2” x 4” thick and weigh in at 27.5-lb.  These plates are also precision-machined, cold-finished 1018 steel.

20 TON STEEL SHOP PRESS BED PLATES, H-Frame Arbor 4 notch 1″X 5″X 5″ Set

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.

PRESS PLATES PARALLELS ARBOR 2″X2″X11″ SET

PRESS PLATES PARALLELS ARBOR 2"X2"X11" SET
PRESS PLATES PARALLELS ARBOR 2″X2″X11″ SET

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. Not many of the best shop press accessories come with a decent warranty, it’s nice to see one that does.

V Blocks

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.  

V blocks have a variety of uses, although traditionally they are utilized for holding round materials such as pipe or bar stock.

For smaller shop presses, this 20-ton rated v block accessory set is perfect.

Shop Accessory Kit

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 & Dimple Sets

Punches are used for making perfect holes in steel and other materials.  Although drills are also used, sometimes a punch is the preferred method.  Punching metal has its advantages over drilling metal.  When punching metal, the process does not generate much heat compared to drilling.  The process also creates less mess and is exceptionally fast comparatively.

Sometimes we don’t need to punch a new hole, but sometimes we want to flange or dimple the material.  This is where a dimple set of punches comes in handy.

This kit is intended for use with a 20-ton press.  The kit components are fabricated with 8620 bearing steel and have a Rockwell Hardness of 80.  The thickness of steel which this dimpling kit will work with is a maximum of 3/16” thickness

Single Punches and Punch Kits

Single punches are often utilized in a fabrication shop to quickly punch precise holes in metal and other materials.  With certain processes requiring a fast and clean hole punched, a specially sized punch is often the solution.  And one of good quality, such as the Sunex brand, is essential to a successful punch job.

This 3/4” 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.

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. 

This full set by Sunex has the following punch sizes.

  • ½”
  • ¾”
  • 1”
  • 1-½”
  • 2”

All punches have ratings stamped right on them, for easy reading and the maximum is 50-ton capacity.  The punches are fabricated with cold-finished 1018 steel and are zinc plated.

If you’ve got a press with a female ram assembly diameter of 25 mm, and the assembly uses a bolt to secure, then this next shop press pin set could be just what you are looking for.

This 8 press pin set also comes with the ram adapter hardware. Although this set is not compatible with bottle jack style presses, it works very well with pneumatic presses such as the OEMTOOLS 25087 20 Ton Shop Press.

Bearing Splitter

In any shop where a press is used for bearings, then some of the other essential bearing tools become obviously necessary.  Having a good bearing splitter to assist with bearing repair and maintenance is no exception.

Bearing splitters are used to separate the bearing from a tight spot on a shaft by forcing its way between the bearing and whatever the bearing is pressed up against.  Then, one can effectively use a bearing puller to further remove the bearing.

These tools are often used in conjunction with a shop press as the press is utilized to press a bearing into place.

If you work with a lot of bearings 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 6”.  The spread is from 1 ¾” to 6 ½” and the tapped hole size in the splitter halves is ½”.

Press Guards

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.

This hydraulic press guard kit utilizes a wire fabric curtain to protect against dangerous flying debris.  The Guardian Coil hydraulic press guard kit is the professional choice for a shop press guard and is used by industry in fabrication shops nationwide.

Shop Press Brakes

Having an accessory like this shop press brake assembly by Swag Offroad can add a new dimension of versatility to your shop press.  The 19.25” maximum bending width means you can use the tool on a variety of projects. And the maximum bending radius of 110 degrees means this finger brake kit is the extreme tool for extreme projects.

The entire assembly has an overall width of 22.125”, so can fit any shop press which allows this clearance of more between side frames.  

Swag has provided a full table of thicknesses and widths for maximum bending.  These maximums are as follows.

Bending Width Thickness

  • 19” 3/16”
  • 15” ¼”
  • 13” 5/16”
  • 11” ⅜”
  • 6” ½”
  • 3” ⅝”

If a more basic bender is what you’re looking for, then check out this Eastwood 12” bender shown below.

This bender/brake attachment is suited for hydraulic press ratings from 12 to 20 tons according to the Eastwood.  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.

The Eastwood brake will make bends up to 90 degrees.  This is working with mild steel of a thickness of ⅜” at the maximum.

If you are a fabricator, then we’ve got just the thing for you.  A set of plans to fabricate your own brake attachment. These plans are a Gizmoplans special so you won’t find these at your corner hardware store.  This specialty set of plans is everything you need to fabricate a shop press, shop press brake and punch attachment of your own.

For the DIY fabricator out there we include plans for building your own shop press brake that will accommodate Punches and V-Dies like these available on eBay. (see earlier in this article)
eBay is an excellent place for purchasing extra shop press accessories both new and used. So if you are up for building some of your own accessories or a complete 25-ton shop press check the plans out here.

Master Bushing Tool Set

Having a bearing tooling kit is another necessity of any shop press accessory toolbox when the press is used for auto repair.  Orion makes a really superb quality 52-in-1 master bushing tooling kit that is an excellent addition to any auto mechanics shop press tool collection.

Safety Glasses

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 Pyramex, are a smart sport-styled way of increasing your safety while not sacrificing comfort.  And the 99% UV protection protects your eyes in case you need to venture out of the shop and into the sun.  

The cushioned eye side protection seals up against the face to help prevent debris entering behind the glasses.  This added protection is essential for proper eye protection when doing tasks like grinding or cutting steel.

The scratch-resistant, polycarbonate lens is firmly attached to the semi-flexible frame on these glasses.  Unlike other glasses 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.

  1. Keep Your Press Clean
  2. Maintain Clean Hydraulic Oil
  3. 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 the 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.

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ABOUT GizmoPlans

Hey, this is Brian and Gene Luoma. Since the two of us have pretty much been self-employed our entire lives, we have a lot of experience designing and creating all sorts of DIY projects for businesses and homes—projects that have helped us make money or save money through the years!

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