Monday, May 1, 2017

DIY Wooden Flower Press (and How to Use Your New Flower Press!)

I have been wanting a proper flower press for ages and at last, I have my own custom press!  No more giant towers of books and boxes for me! The first batch of flowers/leaves have just been completed in the test press and it worked perfectly - better than expected even.



I wanted my press small enough to be easily portable (I like to pop it outside when weather allows) and convenient to store when not in use. I also wanted it to suit an even split on my pressing papers for maximum pressing with minimum waste. There are tons of different DIY designs and inspirations available for flower presses. Mine was not designed based on any specific tutorial or inspiration product/post - I told hubby what I wanted and he simply created my pressing planks from some scrappy offcuts in his workshop. I could have DIYed the planks myself (basic drilling) but he was already set-up for working on another project. Bonus, he finished the edges for me too. Awwww... :) Here is how my press was constructed: 

  • Set yourself up for work with appropriate materials, tooling, and safety equipment.
  • Prepare two matching shape/sized pieces of sturdy wood.  Tip: As an option, countersink or create insets on the underside of your bottom panel so that your bolt heads aren't scraping and scratching things underneath your press all the time. 
  • Drill evenly spaced holes near all four corners, ensuring that the holes are aligned when the panels are stacked.  The holes need to be large enough to accommodate your chosen bolts - check and adjust if needed.  Tip: Make the holes on your top panel a tad looser, so that it's easier to slide the top panel on and off your press.
  • Sand to remove any rough edges.  You can finish the press now if/as you wish, or give it a test press first.


I decided to leave things plain through an initial test press, just in case I wanted to tweak anything. Now I just need to decide whether to finish/decorate the wooden plants of my press and what to do with all my new lovely pressed plants. Yeah!  See our preserving and pressing post for tips on preparing and pressing flowers, whether using a press of alternative method. To use the press:

  • Insert bolts through the bottom panel (if not already in place). 
  • Measure and cut some irregular octagonal pieces of scrap cardboard so that they fit inside the bolts. Tips: You can create thin wood panels or use regular cardboard, but I like using airy corrugated cardboard for my internal spacers. 
  • Carefully position your prepared pressing flowers/leaves on blotting paper (or your choice of other paper) layered between the cardboard spacers. Repeat if/as you wish for multiple layers of pressing.
  • Place the top panel over the bolts and into position atop the pressing stack. 
  • Slide flat washers over each bolt. As you can see in the photos, my press uses a round flat washer as well as a large square washer. The square washer isn't necessary, but helps to spread the load a little and avoid creating indentation damage in the top panel. Plus, it looks great when all done up!
  • Use wingnuts to secure and tighten.
  • Adjust the tightness periodically if/as needed. Change the papers periodically if/as needed. The time to press and dry will depend on what your pressing and the ambient conditions, but is typically around 2-3 weeks.


What shall I make with my lovely new pressed flowers and leaves?  Any suggestions?  I'd love to hear them! I have to confess that pressing flowers (whether with a press or with books) is creative fun in its own right, and I often do it without any idea if/how I will actually use things when they're done! With no children in the house, I find it feels harder to justify a "just-because" craft project, but since this is crafting from the garden, why not?  This post is shared in collaboration with our partner blog Creativity Unmasked. Join the fun for arts, crafts, recipes, and more! http://creativityunmasked.blogspot.com/

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