Dont make it into a planishing hammer, or try to forge with it- unlike
planishing hammers or power hammers, punch presses are not meant to hit
things and bounce back- they break, and pieces fly thru the air. Not
Punch presses are designed for high production stamping and punching
with dedicated dies. As mentioned the dies are the big money item.
You can buy some premade die sets that are blank- you add your own
punch, or forming tooling- like this one from
This company also makes a lot of cool tooling that you could buy, if
you have lots of money, or copy if you have a good machine
It is not an ironworker, a shear or a press brake. It hits once, hard.
Always the same hardness- so it isnt good for fussy bending. You could
make a bending die, but it would need to be sized for the exact
thickness of material you are bending, and the right angle.
Same with shearing- it will shear, within its capacity, but its tricky
to do freehand work on it without losing your free hand.
As far as books- there arent too many- but the best place to look is
probably abebooks.com- thats the national database of used bookstores.
A few books I have that cover the use of punch presses, but are pretty
If you can find it, the Bliss Power Press Handbook has some info.
And Practical Design of Manufacturing Tools, by the American Society of
Tool Engineers, Mcgraw Hill, has some info.
But punch presses were never designed for the home user, so there isnt
much in basic books- there are some technical books on die design, but
use of the machines was usually taught on the job.