12 ton Bottle Jack Press

  • Advertise with us
Project by Mathew Nedeljko posted 01-28-2012 05:34 AM 16946 views 49 times favorited 24 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Up until now I have just been using clamps and cauls to mount my marquetry work. I needed a more efficient system, especially for some of the larger pieces I have planned.

This is a press that pulls heavily from Shipwrights design. I laminated douglas fir 2×4’s from HD together, milled them down to 3×3 cross section and joined them with pinned finger joints. I made up torsion boxes for the base and the top caul out of 3/4” plywood which are very strong and perfectly flat.

The jack is a 12 ton Kobalt bottle jack I picked up on sale at Lowes,. I was worried it was going to be too much force on the frame, but the pinned joints are surprisingly strong and despite deflecting up to 1/4” it shows no sign of letting go. These type of jacks are readily available, the only thing to look for is to make sure you get one which does not release pressure over time due to faulty valve.

I’ve presses six panels with it so far, and they all came out much better than I could achieve with my make shift system I was using before.

Thanks for looking!

-- Aim high. Ride easy. Trust God. Neale Donald Walsch

24 comments so far

View Michael1's profile


403 posts in 3947 days

#1 posted 01-28-2012 06:12 AM

Good idea. I like the design!!

-- Michael Mills, North Carolina,

View a1Jim's profile


118297 posts in 4864 days

#2 posted 01-28-2012 06:13 AM

View cabmaker's profile


1745 posts in 4096 days

#3 posted 01-28-2012 06:19 AM

Nicely done, looks very effective.

View  woodshaver Tony C   's profile

woodshaver Tony C

8348 posts in 4640 days

#4 posted 01-28-2012 06:42 AM

Very clever! May I ask what type Glue you used on the pined finger joints?

-- St Augustine FL, Experience is the sum of our mistakes!

View BigTiny's profile


1721 posts in 4175 days

#5 posted 01-28-2012 09:42 AM

I’d like to know some dimensions of this, like the size of the upper and lower cauls etc.


-- The nicer the nice, the higher the price!

View Ken90712's profile


18081 posts in 4476 days

#6 posted 01-28-2012 12:52 PM

Nice work and great press. The projects look great as well.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View Schwieb's profile


1921 posts in 4748 days

#7 posted 01-28-2012 01:56 PM

I like it. I’ve been trying to decide whether to build this type of press or a vacuum press. They each seem to have advantages depending on what you are working on, but this method is simpler to build. Good work. I noticed your Chevy in the background of the last photo.

-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

View HalDougherty's profile


1820 posts in 4524 days

#8 posted 01-28-2012 02:00 PM

That’s a good looking press. I am building one to glue up laminated hardwood blanks 55” X 10” X 3” in size. To get 250 lbs/sq inch it’s going to take at least 70 tons of pressure and the frame can’t deflect and bow the walnut and maple blank. I built a prototype out of laminated construction 2X4’s that works and I’ve used it for 3 or 4 years. This week I cut several real 2” X 4” red oak boards to build two presses based on my prototype. I hope they turn out as professional looking as yours.

-- Hal, Tennessee

View shipwright's profile


8760 posts in 4085 days

#9 posted 01-28-2012 03:30 PM

Nice job Mat. ..........................and nice marquetry as well.
When do we get to see the chevalet?

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4621 days

#10 posted 01-28-2012 04:34 PM

Looks really effective and well made. I need one of these and this one will probably be the one I copy. Thanks for posting.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Bricofleur's profile


1482 posts in 4480 days

#11 posted 01-28-2012 04:55 PM

Thanks for posting. I’m keeping it in mind for when I’ll commit making veneerer small boxes.



-- Learn from yesterday, work today and enjoy success tomorrow. --

View LukieB's profile


966 posts in 3617 days

#12 posted 01-28-2012 06:07 PM

I’m also curios what glue you used that is strong enough and has an open time long enough for you to stop and take pictures in the middle :) Even when I know everything fits, I always experience a sense of urgency and panic once I start spreading glue on everything. Really like your press, cool design, well executed.

-- Lucas, "Someday woodworks will be my real job, until then, there's this"

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 5031 days

#13 posted 01-28-2012 06:44 PM

That should exert enough pressure! Great idea, since most of these smaller bottle jacks are cheaper than the veneer press screw jacks. Very nice marquetry panels. Thanks for the post.

View Mathew Nedeljko's profile

Mathew Nedeljko

715 posts in 5117 days

#14 posted 01-28-2012 07:25 PM

Thanks for all the nice comments everyone. I am very pleased with the results I get using this press, and for the most part it was built with low cost materials I already had in the shop.

The glue is nothing other than good old fashioned yellow Titebond 1. The reason it is able to withstand the force exerted by the jack is the large surface area of the finger joints. Here’s the jig I used to cut the finger joints on my table saw.

Each finger is 0.5” thick and there are five glue surfaces for a total of 45 square inches of glue in each joint. Even so, I feel like adding a 0.5” dowel to pin the joint through its center added significant mechanical strength to the joint. Under full load there is no deflection in the joints at all. Like everyone else I get a bit nervous during glue up as time is of the essence but I find if i do a dry fit rehearsal and brush glue into a partially assembled joint I can usually avoid problems.

This press was designed accommodate up to a 24×24 square picture. The top platen is 12×19. The torsion boxes are 4” thick and reinforced with an internal support every 4”. The press frame itself is 30×24x3.

The other neat thing about this design is that it breaks down for easy storage when not in use. The frame is not physically attached to the base, so when I am done using the press I just remove the frame from the channel of the base and store the whole thing flat underneath my assembly table.

This was not a difficult project to build, and I encourage everyone that has a need for a press to give it a try. I’m happpy to answer any questions.

-- Aim high. Ride easy. Trust God. Neale Donald Walsch

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4402 days

#15 posted 01-28-2012 10:09 PM

very good idea to use the jacks :-)
but a 12 ton isn´t that a little overkill….............unless you want the high of it compared to the smaller jacks

thank´s for sharing


showing 1 through 15 of 24 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics