The videos are all simple enough. An object – anything from a book to a rubber duck to a bowling ball – sits on a small pedestal in an industrial setting.
Slowly, implacably, what looks like a metal hockey puck descends from the ceiling and crushes the object: Slowly, if it’s soft, or all at once, if it resists the force. There will typically be a slow-motion replay, and a man describing the action in a thick Finnish accent.
Collectively, videos like this have been viewed nearly 60 million times in the nearly seven months since the channel’s founding. Welcome to Hydraulic Press Channel, one of YouTube’s strangest success stories.
Lauri Vuohensilta crushes stuff. He has, ever since he was a child, and now that he has a 100-ton hydraulic press, he can crush stuff really well. Growing up, “We would crush smaller rocks with bigger ones and then we would crush toy cars with big rocks and stuff like that,” he told the Washington Post. “I think that most children love to break stuff. I think it’s built inside every person – the need to destroy something.”
Vuohensilta is 29, loves heavy metal and owns a shop with his dad that makes building supplies. He was inspired to start the channel after seeing the success of similar YouTube channels, and figured he could do the same. Discussing it with his wife, he decided to let his Finnish accent shine through prominently: “We also talked about my accent and how it was going to be a very funny thing on top of the press thing. There is this channel and they just shoot different guns, and the guy talks in a Russian accent and it’s a very popular gun channel. They have like 5 million subscribers, so I think that the accent is a good bonus for this channel.”
Hydraulic Press Channel really took off when Vuohensilta attempted to disprove a commonly-held piece of folk wisdom: It’s impossible to fold a piece of paper more than seven times. Turns out, that’s true: The paper simply shatters under the press after its seventh folding and crumbles in his hand when removed from the press, prompting a perplexed “What the f—?” from Vuohensilta. That clip now has 10.2 million views, largely amassed via Reddit.
Currently, Vuohensilta boasts over 735,000 subscribers and 59.6 million views on his channel. His goals for it are modest: “I am trying to slightly take time away from other work but I have to remember that this YouTube channel probably won’t last until I retire,” he wrote on Reddit. “So I must keep the shop running also. But right now I want to take some time to make as good as possible YouTube videos.”
“I am planning to make a 1,000 ton press,” he added, to the Post. “Where the cylinder diameter would be half a meter. So I am trying to find some sponsors to make it happen because there are quite expensive parts when you are building something like this.”
But mostly he’s philosophical about his success and appreciative his work has found its niche. “It’s very nice to have large audience for my videos.”
“It is much more fun to crush stuff knowing that so many people can enjoy the results.”