We looked everywhere for a reasonably priced fruit press for our grapes but weren’t able to find anything we would actually spend the money on. We usually press about 100 lbs of grapes at a time with this press and it can easily handle it. I had access to some scrap metal through work, but you could easily get by without some slight tweaks. The Shop Press is the most expensive part but I got mine at one of Harbor Freight’s frequent sales and picked mine up for $89. You are basically going to make the basket, the press disc, and a way to contain the juice that is pressed out. Below is the shopping list:
- Cut 20 pieces of 18″ Oak 1″ x 2″
- 2 X 6′ Slotted Steel Flat Bar
- 2 pieces 1/4 -20 X 1″ Bolts with wing nuts
- 3/4″ #8 Stainless Steel Wood Screws
- 1.25″ Wood Screws
- 4′ X 4′ piece 3/4″ Hardwood plywood (Birch, Oak, Sande, etc.) Species isn’t too important, just looking for strength.
- 1′ Square 1/4″ Steel plate (optional)
- 12T Harbor Freight Shop Press
- Large baking pan or something that fit the shop press and can contain the juice that is running out of the basket. You can find them at Gordon Food Service.
- Brute 20 Gallon Food Grade Containers – I cannot recommend these enough – we have 4 of them. Great for fermenting, transporting, and fit at the perfect height to capture wine under the press you are making.
How to Make it:
- Basket: some simple math will help you figure out the diameter you are looking for. I bought a 16″ round baking pan from Gordon Food Service That I wanted to fit this basket into, so that drove the dimensions of my basket. I ended up needing 20 vertical slats based on the spacing of the holes in the slotted steel flat bar and desired diameter. The goal is to have the spacing narrow enough so it contains the grapes while still letting the juice run through.
- I was going for 16″ outer diameter for the basket to fit in my baking pan, so I needed about 51″ for each length, but I cut them a few inches long to make sure I could line up the holes for the connecting 1/4-20 bolts.
- Cut your 1X2 Oak boards to 18″ lengths
- Pre-drill holes in the 18″ boards at 3″ from each end
- Using the #8 Stainless Screws, screw the slotted bars to the Oak boards (top and bottom straps)
- We will connect the ends with the 1/4 – 20 bolts and wing nuts so it can be taken apart easily for cleaning. You may need to use a drill to open up one of the holes if it doesn’t line up perfectly.
- Press Disc: Use a Jigsaw to cut out two 14″ round discs from the 3/4″ plywood. The diameter will depend on your basket, but I was consistent with maximizing the space available in the press.
- Once these are cut, I screwed them together with 1.25″ wood screws. The two discs should line up perfectly to give you a double thickness and more strength.
- Optional – I had a piece of 1/4″ steel that I screwed to the back of the press for even more strength. You are probably fine without it, but it helps distribute the forces coming down from the hydraulic press.
- Press Base: I wanted to make sure I had a stable base to rest the basket and pan on, so I used the rest of the plywood to cut out a stable base that fit in Shop Press perfectly. I just measured my press and cut out notches for the verticals so it stayed in place
- It take some perfecting before you don’t make a complete mess, but we have found using a clean and sanitized pot to transfer the must to the press basket. Transfer all of the must into the basket and then insert the disk to press the remaining juice out of the must. I typically will use two 2X4 pieces of wood as spacers between the press and the disc. When you have squeezed out most of the wine from the must, you will be left with the pomace which you can add to your compost.
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What do you think? If you end up making this press, please let us know in the comment section below how it went!