Introduction: BERRY PICKER


This berry picker is made out of PVC pipe. Heat is used to shape the plastic. Two "fingers" at the working end do the picking. The berry then falls through the pipe and lands in a plastic bag tied to the other end.

This berry patch belongs to a neighbor. I plan to grow some at my house on rebar trellises, for easier maintenance and harvesting. See my trellis instructable when you are done with this one:

Also, for further PVC working inspiration, see my instructable:

Step 1: Safety

Picture of Safety

We love plastics for what they do for us, but plastic manufacture and decay tend to pollute the environment and negatively affect our health.

Vinyl Chloride, one of the components of PVC, is carcinogenic. When it is locked up in the polymer, however, it is much safer to be around. In my years of experience working with PVC, I have not noticed any adverse effects on my health from being around it.

Always work in areas with good ventilation. If you do get caught in a cloud of smoke, hold your breath and move to clean air.

When heating PVC with a gas stove or propane torch, try not to let it burn. Smoke from burning PVC is bad. With experience one burns it less and less. Don't panic the first time you do burn some. It scorches, but doesn't immediately burst into flame. Move the material away from the flame and try again. Don't breathe the smoke. Smoke avoidance comes naturally for most people.

While heating PVC over a gas flame, keep the plastic an appropriate distance from the flame. Avoid scorching the surface before the inside can warm up. It takes time for heat to travel to the center of the material being heated.

Keep the plastic moving, and keep an eye on the state of the plastic. When heated, the PVC material is flexible, like leather. Beyond this stage, you risk scorching it.

A word from James, the plastic engineer -- "Just a word of warning, PVC can handle some high heats but if it catches fire, you wont be able to put it out, it does not need oxygen to burn so don't do this inside".

I do work inside, but my house is made of cement and has good ventilation. MAKE SURE THAT YOU HAVE GOOD VENTILATION. IF YOU PLAY WITH FIRE, DO SO CAREFULLY.

Step 2: The First Cut

Picture of The First Cut

I used 1 1/4 inch PVC for this berry picker. A smaller version, using 1 inch pipe turned out to be too small for the berries I was after, but might be good for smaller berries.

The first cut is made at quite a sharp angle. This gives you plenty of material to cut the two "fingers" out of.

Use a pencil to sketch out the cuts you are going to make.

Step 3: Cut Out the Pattern

Picture of Cut Out the Pattern

This pipe was thin-walled and easy to cut with snips. I cut a center line with the saw, and did the rest with snips.

Step 4: Smoothing the Edges

Picture of Smoothing the Edges

Sometimes a file does the job, but one of my favorite tools for smoothing edges is this scraper made from a broken knife blade.

Notice the PVC handle on the scraper. It was heated and then just squeezed over the knife fragment to hold it firmly.

Step 5: Heat and Form the "Fingers"

Picture of Heat and Form the "Fingers"

Heat the end carefully over the stove to soften it. Keep it moving and at an adequate distance from the flame to keep the plastic from burning.

Bend the fingers into the hook shape by pressing them against something, such as a wall. You can always do touch-up heating with a propane torch to modify the shape.

Make sure the slot between the two fingers is open enough to accommodate the berry stem. If it is not, you may have to open it up more with a saw, or file.

Step 6: The Bottom End

Picture of The Bottom End

The bottom end of the berry picker is flared out so that a bag tied to the end will not slip off. The berries travel down through the pipe and collect in the bag.

You could use something conical, or rounded to make the flared end, but I thought it would be appropriate for the project to be flared over a glass hand juicer. It gave the end an interesting hexagonal shape.

I tied the plastic bag on with a piece of string.

The final step is to go pick some berries!


BrianCrouch made it! (author)2017-06-27

Made a couple for relatives. Followed "Make PVC look like wood" instructable to make them a little more appreciated. Used a coke bottle to flare the bottom after heating. Added a wire for leverage (attached a rope, not shown) for harder to reach angles just in time for cherry season.

Thinkenstein (author)BrianCrouch2017-06-27

Good job. I love the wood look.

Heyup (author)2016-07-31

This looks a great idea, I am going to have a go at making one.

Thank you for sharing and have a great day.... John UK.. :)

WadCutter1 (author)2016-07-31

This is one of the best ideas I have seen and wish I had it with so many times when I know in advance I'll be near blackberries. I think I'll make it and tuck some plastic bags inside and place it in the trunk of my car for times I might need it. Beat paying the price for berries in the super market. Thank you very much for passing your idea along. wc

Social Velcro (author)2016-07-20

We live in BC, and have infinite blackberries on and next to our property. You are a genius!

I'm not too handy with DIY hardware projects... Is there any chance you would consider making a few (of various lengths), and we'd pay you for them?

Thanks for considering this. We'd all be ecstatic!

Sorry, not interested. You get handy with DIY hardware projects through practice. I want you to be handy even more than I want you to eat blackberries.

bird2brain (author)Thinkenstein2016-07-31

Best answer ever!

"Teach a man to fish..."

Nothing beats making!

Oh well thx anyway, I understand. Looks like the gauntlet has been thrown.

I still think you're a genius.

And we ARE going to gorge on blackberries!


gc_instruct (author)2016-06-03

Made it! We'll have many more cherries this year.

TeresaM7 (author)2016-05-19

What would we do without PVC, and what did we do before it came along? Great idea!

anjoze (author)2016-05-06


rbclima (author)2016-05-04


txadams (author)2016-05-04

Thank you and just in time for dewberry picking on the Texas coast.

GailGraves (author)2016-05-03

Great idea! I'll have to try it to pick my cherries.

Senior Chief (author)2016-05-03

consider using a drill bit to form the bottom of the fingers to make it easier to form and cut down to.

dragnit (author)2016-05-03

Sorry but it didn't work in my blueberry patch. The blueberries just roll off the end and never make it to the bag. (:-

ToolboxGuy (author)dragnit2016-05-03

Your berry plants are probably lower to the ground than the tail end of the pipe, so it's most likely a "bad angle" more than anything else. Consider trying this: cut off the last 3 inches of the pipe, and add a 45 degree or a 90 degree angle pipe of the same diameter right where you cut it. The fruit will be at a better angle to fall "into" the first section, but you will have to tip the pipe "up" from time to time to get the berries into the bag.

Thinkenstein (author)dragnit2016-05-03

I never tried it on blueberries. In general, to make the perfect picker for any fruit, you have to customise it for that fruit.

By "rolling off the end" do you mean that they pop off with force and don't fall straight down into the throat of the picker?

iceng (author)Thinkenstein2016-05-03


silkier (author)dragnit2016-05-03

Is that because your mouth intercepts them on the way?

Chimera Dragonfang (author)2016-05-03

This would have been really useful to have back when I still lived with my parents at their old place, with a sour cherry tree in the backyard. I'd just climb it to reach everything, but if I wasn't around and my dad was impatient, he'd use a small plastic rake to snag the fruit, which worked in a way similar to your design, but nowhere near as neatly, since it had a tendency to fling stuff across the yard when the tension on the branch let go. I'm not sure if any of the fruit-bearing plants my parents have at their new place have grown big enough that one of these tools would be handy, but I think I'll send them the link anyway.

bmaverick (author)2016-05-03

Got to try this on black berries. For heat, I got a heat gun to form the ends. :-)

iceng (author)2016-05-03

Very thought out and well done !


TerriB10 (author)2016-05-03

Thank you so much for this idea!! I have a very tall loquat tree and have trouble picking the high fruit. I need to make this today. I'm thinking I may need to make a larger one for our apple/peach/pear trees as well.

Thinkenstein (author)TerriB102016-05-03 Bigger fruit probably call for a different picker design, such as the one in the link. If just pulling on the fruit pulls the stem out, you might want a picker with a cutting blade for the stem.

SusanH75 (author)2016-05-03

Genius idea! I have thorned blackberry bushes. This should work great.

Leathaldose (author)2016-03-10

hmm.... I can use this to secretly grab berries from hard to reach backyards err I mean bushes, yah bushes.

valdesp (author)2015-04-30

mmh... interesting idea, could be useful for picking cherries also.

VentureScout (author)2014-09-02

brilliant! Now I can reach into those brambles

jsmith307 made it! (author)2014-08-25

great idea! works well.

jesse4015 (author)2014-03-12

oooooooooooooooh this is awesome

vincent7520 (author)2014-03-11

Instead of heating PVC on an open flame using a hot air gun is better as you get a better control of the process. However you still should be cautious of fumes and gazes.

Thanks for posting !…

WUVIE (author)2014-03-09

HOW did I miss this great idea? No more standing on a step ladder trying to reach the cherries!

Thanks for sharing!

essellbee-tk (author)2013-08-26

So my husband thought I was crazy when I brought home a 2 metre length of pvc pipe and sat outside with the pipe, a saw and a hairdryer (in placeof an outdoor heat source this works really well, just need to find a long extention cord) This intructable worked a treat, and we've been blackberry picking with out picker this morning in the local park.
This is such a great tool. We used it to pick the good looking berries out of reach, and also to pull branches towards us and push nettles out of the way to pull the berries within reach by hand quickly and safely. Thank you so much Thinkenstein!!

Thanks for the positive feedback. That's the best reward for posting. Glad to hear the info is helping you get those big, juicy ripe ones.

Dustysart (author)2013-06-20

best Idea have seen in a long time, very simple. Excellent.

youn_link (author)2013-04-12

wow pure genuis

LiftAndLove (author)2012-12-02

Wow, nice instructable! My mom, and pretty much my whole family, harvest berries, mushrooms, etc every year. I'm going to make her this for Christmas, thanks!

seamster (author)2012-06-27

Thanks for this! I saw it a while ago, but actually made one this year for our massive cherry tree. We'd been happily munching away as we picked until one of my kids noticed this "little white caterpillar" inside one of the cherries . . . make that, ALL of the cherries. It was quite a let down after weeks of waiting for ripe cherries, and it ruined the season for us, as we had a killer crop. (We treated the tree systemically this year but didn't spray. Oops!)

At least the picker is ready for next year.

Thinkenstein (author)seamster2012-06-27

Sorry to hear about the worms. May the next crop make up for it. Pity you have to use chemicals.

rplyler (author)2012-03-17

My cherry tree just started bearing good last year. I could not get the high ones and lost a lot of fruit. I will be ready for them this june when I make this picker. Thanks so much for this great idea.

Thinkenstein (author)rplyler2012-03-17

Yum! What a pity that cherries don't grow everywhere, like where I live! Good luck getting the high escapees next year.

chuckr44 (author)2012-01-18

Wow! Your I'ble is excellent. Your pictures are clear, your explanations are detailed without being excessive, and the idea is well presented. I like when we can make or reuse things.

Teslas brother (author)2012-01-07

Nicely done! Your name applies perfectly to you. I love the way you think and I cant wait to go check out all your other instructables.
Do you have a web site for your farm or products? Is there a way to PM on this site so I don't have to post my email on this comments page?

Please tell me how you superimposed that image of the picker onto your other photo.

Keep inspiring and thinking creatively!!


Hi Michael. Glad you liked the picker.

My web site is . Hope you enjoy it.

I think if you click on my icon it will take you to my profile, and from there you can send a private message.

I use a photo editing program called PhotoImpression that lets one work with layers and make collage images. It's a lot more user friendly than Photoshop is.

Wo0kiE (author)2011-11-24

AWESOME! This is such a great idea.

amortenson (author)2011-11-17

Cool ible. I'm definitely gonna make one for myself.
I like to use hot water to soften plastics though.

makendo made it! (author)2011-08-07

Thanks for this great idea and instructions! Looking forward to trying these out on some high cherries this afternoon:

slothman (author)2011-08-06

what is the brand name of your propane stove you use there.

Thinkenstein (author)slothman2011-08-07

My stove is marked RENCA. It was used when I got it. Cast iron. Much better quality than the ones you get today.

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm a refugee from Los Angeles, living in backwoods Puerto Rico for about 35 years now and loving it. I built my own home ... More »
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