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Need Help! Cheese Press

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Forum topic by Dallas posted 977 days ago 3317 views 0 times favorited 25 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Dallas

2863 posts in 1112 days


977 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: cheese press cheese form wood for making cheese cheesy cheddar

Many years ago I dabbled at cheese making. Now that I’m mostly re-tarred, I’d like to get back into it. I have almost all the equipment I need, but really don’t want to use the standard coffee can or PVC pipe home made cheese press. I also find that the store bought presses are far beyond my means and besides, aren’t made from wood.
What I would like to do is build a round cheese press to make cheese wheels instead of cheese logs. My preference would be something in the 12-16” range with a height of about 4-6”.

After looking around a bit on the internet I can’t seem to find anything that strikes my fancy and so, here I am, casting myself upon the vast knowledge of the LJ forums.

My initial thoughts would be to steam bend thin sheets of wood into a hoop and laminate them together. I can see this in my head, but am not certain how to go about the lamination process.
Then there is the base. It needs to be able to drain the whey, probably through holes drilled in the bottom but the bottom still needs to be removable for cleaning and removal of the wheel when it is time.
The top and the press part I have no problem figuring out, although I’ll have to use stainless threaded rod, since I have no way to make a threaded wooden dowel rod which would probably need to be 1”thick or larger.

Now to another question…. What kind of wood? I had thought of bamboo (hard to find here in East Central Texas), for the outside of the press and walnut or hickory for the base. The top I could use white oak for since I have quite a bit of that around here. Are there better choices in woods? Especially ones that won’t cause a problem with the cheese itself?

What say Ye of Great Wisdom? Give me direction and I might share an aged cheddar with you in a year or two! Maybe even a nice bleu cheese could be on it’s way in the time it takes to bake a baby!

DF

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!


25 replies so far

View Loren's profile

Loren

7387 posts in 2272 days


#1 posted 977 days ago

I recommend you just buy a drum shell. You’ll find making a
shell like this yourself is a lot of fuss to make just the one
for a one-time project.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View Dallas's profile

Dallas

2863 posts in 1112 days


#2 posted 977 days ago

Actually, the press is used over and over again. My last one was over 50 years old, but when I moved from Washington state I gave all of my equipment to a friend and haven’t gotten another one.
Once the whey is pressed out of the curds, the wheel is removed from the press and covered with cheese wax so it doesn’t get hard and put in an aging room for a number of months to age and gain flavor, being turned over every day.

That’s why when you see those big wheels in the mall or the super market they are covered with wax.

DF

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View Loren's profile

Loren

7387 posts in 2272 days


#3 posted 976 days ago

You’re misunderstanding me.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View Dallas's profile

Dallas

2863 posts in 1112 days


#4 posted 976 days ago

Perhaps I am. My personal take is that if I’m going to do it, I might as well make all of it I can. After all, there isn’t any hurry.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View Grandpa's profile

Grandpa

3071 posts in 1300 days


#5 posted 976 days ago

Okay, so you are up for the challenge. If I understand your needs it will be a box that is round on the inside (16”) across and it will be 4 to 6 inches deep. There is some kind of lid on the top and another on the bottom. I have never seen one of these so bear with me and modify as needed. I think I would get some good plywood and cut it into 24 inch squares. Then I would set up a router and cut the circle the diameter I needed. I would use one of those attachments that either replaces the base or attaches to the base with the long arm sticking out. You pin the center an cut the groove until it is cut through then you have a piece of plywood that is 24” sq with a 16 inch hole through it. I would glue another piece of plywood to the first piece and let it sit overnight then I would cut the second piece with a flush trim bit. this would reach through the second sheet and a bearing would follow the first cut. The second piece would probably work best if you cut it close with a sabre saw (jig saw to the newbies) and then you have less to trim with the router. After I achieved the sesired thickness I would clean up the outside like I wanted it and I suppose you know how you want the lids attached. There was a man on this site a few weeks ago that was making wood threads. You might find him and talk to him about wood threaded rods if you can work that out. I think this would work best if you lines the inside of this press with acrylic. I think it would make the cheese slide out without destroying the block. I f this is what you have in mind I like cheddar….LOL If it is not forgive me for taking up your time.

View Dallas's profile

Dallas

2863 posts in 1112 days


#6 posted 976 days ago

Grandpa, Thanks, you’ve given me an idea, I may modify what you came up with, Cheddar is only a year away!

cr1, yes, I have a band saw.

Here is a cheese press somewhat similar to what I need, except that I prefer to use wood.

Basically, most cheese presses are alike, however using certain kinds of wood can impart different flavors. The other thing to watch out for is bacteria. Using the plywood probably wouldn’t be good because of bacterial build up, even with acrylic or formica lining it.
I was considering using white oak and charring it before using it. This is the way they age bourbon. Which just gave me another idea, (DOoh!), I could make staves and build the press like a barrel with metal stays around it. Hmmmm.

Keep the ideas coming! This could get interesting and expand my wood working abilities past the making a truly square box stage!

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View Dallas's profile

Dallas

2863 posts in 1112 days


#7 posted 976 days ago

Grandpa, Thanks, you’ve given me an idea, I may modify what you came up with, Cheddar is only a year away!

cr1, yes, I have a band saw.

Here is a cheese press somewhat similar to what I need, except that I prefer to use wood.

Basically, most cheese presses are alike, however using certain kinds of wood can impart different flavors. The other thing to watch out for is bacteria. Using the plywood probably wouldn’t be good because of bacterial build up, even with acrylic or formica lining it.
I was considering using white oak and charring it before using it. This is the way they age bourbon. Which just gave me another idea, (DOoh!), I could make staves and build the press like a barrel with metal stays around it. Hmmmm.

Keep the ideas coming! This could get interesting and expand my wood working abilities past the making a truly square box stage!

Oh, and just for comparison, 1 gallon of milk yields around one pound of cheese on average. A 16”diameter X 6” tall cylinder will yield about 20 lbs of cheese. Yumo!

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View Grandpa's profile

Grandpa

3071 posts in 1300 days


#8 posted 976 days ago

I was going to suggest solid wood because wood is supposed to have some properties that prevent bacteria growth. that is they reason they are used for cutting boards. The problem is if you use wood like I was thinking it required laminating several pieces and you would have a lot of joints to deal with. You are going 16 inches tall and 8 inches in diameter? That changes things. You can cut the inside and outside of that ring with a router. the first is the pattern and it needs to be perfect so a router would probably work best. A band saw requires a jig or a good hand eye coordination. I would use a router. That press int he photo something you could do in a home shop without much effort. Cost effective…...?? I don’t know. Like Loren said it might be better to buy one but hey if you want to make a cheese press then that is something else you like to do besides making cheese. I know people that make dowels. I buy them in large bags so I have more time to do what I want. You can make this because this is what you want. I say go for it!!! Glad I might have sparked and idea.

View mrg's profile

mrg

520 posts in 1624 days


#9 posted 976 days ago

Why not make round cutting boards cut with a router and then laminate those together to get your height of 4” – 6”. Put them in your cylinder.

-- mrg

View Les 's profile

Les

199 posts in 1315 days


#10 posted 976 days ago

You might look at using the PVC and lining it with what ever wood you like. you could cut a tenon on the top and bottom and radius the inside and outside slightly. Cut a groove in the bottom and top to hold them in. You could change wood as often as you wanted and take apart for cleaning. kind of a take off on the barrel stave idea. Just a thought.

-- Stay busy....Stay young

View saddletramp's profile

saddletramp

994 posts in 1263 days


#11 posted 976 days ago

You mentioned making it like a barrel but the barrel shape will not lend itself to straight sides. Barrels are smaller at the top and bottom and flare in the middle so that the staves are basically double wedges. That is what holds the barrel together, that and you have to keep liquid in the barrel or the wood will shrink and the hoops will fall off.

-- ♫♪♪♫♫ Saddletramp, saddletramp, I'm as free as the breeze and I ride where I please, saddletramp ♪♪♪♫♪ ...... Bob W....NW Michigan (Traverse City area)

View mtenterprises's profile

mtenterprises

817 posts in 1317 days


#12 posted 976 days ago

I made a cider press years ago. Now I understand that the cider press didn’t have to be round inside but you could stave build the drum the same way, out of oak because it has the higest amount of tanic acid which kills bactirea, then mount it on a piece of 3/4” plywood and turn the inside round. Now remember to band the outside with steel bands because the pressure you exert will surely blow the staves apart. You can bend your own out of 1/8” steel or just go someplace where they use steel packing bands and have them band it up for you. Just my take on the project.
MIKE

-- See pictures on Flickr - http://www.flickr.com/photos/44216106@N07/ And visit my Facebook page - facebook.com/MTEnterprises

View Dallas's profile

Dallas

2863 posts in 1112 days


#13 posted 976 days ago

Hey cr1! Great idea. That’s the way they use to make the “drum” for banjos. I watched my grandfather make one for a banjo-ukelele I inherited from him!

I’ll get the stuff together and start on it after Christmas.

Thanks All, it’s been a great way to share ideas.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View TCCcabinetmaker's profile

TCCcabinetmaker

925 posts in 979 days


#14 posted 976 days ago

What I believe Loren was getting at, is in order to build a pice out of laminated wood, you would need the thickness to which your wood will make the radius. Build a circular form, layer glue and clamp several layers of wood together… it’s alot of glue alot of calculating and alot of time wrapping yourself and your arms around a piece with wet glue all over it.

I would think making a few half circles out of wood and joining them together would be much easer. I’d probably dowel the sides to make it so that the halves allined right, and could be squeezed togetherwithout worrying about it slipping.

OH, I can see this in my head now, but how to explain it….
3 rings 2 inches tall, each ring being made up of 2 halves. The rings of the top and bottom ring aligned so that the joint between the half rings is in the middle of the middle ring. Each ring doweled together (possibly unnecessarily) for strength,

-- The mark of a good carpenter is not how few mistakes he makes, but rather how well he fixes them.

View JJohnston's profile

JJohnston

1577 posts in 1916 days


#15 posted 975 days ago

What I think Loren was getting at was just to go to a music store and buy a drum shell – like here -

http://www.drumgearonline.com/

I think he meant the construction, not the use, of the press is a one-time project. At that site, a 10” diameter by 6” deep shell is about 50 bucks.

-- "Sorry I'm late. Somebody tampered with my brakes." "You should have been early, then."

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