Building an adjustable tortilla press

Just as I was about to buy a tortilla press, my family gets on a 'wrap sandwich' kick with those 10-12" wraps. Ii don't see presses that big-- so I start looking into building one.
Pretty simple to start with- http://www.curbly.com/chrisjob/posts/1013-diy-tortilla-press
But then I figure If I'm going to cut up either the oak or cherry 5/4 slab in the garage-- I might as well get the most use out of this thing. So I want to make it adjustable. I'd like to be able to adjust in 1/16" increments from 1/16 to say 1/2".
I know there has to be a more-or-less simple way to do this, but I'm drawing a blank.
I've thought of using laminate shims to build up the base. Seems like a dirt catcher, and kind of in-elegant.
I've been looking at adjustable cabinet hinges, but haven't found any that adjust more than 5mm & I want at least 12.
Any other ideas? Even if it wasn't for a tortilla press, I'm sure someone here has passed this way before.
Thanks, Jim
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Those are flour tortillas, right? They are not made with a press. They are rolled out by hand with a small pin. My SIL showed me, using a 8-9" inch section of wooden broomstick handle. Flour, lard, water, rolling pin.
nb
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The ones you buy are.<g> But I don't want to buy them. That probably is why they don't make a lot of the big honkin' presses, though.

My rolling skills are sorely lacking. Especially if I'm trying to end up with something round enough to roll reasonably.
I've got lots of other plans for the press, though. Pitas, chips, burgers. . . maybe even squeezing the liquid out of grated zucchini. Size is what got me looking at making my own -- but all the other thoughts I've got are what make me want it to be adjustable.
Jim
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Andy responds That's how I make them, also. After rolling them flat, I cut them square, since that makes them easier to wrap..... When I want them to be round, I take something like a large can or pot, and just press it down and take the excess off the edges to help with the next tortilla.....
I'd really like a real press, but I've never seen or used one. I'm going to Jim E's website and see what he's talking about.....
As far as generating the great pressure, I suppose one could always back the pickup truck over it... :>)))))
Andy in Eureka, Texas
PS I don't use tortilla flour anymore. I use equal parts yellow corn meal and flour, and it seems to knead and flatten pretty much the same..... Do you have a similar technique?
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Andy replies:
I've spent time there also, and I agree completely.... One of the best things I tried was corn on the cob, sprinkled with lime, from a street vendor.....
The masa dough for tortillae is available here, since our county is about 26% Mexican, but it costs twice as much as flour.... I did some experimenting, and mixing yellow corn meal with flour half and half gives the same texture when kneading, and rolls out almost the same..... I use a tablespoon of baking powder per cupful....... Bake it as mentioned in Jim E's website.... It is great.... I make about a dozen at a time and store them in a sealed baggie in the fridge. Then, before using them, I microwave each for about 15 seconds...... It's not as good as in Mexico, but at least as good as the packaged variety here... and I have the pleasure of doing it myself....
Andy in Eureka, Texas
PS give peanut butter burritos a try.... really good ....
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Jim Elbrecht wrote:

The larger the diameter of the tortillia/wrap the more force is required if you are flat pressing it. Consider a roller press patterned after the pasta rollers, or if you really want a flat press, look to a screw type cider press type design and use an adjustable stop setup for thickness.
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-snip-
I've never used a small press, even. Is there really that much force involved? The few videos I've seen make it look effortless. Something to consider, for sure. [though if I'm using that cherry, and put some substantial pins and hinges on it I suppose I can bring my 4' pipe in from the garage.<g>]

That won't help me keep them round.

Hmm-- I've got a small [2gallon?] cider press in the garage. That might be just the ticket. Make some 'insert plates' ala Smitty's idea above. . .
Jim
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On 5/19/2011 11:48 AM, Jim Elbrecht wrote:

A roller press would seem to be a lot easier to use, and a little practice would hone your skills :o) Shaping the dough first in a flat round would make it come out pretty round...feed through twice, turning 90 degrees the second time, would get it round enough to suit most. This looks good: http://www.mexgrocer.com/50409-87290.html
I've used my pasta roller for lots of craft stuff with kids, so it isn't very difficult to make a roundish shape with a roller (or a rolling pin, for that matter).

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wrote:

Andy comments:
As a child, my mother had one of those washing machines that was a big tub, and over it was a set of rollers that you feed clothes thru and it squeezed the water out and shirts looked like a plank when they came out...... I bet that thing would make a great tortilla.... Hmmmmmm....
Andy in Eureka, Texas
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$134 and they can't even hint at how big it is?<g>

I'll have to play with the pasta roller and see if I can get rounds from it. That would solve the 6" tortilla manufacturing for now.
Thanks- Jim
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On 5/19/2011 9:33 PM, Jim Elbrecht wrote:

They taste better round? ;o)
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I *think* they are easier to wrap when consistent. But then again-- I'm the son of an engineer & as I get older, on occasion, I find myself making jobs more difficult than they ought to be.<g>
Thinking now, that if I made a big roller, I could just cut the rounds with a 'cookie cutter' - and toss the rest in a 'chip' pile. That should be pretty efficient, and keep the dough from being overworked.
Jim
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On 5/20/2011 8:51 AM, Jim Elbrecht wrote:

Oh, God! You toss 'em in the trash if they're 1/2" out of round? My mom would have been a tremendous engineer and would have brought every project in on time, under budget and with no injuries. She made a good nanny, practiced well before I arrived :o)
as I get older, on occasion, I find

Opposite of how it SHOULD be (I speak from long experience) - yer supposed to take it easy :o)

I pile a lot of stuff on my tacos and usually have juice dripping from my elbows by the time I finish. A nice, oval taco would wrap around more "stuff" and not split.
Tortillas are one thing I've never made from scratch, but you've got my curiosity going. I've tried crepes, with good results. I was recently introduced to a yummy snack - cracker (plain flavor or Ritz), cream cheese, one big, fat blackberry, and a dribble of lemon curd.
Norwegian version of a tortilla is lefse, made usually with some cooked potato - warm it on the wood stove, slather with butter and brown sugar. Fills one much like I imagine a large rock would. Some people eat lutefisk with 'em, but it stinks to high heaven.
My next project is lemon ice cream with peach tart tatin (Peach, caramel sauce, puff pastry)...gotta go!
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Jim Elbrecht wrote:

The commercial tortilla machines I've seen have used both press type and roller type mechanisms. Either type can be made to work. In both types the real key was in the portioning and rolling of the dough balls before feeding to the press.
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Andy writes: Jim, thanks for the reference. Now that I see how the press works, and have an idea of how much pressure is involved, I would propose the following:
1) Use two boards that are each about 9" x 9" square.
2) using the plastic bags as directed, put the tortilla iin the middle, add the top board , and place on the floor.
3) Stand on the top board. Rock back and forth a little.
4) Pick up the press and put it on the counter, and remove as directed......
This has gotta be a lot easier.... but it won't work for skinny people.... I will work very well for me :>)))))
Andy in Eureka, Texas
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