How to Make a Fruit Picker

Reader Contribution by A. Dreyer
article image

This article originally appeared on Instructablesand is posted with permission from the author.

Are you tormented by ripe fruit that’s out of reach on high branches? Would you love to put that fruit to use, but just can’t get to it? Follow these easy instructions on how to make a fruit picker and you won’t have to watch fruit rot on a tree again.

Step 1: Assemble the Materials

You can make a simple and quick fruit picker out of things you probably have lying around, or that you can borrow: a 2-liter plastic bottle, a long stick, some screws and a screwdriver, and cutting tools such as box cutters and saws.

Step 2: Cut the Bottle

Using a box cutter or saw, cut an opening in the bottle that extends from the rim of the neck to about halfway down the side. For illustrative purposes, I’ve drawn a line on the bottle showing where I cut. If you have a fondness for markers, feel free to do the same, but it’s not necessary. Just make sure that the opening on the body is big enough to accept whatever fruit you’re going after, and that the neck opening is large enough for thin branches.

It’s easier to cut the bottle if you put it on a hard surface. I used a box cutter on the body, and then switched to a small saw to cut through the thick part of the neck. When using a box cutter, extend only the tip of the blade because this gives you more control–and also shallower flesh wounds if you slip. Don’t force the box cutter through the threaded neck. Put down the blade and pick up a saw. It’s much faster to change tools than to have to stop everything for a trip to the emergency room.

Step 3: Attach the Bottle to the Stick

The bottle needs to be as stable as possible, and the screws need to be placed on the lower half of the bottle where the plastic was thicker. But that also means the bottle’s sides block access to the screws–unless you have a super tiny screwdriver and small hands that fit inside the bottle.

First, poke two screw holes on the sides at the lower end of the bottle’s closed side using the box cutter, and then pop in the screws so their tips project slightly outside the bottle. Lay the bottle down onto the end of the stick, pushing the screw tips into the wood to create two marks where you will pre-screw the wood. Cut a small access hatch in the bottle’s side opposite the screws, and use a long-shafted screwdriver to reach through the bottle to turn the screws and secure the bottle onto the stick.

Step 4: Pick Some Fruit

You should now have a fabulous DIY fruit picker! Feel free to wave it around proudly while proclaiming how your civilization has progressed to making simple tools.

The wide opening on the fruit picker makes it easy for the fruit to drop inside, and also for your hand to reach in and take it out. This picker easily holds three pears, but it’s a lot easier to extend far above your head when it’s empty. The neck of the bottle is stiff enough that you can tug down on the fruit and the stems will snap. The shape of the bottle makes it pretty easy to slip between branches, and the pole helps you access fruit growing out of arm’s reach. I was so pleased with my prototype that I screwed an extension onto the pole. Fruit picking can be addictive, and I’ve been tempted to add a third extension because my trees have a bad habit of growing tall.

If had free access to custom materials, I’d probably make a sturdier basket for grabbing the fruit. There were a few times when the bottle collapsed and popped back out again while I was trying to reach some difficult pears.