Introduction: Sturdy Tortilla Press

About: Hobbyist & tinkerer.

Hi and welcome to my project!

I have been thinking about getting a Tortilla press to make my own Tortillas as it is something that I really like, and it is also very easy to do. After shopping around for a while I was not happy with the presses I saw and decided to make my own. And here I will show you how you can do it as well.

Please do look at the photos accompanying each step, it will explain a lot! And do excuse strange wording or errors, English is not my first language.

Supplies

Materials used:

Wood: for the 2 circle as well as the "front Hinge" I used some old Teak wood that I had laying around, It was previously used on a deck handrail (for almost 15 years)

Top lid: 300 X 300 X 36mm (3 planks glued together)

bottom: 400 X 300 X 36mm (3 planks glued together)

Uprights for handle hinge: 175 X 70 X 36mm

For the handle I used 2 pieces of Massaranduba decking planks (also leftovers from a job I did about 2 years ago) 500 X 90 X 19mm (2 pieces)

Hinge: Standard brass door hinge 100 X 73mm (when open)

Screws: 40 X 4mm wood screws for the hinge (8 screws)

& 25 X 3mm screws for the front support (6 screws)

Handle hinge: 8mm Stanless steel rod. It is one of the rods the printing head moves on.

Varnish: Woodoc 10

Tools used:

Router with circle cutting jig

bandsaw

electric drill & drill press

electric sander

clamps for gluing the planks together

wood glue

Step 1: Getting Everything Ready!

Here you can see what the wood looked like before I started and after planing it to clean it up! Just look at how good the wood actually still is below the weathered shell!!

NOTE: the thickness given for the wood in the materials list is after I planed it, as the planks were uneven and a bit rough before! Keep in mind that you can use thicker or thinner wood if that is what you have/ want. I will suggest however, not to use wood thinner than 30mm as it does take quite a bit of pressure to get a flour Tortilla flat. (corn Tortillas are much easier to work with) On the flip side, using much thicker wood, would add unnecessary weight!

After getting the wood clean and presentable, I glued and clamped it overnight. I is always a good idea to leave the glue overnight so it has enough time to set properly.

The next step was sanding the glued boards to create a nice smooth surface to work on when cutting the circles, and also to see where wood filler is need (If any).

Another tip: If you need to fill cracks in the wood and don't have the correct store bough wood filler (in my case Teak) using some fine sawdust mixed with wood glue works pretty well.

Step 2: Cutting the Boards, Handle Hinge & Handle.

Here I am cutting the circle with my router using a DIY circle cutting jig I also made myself. It is just a piece of mild steel flatbar, carefully bent 90 degrees with a hole drilled in the short tip, so I can bolt it to my router. The center point of the project determine where I need a hole along my jig, so I drill those holes as needed to get the desired size of circle.

My circles ended up being 285mm in Diameter cutting with a 12mm staight / plunge cut bit. Keep the size of the cutting bit in mind, as it will have an influence on your circle size.

The handle was a bit of trial and error as I did not know what the curve should be, or if it really mattered! In the end I used a french curve (like the ones used in school) to determine what the curve should be and it works really well!

After getting a curve I liked I cut the profile on the bandsaw and rounded the edges with a roundover bit in the router. After that it was just sanding and varnishing. ( Will explain how I got the holes drilled an lined up in the next step)

The hinge part for the handle was cut like a semi "half lap joint" as shown in the photo, I wanted to do this so I could get the strongest bond, as that part will probably take the most stress when using the press!

Step 3: Assembly

Before assembling it I had one last cut to make. I needed a flat surface for the brass hinge at the back, so I clamped the top and bottom piece together and cut away about 6mm on the back of both. Making sure it was square & center. The size of the flat surface will of course depend on the specific hinge used.

The first step was to place the hinge in the right spot and then mark the center of all the holes with a sharp object, like an awl. then carefully drill pilot holes (I start with the opposite ends to ensure it does not move on me) Pilot holes needs to be about the size of the screws shaft, especially in hard wood like Teak etc. Otherwise it is very easy to break a screw.

When the hinge is seated in place, proceed to drill the rest of the holes and insert the screws.

Up next, assembling the handle hinge. The uprights are glued and clamped to the base, I then inserted 2 wood screws into each of the uprights from the bottom, after drilling pilot holes! And 1 screw from the side, again after drilling a pilot hole.

I left it overnight to let the glued dry properly.

Drilling the hole through the uprights & the handle was nerve racking, as a mistake here would mean the whole thing would be off center and looking funky.

What I did was to, clamp the handle in its proper position between the two uprights ( I eyeballed it to where I though it would work well) and I then marked the spot where I wanted the hole to be. With the help of my dad we got the whole thing balanced and squared on the drill press table so we can drill the 8mm hole required for the stainless steel rod to fit through. Drilling it was pretty easy, though I admit this is probably not the best way to do it. I would recommend you drill the holes before assembling the whole thing.

Step 4: Final Fit & Finish

So all that was left to do, was to put the rod through for a dry fit to make sure everything is as it should be!

And it was!! Very happy that everything line up straight in the end. The next step was to take the handle out again for final sanding an varnishing. I also used this time to sand the whole press from top to bottom and give it 3 coats of "Woodoc 10" Varnish. We use it on all our indoor furniture, dining table chairs etc. Though Tung oil or something similar would be perfect it's just hard to find in my area!

I also as an afterthought added the small flat piece of wood at the front to hide the "lap joint" and to add extra sturdiness to the whole thing.

As a final touch i also added a small drawer handle making it easier to open. Here I just drilled a hole slightly smaller that goes into the handle and tapped it to match the thread of the bolt. I then cut the bolt to the desired length and simply threaded it in place.

Step 5: Test

Well It is finally time to see if it all works! And yes it does! Keep in mind that flour tortillas will shrink in size again when you take it out of the press due to the gluten structure. Corn tortillas should work much easier, however I can't get "masa harina" at my local stores so I have to buy online, I will however test it once I get my hands on some!

If there are any questions please ask in the comments below, I would be happy to help where I can!

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