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Tortilla Press

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Project by richgreer posted 11-02-2011 04:39 PM 5823 views 15 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My wife’s sister and her husband spent most of their lives in Mexico as missionaries. They are now retired and live in an area where they cannot get good tortillas. So, I have made this tortilla press for them and I will send it to them with a bag of maza harina (the flour you use to make corn tortillas).

I had some leftover 6/4 red oak available but it is not high quality material (see underside of lid).

A unique feature is the lift handle and the different wood on the bottom side of the lever. That is lignum vitae, the hardest wood in the world (Janda index of 4000). This is severe overkill. Those pieces will never wear out. Of course, if I had left them as oak they would not have worn out either, but this gives them something to talk about.

Both pieces of lignum vitae are attached with a sliding dovetail since I don’t know how well they would glue up. More overkill.

This is another project that contains not a speck of metal. I like to do that when I can.

The top comes down to 1/8” from the bottom and unlike other tortilla presses I have seen, I put in a spacer at the front so the press is forced to stop when it is a uniform 1/8” everywhere.

I have put on a couple coats of the Watco Butcher Block finish. It is food safe and it seals up the porous red oak. This is the first time I have used this finish and I will be curious to hear how it holds up over time.

Most people in the US put a piece of cellophane on the top and bottom of the tortilla. In Mexico, they don’t. With this press, they have the option of using or not using the cellophane.

As an FYI, homemade tortillas are vastly superior to anything you can buy in the store. I may make a few more of these presses as Christmas gifts.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.





16 comments so far

View Woodwrecker's profile

Woodwrecker

3610 posts in 2232 days


#1 posted 11-02-2011 04:49 PM

Boy, that is a beauty Rich.
I bet your sister in law uses that thing no end!
Great job !

-- All glory comes from daring to begin. ~ Eugene F. Ware

View Eagle1's profile

Eagle1

2066 posts in 1721 days


#2 posted 11-02-2011 05:04 PM

Nice job Rich. It also looks so heavy duty that it could crack walnuts.

-- Tim, Missouri ....Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what the heck happened

View Craig Havran's profile

Craig Havran

336 posts in 1268 days


#3 posted 11-02-2011 06:12 PM

watch your fingers!! that looks awesome. if you have some pictures i would love to see the process.

-- "There's plenty of time to read the instruction manual when you're laying in the hospital bed". - Dad

View richgreer's profile

richgreer

4524 posts in 1731 days


#4 posted 11-02-2011 06:37 PM

TurningHeads – - I have no pictures that would show you the process but there is a video on this site that shows someone making a similar tortilla press. You will see that my press is a bit different. Mine is bigger and I use no hardware and using lignum vitae is a unique touch. Nonetheless, this video will give you a good understanding of what is involved in making a tortilla press.

http://lumberjocks.com/Stevinmarin/blog/13212

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View shipwright's profile

shipwright

4979 posts in 1454 days


#5 posted 11-02-2011 06:55 PM

Nice Rich, and I think you are wise not to trust Lignum Vitae with glue.
Great for gifts too.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fiberglass trees. http://prmdesigns.com/

View grizzman's profile

grizzman

7014 posts in 1960 days


#6 posted 11-02-2011 09:39 PM

great project here rich..im going to make a couple myself now…oh and just a heads up…the index for wood hardness is called the janka index…it takes awhile to get the right words sometimes for this stuff…but you do now have me hungry for some tacos for dinner…......so bon apatite…great and fun project…..

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View richgreer's profile

richgreer

4524 posts in 1731 days


#7 posted 11-02-2011 09:54 PM

Thanks Grizzman – I knew it was “Janka” and I just screwed up.

As an FYI – My wife just saw this press and I now know, for a fact, that I will be making at least one more. That’s okay. They are not that hard to make.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Jorge G.'s profile

Jorge G.

1526 posts in 1132 days


#8 posted 11-02-2011 10:03 PM

Nice job, but you should have lifted the hinge clearance about 2 mm so that the tortilla would have even thickness. In any case it is very well made and light years better than anything that is done here in Mexico.. :)

-- To surrender a dream leaves life as it is — and not as it could be.

View richgreer's profile

richgreer

4524 posts in 1731 days


#9 posted 11-02-2011 10:22 PM

JDM – It may not show up on the pictures well, but the hinge mechanism keeps the top about 2.5 mm (slightly less than 1/8”) above the bottom. When fully closed, the gap between the bottom and top is even everywhere.

This press will make tortillas that are just a little bit thicker than the standard, store bought tortillas (which is what I like).

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Jorge G.'s profile

Jorge G.

1526 posts in 1132 days


#10 posted 11-02-2011 10:54 PM

Perfect Rich, that is the way it is supposed to be. Hand made tortillas are usually thicker (and better tasting)than the machine made ones.

-- To surrender a dream leaves life as it is — and not as it could be.

View Bagtown's profile

Bagtown

1712 posts in 2387 days


#11 posted 12-22-2011 04:08 AM

Hey Rich,

I am in awe. Mine isn’t nearly as nice as this.
Great touch re. the wooden hinge mechanism and the lignum vitae is way over the top. I love it.
Where in the heck do you buy lignum vitae?

Mike

-- Mike - In Fort McMurray Alberta

View Grandpa's profile

Grandpa

3133 posts in 1332 days


#12 posted 12-22-2011 04:13 AM

Great job and a beautiful piece, Rich. This should move you up higher on the bro-in-law list. I did notice you made this to the spec’s of the tortillas you prefer…..LOL

View richgreer's profile

richgreer

4524 posts in 1731 days


#13 posted 12-22-2011 04:47 AM

Bagtown – I feel bad. I did not mean to imply that my tortilla press is better than yours. I consider yours to be a fine project that you should be proud of. I only thought that since I had just done one, you would be interested in seeing it.

You asked where I got the lignum vitae. I don’t remember. I have bought a lot of wood over ebay and I suspect that is where I got this piece. I still have quite a bit of it, as well as other exotic woods, left. As I said, the lignum vitae is overkill but it gives my brother-in-law something to thing about.

Regarding my “no hardware” position – - that is just part of me. I really have a strong preference for no hardware design. I don’t mean to imply that is better. I only mean to say that is what I prefer.

FWIW – I think this is a great (and not very hard) project. I hope other LJs will consider this as project for a gift or for themselves.

As an FYI – I am currently in the process of making 2 more for myself and as a gift. I will make the tortillas just a little bit thinner. In general, I like thick tortillas. The ones from my original press came out to be about 3 mms. That may be about .5 mm too thick.

Best wishes, my friend.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Bagtown's profile

Bagtown

1712 posts in 2387 days


#14 posted 12-22-2011 05:05 AM

Hey Rich,

Relax, I just really like the look of yours, I don’t feel bad at all :)
I’d like to do more “no hardware” projects myself.

I find it interesting that you seem to work in metric, and are in the states.
I am in Canada and officially we use the metric system.
I worked for years in machine shops and can work in metric if I have to, but I am to accustomed to inches. I can convert in my head pretty quickly. . . for instance I know that you prefer your tortillas about a hundred thou thick. :) Seems like a good thickness to me too.

Hope you have a great Christmas,

Mike

-- Mike - In Fort McMurray Alberta

View richgreer's profile

richgreer

4524 posts in 1731 days


#15 posted 12-22-2011 04:24 PM

With respect to metric versus imperial measurement, I only think metric when I am dealing with small measurements. I find it awkward to think in terms of a 32nd or 64th of an inch.

I acknowledge that I wish our country was more aggressively transitioning to metric. In some industries (e.g. medicine) the transition seems complete. In other arenas it has barely started.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

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