After looking around at different basket presses, I felt especially wary of the wooden models. New presses were expensive, and I was concerned with the bacteria present in used ones. So I decided to build my own basket press from HDPE plastic, the same material used in cutting boards and that I used for my destemmer/crusher project.
The first step to make was the basket (left photo). This required a sheet of 1⁄8-inch HDPE that is 24 x 38 inches (61 x 97 cm). This would make a basket with a diameter of around 12 inches (30 cm). I then drew a grid pattern on the sheet, drawing lines every inch (2.5 cm). At the intersection of each line I drilled a 1⁄4-inch hole with a standard drill bit. If you are concerned about evacuating the juice more easily, by all means drill more holes. Drilling or cutting HDPE is very easy. After a lot of drilling, I folded the sheet in a circular pattern to line up the last set of holes and inserted a 1⁄4-inch x 20 x 1-inch stainless steel carriage bolt (with a washer, lock washer and nut) through each.
I made the press plate out of 1-inch (2.5-cm) HDPE, and simply laid it over the basket, drew an outline, and cut it to the exact shape. The diameter ended up at about 111⁄4 inches (28.5 cm) and it is not a perfect circle, so tracing it worked best.
The next step was to construct the tub. The tub is made from a 1⁄2-inch (1.25 cm) HDPE sheet. It has an 18 x 18 inch (46 x 46 cm) bottom, and 4-inch (10-cm) sides. After cutting all the pieces to fit I attached them from the bottom with stainless steel screws. I then sealed it with RTV-108 food-grade silicone caulking. This prevents any leakage through the seams. I then drilled a 1-inch (2.5 cm) drain hole through the front of one of the sides. The only change I would make to my current design is to make the walls higher. I do get some uncontained flying juice under high pressure, so higher walls on the tub would help my cleanup. You could also use nylon press bags over the basket for the same result.
The next part was to build the frame (right photo). It’s a fairly straightforward design utilizing 4 x 4 and 2 x 4 lumber. The base consists of two 2 x 4s each cut to 20 inches (51 cm). I put these parallel on the floor. Then, I took a piece that is 24-inches (61 cm) long and put it on top of the other two pieces directly in the center (to look like an “H”) and screwed the pieces together. Next, I took four 34-inch (86-cm) 2 x 4s and put them on either side of the top piece of the “H” and screwed them into place. This creates a “pocket” for the top part of the frame to fit into. Then, I cut two 26-inch (66-cm) pieces of 4 x 4 and placed them between the 2 x 4s that I just made into a pocket. I then cut a 25-inch (64-cm) 4 x 4 to lay across the top pieces. This makes the pocket 4 inches (10 cm) (same height as the sides of the tub). Then, I made the top piece of the frame by cutting two 4 x 4s to 39 inches (99 cm) and one piece at 24 (61 cm). I put them together at the top with two 4 x 4 post cap/base brackets. This is where a lot of the force is concentrated, so I wanted to ensure strength. I attached these with four grade 81⁄2-inch x 5-inch bolts on both the top and bottom of the bracket. I then slipped this assembly into the pocket and drilled holes for additional bolts. This allows for the top part to be disassembled if need be. I then added four lockable casters on the bottom for ease of movement.
For pressing, I utilized a 4-ton bottle jack and used additional 4 x 4 blocks to get the right height on the press plate.
The basket press is made by drilling holes into a sheet of HDPE plastic to create a basket, and then building a press plate and frame. The actual pressing is done with a 4-ton bottle jack.
Basket Press Parts List
26 x 26-in. (66 x 66 cm) piece of 1⁄2-in. (1.25-cm) HDPE
12 x 12-in. (30 x 30 cm) piece of 1-in. (2.5-cm) HDPE
24 x 38-in. (61 x 97 cm) piece of 1⁄8-in. (0.3-cm) HDPE
Tube of RTV-108 food-grade silicone caulking
(12) 1⁄4-in. x 20 x 1-in. stainless steel carriage bolts
(12) 1⁄4-in. stainless steel lock washers
(12) 1⁄4-in. stainless steel flat washers
(12) 1⁄4-in. x 20 stainless steel nuts
(3) 8-ft. (2.4 m) 2 x 4 lumber
(3) 8-ft. (2.4 m) 4 x 4 lumber
(2) 4 x 4 post cap/base brackets
(4) 1⁄2-in. x 5-in. grade 8 bolts
(4) 1⁄2 x 8-in. bolts
(8) 1⁄2-in. flat washers
(8) 1⁄2-in. nuts
4-ton (or less) bottle jack