View Full Version : The home shop punching machine

01-22-2019, 11:03 PM
I'm pretty much now coming up with the need for a punching machine. Most of what I work with is 3/32 or thinner, usually 16 ga., and some is stainless. I have this little one-arm operated thing which I've gotten by with, but I want to upgrade. Where do I start?

To reduce setup time and keep more of my machinery at readiness, I want this to be its own machine- not something I adapt to the press. I also want it to be quick and easy to operate. I have considered foot-operated, but I don't know if I'll have enough pressure to knock out say a 3/4 square hole or a 1 inch round hole- probably the largest I'd be doing with it. I'm looking for ideas on the best way to actuate it, and whether a hammer action would be good, or just use pressure.

I might want to start by purchasing a set of dies that will do a variety of holes- square, round, and slots- then make the machine to hold them.

I don't know if an arbor press is really suitable- I know that in terms of alignment they are pretty sloppy, at least the ones I've played with. Keeping the punches and dies aligned is going to be critical for good results, and getting a good retract of the punch without distorting the material is going to be a requirement.

This is to be a home shop machine, which I already don't have room for, so it can't be bulky or too heavy- up to perhaps 150 lbs or so I can handle. I have been thinking of starting with two C shapes cut from 1/2 inch plate, which will be spaced apart a few inches and to which all the parts are fastened. Depth of throat I would like to be about 8 inches, but 6 inches would do. I would like to do this as a bench top machine, so no stand or long column would be required.

Build- or just buy? What is there that might be suitable?

01-22-2019, 11:32 PM
Rotary or turret punch ....Diacro is one brand ...?bring lots of cash..
I have built a few dedicated punch machines using Whitney tooling they have square triangle, etc..
Used to get that stuff from Fraser machinery.

I should have some bigger Whitney punch parts around I think , the type that have 2 ft long handles..
I also have a ball gearing hand Whitney punch I want to keep ..they can do a 3/8 hole, in 1/4 plate steel not bad for a hand punch.

J Tiers
01-23-2019, 12:35 AM
There are Di-Acro hand turret punches, which may still bring good mney, so might not be an option.

You see the price... this is a different brand

Making your own punch machine would involve some tricky alignments, and you need to decide whose punches to use, as making your own is unproductive. Roper Whitney is good, they have all sorts of shapes and sizes of punch.

My rotary handle Roper-Whitney punch has only a couple inches throat depth. I need more punches for it.

01-23-2019, 04:21 AM
What about a small fly press or punch press? I've seen them go pretty cheap sometimes...

01-23-2019, 07:31 AM
For alignment you might want to purchase or make a die set. Then adapt your punches and dies to it.

01-23-2019, 09:36 AM
For alignment you might want to purchase or make a die set. Then adapt your punches and dies to it.

Exactly. Something like this: http://i.ebayimg.com/00/s/MTYwMFgxMjUw/z/1n0AAOSw241YmGPA/$_1.JPG
Just one source: http://danly.com/

01-23-2019, 11:57 AM
You could get a Unipunch and make any punch and die set you want. You can use it on an arbor press with a light die spring for thin stock or on a hydraulic press with a heavy die spring for thicker stock. The die spring strips the punch out of the material once the hole is made. These are sometimes lined up on a press brake for making multiple holes in one hit. You can put a backgauge or material stop in the slots of the arms.


01-23-2019, 02:29 PM
if you were closer I'd point you to a guy that was selling a small punch (fly?) press that belonged to his dad. Belt driven, about the size of a roll around plane suitcase, had a bunch of punches. I wanted to buy it just for the sake of having it, but couldn't spare the space and didn't want to offend the guy with an offer I could afford.

01-23-2019, 02:57 PM
Build a small hydraulic iron worker. 3/32 thickness and what diameter?

01-23-2019, 06:29 PM
I've been considering making a small iron worker. I've checked for die sets and hydraulic pumps etc. Found this nifty punch cheap enough, and a small pump for a bit more.


01-23-2019, 08:33 PM
I have a 38 ton ironworker with a punch press on the other side. Handiest maching I have & way cheaper than building one. It will amaze you with what it will do & how fast it will do it.

01-23-2019, 08:54 PM
I have a 38 ton ironworker with a punch press on the other side. Handiest maching I have & way cheaper than building one. It will amaze you with what it will do & how fast it will do it.

You deserve a suckage for that because they cost $3-5k USED. $20k new. I can build one for less than that. :cool:

01-23-2019, 09:23 PM
After looking into it more, checking out ebay and other links, it seems that for it to be fully functional to my needs, and affordable, I will have to make my own. That's not a big deal- I basically have the plans for it in my head, which are still evolving based on what I've learned from my previous punch projects and from what I learn here. I also want it to be very versatile, meaning that I want to accommodate custom dies for bending and forming in addition to punching. Most of this I do in the press currently, but setup is time-consuming.

I once built a hammer punch- basically where a swinging weight is rotated to impact the punch. The framework itself acted only to align the parts and didn't need to have any real strength. The faster you activate it, the more forcefully it impacts. It worked, but the ultimate pressure wasn't high enough and I'd have to activate it two or three times to get one hole made- just not enough of a machine. The other punch is arm powered and uses a single 1/4 inch square tool bit as the punch and a 1/4 inch drive socket as the die. It makes nice clean holes, but doesn't have the ability to pull the punch back through the material. As such it's slow and tedious to use. Hence my desire to have an upgraded model.

The toolbit as square drive punch and square drive socket as the die does work well for the actual making of a clean hole. I can use that for the three basic sizes, 1/4 inch, 3/8 inch and 1/2 inch. I can probably find a 1/8 x 1/2 tool bit to use for a slotting punch, but will have to make up a die to suit. As for round holes- as long as I leave room for punch and die holders in the construction, I can purchase as I need or find- or I can make also if I want to. Commercially available sets are expensive and often don't have many sizes.

Those turret punches look interesting-