Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Making Your Own Curd Cutter

My cheese pal, David, who lives in Manitoba, Canada has kindly offered to share the instructions on how to make the cheese curd cutter that he made me.

It was his way of saying thank you for all the cheese making video tutorial that I have made over the last few years.  What a nice bloke!

Anyway, here are his instructions, to which I have added metric measurements.

Making a Cheese Harp (Curd Cutter)

Curd Cutter made for a 8 litre (2 gallon) pot.
David's note:  I have made 3 harps, one stainless steel and two from wood.  The best one is shown here I will describe how I made this one.

The height of the harp is the depth of your cheese making pot PLUS about 4 inches (100 mm).  The width of the harp is half of the diameter of your cheese making pot.  So, if your pot is 10 inches (254 mm) deep and 10 inches across, your harp wants to be 14 inches (355 mm) high and 5 inches (127 mm) wide.

Use a hard close-grained wood such as maple.  Cut two pieces approx 5/8 inch (16 mm) wide x 3/16 (5 mm) thick x your desired total height.  Mark off the max depth of your pot.  Draw a centre line down the length of that part of the wood that will be in the pot.  Drill a 3/16 (5 mm)hole at the end but leaving enough wood at the end so as not to be too weak and to hold a 3/16 dowel.  Then mark off every ½ inch (13 mm) to about 1 inch (25.4 mm) above your curd depth.  Drill 1/16 (1.5 mm) holes at every mark.  Drill one hole in the middle at 3/16 (5 mm) for a second re-enforcing dowel. See photo.

Cut 2 pieces for the handles 25mm x 16mm (1 inch x 5/8 x the half the diameter of your pot MINUS  3/8 inch) 10mm.  Cut two pieces of 5mm (3/16 inch) dowel x half the diameter of your pot.

Mix up some 2-part epoxy glue and glue the wooden parts together.  Use a clamp or an elastic band to hold the handle end in place while the glue sets.  Lay it on wax paper on a flat surface and make sure the long side pieces are parallel.  When the glue has dried, some very small round-headed screws (eg ½ inch x 1/16) into the handle pieces will give added strength.  Pre-drill the screw holes to avoid splitting the wood.  You can just see these screws on the bottom of the photo.

Thoroughly sand everything down and while doing it round off the end and all the corners.  Pay particular attention to the long pieces that will be in the curd as these will in effect be cutting as well.

Now thread nylon fishing line back and forth through the holes.  Tie off at the bottom and, working from bottom to top, pull tight and finally tie off at the top.  Use fisherman’s non-slip knots.

Mix a quantity of 2-part epoxy glue and thin it down with a little methyl hydrate (alcohol) and brush it all over.  If you can get the glue to fill the holes where the nylon line goes through, that is good because it will prevent pieces of curd getting stuck in there.  When it is dry, very lightly sand down the wood with very fine sandpaper (eg 400 grit) – be careful not to sand the nylon – and give it a second coat.  The glue will seal the knots in the nylon and help to prevent them coming undone.

Note:  2-part epoxy is usually considered ‘food safe’ though no guarantees are implied here with your brand of epoxy.

Gavin's note:  David does not take orders, which is why he gave me permission to post these instructions so that you can make your own curd cutter.



I have used this curd cutter many times now, and David even sent me on for my 14 litre pot, which is a little larger.  To clean it before and after use, I wash it with a weak bleach solution (1 capful to 1 litre of water) then rinse again with clean water afterwards.

It is a great tool, worthy of construction and use by the home cheese maker.

Best of luck with your construction project.


7 comments:

  1. Nice piece of work.

    If you don't like the idea of using epoxy glue, PVA glue would work as well and is also considered safe.

    For the first sanding I would sand all the pieces before assembly as it would be much easier.

    I would also insert the screws before the glue has set to hold everything in place while it sets.

    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is nice to see my instructions and photo in print on Gavin's blog site. As I said to Gavin, I never made any plans or kept any notes when I made it as I just used the dimensions that seemed appropriate at the time and the figures he has quoted are my best guesses of what I probably did. And I can't measure it as the harp is in Australia with Gavin and I am in Canada.

      Commenting on Michael's points above, in my experience PVA glue when used as a varnish will be too brittle and will sit on the surface rather than soak in. This will make it very likely to chip off. Also PVA is not usually waterproof.

      Of course everything must be sanded before varnishing AND between coats. Whatever varnish you use the first coat will raise the wood fibres and make the surface rough, so sanding between coats will give that nice smooth surface that won't harbour bacteria.

      As for putting the screws in before the glue has set, that is not a bad idea Michael, but working with epoxy that is rapidly setting I found it easier to make sure everything was straight and true in preference to fiddling around with tiny little screws and sticky epoxy. Obviously you would pre-drill the screw holes in both parts.

      If anyone makes one, please send Gavin a photo.

      David

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  2. Hi David and Gavin. Firstly, thanks David for sharing your brilliant idea and I think this is simple enough for me to make on my own!

    Just have a question about the epoxy and sterilisation before and in-between cuttings. I usually sterilise all my cheese making equipment in a tub of milton solution and wonder if this will effect the epoxy coating.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I very much doubt if Milton will affect the epoxy as it is pretty tough stuff once it is cured. You can always do a test on a scrap piece of wood before committing your hard work to the Milton. I clean mine with an old toothbrush after use to get all the curd off the frame and fishing line. Actually the one I made for myself is stainless steel + fishing line so I can put it in boiling water before use, but Gavin's wooden ones are better in some respects.

      If you make one please send a photo to Gavin so we can all see it.

      David

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  3. Thanks David will do. I like the stainless idea and have a friend who works with ss who might be able to make me a small frame. A trade for some cheese might just do the job!

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  4. My husband made the cutter for me, now the problem is how to use it correctly. When I insert it into the pot of coagulated milk and start to turn it the whole pot of gel milk moves. To push it around I feel like I'm tearing the curds. Am I missing some detail???

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  5. I am actually surprised it uses fishing line. I was actually expecting guitar string.

    ReplyDelete