Introduction: Wooden Tofu Press
We eat a lot of tofu at home and thought it would be fun to learn how to make it ourselves. So we decided to build our own tofu press and give it a try.
In this instructable I want to give you my plans and documentation of how I did it.
With the end in mind I thought about how we would store the tofu-block in the fridge? We have one of these IKEA glass jars with a plastic lid that would perfectly fit a 10 x 10 cm tofu block with enough water around it. So that was my goal. I needed to design a tofu-press around a 10 x 10 x 5 cm tofu-block.
I also wanted it to be a nice object sitting on the shelf in the kitchen, so I went to a wood-dealer and chose a nice board of mahagony wood.
Step 1: Material & Tools
The wood you choose should ideally be untreated, not glued, fairly water resistant and medium to hard. Also a board of bamboo would be a good option, although that is usually laminated it is also water resistant and anti-bacterial.
This is what I got because the dimensions fitted my purpose well. So I saved some cutting work, too.
- Mahagony board 13 mm thick x 120 mm wide x approx. 100 cm long
- Dowel stick Ø 8 mm x 100 cm
- Wood-oil + rag
- Access to a printer
- Ruler or folding rule
- Caliper gauge
- Stop angle
- Screw clamps + scrap-wood
- Needle or pin
- Access to a standing drill
- 6 mm and 8 mm wood-drill
- Laundry bag or cheese cloth
Step 2: Blueprint
Download the 9 page PDF file and print it out. It will also be useful later to mark the holes for the drilling.
- 2 x Side A
- 2 x Side B
- Part C (C1, C2, C3, C4)
- Part D (D1, D2, D3, D4)
- 32 Dowels
If your wood doesn't fit my measurements exactly now is the time to adjust them.
Step 3: Plotting the Blueprint
With the drawing at hand plot the measurements onto your wood. Make sure you have enough wood and it all fits. I plot only one big piece or two small pieces at a time to make sure I don't loose any material from the cutting. Then I cut, then I plot again, and so on...
It's also quite useful to have a stop angle to make sure your pieces all have right angles.
If you feel comfortable with cutting you can also add the width of your saw blade (mine was 1mm) inbetween the pieces and plot all the parts at once on the board.
Step 4: Cutting the Pieces
Get your jigsaw or whatever out, set up your cutting environment and safety precautions and cut the pieces out that you plotted.
Depending on the pieces you need to cut, you might want to fix the board with a screw clamp or ask someone to hold it down for you.
Take it calm and easy here. The better you cut now the less sanding you have to do later.
Step 5: Sanding the Edges
Make sure you break the edges and corners with some sandpaper. I used a 120 and a 240 grain size. And make all the faces look smooth and straight.
Step 6: Cutting the Dowels
I got a 8 mm in diameter dowel stick, since it was next to the board in the shelf, so I needed to cut it down to a usable size.
Mark them all on the stick and chop them into 32 12 mm pieces.
Smoothe the edges slightly with some sandpaper (120er).
Step 7: Marking the Holes
With a pair of scissors cut out the top-view parts of all parts and the B-Side-view of part B from your printout with little extra wings around to fold them down. Place them on their respective part and pierce with a needle or pin where the cross-hairs for the holes are into the wood. This will mark and ensure the proper distancing between them and the other parts. Plus you don't need to measure!
Step 8: Drilling Holes
Find a standing drill and drill all the holes that you marked for the dowels with a 8 mm wood-drill. Since our dowels are 12 mm long, you want each blind hole to be only 6 mm deep. Be sure to test on a piece of scrapwood first and adjust the aiming position accordingly.
One trick is to mark the drill with a thin waterproof marker. That way you can see if you reached your desired depth.
As a rule of thumb, it's better if the holes are a little too deep than a little too shallow. Otherwise the sides of the pressed wood will not fit snug together and you will end up with gaps.
Drill all the other holes for the water release of the tofu press with a 6 mm drill.
If you clamp the pieces in a vise make sure they are protected by a soft material or you will end up with ugly marks.
Step 9: Test-assembling the Pieces
After cutting and drilling you can test-assemble your parts and see if they match and fit. It may take some tinkering around until you find the perfect combination. Here you also want to check that there are no gaps between the parts and adjust the dowels if necessary. And that there are no parts sticking out.
Step 10: Glue the Pieces
Mise en place.
Prepare two screw clamps, some scrap wood to protect, wood glue, a match or toothpick and some paper napkin.
Fill the dowel holes with glue and spread it with the end side of the match. Stick the dowels in. They should fit snug. Spread some glue on the facing faces of the to-be-glued pieces. Assemble the pieces and press them tight with your screw clamps and some scrap wood inbetween. Glue might be squeezed out. That's okay. Give it some time to dry. 2-3 hours. Ideally over night.
For the smaller parts I used the vise and screw clamps. Anything heavy you have and can put on would also work.
Step 11: Clean Up the Glue Residues
After the glue dried, cut off the residues with a cutter or knife. I prefer it this way over smearing the glue while it is still wet. You wanna be careful here not to start carving the wood.
Step 12: Oil the Surfaces
To make the wood more resistant to water and to make it shine and bring out its beauty use some safe-for-food mineral oil to treat it. I used SKYDD from Ikea and an old clean sock to rub the oil liberally and evenly on all surfaces. It really drinks it up as if it was thirsty for all these years. And boy does it look amazing afterwards. Damn! Spots with glue residues will be hard to penetrate by the oil. Give it a day or five to soak it up completely before you go on using it.
Step 13: Cut Two Cheese Cloths
Get a laundry bag or cheesecloth and cut into two equal pieces 10 cm x 40 cm. They will be used like a cross at the bottom of the tofu press. This way they are easy to unwrap, wash and dry.
The fabric of a laundry bag can be cut and doesn't become fray. It also drains very well. A cheesecloth would need to be overlocked at the edges...
Step 14: Final Product
Ain't it neat? Now it is ready to use. The bottom part C goes on the bottom. The box goes on top of that. The top part D comes in from the top and slides all the way down. The holes of the box part should be on the bottom side. That's where the water comes flowing out, apart from the other gaps.
Step 15: Press Some Tofu!
Here are some tips and tricks on how to use it.
- Look up a tutorial on how to make tofu yourself with nigari or lemon juice.
- Put a bigger tray or plate under your press to catch the water.
- Use some rubber band to fix the cheescloth while you fill it.
- Once it's filled fold the cheesclothes inside und press the lid on the top.
- You can also put some weight like a stone or a filled bottle to press the lid down.
- Let the water squeeze and flow out.
- Remove the box and carefully unfold the tofu block.
- Find a container that can receive your fresh tofu block with enough water around it. ;-)
- Clean your press well after using. Let it it dry and oil again if necessary.
Thank you, enjoy making tofu!
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