Step 3: Making the Mold

You can buy cheese molds in a variety of sizes and they're not even that expensive but what's the fun in that?!?  I wanted to make my own.  I knew it had to be made of something that was sturdy and non toxic.   I was looking for a cylinder that had a diameter between 4"-5" and was at least 6" tall.  After wandering the aisles at Walmart I came upon my solution.  A plastic pitcher!  The diameter of the one I found was about 4 1/2" at the top.  The shape was perfect, it was thicker than most of the other plastic items in the store and I knew it would be food safe.  At $2.77 the price was right too!   

Take the pitcher and measure down 6" from the top.  ( I cut mine at 5" and it's a little short)   Mark a line around the circumference.  Cut the pitcher at this line and remove the handle.  I used a Japanese hand saw but use what you've got.   Smooth the cut edge with sandpaper or you can just gently scrape it smooth with a piece of metal like the edge of a ruler.

Place the cylinder with what used to be the top of the pitcher on the counter.  The cut edge will be a circle facing up towards you.  Take a pencil and divide the circle into 16 sections.  I do this by first by dividing it into quarters then dividing each quarter in half and finally each eighth in half.  I just eyeballed it but you can measure if you want.  Use a small square and draw vertical lines down the cylinder from each division mark so that you have 16 equidistant lines.  Use a ruler and place horizontal cross marks on every other line.  Space them an inch apart starting at the bottom and going up to the top.  Then do the same thing on the lines you haven't marked yet but starting 1/2" from the bottom so that you get a staggered grid wrapped around the cylinder.  You should end up with something like the picture below.

Take a piece of scrap wood and clamp it in a vice or to a counter so that you can slip the cylinder over the wood which will support it as you drill holes.   Drill 5/16" holes through the wall of the cylinder at the cross marks.  Pick off any sharp bits.

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>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>
<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...
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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?
Cheesemaking rocks, as does your press. I'll be building one of these well-designed-and-executed presses once I get my meat-curing fix. Meat and sausage curing has been distracting me from cheesemaking for a while now (and the kraut, and the kimchi, etc). Thanks!
I hear you. I 've been to sausageland too. In fact, I need to post my sausage stuffer design. The kitchenaid stuffer is a total pain. I've made fresh sausage but am dreaming of cured sausages. Cheesemaking got in the way of my meat curing desires...
I just finished some bresaola and corned elk, and I'm working on a prosciutto and some guanciale. Elk landjager is next, and I'll be using the kitchenaid as well, so hurry up and post the stuffer design!
I love love love this ible!!! Did I mention I have goats? I had been dreading shelling out the $ for presses once we start getting milk. This is brilliant! Thanks
MMM goat's milk. I'm jealous. (except for the whole caring for and milking part)<br>You'll be making Chevre in no time. I don't think you even need a press or a mold for it.<br><br>I'm actually considering getting goats...
I've got a recipe for queso blanco and one for mozzarella. My step-dad is from Wisconsin and he influenced my eating habits greatly, ....I eat cheddar on my pancakes even! I've got mini's Nigerian Dwarf and Pygmy so I am hoping for milk next spring.
This is great! I've been wanting to get into cheese making but was a little intimidated.
If you can handle chickens you can certainly manage some milk in a pot. It doesn't squawk or flap around at all.
I love cheese, but i don't think making one of these will be done by me. <br>great work on the cheese press, and it looks like the cheese turned out great too!
spike3579:BTW, your blog is great, as is your wifes, and I have just spent a couple nice hours on perusing them, and the links from them...
I like your press, especially the fine detail of the wood, etc.
very cool! practical, straight forward, very useful. I might not be pressing cheese in my near future, but this is how a good instructable is made. Here here! <br>Mike in Portland

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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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