How to Make a Flower Press
Build a simple press for drying flowers
In June 2010 I stood up in a wedding and the bride asked if there was anything I could do with the flowers. I took them home and immediately had the idea to build a flower press.
I've previously used the Crayola Big Yellow Box microwave flower press to dry flowers, but had never worked with something as large or thick as gerbera daisies. I searched the web for directions and eventually came up with my own design.
This flower press took me only about two hours to build, even as I tried to find suitable scrap wood and bolts that would work together, and work my way through the design with trial and error.
Turns out, it works great! And, I'm building more as gifts. Learn how to make your own flower press to use to save memories and make crafts. While they'll need adult help for the press building, kids will love selecting flowers to press and save.
Yes! Repin me!
Having everything available up front will make your project run smoothly.
- 3/4" or 1" thick solid wood. Try plywood or boards, no OSB or pressboard. You'll want two pieces that are at least 10"x10", and no longer than 20". (If you want a press for longer flowers, be sure to get 2-4 additional hardware sets to fit on the sides so the flowers press evenly.)
- Table saw
- Sandpaper and block
- Electric drill (cordless is fine).
- Drill bits to fit the diameter of your hardware, and 1-2/8" larger (see below for more info on this)
- Four sets of hardware (described below). You'll need four hex bolts, four nylon (nyloc) nuts, four wing nuts, and 12 washers total.
- Several layers of corrugated cardboard cut to fit the press.
- Several layers of felt cut to fit the press (try sheets sold in the kids' craft section or buy several yards off a bolt at a fabric store).
- White, undyed tissue paper cut to fit the press. Look for cheap stuff at a party supply or dollar store.
- A socket wrench that fits your bolt end.
- A combination wrench to fit your bolt end.
- A Sharpie marker or craft paint and brushes.
The Flowers I Used
Selecting your Hardware
To build my first flower press I used 3" bolts that are 1/4" in diameter and have a #20 thread. (Don't worry if you don't know what that means. All you really need to know is that all the parts fit together.) I selected a nylon insert nut, three washers, and a wing nut that dry fit the bolt. You'll need four sets of this hardware to make one flower press.
When I built the first flower press, I accounted for 1 1/2" of space for the two boards (3/4" thick each) and over an inch for the pressed flowers in the middle. As it turns out, I didn't need all three inches of bolt length, so when after making this first press, I found 2 1/2" - 1/4" - #20 hardware at Menards for 1/4th the price, I grabbed it up. I'm making more of these for Christmas presents. Shhh, don't tell!
If you'd like to match the hardware I used, here are links to photos that will help you find bulk parts at your hardware store.
Building the Press - Cutting the boards and measuring the boltsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Drill your Bolt Holes
To drill your bolt holes, first stack the two wood pieces so they're even around the edges. They don't have to be perfect, just close. Clamp them together or clamp them to your workbench with each corner that you're drilling hanging off the edge.
To mark the holes for the bolts, measure one inch in and over from each corner. The image above demonstrates this.
When you're drilling the holes, first drill the 1/4" holes (or whichever size your bolts are). Make sure to hold your drill perfectly perpendicular to the boards so each hole goes straight up and down through the boards. If you have a drill press handy, that's the best way to ensure perfectly straight holes.
Once you've drilled the first hole, mark each piece of wood so you can match them up again later in exactly the same way. This will be important since unless everything is exactly square, the boards and holes may only fit together in one way. Take the top board off and drill through the existing holes with the larger drill bit. This will give you some wiggle room for placing the top board. You'll see why wiggle room is important after you place the bolts and replace the top board.
Before you release the clamps, you may want to use a marker or colored paint to mark the corners of the boards. This will help you line up the boards later, after you've placed the hardware. .
Inserting the HardwareClick thumbnail to view full-size
Cutting the Cardboard, Felt, and Tissue PaperClick thumbnail to view full-size
Layering your FlowersClick thumbnail to view full-size
Placing the Top Board and PressingClick thumbnail to view full-size
A Beautiful Leftover Arrangement
Once you've set your flowers to press, place them in a dark and dry area. Check them every day to tighten the press, remembering to tighten the wing nuts evenly. I left mine for three weeks before opening it to check on the flowers. You can see a picture of the results below.
After three weeks, carefully change the tissue paper and put everything back in order. Press for one more week for thin flowers such as pansies, and up to three more weeks for thicker flowers.
When you're done, carefully remove all the layers, peel the tissue paper off the flowers, and set them out to dry for a day or two. You're done! Now they're ready to be used in craft and display projects.
Flowers after three weeks
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Build Your own Flower Press
Did you try it? Let me know how it went, or just say hi!