How to Build a Hydraulic Cylinder

Hydraulics are widely used in industrial processes.
Hydraulics are widely used in industrial processes. (Image: hydraulic machine control lever image by Heng kong Chen from

Hydraulic cylinders are an important industrial tool used in machinery, manufacturing, and a number of other functions. The basic design of a hydraulic cylinder has changed little over the years. Hydraulic cylinders have enormous push/pull power and can haul, dig, push, drill, and move heavy objects and materials. The work by exploiting the mechanics of pressure exerted on the piston. The force is equal to the surface area multiplied by pounds per square inch of pressure.

Things You'll Need

  • Piston
  • Cylinder
  • Rod
  • Nut
  • Drive pipe
  • "Butt"

Fit the piston inside the cylinder. Secure a piston seal over the opening to prevent the pressure from bypassing to the other side.

Attach the piston to the rod (or shaft) of the cylinder. Slide the rod through the piston and tighten down a large nut on the opposite end to secure it. With the rod passing through the piston and attached with a large nut on the opposite end. The rod is probably the hardest worked component in the whole system.

Fit the drive pipe to the rod. The drive pipe should be made from galvanized steel, but high-grade PVC can also work.

Extend the cylinder rod through the cylinder's gland (or "head"). This will secure the rod seals and wiper seals that prevents contamination from affecting the cylinder.

Fasten the "butt" (on the cap end) to the cylinder. The particular type of attachment varies, but attachment points can include a clevis, cross tube, or tang.

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