Pipe Tobacco Press
Cold Pressing Pipe Tobacco
Here is a quick and easy way to make your own pipe tobacco blends by taking some of your favorites and pressing them into a nice plug. You will want to make both a large press for pressing 1-2 LB and a smaller press for trying blends of 100-150g. This smaller press will save you from making large batches of blends you might think work but end up being nothing like you would have imagined.
The construction of one of these boxes is pretty simple and can be pieced together using some scrap 2 X 4’s or whatever you may have laying around. If you have to go buy your supplies the boards are generally $3-4 each for 2ft boards and the bar clamps are normally about $5 each for the 4 or 6in ones. Overall you should be able to get everything to make both the small test press and the large one for about $40 at a hardware or home improvement store. For this example the supplies used are:
- 2 – 2ft x 1/2×4″ Poplar Boards
- 2 – 2ft x 1/2×3″ Poplar Boards
- 4 – 4″ or 6″ Bar Clamps
- #8 1″ self drilling screws
- Drill or screwdriver
- Hand Planer (usually less than $5) or belt sander
- Miter Box or Saw
This will make a press allowing you to make a 2.5″ X 12″ brick and the hight would depend on the type tobaccos used and amount. This press will hold 1LB. comfortably. 1LB. will generally fill the press to the top when packed hand tight then presses down to about 1.5″ thick as seen in this pictorial.
The base is 13″ x 3.5″ and I added a 2.5″ x 12″ (the lid will be the same size) board to the base here (optional) leaving 1/2″ around all four sides. I simply glued, clamped, and then added 2 screws from the bottom to insure the board didn’t move while the glue dried. This extra piece allowed me to screw the sides into place with screws supporting them from 3 different angles instead of just 2. Definitely overkill now that I really sit back and think about it….there is not going to be that much pressure on the walls as most of the pressure is distributed through the clamp rather than the box. The following pic simply show my screw placement. This doesn’t have to be perfect just close to square will do the job we need.
The lid should be 2.5″ x 12″ and I added a cabinet knob I had laying around to make it easy to lift out of the box. I put the knob off center to allow room for the 3 clamps across the lid. Use a hand planer or belt sander around the sides to ensure the lid floats freely in the box to prevent it from getting stuck.
Now we are ready! First we need to line the box with baking paper or parchment paper. This is important so the box can be used for multiple blends and even prevents the wood from changing the tobacco flavor. This will also help preserve the moisture content. Since most rolls are not wide enough to cover the full depth on the ends of my box I simply added two strips to the end to ensure all sides were covered.
Now we mix our blend thoroughly (if you want you can lightly spray your favorite whiskey or rum while mixing just make sure you do so sparingly as a little will go a long way) and fill the press making sure to pack down the corners good.
This mix was a total of 17oz so just over a pound as you can see fills my press to the top when packed hand tight.
Fold over the paper to completely cover the tobacco and your ready to clamp the lid down. Move back and forth between the 3 clamps to keep it pressing evenly as you tighten them down and once all 3 are as tight as you can get them by hand just let it set for 2-4 weeks. During this time the flavors will begin to meld together and create your perfect blend!
The mini press I made is 3″ x 4″ x 3″ and makes a 3″ x 2″ plug. It holds about 100g of tobacco and makes a plug that fits perfect in a half pint jelly mason jar. I like the jelly jars since they don’t have the neck.