Figure 1
Figure 1

Press Brake Tooling is an expensive part of your press brake operation, tooling is damaged enough just by daily wear and tear and accidents. You don’t want to damage it further by storing it improperly. So, what is the best way to store your press brake tooling?

It certainly is not like the tooling shown in figure 1; these tools are stacked on a pallet. When the operator needs a tool, the pile is not un-stacked, rather, the tool is just pulled out and the remaining tools cascade down banging up at all of the working surfaces of the tool: the head and the shoulder and the nose of the punch.

This happens all too often when tooling is thrown on a shelf, pallet, or table with one tool piled on top of another, operators searching for a specific tool, damaging others in the process. Depending on the amount of tooling to be stored and how far it needs to be moved for use, one of these two cabinet designs may be right for you.

Figure 2
Figure 2

The Mobile Rack

The rack shown in figure 2 is designed to move tooling for a specific machine or product line from one machine or cell to another.

For example, if you produce the same parts in multiple press brakes or cells in your facility, this rack might be your best storage option for a cellular manufacturing environment.

The rack has five shelves, two on the bottom for holding bolsters and spacer blocks, production line accessories and large dies. The three slotted shelves store the punches upright, making them easy to find, store and sort.

Figure 3
Figure 3

The rack in figure 2, is made from .250-in. hot-rolled steel and slotted to facilitate the punch head, in this case, to accommodate European precision-ground tooling. We added a layer of .250-inches corrugated plastic to each shelf, both slotted and full pieces to protect the tooling from the shelf itself; the corrugated plastic adds another .250-in. and helps to stabilize the stored punches.

While small tooling racks are a great design for their purpose, you may find that you do not need that kind of mobility and a stationary cabinet is more appropriate.

The cabinet in Figure 3 was set up on a frame made of 2-in. by 6-in. box tubing, with shelves made from the same 0.250-in.-thick steel and covered with plastic, like the mobile rack in figure 4.

Figure 4
Figure 4

Expanded steel mesh is used for the sides, back and the front doors of the cabinet. The expanded metal allows light into the cabinet while protecting the tooling from unauthorized use. The shelves are covered by corrugated plastic between the working surfaces of the tooling and the metal shelf.

Whether you’re designing a mobile or stationary rack, keep safety in mind. Pay special attention to slotted shelves, which will be weak and must be bracketed, figure 5.

Figure 5
Figure 5

Design Safety

Another safety consideration is the height of the mobile cabinet. The one shown in Figure 1 is 60 in. tall, 18 in. deep, and 48 in. long.  Any taller cabinet could become topheavy and easily topple.

Last, but not least, smooth all sharp edges on the cabinet. The operator will be handling heavy pieces of tooling that, thanks to inertia, tend to keep moving once moving. Once you catch a finger between a 3-foot piece of press brake tooling and a solid object, you know that stitches will become the order of the day, even more, stitches if that solid object is sharp. Make sure that you take the time to make the cabinet safe.

The video is titled Enshrining Tools, the cult of the sacred box, courtesy of Asma LLC discusses some of the issues related to dedicated tooling.

Enshrining Tools, The cult of the sacred box
Courtesy of Asma LLC


After reviewing this material you should now be able to:

  1. Explain the reasons for proper tool storage.
  2. Define the “work surfaces” of the tooling.
  3. Explain the difference between roll-around and fixed tool storage.
  4. Design safety into a storage cabinet.
  5. Define why some tooling should be stored in a separate box away from regular tooling.

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Section review: Quiz