How to Form Sheet Metal With Hydraulic Die Forming

Hydraulic die forming is somewhat similar to Masonite die forming. In both, sheet metal is sunk or pressed into a die. The sheet metal takes the form of the design cut into the die. Hydraulic die forming is quicker and lends itself more to duplicating formed-art or other production.


  1. 1
    Gather all material needed, including a hydraulic press.
  2. 2
    Draw design on craft paper. The design chosen for die forming should only be an outline of a form nothing intricate. Make sure the edge of the material to be cut is approximately 1/2" to 1" away from the edges of the design.
    • Example: if the design chosen is 2 inches (5.1 cm) in diameter, then the material to be cut should be at least 3 inches (7.6 cm) square.
  3. 3
    Glue craft paper with design drawn on it with design side up and on center on material to be cut.
  4. 4
    Wait for glue to dry then drill a hole next to the inside edge of the design
  5. 5
    Use the scroll saw or Jigsaw to cut out perimeter of design. This is what creates the void that the sheet metal will be pressed into.
  6. 6
    Place the pad of Flexane onto the bottom platen of the hydraulic press.
  7. 7
    Place sheet metal to be used on flexane.
  8. 8
    Place die in position desired on sheet metal.
  9. 9
    Pump arm of hydraulic jack to advance lower platen (which rests on the head screw of the jack) to press the die and metal padded with flexane against upper platen as far as it will advance.
    • This action will force the flexane (a rubber or urethane compound) to push the sheet metal into the die.
  10. 10
    If two halves are desired, make sure the right half of the die is a mirror image of the left half.
  11. 11
    Lower the jack and remove the die with the form that was just pressed.
  12. 12
    Flip the die over, to use it as the mirror image, onto another piece of sheet metal which is sitting on the flexane and press the other half.
  13. 13
    Finish the metal art form(s) as desired, such as lacquering or painting.

Things You'll Need

  • Hard material like plastic, Masonite, hardwood (for die)
  • 20 ton hydraulic bottle jack
  • Shop press or Hydraulic press
  • Craft paper
  • Jigsaw or scroll saw
  • Drill press
  • Thick pad of 8" square Flexane (urethane compound)

Sources and Citations

  • Based on by Rparus, metal-artist (who started this article)

Article Info

Categories: Metalwork and Wire Projects