Here we (finally) are with the second part of this tutorial to create a wooden clapper and point presser from scratches (and spending little, or even no money): let’s get our hands dirty!
If you missed part #1, with the free printable PDF diagram for cutting the wood with 3 options (metric measurements, imperial measurements and template 1:1 only), go and grab your copy here:
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First of all, decide how you want to use your pattern: you may find easier to just trace the shapes on top of the wood to follow the outlines when cutting.
If you are slightly more experienced in woodworking, you may decide to use measurements to make each cut.
In any way you do it, I know you’re going to love it: you did it <3
A couple of words about precision: don’t let the perfection be your enemy #1!
Unless you plan to start selling them, there is no need to go over-mad about it.
To help yourself checking for perpendicular/parallel to the ground surfaces, you may want to use a bubble level like this one*. While perfection is our enemy, a wonky clapper/point presser won’t satisfy your eyes! Try to keep everything straight to avoid the “homemade by Homer Simpson” look 😉
Guessing what’s that tool and how to use it? Try reading this monographic and I’m sure you’ll be ready to go!
This is the perfect kind of screws* to be used with this project (hubby said – I can barely distinguish a screw from a nail. Well, I can, but I wouldn’t be able to choose “the perfect screw” without his suggestion).
If you decide to use another kind/dimension of screw, use this handy chart from WoodMagazine to accordingly decide drill holes dimensions.
About this tool (Top-Handle Jigsaw): hubby said this is one of the best gifts he received, lately.
It’s easy to use and makes woodworking precise, easy and fast.
It is 58% off right now on Amazon* (we got it at full price and he said it was money-worthy at that price too!), it’s a nice tool to have in your “man’s cave” if you play with wood from time to time.
Spend some time watching a class or two about woodworking: Craftsy have some nice ones and a few are free (I watched “The Bandsaw: Setting Up for Successful Sawing”* recently and I think that I’ve learned a few new tricks that may be really useful also when using a tiny plain jigsaw!
How to create your point presser – tailor’s clapper
I’ve asked hubby to share with me (and you) all its best suggestions to make this super-awesome pressing tool DIY. Consider it was the first time he was doing one so, if you are The King of Woodwork and you read something you would have done differently, please let us know: we’re always eager to learn new skills.
Another thing to keep in mind when DIY in general (especially when using tools that cut or sand IMHO): PROTECT YOURSELF with gloves, safety goggles and things like these and be careful! You will need those fingers to beautifully press your seams with your new clapper/point presser, don’t risk them!
Cut the shapes following the diagram, aligning surfaces to the edges.
Starting from a wood plank already sanded will guarantee that the clapper portion will be flat; aligning to one long side the upper point presser portion will make sure the top surface is perfectly flat and almost finished and you won’t spend days sand-papering the surface to get it smooth!
IMPORTANT: all the measurements given are approximate: you don’t need to split hairs to have a perfectly working clapper/point presser!
I’ve designed my own using these measurements and it works like a charm, but it would work the same if I had made it slightly longer or taller.
Refine surfaces using sandpaper* by hand or with an orbit sander* until you get a smooth surface (test it with a silk scrap of fabric: it don’t have to stick!) and an eye-satisfying shape. About sandpaper: start with a 180 Grit, to remove more material and finish with a 200-300 Grit to perfectly smooth over the surface!
You should end with a pointy end (the longer) to reach collars ends and a flat one, as you can see in my pictures.
Drill holes in the clapper portion, centering them as per diagram. Place the legs of the point presser portion on top of the holes on the clapper and mark the pilot holes placements with a pencil. Drill pilot holes using the appropriate drill tool (we used a 3mm or 1/8″ tool).
Screw together the two pieces and start playing with your new handmade pressing tool!
5 more tips
- Check the barycenter is falling into the base, or it will overturn the first time you try to press a pointy narrow seam on its pointy ends!. To do that, don’t make the upper portion protrude too far from the base, when using your own measurements.
- Wood choices: use any hardwood you have in hand: best choices are cherrywood and maple. Stay away from plywood, since it’s made using chemicals that will release when steamed
- Choose a nice wood board, with little (or no) wood knots, better if already sanded (not too scratchy), 1″ (more or less) deep.
- Sand it until it’s perfectly smooth or it will ruin your fabric. Choose a really fine sandpaper (300 grit or so) to refine the surface
- As you can see by pictures, mine is not too regular: curves are free-handed, shapes are not perfectly mirrored. There’s no need to get mad at this kind of details: at least nobody will think it’s factory-made!
How to use a point presser and why you should have one
I am still a newbie at using a point presser/tailor’s clapper, but I’ve already learned a few tricks I’d love to share with you (I know you appreciate!)
- Slip the seam to be pressed just on top of the pint presser’s narrow top surface, wrong side out, opening the seam allowances and press (use steam!)
- Think to that tiny surface like a little iron board, great for pointy ends and hard-to-reach seams like the ones you can see in collars, lapels, belts, waistbands because you can easily reach them; the wooden surface helps rapidly absorbing the moisture of your steam and giving you with a very flat crisp seam.
- The clapper portion on the bottom will help you create hems in a second, even with those stiff fabrics that are usually a nightmare to keep the fold between the iron board and the sewing machine.
- Think about hemming knits, or adding cuffs with a serger: no more fabrics shifting around and missing layers of fabric on your seam. It will work even with cheap slinky polyester knits, not allowing them to roll
- Use it to create nice pleats: just steam press (or only steam) the fold on the fabric and firmly apply the clapper portion on top of it. Result: perfect pleats!
May I add a little cherry on top? Try to keep the clapper in place for all the time that the fabric needs to get cold, this will settle the creases even more!
It’s your turn: are you going to create a clapper/tailor’s point presser? I’d love to see it!