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An all-oak cider press with an integrated apple grinder.

Step 1: How It Happened...

It was built in 2012, the same year I started writing this instructable (because I'm clearly a bit of a slacker). But I'm happy to report that as of this writing (2014), it's been working great! The oak has aged nicely and we're all stocked up on cider. No "hard" cider yet, but we'll get around to it one of these days. [UPDATE: **brrrp** yeah... so the hard cider seems to be going okay now, too.]

So here's how it all started:

I have always subscribed to a theory I once heard on NPR’s “Car Talk” (R.I.P., Tom Magliozzi!) in which two people are far less capable of abandoning a silly idea than one person: “One person will only go so far out on a limb in his construction of deeply hypothetical structures, and will often end with a shrug or a raising of hands to indicate the dismissability of his particular take on a subject. With two people, the intricacies, the gives and takes, the wherefores and why-nots, can become a veritable pas-de-deux of breathtaking speculation, interwoven in such a way that apologies or gestures of doubt are rendered unnecessary.” -http://www.cartalk.com/content/andy-scale-0

During the apple season of 2012 John was over and we all got to talking about how many apples were on the tree in our backyard and what we were going to do about them and how cool would it be to have an apple press and we could probably crank one out it a weekend if we applied ourselves. Dammit.

So off we went, researching and doodling, collecting bits on my wife Dawn's shared Pinterest board. Eventually we whittled it all down to a plan in which I concentrated on the easy parts, while John set about building the parts that require knowledge and skill and real tools.

<p>complete!!! added legs and a hinged top for easy loading, thanks again</p>
Very nice!
<p>Thanks for the idea, will put it to work this weekend</p>
<p>we are going to be pressing this weekend i will post a few pics, thanks again for the great build!</p>
<p>Beautiful! Enjoy!</p>
<p>what happens if you put barley in the machine?</p>
<p>Hi Teodor2014M!<br> My guess is: major barley spillage. I don't doubt that the wheel could be adapted to process non-apple items, but I think the tilted-screws-in-the-wheel setup is pretty apple-specific. <br>Thank you!</p>
<p>Looks like a great machine but ...... Errrrrr ....... I see a nice looking cat but no plans?</p>
<p>Great but the one I made does not use trapezoidal wood slats on the side. Don't see the need for it, 1x2 oak worked fine. Since the narrowest part of the vertical is on the inside there is no advantage to having that gap open wider as you go to the outside. Just takes longer to build. The one problem I did have was in the 1x2 verticals tending to twist left or right thru repeated use. I use mine to squeeze tough old honeycomb. </p>
<p>Hi Danvilleman,<br>I like the drill-vs-jack solution! Clearly gets the job done.<br>The trapezoidal slats are worth the time because the narrowest part is on the outside not the inside, so the very narrow gap is facing the apples and only juice and no pomace escapes. The taper means that you can more easily reach the surfaces from the outside for cleaning. <br>Cheers!</p>
I just spray it down with the garden hose to clean. It has less of a taper but cleaning is not much of a problem. I went with cheaper wood but boiled it in beeswax for 20 minutes, then let it cool. One year in the weather exposed and no noticible changes.
<p>very good instructions thanks for taking the time to share this with us</p>
<p>Amazing. Thanks for the share.</p>
<p>Two thinks I like combined in one project: alcohol and woodworking - you definitly have my vote :)</p>
<p>Don't drink and drill, bro.</p>
<p>Very nice instructable! I've made gallons and gallons of hard cider over the years, but always source the cider/juice. I have a couple of friends that had a motorized set-up using garbage disposal as the crusher...new and un-used of course. They've had great results.</p>
<p>Ah, hard cider: we'll get there! We looked at garbage disposals but settled on the wheel for a couple of reasons: a disposal would mean making a purchase, and I generally work to avoid such behavior. Also it would need to be of a high enough quality so that it could grind a pile without overheating, which would eliminate the cheaper units, wouldn't it? But yes: I've seen disposals integrated quite nicely into cider production! </p>
<p>Leo the Apple Supervisor clearly worked extremely hard, look how tired he is by the end. Apple supervising is hard work.</p><p>Awesome job on the build as well :)</p>
<p>True, true. Imagine how unruly the apples would become without supervision! </p>
<p>Great job - just what I've been looking for - I've been a wine-maker for years and have tried several ways to make wine from Crabapples, with no success. This should be the ticket!</p><p>I've also heard that freezing the apples, then thawing them will increase your yield - as it helps break down the cell walls and release more juice. It might work with the press to get a little more juice!</p>
<p>We don't get huge temperature swings, but we did have a box of apples on the back porch during a rare freeze, and you're right about the yield: not a dramatic increase, but noticeable. The only problem with letting them sit a week or two and a freeze/thaw cycle is the delay: there are a couple of weeks when the season is in full swing and we're drowning in apples, and making cider in self-defense so we aren't buried alive!</p>
<p>You did great, elegant and efficient design and implementation!</p><p>A minor suggestion regarding your sacrificial oak block: I built a press 15-20 years ago (not elegant but it works) and, instead of the sacrificial block I drilled a hole, a little larger diameter than the screw, part way through the block, sat a steel washer the same diameter as the screw in the drilled dimple thus letting the screw turn against the washer, not against the wood. The same block is still serviceable.</p>
<p>Great suggestion! The current block is wearing thin, I'll definitely add a washer to the replacement. Thanks!</p>
<p>Great Instructable! Looks like a really fun project!</p>
<p>A wonderfully functional and very attractive project. Thanks for sharing it! If want to add wheels, Google &quot;retractable casters&quot;. You'll find plenty of shop-made and commercially available sets of wheels that can be flipped down only when you need to move the press.</p>
This is an amazing instruct able. Thanks for sharing!
<p>Great job on this! It was very enjoyable to read and makes me want to start plans of my own... Step 1: Plant more apple trees. :)</p>
<p>Very good project but I've moved and all my apple trees are at my previous house!! I wondered if the wooden parts might be soaked in a hot beeswax + mineral oil mixture to prevent the acid juice soaking into the wood. This may prevent the oak going black.</p>
<p>Amazing, I'm building a press myself, I feel a redesign coming on :) Many thanks for instructable.</p><p>(because I'm clearly a bit of a slacker) this tends to happen when you enjoy the goodness of the orchard ;)</p>
<p>Leo is a very cool supervisor!~....</p>
<p>It would be a cool idea to make a desktop version for work or school if you seriously needed some apple juice!! </p>
<p>Awesome!! Cider for everyone!! <strong>:</strong>D</p>
<p>Excellent work! Like your humour.</p>
<p>Excellent work! Like your humour.</p>
I love this! my girl wanted to make one last apple season. I think I'm going to have to go to it in a couple weeks. I've got tons of scrap hardwood pieces just waiting for something like this.
<p>I'm very pleased to see the quality of apple supervision demonstrated by Leo in your Instructable. </p><p>Beyond that, the humor papered over any gaps in craftsmanship (of which there were less than you indicated), and this was a wonderful read. Thanks for including so many external references for making a cider press. </p><p>We'd love to see the apple cider vinegar ible if it gets documented...</p>

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