BERRY PICKER

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Introduction: BERRY PICKER

About: 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 from discarded nylon fishnet and cement.

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

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

Step 1: 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

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

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

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"

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

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!

4 People Made This Project!

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135 Discussions

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Heyup

2 years ago

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.. :)

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

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!

3 replies

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.

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!

SV

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

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

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anjoze

2 years ago

Cool

GENIUS!!!!

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

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

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

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

4 replies

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.

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?

Is that because your mouth intercepts them on the way?

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.

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