If you’re a seasoned craftsman, either professionally or simply as a hobbyist, you may feel like you know most workshop tools simply by their appearance.
This may be true, especially if you routinely use a specific set of tools to complete your primary projects. But chances are, you aren’t yet familiar with the arbor press. Without question, you should know and understand this important manual appliance, though.
At first glance, you might just assume that an arbor press is simply a smaller, more compact standard hand-operated press. While the arbor press is similar to the standard press in terms of both form and function, its key differences can help you choose which one is right for your job. More importantly, knowing how an arbor press works can help you decide when you need to seek one out.
In this guide, you’ll learn the basics of an arbor press, including how the tool works and several of its most common uses in both professional and amateur settings. This guide will also highlight three of the most common arbor press types, thus ensuring that you are always able to seek out the correct type that meets your practical needs.
What Is an Arbor Press and How Does It Work?
Let’s start off by coming to a solid understanding of what an arbor press is.
To begin with, an arbor press looks like a standard bench-mounted manual press. To that end, most arbor presses are built around a large, heavy base that can be mounted on a table. The similarities continue when it comes to an arbor press’ force production system which usually includes a manually-operated arm.
However, an arbor press begins to differ from its standard press counterparts when it comes to its function. To be specific, an arbor press may use one of several types of force translation, including hydraulics or a rack and pinion gearbox, to accomplish its primary pressure application tasks.
Using a square or round ram piece, an arbor press then accomplishes this core task by providing anywhere from 1 to 5 tons of pressure when its arm is activated.
Also, while working with an arbor press, you’ll likely notice its use of “plates” to hold targeted objects and materials in place while pressure is being applied. While these plates can be interchanged, at least one must be in place in order to align the targeted object and ensure that pressure is applied evenly across its surface.
So long as a target object fits comfortably within a plate, it can be pressured by way of an arbor press.
Common Uses of Arbor Press
Despite their general practicality, arbor presses do not see nearly as much use as they did several decades ago. This is, in part, because their function has been replaced by other types of presses that can do more than simply apply pressure.
That being said, there are still some practical uses for the arbor press that professionals and DIYers should keep in mind.
For example, when it comes to applying several tons of pressure at one time, an arbor press can be successfully utilized to complete a riveting or staking job. Along the same lines, the great volumes of direct pressure produced by an arbor press can allow you to quickly install or configure ball bearings.
Arbor presses can also be adapted for use in non-metalworking projects.
This is particularly true for hobbyists and some professional crafters who make use of punches and inserters. For example, many arbor press rams can be equipped with a punch tool head to allow for the rapid piercing of leather goods. Similarly, an arbor press’ ram could be equipped with an inserter tool to allow for detailed and precise jewelry-making.
3 Types of Arbor Presses
While shopping for an arbor press of your own, you may have noticed that there are several different types to choose from. Each has greater or lesser capabilities than their counterparts when it comes to accomplishing some tasks.
As such, it is worth your time to consider all three of the following arbor press types when choosing one for your upcoming project.
Single Leverage Arbor Press
The single leverage arbor press is the simplest in the pack given that it is comprised of only four moving parts (in most models, that is). As a result, a single leverage arbor press is easy to use, even for a novice.
At the same time, the single leverage arbor press’ simplified construction makes them very efficient for completing most pressure application-related tasks.
Most standard single leverage arbor presses can provide between 0.5 and 3 tons of pressure on their own. As a result, they can be used for everything from installing basic ball bearings to performing intricate jewelry assembly jobs.
Also, many single leverage arbor presses accept a variety of accessories that allow them to punch holes in leather and more.
Ratchet Leverage Arbor Press
While single leverage arbor presses are among the most commonly used today, the ratchet leverage arbor press is easily today’s most popular choice in this field. This is because a ratchet leverage arbor press requires minimal adjustment while in use due to its ratcheting architecture.
In turn, a ratchet leverage arbor press’ ram is always optimally positioned to apply a maximized, even load of pressure on demand.
Ratchet leverage arbor press sees a fair amount of use in the broach-making process, not least because of this appliance’s aforementioned precision. That degree of accuracy is further enhanced by this type of arbor press’ most noticeable additional component, its cog spindle.
This allows a user to lower the ram manually to ensure that the object alignment is right before applying a full load of pressure.
Compound Leverage Arbor Press
Compound leverage arbor presses are the least common overall. But when it comes to taking on a heavy-duty task, a compound leverage arbor press cannot be rivaled for its capacity to perform. These units can place down up to 6 tons of pressure and, in some heavy industrial applications, a whopping 15 tons of pressure.
Compound leverage arbor presses can also be seen as a versatile investment, given that they can be converted to a single leverage arbor press by simply moving a single pin.
Compound leverage arbor presses are also able to minimize a user’s need for excursion noticeably because of their inclusion of a hand-operated brake. These arbor press’ gearboxes also tend to more efficiently convert kinetic force without straining a user’s hands or arms.
So, what do you think of the arbor press?
Though this piece of equipment is fairly simple in its operation and construction, it can perform its core task without hesitation or nearly any loss of precision. Whether you’re making jewelry or punching rivets, you can bet that an arbor press will come in handy time and time again.
However, before you go about investing in an arbor press, remember that this is still a specialized piece of machinery.
In other words, unless you foresee the need to apply multiple tons of pressure on a regular basis, you can likely go without an arbor press in your workshop. If you do often need pressure applied to whatever you are creating though, you won’t find a better tool to complete that job than the humble arbor press.