What Is An Arbor Press And What Is It Used for? 

What Is An Arbor Press

An arbor press is a small press that is operated by hand. They are commonly used for minor manufacturing tasks such as pressing dowels, installing and removing bearings, punching holes in leather, riveting, bending and straightening metal, staking, and other press-fit works.

Arbor presses are commonly found in machine workshops, fabrication facilities, or other industrial settings. Functionally, arbor presses are similar to other heavy-duty presses, just on a smaller scale. Its modest size makes it perfect for precision work. Therefore, for detailed and intricate tasks, arbor presses are also popular among those who work at home workshops and metalwork hobbyists.

Today, we will discuss how an arbor press works, its types, some common uses, and what to keep in mind while using it.

How Does An Arbor Press Work?

An arbor press uses hydraulics, rank and pinion gearbox, or other types of force translation for pressure applications. You pull down the lever arm to press the object placed on its base, secured with plates.

The main components of a standard arbor press include a hand-operated lever arm, recoil spring, arm stop, ram, and base. You mount the heavy base on a table to keep the press in place. A square or round ram piece can apply 1 to 12 tons of pressure. 

When you pull down the lever arm, an internal pinion gear starts rotating. This rotational motion is translated into a straight-line motion by the rack and pinion, and consequently, the ram is forced down on the object you need to press.

Types Of Arbor Presses

There are four types of arbor presses – single leverage arbor press, ratchet leverage arbor press, compound leverage arbor press, and air arbor press. They differ in terms of capabilities and operational processes. 

Below, we will introduce you to each of these arbor presses to help you choose the right one for your workshop.

1. Single Leverage Arbor Press

A single-leverage arbor press can apply 0.5 to 3 tons of pressure. A standard model has only four moving components, making it the simplest to use compared to its counterparts. Because of their ease of operation and relatively low price, these arbor presses are the most popular among beginners. As single-leverage arbor presses are less-complex in construction, they are handy when it comes to quick pressure-application-related tasks. Moreover, because of their low-pressure capabilities, single-leverage arbor presses are widely used by DIYers, hobbyists, and jewelry makers. 

What Is An Arbor Press
Single Leverage Arbor Press

2. Ratchet Leverage Arbor Press

A ratchet leverage arbor press is operated with a handle that is powered by manual ratcheting action. You ratchet down the ram by pulling the handle. This type of arbor press does not require much adjustment, making it popular among professionals. You can use the handwheel to position the ram and keep it in place with a spring-operated brake. Usually, no other adjustments are necessary to ensure an even load of maximized pressure. However, you can manually control the lowering action of the ram to ensure alignment before applying a full press. A cog spindle reinforces the precision in a ratchet leverage arbor press’s operation.

What Is An Arbor Press
Ratchet Leverage Arbor Press

3. Compound Leverage Arbor Press

Compound leverage arbor presses are designed for heavy duty applications, commonly in industrial works. They can apply 6 to 15 tons of pressure and can be converted to single-leverage arbor presses just by moving a single pin. As they are designed for heavy applications, the manual handle operation is optimized as well. The gearboxes help to amplify any force applied to the end of the handle and add it to the lever-weight pin. As a result, the user’s hands or arms do not get strained. 

What Is An Arbor Press
Compound Leverage Arbor Press

4. Air Arbor Press

Pneumatic or air arbor presses usually generate one to two tons of pressure. They always have features to easily adjust the stroke, air pressure, and ram speed. Some are also available with chrome-plated piston rods, two-hand safety controls, and double-acting arms. Air arbor presses make it more efficient to change nose pieces and tooling. They are also very versatile and ideal for tasks such as stamping, crimping, broaching, forming, die works, and so on.

What Is An Arbor Press
Air Arbor Press

Safety Tips For Using An Arbor Press

To work safely with an arbor press, you need to follow some safety measures. Here are a few.

  • Mount the press bolted tight and securely
  • Put the ram in the down position when the press is not being used.
  • Wear safety glasses during operation.
  • Carefully read the user’s manual before starting to work with the press.
  • Never rest your hand or anything valuable on the base while operating the press.
  • Double-check the attachment of every accessory and component before operation.

What Is An Arbor Press Used for?

Arbor presses are ideal for professional and hobbyist metalworkers in tasks such as riveting or skating. They are also very efficient in installing or configuring ball bearings. However, if you add accessories, such as inserters and punchers, you can enhance the versatility of your arbor press beyond metalworking.

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