It's that time of year again when the orchard is full of fruit. We have a few apple trees and a few pear trees. Usually the fruit gets half eaten by the birds or just drops off and goes to waste. This year I decided to use the fruit and try my hand at cider making. I've never done this before so decided to search for cider recipes. Most of them had one thing in common, a cider press. Having trawled the Internet and local hardware stores I decided it was more cost effective to make my own press. This would save me money and also be a lot of fun to make. So here is my instructable for my home made fruit press...
Step 1: Design and Planning
So with any good build you need some sort of design/plan. I tend to work with some loose plans and just see where it leads. As you can see a five year old sketched out my plan for me haha...
Step 2: Get Your S**t Together!!
Basically I used whatever I could find around the yard and at work.... The main ingredients are an empty gas cylinder, steel for the frame, a large screw and nut, and some good solid wood for the press plate. I'll go into more detail through the instructable as to what the specifics are. The tools used were the usual for steel fabricating. Mig welder, grinders, hacksaws, hammers...etc.
Step 3: Cutting the Cylinder - Very Important
This is the most important step of the built. Obviously these cylinders have had explosive gas in them at some point and will most likely have some remaining. What I did was remove the valve very carefully then fill it with water. As it fills you should see the gas vapour leave the cylinder. The next step is entirely up to you. Most people say leave it to stand for a few days so all the gas is expelled, but I was happy enough to go right ahead. I used one of those thin laser cutting disks which worked a treat. I was round the cylinder in no time and the water in the cylinder helped reduce sparks. Full PPE is recommended when carrying out the cutting.
Step 4: What's That Smell?!
Now the lid is off you may notice something. This depends on the gas bottle but I found that the inside of my cylinder reeked of butane. I should've used a co2 or oxygen bottle to reduce the smell. Anyway how to get the smell out of the steel? The best way I could think of was to use cheap cola. This stuff not only tastes good but can also be used for all sorts of cleaning tasks. So off to a cheap supermarket for a dozen 2litre bottles of cola. In the cola went and 24 hours later the butane odour had disappeared. Awesome!! A quick steam clean and scrub with wire wool and the cylinder is as ready as can be.
Step 5: The Press Plate
So the press plate was the next thing to get on with. I struggled with finding the wood I wanted for the press plate so in stepped my brother bear Matt (matson23... Check out his instructables!). He hooked me up with two bits of 18mm ply neatly cut into circles. All I had to do was screw them together and sand the edges until they lined up and fit inside the cylinder! Oh I also mounted them to a steel base which connects to the screw. Press plate done...
Step 6: Drainage System
I massively over thunk this step. A base plate to press against. I was trying to figure out how to hollow and channel out a thick piece of wood for the fruit to be crushed in and trickle down to a tap. For days I stressed over how to do it with the tools I have. Then the penny dropped. Why not just press up against the base of the cylinder. It's domed so the juice would collect in the middle. So all I needed was five well placed 6mm holes. Easy.
Step 7: Cut, Prep, Weld and Clean
So now is the tricky part. Putting it all together. It's a pretty simple design so shouldn't take much working out. Just use what steel you have for the frame. As long as it all matches up. I had some 40mm x 40mm galvanised box section and some 50mm x 20mm. This was used for the main frame. I had to clean up all the steel before welding as galv is a nightmare. The good old trusty flapper wheel disk made light work of cleaning everything up. Once you have your pieces in order get it all tacked together. If you're happy with how it is then carry on with welding it up. I cut some flat steel to cap off the ends of the box section.
Step 8: The Hinge
So the frames now in place. Next is the hinge for the top. Hard to explain exactly how I did this but just study the pictures and adapt it to how you like. Oh you'll need to chamfer off one side to allow the hinge to pivot up and down.
Step 9: Screw That!!
Should really show you the main screw. This was salvaged from a scaffolding yard that I go to for work. So somewhere in the north of the UK there's a piece of scaffolding on a major tilt haha!
Step 10: The Finals Steps
So now you're pretty much there. Just assemble everything together and make sure it all fits. I went over everything with the flapper wheel again to flatten off any rough welds and make sure things ran smoothly. A lick of hammerite and ronseal later and the project is done! Just need to wait for the fruit to ripen and then I can get my press on!! Big thanks to matson23 for sorting me out with the wood and another set of eyes for when I was stuck. A bottle of cider will be on its way to you lol. Thanks for looking and happy instructables!!