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I'm getting serious about getting a press. I'm not going to go the DIY route, since presses involve tremendous forces and I don't trust my welding ability to make something that's safe. I've looked at Uncle Al's press, the Claiborne press, etc. A very experienced smith recommended Coal Iron Forge's presses, and they have a 16-ton and a 25-ton model. The 25-ton press costs a bit more than I'd like to spend, and for the hobbyist they say the 16-ton model will do everything you need. My shop space is also limited, so the smaller press would fit better. 

My main use for the press would be for damascus. Will a 16-ton press be adequate? It has a 2 HP motor, 11 GPM 2-stage pump, and a 4" cylinder. There are some videos of it in action, and it appears to move metal very well. I also like the C-style press. I've used them before and I like the 180 deg. access.

Edited by jheinen
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I have one of the first COAL 16 ton presses and it's great. They have only gotten better since the one I have was made. It will do everything you need it to do. Give Andy or Nate a call, they are great guys and they will answer any of your questions.

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16 tons is plenty for most work. I like the C-style too, having had a H-frame for a long time. 

Die size determines the tonnage. Bigger dies require more tonnage. The dies they provide are the right size for that press. 

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