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: http://www.instructables.com/id/A-REBAR-TRELLIS-for-Home-and-Garden/

Also, for further PVC working inspiration, see my instructable: http://www.instructables.com/id/PVC-Its-Great-for-Inventions/

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.
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KnexFreek5 years ago
 GENIUS!!!!!!!OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!5 STARS!!!!!!!!!!!!
Thinkenstein (author)  KnexFreek5 years ago
DIY-Guy6 years ago
In the northern parts of eastern Washington state, Idaho, and Montanna there are wild Huckleberries (aka Bilberries) which are rare, EXPENSIVE and labor INTENSIVE. One solution to picking faster is a "Huckleberry Rake" device. If hand picking in a good patch of berry bushes provides a double handful after 2 or more hours of picking, imagine how happy people will be when they can quadruple their harvest. I've found one commercial product that is unfortunately very expensive. Does anyone want to make an instructable to build something similar to this? http://www.huckleberryrake.com/

(Huckleberries are selling for $40 per gallon bag at the farmers markets.)


use a 1 gallon plastic milk jug with short fingers cut out of the side opposite of  the handle

Bard DIY-Guy6 years ago
I looked at the huckleberry rake it looks like something you can make with wire hangers and a milk jug.
Thinkenstein (author)  DIY-Guy6 years ago
Just a thought. Electric fans come with 2-part protective wire cages around them. The wires radiate out from the center. Cut the wires right before the border edge reinforcement and you would have a circular comb that might work for combing the huckleberry bushes with. If you leave half of the border reinforcement, it would be more comfortable to hold, leaving the other half to comb with.
"very expensive" isn't really the case - 25 bucks if its built well could last a long time. That said - you could make one out of a plastic bottle (bleach/detergent etc with a handle). Cut the back portion off, as if making a bailing bucket, then attach your choice of fingers. I recommend bamboo with rounded tips, attach at the base of the bucket with duct tape.
SinAmos DIY-Guy6 years ago
I have a bunch of huckleberries and they aren't rare or expensive.
This is an awesome solution!
blake775 years ago
 oh my gosh this is such a GREAT idea i swear get this patented and you will make some good money this is genius =) if i had a berry farm i would make this right now
Sooney-Roo6 years ago
I just made one of these yesterday out of 2" ABS to pick plums. I'm not sure what the dangers of heat-forming ABS is, but the weight saving was huge. It weighed probably half of what a PVC one would have weighed. Weight makes a lot of difference if you are extending it out with your arms and shoulders like that. I made it outside using the small side burner on our barbecue so there was no danger of toxic fumes. It was very easy to make and it works great. I just need to widen the slot for the stems just a bit to make picking easier. Thanks for the great instructable.
yogadavid6 years ago
Thanks, this may solve our problem of picking figs. They are very soft and delicate. They are also loved by ants. Competing with the ants are no fun. I case any one is interested, when you pick a fig drop it immediately in water. It stops the sticky gooey on kadota figs.
Scatcat6 years ago
I was about to throw away an old electric popcorn popper that had melted the plastic top, when my Husband grabbed it out of the garbage and put it in his garage. He brought a piece of PVC pipr in the house that was flattened on the end. He said this popcorn popper works better than a heat gun for melting plastic pipe, now if I could just find a use for it. He will love this instructable!
Thinkenstein (author)  Scatcat6 years ago
The popper is a cool idea. Thanks for sharing it.
lonnyc6 years ago
Excellent...went out today and made one...definately works great...I could have spent more time making it so it would look better etc but it works. Also...i had a few Sterno cans around so I stoked one of them up to heat the thing...did it out doors and with the length of the shaft I was well away from any vapors...great work...
Thinkenstein (author)  lonnyc6 years ago
Sterno...who would of thunk it? Nice idea. I'm glad you were successful with the project.
driesyo6 years ago
very good
Thinkenstein (author)  driesyo6 years ago
macrumpton6 years ago
Absolutely brilliant. I liked the idea until I saw the berry containment system and then I fell in love. If you could make a wider version sort of sized like a kids toy rake with several tubes leading to the central one it would be ideal for picking olives, which typically are pulled off the trees onto big nets on the ground.
Thinkenstein (author)  macrumpton6 years ago
I'm not sure I see the olive situation clearly. If you want to rake the trees, I keep seeing potential in the wire cages that cover electric fans. The spokes radiate out from the center and, if cut at the rim ring would make wire rake fingers.
I think you are right about the fan. Perhaps you could have the scoop mountedon a hollow pole to direct the olives to a bag.
dwendell6 years ago
The tool is genius. The process for making it scares me. On occasion I make parts or tools out of PVC pipe and I never use anything but an electric heat gun to get the plastic hot enough to form. Not only is there a lot less chance of creating toxic smoke, or the PVC actually igniting, you can more readily direct the heat to the exact spot you need it. Obviously if you have to go buy a heat gun for $25-$30 it takes some of the fun out of the project, However, I find the heat gun is useful for a whole lot of other stuff including thawing pipes, removing paint, heating shrink tube, and even soldering on occasion.
Thinkenstein (author)  dwendell6 years ago
The heat gun is a good idea. I put all the warnings out to cover my tail, but I have never had PVC ignite on me, and with sensitivity one doesn't burn it much, if at all.
ozjunky6 years ago
oh damn, i found apiece of my neighbours down pipe from their shed roof when i was younger, and it had a notch in the end sorta like yours and my sister and i used it to pick our neighbours oranges that we couldnt rech, just like yours :D it was great, i thought someone had already invented a picker like that so i didnt bother lol, but great instructable :D
Thinkenstein (author)  ozjunky6 years ago
Thanks, and thanks for the story, too.
denona6 years ago
that is so cool! nice job
Thinkenstein (author)  denona6 years ago
Thanks much.
If you have a paint vapor mask available, you can use that to avoid inhaling the fumes from heating the plastic. The fumes will be present even without smoke:( (dust masks won't do any good... holding your breath is not terribly effective...) The masks are kind of expensive, and are designed for different types of vapors. One place to get reusable or disposable masks is a house or auto paint supplier. They should also be able to give you good advice about which mask you need for PVC. If you decide to do this without a mask, try to do it outside if possible :) Best of luck, and thanks for the cool idea!!
Thinkenstein (author)  deancp16 years ago
Thanks for the info.
junglerat746 years ago
The Blackberries a Starting To Get Ready To Pick and I Hate to Pick Them I Always End Up With About 1000 Stickers All Over and Very Painful with This Picker It Looks Like It Will Be Pain Free Picking This picker It Just Goes To Show You That There Is Simple Solution For Almost Anything THANK YOU
Thinkenstein (author)  junglerat746 years ago
You're welcome. I hope the picker works well for you.
Dragonhen6 years ago
Thinkenstein (author)  Dragonhen6 years ago
Thank you. Glad you like it.
Joradian6 years ago
That is a genius design for a simple tool. Well Done.
Thinkenstein (author)  Joradian6 years ago
Thank you much.
brunoxyz6 years ago
great project! I'd definitely make this, if only I had a tree :)
Thinkenstein (author)  brunoxyz6 years ago
Thanks. Save the design. Plant a tree.
eagleapex6 years ago
I'd like to try to make a bigger version, maybe 4" schedule 20, for my neighbor's pear tree.
Thinkenstein (author)  eagleapex6 years ago
http://www.instructables.com/id/PVC-FRUIT-PICKER/ Check out this other instructable. The design might be better for pears.
dbbd6 years ago
Great idea. I'm going to use a wider pipe and try to make a Mango-picker - my mango tree is too tall to reach the upper mangoes.
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