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What is an Arbor Press?

Lori Kilchermann
Lori Kilchermann

An arbor press is a small press typically used for fine detail work and the installation of bearings and bearing races. While similar to heavy duty press machines, the arbor press is usually rated according to the load it can exert onto an object. A 2-ton arbor press can exert 2 tons (1,814 kg) of force or pressure onto its work piece.

Many machine shops use the arbor press to install pistons and wrist pins into piston rods. The precise operation of the small press makes it ideal for precision work. Universal joint replacement and installation into a drive shaft and pressing wheel bearings into axle housings are also jobs reserved for the arbor press operator.


The arbor press typically utilizes a hand-operated hydraulic ram mounted inside of a steel frame. The ram is pumped and the press exerts pressure against a part. The parts are held in place against the frame of the press so that they will not move. As the pressure increases, the part eventually succumbs to the pressure and pops free of its mounting location. The new part is pressed in place in the same manner.

It is critical to align all of the parts precisely when using an arbor press. The forces exerted upon the work piece are capable of destroying an object which may be just slightly out of alignment. Careful attention to detail must be observed when setting up the press. It is never wise to rush a press application.

Often a piece refuses to come loose when pressure is applied. In these cases it is often the practice to apply the maximum amount of pressure to a piece and allow it to sit under pressure for a short time. The pressure often gets the better of the stubborn part and it will pop free. It is seldom necessary to apply heat to an object in a press, but when heat is required to release an item, use it sparingly. The force being placed on the object along with the applied heat could cause the part to come shooting out of its mounting location and cause injury or damage to the work place.

The arbor press is a useful tool which saves many hours of beating and pounding with a hammer on many jobs. The precise action of the small press allows detailed and intricate work to be accomplished in the home workshop or garage. By performing some of the needed repairs at home, a handyman can conserve resources.

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