Have you ever put on a pair of skates or cruised down the street on a skateboardIf so, or if you at least know of these modes of transport, then you might have noticed that they feature a wheel and axis. Between the two is a bearing which lets the wheel roll/spin smoothly on its axis. Wheel bearings stay intact due to friction, and getting the bearing in place requires a bit of force. By a bit, we mean several hundred pounds of force.
An arbor press is used to apply force to put such components together or take them apart. This tool has several applications like aligning pins, pressing bearings into pulleys, pressing gears into shafts, and even pressing guitar frets into the fretboard. Though these applications can be done with a mallet, an arbor press is much more effective since it evenly distributes a tremendous amount of force across the surface of the object.
There are four types of arbor presses which are classified by their varying power sources. These four types are manual, mechanical, hydraulic, and pneumatic presses. In this article, we’re going to focus on manual arbor presses since they can be used for simple and general-purpose applications without costing you an arm and a leg.
What to Look for in an Arbor Press
Like any tool, arbor presses come in a variety of different shapes, sizes, and have various features. The following specs and features are the most important ones to take into consideration when purchasing a good arbor press.
The amount of force (usually measured in tons) is the most important aspect of an arbor press. Although truth be told, unless you’re a professional metalworker or automotive repair guy, you won’t need to actually worry about how much force your arbor press delivers. In general, for manual arbor presses, you should find a model that delivers at least half a ton of force.
No two arbor press models are exactly alike in terms of construction. In general, the way they’re designed indicates how many applications they can be useful for. If you need an arbor press for simple pressing jobs, then a light-duty model will suit you just fine. For a more all-purpose tool, select a heavy-duty manual model.
The art of pressing down objects with a ton or tons of force can be rather inaccurate unless you have the right measurements, equipment, and tools. If you need to press objects together with a certain level of precision, make sure that your arbor press has a fine-adjustment system or can be modified to make fine adjustments.
The working height/clearance measures the distance between the anvil and the base. In general, you should find a model with a deep enough clearance in to allow for larger objects to be placed in the press and squashed together. If you plan on using your arbor press exclusively for small objects like skateboard wheel bearings, then a shallow working height will be adequate.
5 Best Small Arbor Presses
A quick internet search will yield thousands and thousands of manual arbor press models. The only question now is which of those models works best and most comfortableTo help eliminate some of the guesswork, we’ve compiled a list of the best 5 small arbor presses for your small-scale metal shop or automotive repair shop.
5 Klutch Arbor Press
The first item on our list is a manual arbor press model produced by Klutch. This model delivers up to 1-ton of continuous force with the pull of a steel handle. The Klutch-made unit is made of durable cast iron that won’t rust and can withstand multiple falls from your workbench without warping.
Due to its construction, stamping accurately every single time is simple to do thanks to the cast iron bar. Although Klutch isn’t a popular or well-known manufacturer, this arbor press is still one worth considering if you need a simple, all-purpose tool for a wide range of applications. It has a maximum working height of 6 inches.
4 HHIP 8600-0130 Arbor Press
The next arbor press on our list is the 8600-0130 from HHIP. This tool is perfect for squeezing, punching, riveting, bending, and a wide range of other applications, making it a useful tool for jewelers, grease monkeys, and metalworkers.
It’s constructed with durable cast iron that won’t rust and can withstand long falls. Although the 8600-0130 can be used in several different settings, it has a tonnage capacity of only half a ton. It has a maximum working height of 6-5/8 inches, so you have plenty of clearance to squeeze thick objects together. You can add all sorts of stamps and punches into the magnetic insert.
3 Palmgren Arbor press
Palmgren is a well-known arbor press manufacturer of heavy-duty manufacturing tools. Their ½-ton arbor press is a testament to how high a standard this company keeps to ensure customer satisfaction, whether they’re hobbyists or industry professionals.
This press is made of extremely durable solid iron that will break a toe before snapping if dropped. Because it’s made of iron, this arbor press is prone to rust if left in moist areas. It has a maximum working height of 4-5/8 inches, so it’s not the largest unit, but it’ll work well in most workshops. The spinning plate has pre-stops every 15°, so users have maximum control in ensuring accuracy.
2 HHIP 8600-0032 Arbor Press
HHIP makes a second appearance on our list with their 8600-0032 arbor press. Like the previous HHIP model, this has a maximum force capacity of half a ton, making it more of an entry-level model than a useful tool in professional workshops.
This unit comes with three different bits – one round, one pointed, and one square-end – though you can add all sorts of punches and stamps into the magnetic insert. It has a maximum clearance between punch and base of 4-5/8 inches. You can set the depth to extremely fine measurements with the accurate depth limiter of the ram stroke.
1 HHIP 8600-0031 Arbor Press
The final arbor press model on our list is, yet again, another one of HHIP’s reliable units: the 8600-0031. It, too, has a maximum force capacity of ½ a ton. What makes this unit different from the other HHIP models and other brands on our list is the huge working space.
The punch can drop a maximum of 7-3/4 inches, but you can use the space limiter to determine how far to stamp. Like other models, it comes with a four-position anvil that rotates smoothly and provides excellent stamping performance. Its heavy-duty frame will ensure that you can make use out of the 8600-0031 for many, many years.
Arbor presses are simple machines that have a wide range of applications. Whether you work at an automotive shop, a jewelry store, a leather shop, or need to apply tremendous amounts of pressure on objects in your home, the arbor is the tool for you.
Although there are several different types of arbor presses, the type we talk about in this article is the manual version which works well in both residential and professional settings. If you have the financial stability to invest thousands of dollars on a hydraulic press, go for it, but if you’re looking for a cost-effective way of pressing bearings, rivets, and other stuff, then a manual press will be more than adequate.
There are several specs and features to pay attention to, but the most important are the tonnage capacity, construction, the ability to make fine adjustments for meticulous pressing applications, and the working height/clearance. As long as the arbor press can your minimum requirements of each of these aspects, then it’s definitely worth the investment.
In this article, we’ve provided you with our picks of the five best manual arbor presses. Keep in mind that these models work extremely well in a number of applications but are limited in tonnage capacity (maximum of 1 ton). That being said, if we had one brand to recommend, we’d highly suggest you purchase any HHIP-made arbor press since each of their models promises superior performance, the comfort of use, and super-find adjustment-making.
If you want the crème de la crème of small manual arbor presses, you’ll have a difficult time finding anything better than the HHIP 8600-0031. Although it delivers only half a ton of maximum force, it’s large working height durable construction definitely make it a special press to use.