After assembling three DIY rosin presses in the last few years, it's safe to say I had my fair share surprises. Since hindsight is 20/20, below is the five things I wish I would've given more thought too before the big build.
Any DIY rosin press built using a shop press will take up quite a bit of space. At first, I didn't think space was a big deal. I figured I'd make a small station where I could keep all my pressing material. The only problem was that the small station ALWAYS ended up larger
than expected. If I were building another DIY rosin press, I'd double check the measurement on the base of the shop press. Some of the larger setups have a 2.5x2.5' base, which makes its use only really practical in a basement or a garage.
No matter what shop press you use to build your DIY rosin press you'll find they're not too precise. The Harbor Freight presses shifts under pressure, which leads to filter or parchment blowout. The Dake style presses shift less under pressure, but the ram twists slightly as the pressure is applied. The slight twist in the ram can also lead to filter or parchment blowouts. All the presses work great for their intended use but let's face it a rosin press is not their intended use. Since each press is different, you'll find some tweaking is involved in mitigating any shifting or twisting of the plates as you press but with some work you can do it.
Rosin Press Plate variants
When choosing a rosin press plate kit or cage kit, it's important to understand that all the kits are not the same quality. After buying four different kits myself, I've had my fair share of bad ones. Biggest warning on the rosin press kits would be to avoid eBay. The first kit I bought from there had no spot for set screws so the heating rods would always slide out as I was pressing. The second kit I bought was labeled a 3x5 inch rosin press plate, the pictures looked great, and it had set screws for the heating rods. What I received was not as described or pictured for that matter. The plates were 3x4.5 and had a rough finish on the top; they were not the plates pictured.
If you're building a DIY rosin press, it's safe to say you're price conscious. As you're looking around for a press, you may find the 6ton A-frame favorable due to the size and price, but there couldn't be a worse choice. The ram on the 6ton A-frame is ridiculously long and with any shift in the plates or press during the process will cause the ram to buckle. When the
ram buckles, you better hope you're not in the way. The buckling causes damage to the plates, and depending on the severity of the damage; you may need to replace the plates.
While most rosin press plate kits are made to fit most shop presses, I've found some styles work better than others depending on the press you use. For example, if you're using a rosin press plate kit I've found they work best with the H-frame, Harbor Freight style presses. Of course, you'll need to make some adjustments to make your press more precise as the H-frame shifts under pressure. If you choose a caged rosin press kit, I find the Dake style presses best for those. Where the slight twist the ram has in the Dake will cause the rosin plate kit to finish the press misaligned, the caged rosin press kit is unaffected by this slight twist.
I'm sure I could add more to this list, but these are the top five that come to mind. If you've got more suggestions or tips, share them below to help out your fellow human.