Cider Press

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…


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.


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.


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.


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.

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.

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.

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


Thanks for looking…bart

Today I forged a steel ring to reinforce the head of the press screw. The ring was forged from 1/4 inch diameter mild steel. First the round stock was forged rectangular, about 1/8 by 5/16″. A scarf was forged on each end and a ring was turned on the horn of the anvil. After welding the ring was trued up on s small cone.
Then it was a matter of turn a little and test the fit. After about five of these turn and test cycles I could start the ring. I then tapped the ring down as far as I could with a small ball-peen then drove it home with a screwdriver and hammer. Finally the top of the screw was turned down just proud of the ring.



The first ring worked out so well that I decided to fit another one to the bottom of the head. In order to turn a seat for the ring I first ran a fine saw kerf all the way around the head. This lessened the possibility of chipping as the seat was turned.



I drilled and chopped a 3/4×1-1/2 inch mortice for the handle and made a temporary test handle out of a convenient piece of pine. I’ll make the permanent handle out of a riven piece of oak or ash for strength.


I ran out of time so will forge the second ring tomorrow. Maybe I can get some pictures of the process this time.
Thanks for looking…bart

Today I forged a second reinforcing collar for the head of the wooden press screw I made for my cider press. These collars are similar to the collars on the ends of the hubs of wooden wagon wheels. The first step is to measure the diameter of the seat turned for the collar. I used an outside caliper then transferred that measurement to a rule.


Next a length of 1/4 inch round mild steel was forged to a rectangular profile. In this picture you can see the round stock on the bottom and the rectangular stock, cut to length, at the top. I cut it to 1/4 inch over the circumference measured earlier.

Next a scarf was forged on the two ends. A scarf is basically a short taper that allow the two ends to overlap for welding.

The ring can be turned in a number of ways but I did it over the horn of the anvil. The ends of the ring were brought together, vigorously wire brushed to remove oxidation scale and fluxed with borax. The flux keeps oxidation from reforming in the joint prior to welding.

Forge welding moves too fast for me to photograph it while working alone. Basically the ring was placed in the forge and brought up to a white heat. When I judged it to be hot enough, it was quickly forged together over the horn of the anvil. The shape was then refined and trued to a fair circle. Thanks for looking…bart


Yesterday I forged the bands that gold the staves of the cider press tub together. They were cold-forged using my little 65 pound swage block, rounding hammer and anvils. The ends were cold-riveted together. I am extremely pleased at how round I was able to get them and how close I was able to get one to the other.

I also forged and fitted a second reinforcing collar for the head of the press screw.

Today before work I started making and fitting the staves into the rings. It’s slow going because I am literally making them out of scraps of oak I have around the shop. The hardest part is keeping the ends of the staves even. I may have to do a little trimming when they’re done.


Finished the tub for our cider press today. As a friend of mine who is making a press said “it’s not as easy as it looks!” I feel the hard part is finished now.

I cut the tenons for the upper crossbeam “old-school”.

A clearance hole for the screw was bored through the crossbeam. Needed 1-1/2 inch but the largest forstner bit I have is 1-3/8! I do, however, have a
1-1/2 inch auger bit. Talk about a workout!

All that’s left is the framing!

Thanks for looking…bart


I pretty much finished the frame for our cider press today. Construction is pretty straightforward…the crosspieces have tenons that fit into dados cut in the uprights. The joints are pulled together with 5/16″ draw-bolts. You can see the same construction technique used on my 25 year old workbench if you look at three-o’clock in the picture. The feet are glued and screwed into an open-ended dado at the bottom of the uprights. It’s really starting to come together!


September 8, 2013
Finally finished our cider press today. Time is running short and our apples are about ready. I started to dovetail the sides of the juice tray but in the interest of time I opted to miter them instead. Not quite as classy looking as dovetails and certainly not as strong but a lot faster to cut. Two coats of polyurethane on everything but the screw. For that I applied multiple coats of an oil and beeswax mixture.



Thanks for looking…bart


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. The Belmont Rooster
    Aug 23, 2013 @ 14:49:59

    Great job!!! Make me one!


    • Bart
      Aug 23, 2013 @ 21:36:49

      If only I had the time…


  2. John B
    Sep 09, 2013 @ 09:47:54

    Great job Bart! Hope the cider turns out great……


  3. Review #1 | kjporath
    Sep 11, 2013 @ 23:35:40

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