Do you think this would work for Perique tobacco? Looks like its made to withstand plenty of pressure and would hold a load of tobacco. You have no window available to see the product while it ferments but neither do the barrels they use down in LA. Just a thought. What ya think?
The flat bottom is really helpful at applying even pressure. Now, as the press compresses a surface that large, if the leaf is unevenly loaded at all, it's going to want to tilt and the press itself is going to want to skate across whatever block you use. I found myself wedging the bottom against a stationary board or a curb and two feet to be able to apply pressure without spinning the whole thing.
For what it's worth, if I had the disposable income, I would have gotten a hydraulic shop press and a handful of enormous clamps to hold the pressure. You'd drive the press, then apply the clamps, then set it aside so it's not monopolizing the press. If you have the money to blow and you want to make a whole bunch.
Many people on this forum, especially Bob, have made perique with simpler setups and are very happy with them. Mine is a little crazy, but no one here is going to talk you out of a little crazy if it looks like fun.
"Crazy" is such a candid assessment. Perhaps instead, we should just speak of creative excursions, or maybe innovative experimental methodologies.
Your point about the surface area is important. As the radius of your container increases linearly, the surface area increases by the square of the radius. And since the total force required to apply the same pressure (psi) also increases with the square of the radius, the cost of equipment rapidly increases. The volume doesn't matter for the psi, only the surface area of the upper surface.
My 4" diameter container is filled to about 1" by a pound of compressed leaf. So my present, 9" tall x 4" container could likely hold 9 or 10 pounds of compressed leaf, yet still use the single, inexpensive clamp, while applying the very same psi.
From my little experience, I agree with Bob, it's easier if you use a container with a small radius (and less pressure is required).
I think a stainless steel cup (like Jitterbugdude uses) should be great (and inexpensive)