Introduction: Small Homebuilt Cider Press

Picture of Small Homebuilt Cider Press

     When life gives you lemons you make lemonade; when your neighbor gives you several bushels of apples, duh, make cider!  However in my case, I didn't exactly have a cider press sitting around waiting to be used, so I built this little jig over the weekend. 
     The frame is made out of some scrap 4x4s and 2x4s, the plunger out of 1" pine board and plywood (just because I ran out of pine), and the screw is from a bench vise.  To attach the plunger head, I drilled and tapped a 1/4" hole in the end of the screw vise, and bolted it on.  After some use, I've found that it's best if you cut the bolt that holds the plunger on so that it bottoms out in the hole, that way you can tighten it without sinking the bolt head or washer into the soft pine board when you start pressing cider.  The bucket is a cheap ice cream maker bucket with a small hole drilled in the side and a spigot made out of some hardwood scraps glued on.  I sealed all of the parts of the wood that come into contact with the cider with a couple coats of Howard's butcher block conditioner.
     Eventually, I will upgrade the cheap plywood and pine plunger to a better hardwood one, probably oak, but for now, this one works just fine.
      When I got ready to start pressing, I quartered the apples and ground them up with a meat grinder, which I must say worked incredibly well.  I bought 2 yards of tulle to use as the press cloth; lining the bucket with it, I slopped in several ladle-fulls of the ground up apples and folded the tulle over it, then pressed away.  The one main problem with this design I found is that since there is only one hole for the cider to run out through, I had to tip the press as I was tightening it to get all the liquid out.  Other than that, no problems, only delicious fresh cider!


jessyratfink (author)2012-10-01

That's a fantastic looking press!

grinchrod (author)jessyratfink2012-10-09

gettin ready to try this,except I think I'm gonna try an old stock pot for the press barrel and an old cutting board for the press. think those will work? (also considering an inverted car jack instead of a screw , not sure yet)

RonaldD10 (author)grinchrod2015-09-03

Inverting a hydraulic jack puts the oil at the wrong end. It won't work.

There is no need to invert it just use it normally.

Iceman94 (author)grinchrod2012-10-10

Sounds to me like it ought to work. I've seen several design like that (car jack and all) and every one of them looked like it worked great.

grinchrod (author)Iceman942012-10-10

Thanx. thought it seemed like a good idea, never hurts to check first.

ruthynov (author)2012-10-04

very nice indeed.
Please explain the difference between apple juice and cider.
From what I see here there is none.
How do you make cider? or is it just the juice that I make every day in my electric juicer?
Thank you so much!

Iceman94 (author)ruthynov2012-10-06

Apple juice and apple cider are basically the same thing, except that common apple juice has been pasteurized, strained, and sometimes watered down or sugar added. Apple cider on the other is much less processed. Making your own in a juicer is probably the same as cider, though, possibly filtered depending on the juicer.

ruthynov (author)Iceman942012-10-06

I make apple juice at home in an electric juicer with no additives. Sometimes I let it sit in the bottle, not tightly closed, and after a time I get 100% apple vinegar, the best there is.
By the way, here is a highly recommended vegetarian cure (from my doctor) - 2 apples, 3-4 carrots, 2-3 celery stems, 1/4 red beet - juice and drink a cup, twice a day at least.
Tasteful and excelent blood cleansing method.

sconner1 (author)ruthynov2012-10-08

or let it sit in a tightly closed bottle to ferment, that makes an excellent blood alcohol raiser. ;)

dkiehl (author)sconner12015-07-26

Although 2 apples, 3-4 carrots etc may be nice but Sconnert, I am with you. But putting a little beet juice to give the hard cider a nice pink glow is great also.

anasution (author)2012-11-04

nadeges mai

stormy0314 (author)2012-10-27

I saw a youtube video that used a sink disposal unit to grind the apples. It was mounted on a dedicated apple grinding table. That is the way to go. Your use of the old ice cream maker is great. Good job.

AR10NZ (author)2012-10-06

Hi all : photo of press I made 30 odd years ago. Stainless steel, where needed.

jxross (author)2012-09-28

This is a very good design. Definitely going on the "to do" list.

I have a potential upgrade to suggest that may help the cider to drain easier. If you were to place a 1" board in the bottom of the bucket that has a diameter an inch or so smaller than the bucket diameter, it would leave a half inch trough for the liquid to flow into and toward the spout. It would be an easy thing to try.

Again, nice job.

Iceman94 (author)jxross2012-09-29

Thank you! That's a great suggestion. In fact, I'm going to do that right away since I have more apples to press. :)

jxross (author)Iceman942012-09-29

Let me know how it works and whether I should include it in my press. Thanks.

Iceman94 (author)jxross2012-10-06

I just got through pressing some more using your idea, and I have to say that it does make the cider flow smoother. I think I got a little more out of the apples too. I cut the board just slightly smaller than the plunger head and made sure to give it a couple heavy coats of that butcher block sealant. Thanks again!

AR10NZ (author)2012-10-04

Hi Iceman :
Nice Instructable.
I have made a number of presses, and associated wine making, brewing and cider gear, over the years.
To attain easiest maximum juice extraction rate, freeze & thaw your fruit before pressing. When water freezes, it expands 10%, rupturing the cell walls.

Iceman94 (author)AR10NZ2012-10-06

Thank You! I'll remember that for the rest of my apples.

chuckyd (author)2012-10-04

If you are going to be using this for some time, I suggest replacing the nails at the bottom of the frame with stanless steel bolts, probably at least 3/8" diameter. I would replace the other bolts with stainless steel, as well.

Again, if you are going to use this year after year, I suggest getting rid of the gray suface wood with a planer or by sanding. Then, I would seal the entire thing with at least three coats of water-based polyurethane. All those open pores are perfect homes for dangeroud little critters that can eat you from the inside out.

If you have trouble getting the plunger in and out of the bucket, maybe a swivel joint would help.

I don't know what that fabric is, but would cheescloth work as well?

Iceman94 (author)chuckyd2012-10-06

Thanks for the comment! I am intending on beefing up the construction and definitely the finish on it once I get the chance. Like I said, I had several bushels of apples to do and no press, so I kinda had to go for speed rather than the sort of quality I want to make this thing last. :)

marccase (author)chuckyd2012-10-04

I'm fairly certain cheesecloth would work. Do you think it'd work if the wooden bucket was replaced with a plastic one?

chuckyd (author)marccase2012-10-04

I'm not sure the plastic would hold up to the pressure. Still if it were plastic I would use something that is smooth on both sides, with thick walls. The wood is probably okay, as long as it's sealed. Almost all finishes available to the general public is non=toxic when fully cured. I was speaking more about finishing the frame, though. You could wash the bucket after use with either Clorox of ethanol and rinse VERY well.

sdaupanner (author)2012-10-05

I have to ask if the use of pine in the process is a very good idea? The transfer of taste and also it is poreess so that the removal of bacteria may be rather hard. I would think that the best thing for making the press top would be a piece of Maple it is close grained and will not be either as hard to clean but will fight the bacteria. Also I have seen several suggest using oak this I myself would avoid because of the a fore mentioned problem. And here is an observation from my days as a kid and right into High School we used to let a gallon of Cider sit in a gallon Jug or Milk bottle with the cap on tight and after a week or so after letting the top loose a few times we had some real nice cider that helped warm us up at the football game on Friday nite with out the yeast or the sugar or anything else it would give us a real nice buzz this was before pasteurization to keep us all safe from bad germs ... I have to report that after drinking my share and maybe half of every body else's share I am still here. BOTTOMS UP!!!

Iceman94 (author)sdaupanner2012-10-06

I know what you mean about using pine, honestly I can't stand the stuff. The only real reason I used it was that it was all I had at the time; as soon as I get the chance, pretty much all of the wood parts that come into contact with the cider are going to be replaced. Thanks for the comment!

BtheBike (author)2012-10-05

a bottle jack works pretty good too . Nice Ible

crowsfromgod (author)2012-10-05

Very cool build! Nice to see something made of wood and steel. Looks old fashioned.

mr.cletus (author)2012-10-04

thanks for share, it's great!!

poco424 (author)2012-10-04

Used to have a apple press that I used when we had a fall festival in town. Did it for the Cub Scouts. A friend had an orchard that he let go and the scouts picked up about a pickup load of apples. We then took the press and apples to the festival and made fresh cidar. the Scouts charged a nickel a cup and made tons of cash out of the apples that would have been left to rot. Did that for quite a few years. Some fun.

The Ideanator (author)2012-10-04

MMM cider. totally worth the bits.

Peter Vivian (author)2012-10-04

I like cider!!!

gn0stik (author)2012-10-04

good frame design. Might wanna make a round out of HDPE (cutting board material) to put between your plunger and the cheese (apple bag). It's already food grade, and non porous. And as you said about the single hole. You could drill several all the way around and on the bottom and put a tray under it to catch the juice. Put your spigot on the tray instead. This would make for much quicker pressing. I know you said you'd replace the pine too, but just a word of caution with that.. the tannins and pitch flavor of the pine can leach into your cider. Yuk.


SaveOurSkills (author)2012-10-04

Cool design. I have built a "whiz bang" cider press and it works quite well. I like how this one is very small. I'm thinking this would make a good fruit press for wine and for crushing and straining honey.

The whiz bang system uses a modified garbage disposal mounted into a stand for the grinder... you might want to have a look at that.

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Bio: Hey all! I was bitten by the instructable bug several years ago, just never got around to making my own until now. I hope I ... More »
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