Thrifty Crafting: Dave’s Workshop Easy DIY Flower Press

10 Jun

It started when I met Paul. (This is Paul:)

Paul is a rickety homemade flower press I found while thrifting. We call him Paul because this is what we found when we opened him up.

We assume it’s some sort of flatulent jellyfish.

I thought Paul was pretty neat until I showed him to my friend Dave. Unlike Paul, Dave is a real person. Here he is posing next to a gorilla:

Here he his with a cat on his shoulders:

And here he is being excited about a giant meatball:

That’s just about everything you need to know about Dave in a nutshell, except for the fact that he married my bestie Stefanie and the first time I met him I became extremely jealous of the attention my Mom was giving him (I was three and she was babysitting him). Oh, and another thing about Dave is that he’s incredibly handy and inherited an impressive workshop of tools from his father. He built shields for all his friends for their birthdays and ours is hanging above the computer as I type. When I showed the flower press to Dave he made a noise somewhere between a grunt and a fart and basically said he could make one that was far better.

He invited us to his workshop for a little demonstration. He already had all the materials on hand and he assured me it would be very cheap and easy to make. He said he’d show me how to make it and I could take the photos. This was great news because I can barely assemble furniture from Ikea. But if you are handy (or who knows someone who is) you, too, can have your very own new and improved Paul the flower press for under ten dollars.


  • Wood- Dave used good thick birch plywood leftover from his shield making scraps which he cut to size using a circular saw.
  • Sandpaper- to smooth any rough areas after cutting and drilling.
  • Circular saw- for cutting the wood
  • Power drill with quarter inch drill bits – your bit needs to be larger than your bolts for ease of use.
  • Six bolts with nuts- size noted in photo below
  • Six wing bolts- size noted in photo above
  • Six washers- size noted in photo above
  • Cardboard – about box thickness
  • Box cutter- or other blade to cut cardboard to size
  • Acid-free watercolor paper- blotter paper will work, too
  • A clamp thing

The first thing Dave did was cut the wood to size. We were going for something about 8 inches by 12 inches because blooms are typically longer than they are wide, but the exact measurements were a bit bigger. As long as the pieces are larger than your blotter paper it doesn’t really matter what size you choose. Because we decided to make the press into a rectangle instead of a square Dave added two extra bolts.

Isobel did not enjoy the sound of the saw but came back to the workshop once the saw was put away and a step-stool was added. She was excellent at helping Dave by adding the washers, holding the paper, and stealing bites of his Good ‘n Plenty.

Then he used his powers of math to measure out the positions of the holes for the bolts and marked their location in pencil. He clamped the boards together to make sure the holes would be precisely in line. Then he revealed one of the secrets of his workshop’s success: a 70lb kettle bell makes a great assistant. They can hold just about anything you need in place and don’t have any fingers to loose!

After drilling and sanding the pieces he pushed the bolts through the wood and secured them in place with their nuts. It was hot.

He added the sheets of paper and then got to work slicing up cardboard from an old box of beer. While doing so he turned to me an cocked one eyebrow before saying, “Reduce, reuse, recycle!”

At this point the flower press comes together in layers, like a lasagna. One sheet of cardboard, two sheets of paper (between which will go your plants for a-pressin’), and another of cardboard. You can keep this up as many times as you have pieces of paper and card board because these bolts are quite long.

When your card board-plant-paper layers are complete you’ll add the second piece of wood, the washers and the wingnuts. You’ll want to tighten those babies down so the compression force will press the plants. Dave and Isobel picked some ferns from his front yard to serve as our first specimens.

Oh, I guess there’s another thing you should know about Dave: he’s a freaking fantastic artist. I wanted him to draw on the wood so I could paint it later as a decorative touch, but while we were googling  “funky 1970s mushroom art pictures” for him to draw, Isobel swiped some crayons and decorated it herself. This is a drawing of Dave’s garden.

Dave doesn’t have a garden, but we like it anyway. Thanks again, Dave, for opening up your workshop to Paul, the Castillo fam, and Little Big readers! I’m trying to convince him to sell these babies on Etsy, though I’m paying for this one by taking him out for a beer.

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11 Responses to “Thrifty Crafting: Dave’s Workshop Easy DIY Flower Press”

  1. Jose Gonzalez June 10, 2013 at 10:24 am #

    Yup, love it!

    • Carrie Anne June 12, 2013 at 6:29 pm #

      It’s my goal to feature everyone from Voltaire at some point. You guys are all so talented!

  2. Stefani June 10, 2013 at 3:40 pm #

    Wow. You really captured my husband :) I’m so glad you had this idea because he was so excited. We’ll work on setting up a date to take a picture with Dave and a “giant meatball gorilla”

    • Carrie Anne June 12, 2013 at 6:30 pm #

      Dave was so generous to build this for me! You know I’m down for Dave-gorilla-meatball photos any time.

  3. allisonthemeep June 10, 2013 at 7:34 pm #

    Too cool! I’ve been pressing ferns in between layers of parchment paper underneath stacks of old books. This method looks way more profesh.
    allisonthemeep recently posted..good god, lemon!My Profile

    • Carrie Anne June 12, 2013 at 6:31 pm #

      I’ve been using the book method, too, though I just used paper towels. Womp womp!

  4. Marie June 12, 2013 at 6:34 pm #

    My thoughts while reading this piece:

    1) That looks just like the flower press my grandfather made me. I hope no *ucker stole it from my parent’s house and wrote “Paul” on it. I don’t even like Paul. Never have. I’ll bet it was Paul who stole it even. That *ucker.

    2) Oh my god, are those Good ‘n’ Plentys?!

    3)Cool tutorial. Maybe I need to make a new flower press. Bookmark.
    Marie recently posted..Coming of Age in AsiaMy Profile

    • Carrie Anne June 13, 2013 at 7:34 pm #

      1.) Paul is the worst!

      2.) Yes, Dave eats them and likes them because he is a monster.

      3.) Yes, yes you do.

  5. Amy June 13, 2013 at 10:39 pm #

    I have one just like this! My dad made one for my mom when I was a kid and then he made one for me. I might have both. I love them so much and should really get them out and see what sort of ancient floral treasures are inside.
    I’m catching up on my reader and read a few days at once, so feel better! Sorry about the bugs.
    Amy recently posted..Painting Time!My Profile

    • Carrie Anne June 14, 2013 at 11:16 pm #

      That is the sweetest that he made them for the two of you!

      And thanks, Mama! This is what we get for eating purple flowers, I guess.

  6. Best California Pet Transport Pro company February 8, 2014 at 12:13 am #

    I used to press flowers all the time as a kid, these are so cute.

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