I have had a hankering to build a cider press for probably thirty years. Finally I’m going to quit hankering and just do it! I have a tap and die to cut threads in a 1-1/2 inch wooden screw which I hope is big enough for a small press.
I looked through my wood hoard yesterday and found a couple pieces of what I think is locust(?) to turn the screws from. They are a full 2-1/2 inches square by nearly two feet long which should be plenty big enough for a 1-1/2 inch screw. And so it begins…

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08/05/13
Worked on cider press screw this morning. First I used my table saw with the blade beveled to 45 degrees to knock off the corners of the 2-1/2 inch square piece of locust I selected for the screw. This made it much easier to turn round on the lathe. I then measured off 4-1/4 inches for the head of the screw and defined the shoulder with saw kerfs all around. This will lesson the possibility of tear out when I turn the screw.

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The centers were marked and kerfs sawn for the drive dog. I found this saw in a truckload of what looked to be a barn cleanout at a flea market many years ago. I got it and two Witherby chisels for the whopping sum of $1.50! Refiling the teeth to a rip profile was the event that brought my hand cut dovetails out of the closet and into our living-room.

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An hour later (stopped to sharpen my tools twice) and I have a rough-turned, slightly oversize screw blank. Notice the hand forged double calipers on the lathe bed. I forged these for a demonstration at a monthly meeting of the New River Forge Council.

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I have learned that wood, even if seasoned for several years, can do odd things when you start to work it. It can warp, swell, shrink, check, etc. So…I’m gonna leave it alone to stabilize for a couple days before turning to final size and threading.

08/06/13
Almost finished the screw today. The locust (if it is locust) threaded nicely with very little tear out. There are some longitudinal cracks in the screw that worry me a little…time will tell. Anyway, I slathered the blank in mineral oil and threaded away! I’m glad I turned it 1/16 undersized. Don’t think I could’ve turned the screwbox with those short handles if it was a full 1-1/2 inches.

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The nut was made from a 3/4 inch thick piece of oak. Biggest challenge I had was threading the hole straight and square to the face of the nut. Finally, on the third attempt, I bored the 1-3/8 inch hole on the drill press. Then I replaced the bit with the 1-1/2 inch tap without moving the nut. Then the drill press was “pulsed” on and off quickly to start the tap. I finished tapping by hand. It’s still not perfectly square but I think it will work. I made the nut separate from the frame of the press so the nut and/or screw can be replaced if needed.

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I plan to forge a steel collar for the head of the screw to strengthen it.

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Thanks for looking…bart

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