How to Build a Homemade Fruit Press

How to build a homemade fruit press from scratch, includes materials list and step-by-step instructions.

| October/November 1996

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    Our frame is made from rot-proofed pressure-treated (PT) lumber, so it should last forever with an occasional dose of deck preservative.
    PHOTO: DENNIS BARNES
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    Horizontal crusher supports were made of 2 by 4 by 36 inch PT, left long at flee front to support wheelbarrow-style handles if we end up putting wheels on the legs. Here, boards are being notched to fit up into the iron-press beam.
    DENNIS BARNES
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    Diagram 1: Homemade fruit press.
    STEVE KATAGIRI
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    Diagram 2: Homemade fruit press.
    STEVE KATAGIRI
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    For the front legs to hold the iron-press supports, inner faces of two 40 inch lengths of 4 by 4 PT southern pine were notched (3-1/2 inch square and 1/2 inch deep) by making multiple parallel saw cuts and chiseling out the soap. Then they were bored through with a 3/8 inch augur bit under bolt holes cast into attachment flanges of the iron-press supports.
    DENNIS BARNES
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    The rear leg was made of a 30 inch length of 4 by 6 PT, notched at each side to accept a center-mortised, 8 inch-wide T that is also notched out at each side to accept the rear ends of the 2 by 4 grinder support beams. The joint is boxed with squares of plywood fastened with deck screws. The crusher support assembly was originally held to the rear leg with an eye screw that runs down through the T and into the top of the leg beam. The screw was inadequate, and (after this photo was taken) we ran a length of threaded rod through the box sides and leg and bolted it at each end. Next time, we'll make the joint a dovetail.
    DENNIS BARNES
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    The tray (holding a partly assembled hopper) is installed. A lip fastened to the tray bottom goes over the lower press support (sturdy cast iron, but boxed in with plywood to hold it in place better than the screw mounts supplied). The rear of the tray will be slipped up into the notch cut into the rear leg and held in place with more threaded rod.
    DENNIS BARNES
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    We used eye bolts to fasten press supports to front legs, locating eyes on the outer face of the legs and bolting on supports through the inner, threaded end. Then we ran 28 inch lengths of 1/2 inch steel threaded rod through the eyes. Heavy bolts were tightened behind flat washers at the tap and bottom.
    DENNIS BARNES
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    For easy disassembly, crusher support is attached with U-bolts and lengths of 1-3/8 inch-wide prepunch steel strapping. Note the shallow notches inside the 2 by 4s, which we reinforced with 3/8 inch plywood. Unaccountably, support mounts on the crusher were 1 inch wider than those cast into iron support.
    DENNIS BARNES
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    In a trial assembly (only the rear hopper has been oiled), the front hopper is left open to show how the iron-press foot fits to the bottom of the screw and pushes down on the wooden follower that tops the bag of pomace being juiced.
    DENNIS BARNES
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    Notches are fashioned by making parallel saw cuts dose together and chiseling out the scrap.
    DENNIS BARNES
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    Flanges that fit across the upper press support to connect ends of U-bolts were ground to remove hacksaw burrs and to round corners.
    DENNIS BARNES

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Build a homemade fruit press and make yourself some pocket money with one of the most beautiful and versatile tools you ever made. (See fruit press photos and diagrams by clicking through the images at the top of this page.)

How to Build a Homemade Fruit Press

Some of my most vivid childhood memories are of the crisp, sunny fall weekends we all spent out at the family homeplace when my farming great-uncle We'd "fahr up the cider press," as he put it. My cousins and I would drink as much fresh foaming cider as we could while taking turns cranking the crusher wheel.

So, when I bought my first farmstead back in the late sixties, one of the first tools of old-time country living I went looking for was a fruit-juice/wine/cider press. I envisioned the dirt-floored cold-storage cellar filled with bottles of wine made from pear juice mixed with the wild fox grapes that grow rampant in our woods and jugs of half-hard cider from the old apple and cherry trees growing up on the hill. The first trees I planted were cold-tolerant peaches, and I looked forward to pressing out peach nectar as well.

I learned quickly that it was a rare year that plentiful rain (for plump fruit) during the ripening season, and breezy, dry air (that discourages molds) combined to produce great festoons of plump, sweet wild grapes . . . and when it did, the fruit developed so high in the trees it was inaccessible to anyone but the birds. Most years, grape clusters were small, most fruit was mold-shriveled to mummies and the surviving grapes were small, hard and sour. In any year and any weather, the overgrown apple and pear trees produced fruit that was scarce, gnarly and worm-eaten.



With the enthusiasm borne of new—won freedom from the urban rat race, I pulled down grape vines growing in trees all around our pastures and propped them up at the sunny field edges on arbors improvised from saplings. I attacked the ancient fruit trees, savagely pruning out deadwood and overgrowth, scraping off thick, flaky bug-harboring bark and cleaning up and incinerating years' accumulation of pest-hiding trash. With judicious use of organic insecticides and antifungus sprays, I had some good apples the next year, and enough to juice by year three.

I'd found a press for sale in the (now defunct) big Sears catalog. A half-bushel-sized cylinder of wood slats held together with a pair of steel hoops sat on a hardwood drain board between a pair of wood posts supporting a horizontal cast-iron top brace that hosted a 1/2 inch-diameter vertical worm screw with a hand-crank on top. Turning the crank moved the screw downward to put pressure on a cast-iron foot screwed to a round wood traveler inside the hopper.

PatrickPangburn
7/3/2015 2:35:52 PM

Can anyone point me to a source for the acme screw and nut assembly. It is the steel part that drives the traveler down into the fruit. Thanks.


sonja_6
12/31/2007 11:20:50 AM

I am looking for a juice press. The Norwalk sounds great, but it is very expensive. What would be my best alternative. I have a Champion juicer. Sonja62940@yahoo.com







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