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Cheesemaking is an amazing alchemy that transforms milk into a profusion of different textures and flavors.  The entryway for me was ricotta, an easy and forgiving cheese to make with no fancy equipment or supplies needed.  Mozzarella came next, also very do-able with supermarket ingredients and kitchen utensils.  I was so pleased with the results of these first forays into cheesemaking that I decided to go all in and try making hard (as in consistency) cheeses like cheddar.  

There is a certain amount of gear that you need in order to go to the next level.   One of the main pieces of equipment necessary for making harder cheeses is a cheese press to squeeze the curds under a specific pressure for a set amount of time.  I found cheese presses for sale online but they were expensive ($70-$275).  I decided that making my own was the way to go. I wanted something that would be able to handle up to two pounds of curds and generate up to 50 lbs of pressure.  I took my inspiration from a couple of similar press designs I found online and added my own ideas.  After a little experimentation I ended up with a press that was simple to use and inexpensive to build using basic tools.   Expect to spend between $10 to $25 depending on how much stuff you have at home already.

As with any set of instructions this will guide you to replicate what I made.  Don't feel constrained by my ideas though, you should modify my design to meet your needs any way you see fit.

Check out my blog for other stuff I've been making including a cheese cave for ageing all this cheese I'm going to be making with my new press...

Step 1: Stuff You Will Need

Materials

1 piece of wood-    3/4" x 7 1/2" x 5 1/4" 
2 pieces of wood-  3/4" x 7 1/2" x 1 3/8"
2 pieces of wood-  2" x 5" x 5"
2 pieces all-thread rod at least 13" tall (depends on the springs) x 3/8" dia
Asst'd 3/8" dia. hardware:
2 wingnuts, 4 nuts, 6 washers, 2 lock washers
2 springs w/ 50lb compression strength approx. 3 1/2" tall x 7/8"dia (more about this on step 4)
4 screw in feet
1 index card or piece of card stock
1 small wood screw
1 plastic pitcher
1 5" x 5" piece from a plastic cutting board
Some scrap wood pieces
Mineral oil      (you can get this at drugstores, make sure it is unscented)

Tools

Saws (I used a table saw, jigsaw and a handsaw)
Drill and bits
Sandpaper
Ruler
Small square
Pencil and a pen
Possibly a tap for threading the holes for the feet (optional)
Bathroom scale or any scale that will read up 50 lbs.


I added a top bar for draining the curd. I found an antique ruler to add some style. This press is made from oak. Thank you for all your help
<p>really nice addition </p><p>like it</p>
<p>Nice addition! Great idea to facilitate the draining on the press. Cool ruler mod too. Much better than my funky paper scale. Thanks for sharing. </p>
<p>Great design! I didn't have any hardwood, so I substituted some cutting board material that is dishwasher safe and can be sanitized. Thanks so much for the inspiration and Instructable.</p>
<p>That is great! Question: since you are using two layers of the cutting board, did you use adhesive between to avoid moisture slipping between? If so, what is appropriate?</p>
<p>I didn't use any adhesive. I left them separable so that the press can be disassembled and sanitized in a dishwasher. If I glued them, there would always be seams and crevices that might not get clean, and I wouldn't know what to use that would be dishwasher safe. </p><p>The bolts on the threaded rod hold the bottom two layers on the base together, while pressure from the springs holds the others together. </p>
<p>Hey that looks awesome! Thanks for sharing your build. Happy cheese making.</p>
$22 and some left over butcher block counter top. Thanks, you saved me a bunch of money.
<p>Very Classy! </p>
<p>Thanks for the instructions! My press is made of cherry. Pressing using a colander might be simpler than wrapping a press in nylon.</p>
<p>Well done!</p>
<p>Wow, I just love all of the pictures and ideas that are uploaded at the comments. This inspires me now to build my own cheese press!</p>
<p>Finally I could upload picture of I made :)</p>
Nice job! Thanks for sharing your build.
This one is walnut. I'm getting some madrone next. Thanks for the plan.
<p>Nice work! I see you have a quart container in there. I never thought of using one as a mold but it makes perfect sense.</p>
<p>we'll see how they hold up under pressure. i'm a chef and i use deli quarts for everything. it would be really nice if it works. for softer cheeses, so far they work awesome. a slight tapering, but i think that's my style right?</p>
<p>Thanks Spike for sharing this great design and instructions. Thanks to all as well who shared their ideas and pictures. </p><p>I still have some finishing work to do (adding a ruler to show the weight). I was using my measuring tape each time I was turning the wingnuts to add pressure :)</p><p>Thanks again</p><p>I</p>
<p>Your build looks great! I like the cutting board for the bottom. Nice use of an easily accessible material. It's so cool for me to see the design evolve as different people build it.</p>
<p>I have done the sam and used several time...</p><p>Great instruction :)</p><p>Thank you...</p>
Do you think a 4-5&quot; wide PVC pipe would work for the mould? Or maybe not food safe? I just happen to have some kicking around so I was wondering..
<p>I've read that it isn't food safe. I would do more research though. PVC pipes carry water and we are not heating it up so I'm not sure where the concern is. You could also line it w/ a plastic bag.</p>
<p>Fantastic Ible!!! I can't wait to make my own! I couldn't afford one either and just didn't have the engineering wherewithal to gen one out! Great job and thanks for posting this ible. Makes me want to post my ible about bacon and how I make my own!</p>
<p>Purchased a new Oak Wood stool, Used the seat and the legs..... Printed the orange arrow for the weight scale, my own molds and followers, and drying mats with my 3d printer for my Farmhouse Chive Cheddar.</p>
Wow! Fantastic. Very impressive results. You could make all sorts of interesting molds with your printer.
<p>How do you print the file? I log into Pro and it is not a PDF or does anything download. Do I need to pay for the service to print the instructions? BTW, great cheese press.</p>
I've just made one of these with a slight mod. I used a 22mm thick food grade polyothylene chopping board instead of wood. Cheese is susceptable to bacteria and it's a lot easier to clean. Dishwasher proof too! Only cost me 17 euros from amazon too.
Cool! Post a picture if you have one. The only reason I didn't use HDPE instead of wood was because I found that the plastic tended be less rigid and bend from the tension from the springs. I'll be interested to hear if you have any problems or if the plastic works just fine for you.
<p>So far so good, I doubled up on the plastic, so it is not as flexible as a single sheet, minimal bending up to jack cheese pressure.</p>
<p>I did the same thing! Great minds think alike...</p>
<p>I assume the drill bits are to match the diameter of the threaded rod. Am I correct?</p>
I am having trouble locating the right springs. Do you have more information about the ones you used such as free length, outside diameter, etc.? Also thanks so much for posting this!
<p>I looked at two big box hardware stores for springs and couldn't find <br>any suitable, sure enough, the first independent hardware store I went <br>to had just the ticket. I had to shorten them with a Dremel, but other <br>than that they were perfect.</p>
I've found that independent hardware stores are more likely to carry springs than the big box stores. I gave my cheese press away so I can't measure the springs. Off the top of my head I would say they were roughly 2&quot; tall x 3/4&quot; dia. If you can't find any springs locally then try <a href="http://www.mcmaster.com/#compression-springs/=q4d9zp" rel="nofollow">McMaster Carr</a>. &nbsp;Post a picture if you get a press built. &nbsp;I'd love to see it.
I loved this and built my own to get started in cheese making last October. A modification I made yesterday was to make different height &quot;stackable&quot; molds (using leftover PVC as I did with the first six inch mold I made). I found this MUCH easier to remove and reload the cheese during the pressing stage. I added 2, 3 and 4 inch tall molds. I was just running out of room in the mold when making anything other than cheddar with 2 or more gallons. Thanks for your design!
I'm glad to hear the design worked for you. I like the modular approach. That makes a lot of sense, I have read that PVC shouldn't be used in contact with foods. I don't know what the chances are that anything bad will leach out but it might be wise to line them with a plastic bag or something deemed food safe. That's why I went with the pitcher as a mold. I'd love to see a picture of your press if you get a chance to post it.
Eddie j , Does R stand for radius In your equation!
Get a plastic lid that is a bit bigger than the mold, make (heat and bend or just cut) a little pourer bit, then sit the mold on that so the curds can drain into the sink and you won't have to use plastic wrap and put it in the sink - especially if you have it pressing a cheese for 12 hours or so!
Great idea! Especially because everyone has a plastic lid sitting around that doesn't match any containers anymore.
The more parallel the better but work with what you can get. The worst that will happen is that the cheese cloth will bulge around the top plate some. Not a biggie.
Spike, I am planning on making one of these, but haven't found any plastic pitchers that have perfectly parallel sides - is that critical? Great 'Able!
I love your press, the book on cheese-making I just picked up called for it in every one of my favourite cheeses, and the prices of the presses terrified me (what if I only use it once and then stop?). Thank you so much for your instructable, when I finish making mine I'll definitely post pictures. Depending on how well I use it, I may end up making more than one for bigger cheese! <br> <br>Also, isn't it odd that the spell-check on the comment box underscores the word instructable?
Good luck with your press. My cheese making arc was pretty short lived so I'm glad I didn't shell out $200 for a press. A friend of mine uses one I made her weekly. She even joined a goat co-op!
I took a 3 hr class on cheese making (Gouda) is what we made. he told us that 50 lbs is not always 50lbs it all depends on the surface area of your mold. for<br>example a 4&quot; round mold will have less surface area than a 6&quot; round mold. which means that it will also have more pessure on it. to find out how many sq inches you have in a round mold is to PI 3.14 X R X R = sq in<br>Now I am trying to find out the PSI on the soft press and the PSI on the hard press.
I never thought about that. Post your findings on the correct PSI in the comments so we can use the right ones!<br>
Excellent! Beautifully crafted, well documented and explained, and just what I've been looking for. I should get one made before the cold sets in. Thank-you! <br><br>P.s. Have you any further suggestions/modifications since then? And how goes the cheese-making?
I did change the scale on the next one I made to make it simpler and more elegant. You can see it <a href="http://stuffimadethisyear.wordpress.com/2011/01/23/cheese-press/">here</a>. I've actually done very little cheese making over the past year. My cheese cave right now has returned to it's old life as an overflow fridge for long term storage. Currently it's holding a bunch of different pickles and some duck leg confit.
Is it really this easy to make cheese? I mean, I don't mean it's easy, but... this actually looks like something I could do! I'm speechless...
This is my next project in 2011. I can also envision using the press for applications other than cheesemaking! Thank you for doing all the design work.
What sort of applications? Evil ones?

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Bio: I have a compulsion to make stuff, all kinds of stuff. I'm glad to be here...
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