DIY cake press for storage

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Greasystring

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I made a quick press from a 2x4, two 6" c-clamps and a scrap board. Besides the novelty of pressing your own cakes I discovered a greater benefit, space efficient long term storage.

This setup can do 16oz, though I've only been pressing 1/2 pound cakes for ease of use down the road. I figure I can fit 8oz in two pint jars, one can be vacuum sealed and the other smoked from. If it seems the first 4oz needs longer I've not committed to breaking the seal on 16oz (4 jars clogging up the cabinet).

I can stack 8-10 pounds of these in the footprint two quart / four pint jars consume in my cabinet.

My next step would be to build a more tightly fitting box. I'd likely rip longer lumber to get straight edged pieces. The rounded edges of the 2x will leave a spine sticking up around the perimeter. This defect can be trimmed or pressed down before sealing.

I know this is pretty hokey, but I've been building a press in my mind for some time. You know how the thought project goes, it becomes too complicated$ and I you shelve it. I was in Harbor Freight, saw the clamps and figured why not go simple.
 

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Niblick

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A very nice constructed press. How long are you leaving the tobacco in the press for before removing to jar or mylar?
 

RSteve

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I know this is pretty hokey, but I've been building a press in my mind for some time. You know how the thought project goes, it becomes too complicated$ and I you shelve it. I was in Harbor Freight, saw the clamps and figured why not go simple.
I don't think it's hokey at all. It works!
 

Greasystring

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A very nice constructed press. How long are you leaving the tobacco in the press for before removing to jar or mylar?
I've pressed for 7-9 days, tightening the clamps when ever I passed the press in my daily travels. It seems like once pressed and well vacuum sealed the pressed cake holds compression.
Over drying was a concern I had since the press is not air tight. In some of the C&D YT videos I remembered the guy saying they pressed for a week or so and long term stored in vacuum seal, so that was my strategy.
 

Zeno Marx

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I've thought about this pressing deal and in terms of 30 days or more. I believe some of the retail cakes are often 30-60 days, but I could be way off. I would imagine you'd need a lot of days to substantially affect the tobacco. The metal press the Briar Blues fella uses could fit inside a 5-gallon bucket with lid, where you could mostly control the environment humidity and not have to worry about how long. I can't tell how large yours is. When they squash and ferment perique, it's in a cellar-like basement where they can control humidity levels. It's not a quick process. If I was going to mess with this, which I'm not and am thus talking out my ass, I would design it for long durations under pressure. Size of contraption. Materials lending to longterm use. Patience is a virtue with caking, no?
 

Greasystring

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Indeed, and if I make some plug, I'll likely leave it in the press much much longer. There are several options I've considered, and would feel fine pressing 30-60 days (from greatest to least) :
-A cooler
-A spare fridge or freezer not in use. (I have a humidor I could fit this in).
-Gasketed tote
-use cellophane instead of parchment paper.

The press makes a cake that's approximately 1.75" x 9". This dimension fits nicely in 11" wide vacuum bags.
 

RSteve

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To make circular pucks.
5 oz. tuna cans, which have removed lids that are slightly over 3".
Using a 3.5" hole saw, cut two discs from 1" stock, preferably, a harder stock.
Cans are thoroughly scrubbed to remove any trace of tuna smell. The bottom of the can is left intact.
Into the bottom of the can, place a cut to size parchment disc.
Tobacco should be well humidified in advance.
Hand fill and press the tobacco into the can while it sits on a table/counter.
Press by hand, then with one of the wooden discs until hand pressing doesn't accomplish much more compression.
Place one wooden disc directly under the can and put a cut parchment disc over the hand pressed tobacco.
Now place the second wooded disc on the parchment covering the tobacco.
Hold the packet together while you carefully slip on a C-clamp at the center. Tighten.
In a few days, you'll need to tighten again and you may want to add more tobacco.

I use Aldi house brand tuna cans. For the top disc, I've had to do a little sanding of the top disc for some cans.
You may elect to use more than one clamp.

I have this set of hole saws and a couple of these.
 
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Zeno Marx

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That's sort of how they do perique, but with barrels and barrel lids. They must trim the lids slightly smaller, but then just use big car jacks to push off a cellar ceiling beam onto that smaller lid and squash until the juices are flowing. I mean...squashing things isn't rocket science. I like the idea of using resources --repurposing-- that would otherwise be tossed. I'm into this tuna can thing.
 
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Timbo

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Good luck with it mate, it's the only way I can get GLP's Westminster to taste like it used to after C&D altered the cut of the tobacco to be finer.
 

RSteve

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Good luck with it mate, it's the only way I can get GLP's Westminster to taste like it used to after C&D altered the cut of the tobacco to be finer.
I enjoy playing with toys. I had a huge Nemco press that became cumbersome and took up too much room, so I sold it. The small make-shift tuna can press is nice because you can leave the pressed cake in the can.
 

RSteve

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$9.99 at Amazon.

I just ordered one.($9.40 with coupon)
It arrived this afternoon. I thought it would be cheaply made, somewhat tinny. I was wrong. It appears to be stainless steel, as described. Just for shitz and grinz, I progressively filled and compressed the tube to about 3/4" of the top. The noodle attachment in the lower right corner appeared to be the sturdiest, so that's the one I attached. I cut a cardboard disc to fit inside the noodle template. As I progressively filled and compressed, the tobacco density got harder and harder. I wrapped the press, filled with compressed tobacco in plastic wrap and put it away for a while, maybe a month. I went to Amazon to see if the price was still $9.40. It is and I did order another. Amazon says they only have 13 left in stock.

Wednesday afternoon. I decided to see if the tobacco press could use another turn. It did. I was curious and removed the top. The piece of the press that comes in direct contact with the tobacco, had tobacco sticking to it. Lesson learned. I cut a piece of parchment paper to cover the top of the tobacco.
 
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RSteve

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This past Tuesday I went to Amazon to see if the price was still $9.40. It was and I did order another.
Amazon said they only had 13 left in stock.
Must be a few folks who read this thread, because Amazon is sold out of the $9.99 noodle press.
I did find another brand that appears to be identical but is $13.99.
 

Timbo

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Oh, after filling your press up and pressing it, don't forget to tighten it up further every couple of days. And as Steve has found out, some wax paper or similar top and bottom of the press to stop the tobacco sticking.

When it's time to take it out, take the bottom off the press and keep screwing it till the puck drops out.
 

RSteve

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When it's time to take the tobacco out, take the bottom off the press and keep screwing it till the puck drops out.
I read that line too fast and because of it, had some wishful thinking. I thought it read:
"When it's time to take the tobacco out, take the bottom off the press and keep screwing till the puck drops out."
I missed a word.
 
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