how to make a flower press (with kids!)
DIY Flower Press: Made With Love
Want to scratch your botany and woodworking itch all at once? Learn how to make a flower press that is beautiful, affordable, and built to last This is a family-friendly project.
Pro tip: On a budget? Try purchasing a less expensive wood, like pine–just check that it isn’t bowed. If you want with a little more pizzaz and durability, try oak or poplar. Ask the nice worker in the blue or orange apron to cut it in the store.
- Wood, at least 1/2″ thick. We used a 1″ thick, 4′ long, 12″ wide oak board. We actually chose a piece designed for stairs with a rounded edge.
- Sand paper
- 4 x 3″ Machine Screw, Washers, and Wingnuts. We chose 5/8″ because the wingnuts seemed ideal for little hands.
- A power drill with a bit slightly larger than your screws
- Beeswax polish, stain, accents, or anything else you want to use to snazzify your press
Pre-Game Plan: Safety First!
This project is a great way to introduce your kids to a bit of woodworking, power tools and all. I always advocate for safety, but when kids are involved, I tend to be extra cautious. Eye protection, a workspace that accommodates their size, and a lesson (or 10) in tool safety is a must. Also consider gloves and a mask, especially if cutting or drilling in a small space. We used a plug-in drill for this project — the extra power helped with the harder wood. We kept the drill unplugged when not in use!
The Main Event: How To Make a Flower Press
Once you’ve made sure everyone involved will (probably) be spared life and limb, it’s time to get busy! You’ll notice that we did not cut the wood ourselves. Most builder supply stores will cut it for you at no extra cost.
Drill Holes For Your Screws
If your bit is long enough, I recommend stacking your wood in pairs to ensure the holes are aligned. Clamping is probably more elegant (and safer) than Ryan’s knee-pin method, but we had to adapt. Things to consider:
- You want your holes to be as close to the corners as possible to maximize the flower pressing area, but not so close that your wood will split. Thinner splintery wood needs a larger margin of error. Ryan is an engineer, so he’s extra cautious!
- Choose a bit that is larger than your screw.
- As you drill each hole, go ahead and thread a screw through, that way your holes will still align when you’re done without shifting.
Double-Check Your Work
You need not have to actually screw the screws with a drill or screwdriver into the wood to press flowers — you just have to be able to clamp the pieces together between the washer and wingnut to apply pressure. If little hands cannot thread the screw through easily (no screwdrivers necessary), just go back with a larger bit.
Sand Rough Edges
We started with a slightly coarse sandpaper to smooth out the rough, splintery edges near the holes along the cuts before going over everything with a fine paper.
Optional: Treat Your Wood!
Remove all that wood dust with a soft, clean rag. If you’re one of those extra credit types, now is a great time to stain, finish, or polish your wood. I wanted to add a touch of a finish and protection to our flower presses without using the stinky stuff, so we chose to use this product. It isn’t as durable as shellac or kevlar, but it smells delicious! Just slather it in, let it sit for 20 minutes, and remove the excess with another clean soft cloth. Or, in this case, that pre-baby tee shirt that will fit the same way.
Put it all together! Adorn if you are so inclined
Once your wood has been polished or otherwise treated, let it dry (if necessary). Thread the screws through the holes again and TA DA! It’s a flower press!
But wait… When is a flower press more than a flower press? When it’s an adorned flower press. We bought some wood embellishments and applied them to the finished product with wood glue, but intend to add carvings or use a wood burner down the road. You could also embellish the top with press flowers preserved applied decoupage style. For an especially great gift for mom or grandma, why not let the kids draw a picture or write a note on the top? Cover with a layer of Modge Podge or go over it with a wood burner and you’re good to go!
You Made a Flower Press! Now What?