So I made my own single stage press from scratch ...


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I started thinking about this press early this year (Jan/Feb) based on a DIY swaging press on the castboolits forum. After many months of planning, I started the press in July and finished it sometime in Sept of this year.

My goals when I started were:
- To make it for the least amount of money possible
- Re-use as much left over metal as possible
- Hold to 0.001" or better everywhere I could (hated the slop on my RCBS RockChucker, Lee, etc.)
- If possible, make it so that I could use it with hydraulic power as well as manual operation.
- Have the structure 30deg offset for better ergonomics

This was my initial drawing for the spacing and offset:

I ordered oil-impregnated bronze bushings from McMaster, and since I didn't have steel thick enough for the base, I welded 3x thinner pieces together:

Then I had to make this new "piece" for the base flat enough in my milling machine:

For the top piece, I had a piece of steel about .725" thick, which once flat, I drilled and tapped 7/8-14:

Much, much better fit, and a lot less sloppy than even the mighty Rock Chucker:

Then using my drawing and DRO, drill the two holes for the support arms/guides:



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I had a separate drawing for the support guides, which I ended up making about 1.5" too short. So instead of the target 6" travel, the resulting press only has 4.5" of travel:

For the rods, I had left over 4140 1.5" dia steel rods, which I cut to length and then turned to the target diameter on the lathe:

I then drilled and tapped each guide also on the lathe:

Turning operation. I should have put a new insert in the turning tool as the finish was not as nice as I would have liked - live and learn :)

This was all done with the "used" insert, unlike the brand new above:

Got an amazing fit to the bushings :)

Starting to look nice:

By the time I started work on the main ram, I had the new insert, so it came out better. It is drill and threaded 7/8-14 on the top, but I made it deeper and slotted should I ever want to try swaging in the future:

The bushings are 1.251-252" ID ..........

All three rods ready:
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This is how the pieces look like towards the end of July:

I then worked on the 30deg offset on the base:

Located center hole with laser, and drilled center hole:

Then the slow and tedious process to enlarge to match the 1.500" OD for the busing:

After a lot of slow cutting and testing, I got there to a nice press fit:

Then using basic math and the DRO, I located the other two holes:

Looking a lot like what I had picture on my mind earlier in the year!

Trimmed the support rods/guides to less than 0.001"


Then started work on the aluminum guide piece:

Drill and slowly bore to match the OD of the ram:

And then drill and bore for the two bushings on the sides:



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And for the first time, I was able to finally assemble everything and test for fit/binds. Not only everything fitted perfectly, but I had to carefully screw the pieces for it to work at all - once done right, everything moves without binding, and without any slop. Got lucky indeed!

Alignment with the top - absolutely flawless :)

Drilling and slotting the ram:



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Drilled and tapped the guide for a set screw:

The press itself is now completed - it is now August:

I then started work on attaching the bottom of the ram to the hydraulic piston:

I used the left-over 4140 steel pieces to make custom sleeves for the bolt to fit in the clevis:

Then to make sure there is no rubbing, I made some delrin spacers:

Getting closer:


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Now I moved to finding a way to connect and align the piston with the press:

I cut and drilled a steel piece for mounting the bottom of the cylinder:

And cut squared tubing to create a frame:

Then cut angle pieces to create a way to bolt the frame to the base of the press:

Then to align everything, I used the laser again:

This is the best I was doing prior to trying the laser - not bad:

But not as good as it could be:

Then weld the frame to the angled pieces:

Bottom view of the base of the press:

All welded and aligned:

Test assembly:


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Painted everything:

Coated the rods with Norell's Moly Resin temperature cured spray:

Since I messed up and made the support rods 1.5" too short, I had to create a mechanical stop for the piston out of delrin:

Finally, assembled for good. Now to work on the oil-over-air system pieces:

Looks messy here, but this is the whole hydraulic system including the oil reservoir:

It is now early September. Here is the completed press - down position:

and up position:

Very, very consistent travel:

Sizing bullets effortlessly:

First batch of ammo ended up being more consistent with the overall length than in any press I have used before :)

I hope you liked my project's photos :)



Staff member
Holy crap man, that is an awesome press. It should be able to resize any case that needs resizing.

Ian, are you paying attention?
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Notorious member
Yeah, I quit. Wquiles is a Master Fabricobbler extaordinaire with the whole package, I just have a few pieces of that puzzle and ut takes a lifetime to get to his level.
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Well-Known Member
Mighty nice machinery and tooling. When I first started watching your thread on 'the other website' I didn't realize you were going to add hydraulics. Fancy and very well done. Watched the video and was impressed with how smooth it operates.
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Well-Known Member
As everyone else - WOW! Just plain WOW! Cant decide if I am more impressed (jealous?!?) of the machine tools and expertise it took to make this, or the press itself! Morbid curiousity - what kinda price tag would that beast have on it?!? Gotta ask...


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Thank you guys for your kind words :)

I used materials on hand (steel and aluminum) but cost estimates for the press:
- The original swaging press plans had about $250-300 in the steel pieces, but I made a simpler press with fewer pieces, so although not a perfect reference, if you were to buy new steel, it would be "close" to $200-250. The original press had guide rods of only 1" OD, but since all of the steel I had on hand was 1.5" OD, my rods ended up being the same diameter as the ram. The original press calls for a base of 1" thick, but my 3x welded pieces are close to 1.5" thick, so except for the top piece (which should have been 1" thick, while mine is close to .725"), everything ended up being seriously overbuilt.
- The bushings were less than $6/each. I got 4x, two for the guides, and two for the ram (one press fit on the bottom of the base and one press fit on the top of the base for even smoother operation and alignment.
- Grade 8 hardware bolts, nuts, etc. - $20-30
- The steel used for welding was also left over from other projects, but figure another $30-40 for those parts.

The hydraulic parts were the most expensive for this project since I had none of these pieces and I had to buy everything:
- The surplus cylinder was about $80
- air valve - about $30
- The 1-gallon tank about $100
- Probably $60+ on fittings/adapters
- About $30 on the hydraulic one-way limit valve (limits travel in the up direction, but free flow in the down direction). Note that my hose is small enough that I didn't need it this part at all to limit flow and control speed.

The hydraulic is a combination of pressurized air (for power, at about 100psi) and oil for the smooth operation. In my setup, the top of the piston is full of hydraulic oil, and connected to storage tank. When I press on the air valve for the piston to go up, pressurized air goes into the bottom of the piston, pushing the piston up, which forces the oil to flow out the top into the tank. The size of the hose limits how fast oil can flow, which gives it that "fluid" constant speed. To go down, I apply the lever in the other direction, which causes pressurized air to go into the top of the storage tank - which pushes the oil, though the same hose, back into the top of the piston, so it also moves down at a smooth speed. To make the piston go faster, I would need a larger hole/hose so that more fluid can flow, but with the piston moving this slow now, it is almost full proof and "safer" (all things being relative!), so I will likely leave it "as is".

The only limitation of my system is that it is open ended: When you let go the valve, the compressed air stops flowing, but the existing pressurized air needs to find equilibrium so the piston continues moving up (or down) for a little longer. Once this extra movement is taken into account, it is easy to adjust valve actuation to fairly precisely move the piston up and down without being risky to the operator (me!).

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