In Search of the Best Shop Press [TOP 5 REVIEWS FOR 2021]
The modern shop press has come a long way in recent years. Although the principal function remains the same, today’s shop presses are far more precise, efficient, and powerful than those used in your grandfather’s workshop.
Ranging from large industrial presses used by professionals, to small 6 ton units suitable for the home shop, the range of tools available can be daunting.
That’s where we hope to help. In this article, we have reviewed 5 of the best shop presses currently on the market, across each of the widely used ton capacities.
For our findings at a glance, just head to the table below. For a dedicated buyer’s guide, plus full reviews of each of our picks, keep on reading.
- Best Shop Press – Top 5 Picks
- Top 5 Hydraulic Shop Presses
- Shop Press Buyer’s Guide
- What to look for when buying a hydraulic shop press
- The Benefits of owning a Hydraulic Shop Press
- Further Information
Best Shop Press – Top 5 Picks
Top 5 Hydraulic Shop Presses
There are many brands and models of hydraulic shop presses available. However, by rating them based on their structural design, material quality, performance, cost-benefit ratio, and amount of hydraulic power they can generate – it is quite possible to pick 5 of the best shop presses currently on the market.
We know because we have done exactly that. Below you will find our top choices in each ton category.
1. EDITORS CHOICE: Dake B-10 Hydraulic Shop Press
The Dake B-10 is our top pick shop press overall because it perfectly balances high-quality construction, against an affordable price point and power level.
This manual utility shop press features a single-speed hydraulic hand-pump that can generate 10 tons of hydraulic force which makes it suitable for metal forming. It is designed, manufactured, and tested by Dake, a Michigan-based company.
The full set-up, ready-to-use press weighs 132 pounds without any workload. It has an H-shaped frame.
The press measures 23 inches in width and is 36.5 inches tall. It features a large base mount on each vertical column, with each mount measuring 18 inches in length.
These large base mounts ensure that the 2 vertical columns of the H-frame rest on firm right-angled support.
Still, the Dake B-10 is much heavier than the Dragway Tools 6-ton Press (reviewed below), and to stabilize it, a horizontal stabilization bar is welded on both ends, with each end being welded to the center section of the adjacent heel mount.
The H-frame is painted silver-gray, along with the work-head, work-head mount, and hydraulic system. The worktable can be painted either silver-gray or blue.
The Dake B-10 is a step up offering greater hydraulic force than the Dragway Tools 6-ton Press, (here you are getting 10 tons of pressure for your money).
The B-10 press features a detached floor-laying hydraulic cylinder whose long hydraulic tubing fits into the work-head.
The length of the hydraulic pipe allows the cylinder to be moved about, and be placed at the most convenient location for the user to use.
This cylinder also features a long pumping handle. Another advantage offered by the hydraulic tubing is that it allows the work-head to be moved along the work-head mount, and this facilitates off-center pressing.
The work-head also features a 2.5 inches wide pressure gauge which measures the hydraulic pressure acting on the ram.
This allows for more refined pressure adjustments to facilitate precise pressure-pressing of the workpiece.
To release the hydraulic pressure gently, the Dake B-10 comes equipped with an adjustable pressure release valve, which allows the ram to smoothly recover from its down-stroke.
The pressure valve can be turned off during this phase, and the ram uplift will immediately halt.
This allows the user to adjust the height of the workspace. Generally, the workspace height in this press ranges from 4 inches to 16 inches. Even so, the ram travels for a maximum of 6 inches.
This press comes with two types of ram noses; the standard flat nose-piece, and the step-reduced nose-piece which is ideal for pressing a smaller workpiece to fit into a larger workpiece.
Also, just like the Dragway Tools 6-ton Press, the Dake B-10 comes with 2 table plates.
The bottom half of the vertical columns in B-10 features four holes measuring 0.44 inches in diameter. These holes serve as the worktable mount.
The Dake B-10 is a high-performance, manual utility shop press that is built to last.
It comes with 2 table plates and features a single-speed hydraulic hand-pump that can generate 10 tons of hydraulic force which makes it ideal for metal forming.
If you’re after a quality, 10-ton press at a price that doesn’t break the bank, then the Dake B-10 is the shop press for you. Our number one pick for good reason.
2. Rage Powersports 20-ton Shop Press
The Rage 20-ton manual-operated hydraulic bottle-jack mechanic-repair shop press is an affordable unit that packs a sufficient amount of punch in its specific category.
It features a versatile pressure capacity to a degree that makes it a great option for the serious home workshop and a small garage.
It is capable of generating 20-tons of hydraulic force which makes it suitable for straightening or bending metal pieces in addition to repairing vehicle parts, as well as removal and installation of bearings, gears, and ball joints.
The full set-up, ready-to-use press weighs 209 pounds without any workload. It has an H-shaped frame. This press measures 27.5 inches in width and is 57.2 inches tall.
This makes it taller than either Dake B-10 or Dragway Tools 6-ton Press. Likewise, it is heavier than either of them.
As expected, its height-width disparity is corrected by a large heel mount on each vertical column, and each mount measures 26.8 inches in length. These large heel mounts ensure that the frame rest on firm right-angled support.
Also, just like Dake B-10, this press features a horizontal stabilization bar that is welded on both ends, with each end being welded to the center section of the adjacent heel mount.
Its entire frame is painted black, along with the work-head, work-head mount, work-table and hydraulic system.
Unlike the models reviewed above, the Rage Powersports 20-ton Shop Press features a C-Beam work-table which measuring 24.625 inches in length and 8.375inches in width.
The curvature of its length allows the user to track any vertical increments in the workpiece as it moves along the H-frame.
Its vertical frame features two horizontal rails on top of the worktable. The first horizontal rail serves as the work-head mount, as well as the bottom plate of the hydraulic jack that rests on it.
The second, and topmost, horizontal rail features 2 heavy-duty springs that are attached to the first rail. This ensures that the hydraulic jack is spring-loaded.
Even so, this press also features a pressure-release valve which ensures that the ram recovers gently from the down-stroke.
The worktable is height-adjustable, and this allows the user to set the required height between the workpiece and the work-head.
The workspace height in this press ranges from 15 inches to 20 inches. This shows that this workpiece is designed to work with large workpieces.
Its ram features a flat nose-piece which makes it ideal for straightening or bending thick metal plates.
The ram is fitted underneath the work-head mount, and when the user presses the handle of the hydraulic jack to generate a hydraulic force, the work-head mount is pushed downwards along with its ram, and this also stretches the spring.
Even though this downward stroke could continue till the ram touches the worktable, the 2 heavy-duty springs limit the vertical distance that the ram moves to only 5 inches, which means that the farthest that the ram can go is 15 inches above the worktable.
This also indicates that if the spring is damaged, the work-head can move further down, and cause the hydraulic jack that is mounted on it to extend to its maximum and even lose its hold on the topmost horizontal rail and fall off the shop press.
The Rage Powersports 20-ton Shop Press is a well-constructed, manually-operated hydraulic bottle-jack that can generate 20 tons of hydraulic force.
This level of hydraulic capacity, along with the quality construction and affordable price point make this a great shop press to opt for.
3. BEST BUDGET: Dragway Tools 6-ton Press
The Dragway Tools is a hydraulic shop floor press capable of generating 6-tons of hydraulic force which makes it suitable for installation, as well as removal, of gears, bushings, ball joints, bearings, and universal joints (u-joints).
It is designed, manufactured, and tested by Dragway Tools, a leading designer, and manufacturer of high-quality, long-lasting hydraulic shop presses.
The fully set-up, ready-to-use press weighs 62.8 pounds without any workload. It has an H-shaped frame.
The press measures 15.25 inches in width and is 36.5 inches tall. At first glance, the height seems much greater than the width hence creating an impression of a tall structure supported on a narrow base.
However, this height-width disparity is corrected by a large base mount on each vertical column, and each mount measures 19.75 inches in length.
These large base mounts ensure that the 2 vertical columns of the H-frame rest on a firm right-angled support.
The H-frame is made from 2.25-inch tubular steel, with the thickness of the steel plate measuring about 0.2 inches.
The use of a hollow steel frame reduces the overall weight of the press, and at 62.8 pounds, two people can easily move it around the workplace.
The entire frame is painted red, along with the work-head, work-head mount, and hydraulic system. The worktable can be painted either red or black.
The worktable of this shop press is made of two cross beams that have been bolted together across the vertical columns.
This creates space along the length of the bolted crossbeams, and small workpieces can fall through this space.
To address this issue, the press comes with two press plates that are to be placed on top of the bolted crossbeams. Each of these press plates measures 5.25 inches in length and 2.75 inches in width, and their thickness is 0.5 inches.
The use of press plates makes this press ideal for working with bearings and bushings because regardless of their sizes, almost all bearings and bushings can fit onto the worktable with the press plates moved closer together for smaller bushings, and far apart for larger bearings.
Furthermore, its open construction allows the user to work on long work-pieces.
This worktable (also called the benchtop) is height-adjustable, and this allows the user to set the required height between the workpiece and the work-head.
Unlike common shop press, this press features another frame on top of the work-head mount, and at the top of this frame is fitted a hydraulic jack resting on a movable ram-plate.
The ram is suspended on two heavy-duty springs that are attached to the horizontal metal bar that forms the top of this frame.
The handle that operates the hydraulic jack is fitted to the jack itself, and its long handle allows the user to generate tremendous hydraulic pressure without putting in a lot of effort.
Underneath the ram-plate is fitted a long work-head pipe onto which the ram is fitted at the lower-most end. This work-head pipe goes through the work-head mount to reach the worktable.
When the hydraulic jack is operated, it pushes the ram downwards and this, in turn, presses the work-head on the workpiece.
Releasing pressure on the hydraulic jack allows the stretched springs to return the ram and work-head to their default positions.
The hydraulic jack can generate 6-tons of force. The width of the workspace in this press is 12 inches, while the workspace height ranges from 2 inches to 10 inches.
This hydraulic shop press comes with a 12-month warranty.
The Dragway Tools is a 6-ton capacity, hydraulic shop press that comes with 2 press plates that fit well into the worktable of the H-frame. This press is ideal for removing or installing bearings and gears.
Even so, its feature-rich compact design, makes it a great choice for those after a low-priced, low-power, space-saving shop press.
4. BEST PREMIUM: Baileigh HSP-30A
The Baileigh HSP-30A is a pneumatic shop press fitted in a fully-welded ridged main frame that can withstand hydraulic force of about 30 tonnes.
It is suitable for straightening or bending laminated metal pieces in addition to performing other heavy-duty metal forming work, as this press gives the worker industrial-grade hydraulic pressures.
It is designed, manufactured, and tested by Baileigh. The fully set-up, ready-to-use press weighs 405 pounds without any workload. It has an H-shaped frame.
This press measures 44 inches in width and is 76 inches tall. This makes it taller than the Dake B-10, the Dragway Tools 6-ton Press, and the Rage Powersports options reviewed above.
Likewise, it is heavier than all three shop presses. As expected, its height-width disparity is corrected by a large heel mount on each vertical column, and each mount measures 24 inches in length.
These large heel mounts ensure that the frame rest on firm right-angled support.
This press features a horizontal stabilization bar that is welded on both ends, with each end being welded to the center section of the adjacent heel mount.
Its entire frame is painted blue, along with the work-head, work-head mount, and hydraulic system. The exception is the worktable which is painted silver-gray.
Its hydraulic system is made from industry-grade hydraulic components. This allows the hydraulic system to generate a hydraulic force of 30 tonnes, and also be able to withstand very high internal pressure.
To generate such a huge hydraulic force, the shop press needs to be equipped with special wear-resistant and pressure-resistant pistons and cylinder heads.
The manufacturer took this issue into account and built a powerful cylinder block with a cylinder stroke of 5.9 inches.
Within this cylinder is a powerful industrial-grade piston whose wear-resistant head measures 2.375 inches in diameter.
This creates a large stroke volume for every upward stroke of the piston that occurs when high-pressure air moves the piston.
This stroke volume is transmitted via the hydraulic piping into the work-head where it pushes a smaller piston that is fitted to the work-head.
Because the fluid volume needs to be conserved, the fluid displaced by the large cylinder piston will cause the smaller piston to be thrust downward by a far greater distance.
There is a pressure gauge built into the work-head mount, and it serves to aid the user to choose the precise working pressure when dealing with delicate materials.
Unlike the Dake B-1 and the Dragway Tools 6-ton Press, which feature a press plate; the Baileigh HSP-30A comes with vee blocks onto which the workpiece rests.
The cylinder which is attached to the side of a vertical column can be moved around, hence allowing the user to place it at the most convenient location.
The user can operate this press in two modes, the pneumatic mode or the manual mode. It comes with a detailed instruction manual on how to operate in either mode.
The worktable is height-adjustable, and this allows the user to set the required height between the workpiece and the work-head. The workspace height in this press is 22.5 inches.
The Baileigh HSP-30A is a compactly-designed pneumatic shop press-fitted in a fully-welded ridged mainframe that can generate a hydraulic force of 30 tonnes, hence making it suitable for heavy-duty metal forming work.
If you are looking for a powerful 30-ton press to use in a busy auto shop setting this is our recommended premium choice.
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5. Torin-TRD55002 Shop Press
The Torin-TRD55002 is an ultra-high priced, shock-resistant extra-heavy duty shop press with a large 50-ton hydraulic force generation capacity.
It features an air-driven two-stage hydraulic pump, which allows it to perform both delicate metal pressing, and heavy-duty metal forming works.
Similar to the Baileigh HSP-30A, this press gives the user industrial-grade hydraulic pressures. It is designed, manufactured, and tested by Torin, a China-based company.
The fully set-up, ready-to-use press weighs 572 pounds without any workload. It has an H-shaped frame.
This press measures 37.4 inches in width and is 72.8 inches tall. This makes it the heaviest shop press among the 5 hydraulic shop presses reviewed here.
Expectedly, its height-width-weight disparity is corrected by a large heel mount on each vertical column, and each mount measures 16.9 inches in length. These large heel mounts ensure that the frame rest on firm right-angled support.
The Torin-TRD55002 features a large horizontal stabilization bar that is welded on both ends, with each end being welded to the center section of the adjacent heel mount.
Its entire frame is painted red, along with the work-head, work-head mount, and hydraulic system. The exception is the worktable which is painted black.
Its hydraulic system is made from industry-grade hydraulic components. This allows the hydraulic system to generate a hydraulic force of 50 tonnes, and also be able to withstand very high internal pressure.
To generate such a huge hydraulic force, the shop press needs to be equipped with special wear-resistant and pressure-resistant pistons and cylinder heads.
The manufacturer built a powerful cylinder block that is equipped with a powerful industrial-grade piston that has a wear-resistant head
The operations inside the hydraulic pump occur in two-stages; the low pressure and high-pressure stages.
The low-pressure stages generate a low hydraulic force that is suitable for pressing delicate materials.
However, if the user needs lots of hydraulic force, the amount of pressurized air going into the cylinder can be increased.
This would result in the generations of large stroke volumes for every upward stroke of the piston. Each of these stroke volumes is then transmitted via the hydraulic piping into the work-head where it causes a massive downward thrust of the smaller piston fitted in the work-head.
This result is an extremely powerful force being exerted on the workpiece by the ram nose-piece.
The cylinder, pistons, hydraulic system, and work-head are built from corrosive-resistant materials that can withstand extreme shock and vibrations.
Also, due to the high pressure being generated and transmitted within the hydraulic system, the equipment needs to be tested for safety so as to ensure that none of the hydraulic components can explode during operation and cause extreme bodily harm.
According to its instruction guide, the manufacturer, Torin, affirms that this press has passed factory inspection. Even so, to be on the safe side, this bench press comes with a safety protection cover.
The Torin-TRD55002 is a high-end, shock-resistant, and high-performance pneumatic shop press that is able to generate 50-tonnes of hydraulic force through its air-driven, two-stage hydraulic pump.
For those looking for this range of power, the unit comes highly recommended. For others where 50 ton pressure is overkill, you are best looking elsewhere.
Shop Press Buyer’s Guide
The shop press is designed to aid metal forming and removal of bearings, gears, ball joints, pulleys, and universal joints.
Let’s take a look at the different types of press you can buy.
The Manual Shop Press
The manual shop press has a steel “apron” or “bed”, this is where you set the piece of material ready to be pressed.
On most presses, the apron or bed will be made from steel C-channel, joined by welded crosspieces. The unit has to be sturdy in order to withstand the pressure exerted by the mechanics of the tool.
A pressing mechanism will then be centered above the workpiece platform. On a manual press, the force of the machine will come from a turning wheel.
However, the most popular type of press available today (and the one you are most likely to buy) is the hydraulic shop press.
The Hydraulic Shop Press
The hydraulic press comes into two main varieties; the bench-top hydraulic press and the four-mounted hydraulic press
The Four Mounted Press
The four-mounted hydraulic press includes the four-pillar hydraulic press, the C-frame press, the horizontal press; and they are all defined as being immobile large presses that need to be mounted in a dedicated room that will serve as the workplace
H-Frame Bench Mounted Press
For those who have only a small space to spare in their workroom, then they can opt for the easily movable and space-saving H-frame bench press (which is simply referred to as a bench-top hydraulic press).
Hydraulic bench presses consist of a simple, fabricated steel frame with an inbuilt hydraulic cylinder. The system works by lowering the bench-mounted ram press onto the workpiece.
The amount of force that can be applied varies from model to model; however, most home shop units range from 6 to 20 tons. 50-ton shop presses are available; however, these are more suited to industrial style uses.
The lower ton options often have a benchtop configuration making them more convenient for the home workshop where space is an issue. (These days they are even being used as makeshift rosin presses).
Larger 50-ton machines will often have their own 4 piece support stands.
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What to look for when buying a hydraulic shop press
Size – Press Tonnage
With the range of press tonnage systems available, it is important to consider what you would like to use the press for before you buy it.
The lowest-priced shop presses will exert approximately six tons of force. While this might be okay for some applications, there will certainly be a lot that the machine can’t do.
Doubling that figure to 12 tons and you will have a tool that is useful across a wide range of pressing tasks. Many wheel bearings can be pressed at this ton level.
However, in our opinion, the most versatile ton system to get is 20 tons. This will give you plenty of enough force for most general applications while ensuring you don’t encounter too many tasks where power (or lack thereof) becomes a problem.
Finally, if you are buying a shop press for a busy auto garage, you may want to consider a 50-ton option.
There are a few bearings that require a 50-ton press; if you wish to cover all eventualities it is worth the expense to have the larger ton machine.
Whatever you decide it always better to have more press than you need, than not enough.
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The best hydraulic presses available today allow for a certain level of customization so that you are able to select the right configuration for the job at hand.
You should lookout for a system that provides adjustable tonnage settings, operating pressures, and ram speeds. The more you are able to tweak the better results you will get.
Buying a shop press with adjustable features will help you maximize productivity and reduce operating times. These are money-saving variables in a work environment, and more than make up for the extra outlay you will spend on the original purchase.
Accuracy and Precision
If you want to get the most out of your hydraulic drill press, high-quality precision results are a must.
The way the workpiece is held in place is a major factor. If the tool is not secure in this regard you will have issues.
You should also look out for lateral movement controls. This will make it easier for your press to control any variances caused by an unbalanced load.
Many modern shop presses will have control panels that allow you to create settings for repeat jobs.
Such features will help increases your accuracy while allowing consistency when running a large number of pieces.
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The Benefits of owning a Hydraulic Shop Press
Once you have a shop press you will be amazed at the number of uses you will get out of it. Yes, if you own an auto shop the predominant work will be wheel bearings.
However, the purpose of a good press is simply to make straight things bent, or bent things straight. When you think about it on those terms it opens up a whole load of potential uses for your new machine.
Let’s take a look at just a few of them now.
- Book: Hydraulic Forging Press for the Blacksmith, by Randy McDaniel
- Make or Brake Podcast: Blacksmithing and Building Your Own Hydraulic Press with Paul Pinto
- GarageJournal.com/Forum: Buy or Build an Hydraulic Shop Press
- Greenerd.com: How to Purchase the Best Hydraulic Press Solution for your Application