Thursday, January 21, 2010

Cheesepress 2.0 - Progress Report

Before I slid backwards down the hill the other day, I stopped at Lowe's and bought (3) 2-foot pieces of PVC pipe and a piece of oak (and a Dremel and 2 pipe clamps, which is going to make this cheese press rather expensive.   Thankfully I can amortize the Dremel and the pipe clamps over everything else I'll be using them for.).  The PVC is in three different sizes, 2-inch, 4-inch and 6-inch.

Two of the PVC pieces will be used when I make cheese, either the 2- and 4- inch or the 4- and 6-inch, depending on whether I want to make a 4-inch round or a 6-inch round.  If I want to make a 6-inch round, the curds will go in the 6-inch piece, topped with a follower plate (to be made out of this wood).  Then the 4-inch piece of PVC goes on top of the follower plate and the weight goes on top.  I'll be applying the weight through a lever.  The whole shebang will sit on a plate in my sink.  I need to make a trip to a kitchen supply store (like maybe Target) for the last few items, so there'll be another post about this topic soon.

The PVC pipe rather obviously says, "Not For Pressure," which set me back for a few minutes.  I'll be applying up to 50 pounds through the follower plate into the cheese, which will be pressing outward on the PVC.  Estimated area of pressure is 2 inches deep x the circumference (2 x pi x r = 2 x 3.14 x 2 or 3 = 12.56 inches or 18.84 inches).  If the cheese is 1 inch deep instead of 2, the applied area of force is halved, 6.28 inches or 9.42 inches.  Worst case scenario is 50 pounds of force applied over an area of 6.28 inches = just under 8 psi.  [ sorry - sometimes I can't resist geeking out!  What would life be like if one couldn't do all these fun calculations?  All you non-engineers - don't answer!]

The only website I could find that addresses the "pressure in a PVC pipe that's not designed for pressure," question was a website devoted to making potato cannons.  They say this pipe could withstand 40-50 psi pretty well, but for obvious reasons recommend other pipe.  Since failure of a cheese mold is likely not going to be catastrophic, like if it were a potato cannon, I think I'm OK.

The other thing in this picture that's interesting is the PVC shavings.  Yes, I used the Dremel last night.  It's my new favorite tool!  I cut all three of the PVC pieces to leave the 9-inch pieces you see on the table, started with the Dremel, tried a hacksaw, and ended up using a jigsaw.  I ground the rough edges off and drilled small holes in both the 4-inch and 6-inch pieces.  Good thing I won't be doing that again any time soon.  It smelled - PVC stands for poly-vinyl-chloride, which is a polymer of vinyl chloride.  Vinyl chloride is bad stuff.  The poly version is absolutely safe!  The smell is just something I don't want to think about.

There must be a Jeff Foxworthy bit about how you know you're a redneck if you use your dining room table as a work table and there's shavings and grinding dust all over the floor in your dining room.  There was probably a smarter way to do that, but I got carried away.  Guilty.  But, oh, I had a good time doing it!


  1. I have this picture in my mind of your animals nudging one another and saying, "Do you have any idea what she's doing this time?"

  2. Can't wait to see the cheese you engineer out of this all!! but hey, we knew you could do it! I get a kick out of figuring stuff out and using power tools with success! And the math is a bonus.
    I'm sure the pressure is for high pressure water or gas or something with danger involved..or yeah, the potato gun..those can be NASTY!
    We'll be waiting for the next cheese update

  3. Yeah, the animals are used to crazy things happening around here! This home engineering stuff is definitely more satisfying than the engineering I do for work. I can see actual results here, not like work.

  4. Studpi Blogger ate my comment!

    I was saying how I was thinking the other day how my parent's house was very much a put-it-all-away-each-night sort of house, and mine isn't that way. It's more cluttered than dirty, but I sure like being able to leave out something I or Z is working on. It's so nice to have my own place!

  5. Bad Blogger!

    I do sometimes wish I was more of a put-it-away type of person. I look at my place with the eyes of a guest and am regularly aghast at how messy my place is. I do enjoy the freedom to leave half-finished projects everywhere though!