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Using your Harbor Freight press with a Swag brake in the way


Sep 25, 2020
Lacking the space for both a press brake and a separate hydraulic press for my home shop, I year or so ago I bought a Swag finger brake for my Harbor Freight 20 ton press.

I found it obnoxious to give up my ability to use the press when it was occupied by the brake. It was tiresome to have to remove the 60 lb. unit every time the press was needed as a press.

Since I have a winch to raise and lower the table, my fix was to lower the existing table way down, and fabricate a second table from a length of channel. It can be quickly inserted above the brake in the frame and used for pressing. Since I rarely do any heavy pressing, I used 4" x 7.25 channel, which resulted in an 18 lb. deck. Of course, on the rare occasions I have to apply ten tons or so of force, I can always remove the brake and use the original table. I don't trust the Harbor Freight frame with much more than that.

Photos show 2nd table installed in the press above the lowered Swag brake. Two of the height adjustment frame hole levels are still available above the brake. The 6x6 block of wood acts as a spacer, and adds some stiffness. The 18 lb. table can be removed and the brake raised for use in about 5 minutes time. The brake bolts to the frame in its raised position, which takes about 3 out of the 5 minutes.

2nd table.jpg with spacer block.jpg