Basket press advice...

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wood1954

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I’ve been working with walnut wood for decades and never had a problem. Most wood once dry tends to lock in any chemical, obviously oak leaches tannins when wet but have you ever tasted tannins off an oak cutting board on your food? I believe juglone is a plant suppressant and don’t know of any studies that says the minuscule amount in the wood inhibit human growth, also when I spread walnut sawdust in the weeds it doesn’t impact the growth of the weeds.
 

toadie

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I agree the miniscule amount that might leach out while pressing grapes or cutting food is probably not a major cause for concern but... I really do battle the roots in the garden, especially around the tomatoes. Also horses have problems with their hooves and respiration when black walnut sawdust/shavings are used for bedding.
 

balatonwine

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Also horses have problems with their hooves and respiration when black walnut sawdust/shavings are used for bedding.
Am glad I only have the Capthian Walnut. It still has hydrojuglone, but not so much as American Black Walnut. Leaves compost fine (after 6 weeks in a hot compost bed, any toxicity is over, and grow lots of vegetables in such compost without issues). And might tasty nuts. Ergo .. Not all walnuts (or walnut wood) are created (or compost, or should be judged) equal.
 
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Bliorg

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FWIW, I've seen references that the irritants and allergens in walnut are almost entirely (or entirely, depending on source) restricted to the nuts, leaves, and roots. I've also read that the sensitivity to the dust is a different reaction than to juglone. YMMV.

All this good discussion aside, regardless of the wood that ultimately gets used, it will be finished with a hardening, food safe finish, which will be maintained as needed. So the contact between liquid and wood will be essentially nil.
 

Bliorg

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Okay, question for those of you with experience: The staves on my press originally were tapered back-to-front by about 1/8"+:
IMG_2608 by Scott, on Flickr

I've seen other, newer presses that had no taper at all. Does this matter either way? I have a bit at MLCS that I was going to buy to cut that but not sure now if it's necessary.

Thoughts?
 

stickman

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My press is old and the staves are also tapered. I'm not sure how much of a difference it really makes when in operation, but I believe it makes cleaning easier.
 

Bliorg

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My press is old and the staves are also tapered. I'm not sure how much of a difference it really makes when in operation, but I believe it makes cleaning easier.
Good call! I’ll order the bit. Thanks for the input.
 

JTS84

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When I built a basket I tapered the staves because that left a smaller flat of wood to be in contact with the hoop. When I tried a piece that wasn't tapered, only the corners of the wood would rest on the hoop. Tapering the staves made a better circle on the outside.
 
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Bliorg

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Not meaning to stir the pot, but am gearing up to (hopefully) finish this project in the next month or so. Have been trolling FB Marketplace for lumber to rebuild the basket. No one local has any quartered white oak, which I'd love from an aesthetics view (and fuming is fun). Plenty of maple, which is what I'll probably go with in the end, though I don't like the look as much, especially with other viable, but better looking, options. Found a guy in FLA that would ship a box of 2+" wide walnut cutoffs, which would work for this. And I'm pretty sure I have enough walnut in the pile in the garage to finish this anyway. So, I was revisiting the whole "food safe finish" topic, should I actually use walnut (which I still think could be used raw, as is done in cutting boards). Anyway, over t' Woodcentral (a great site in its own right) I found the following article, with contributions by Bob Flexnor and Michael Desdner (Link to articles - I cannot paste them in without exceeding the maximum character limit here: Food-Safe Finishes). Great information to have, and fuel to draw your own informed conclusions.

 

Rice_Guy

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Walnut is a fairly soft wood, I would not buy factory equipment with walnut.
oak is chosen for strength, hickory is another strong wood, maple has a tight grain and is preferred on surfaces as food cutting boards and even countertops.
I am tempted to say every community has a high school with a shop that has the tools to make any shape you would want, and there is a good chance the exact species wood you want. A second source for small quantity shapes is a cabinet shop (as in kitchen cabinets).

I am also rebuilding an old press, ,,, for function the basket will probably be done with perforated stainless steel which came off Craig’s list.
Not meaning to stir the pot, but am gearing up to (hopefully) finish this project in the next month or so. Have been trolling FB Marketplace for lumber to rebuild the basket. No one local has any quartered white oak, which I'd love from an aesthetics view (and fuming is fun). Plenty of maple, which is what I'll probably go with in the end, though I don't like the look as much, especially with other viable, but better looking, options. Found a guy in FLA that would ship a box of 2+" wide walnut cutoffs, which would work for this. And I'm pretty sure I have enough walnut in the pile in the garage to finish this anyway. So, I was revisiting the whole "food safe finish" topic, should I actually use walnut (which I still think could be used raw, as is done in cutting boards). Anyway, over t' Woodcentral (a great site in its own right) I found the following article, with contributions by Bob Flexnor and Michael Desdner (Link to articles - I cannot paste them in without exceeding the maximum character limit here: Food-Safe Finishes). Great information to have, and fuel to draw your own informed conclusions.

 
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balatonwine

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I am also rebuilding an old press, ,,, for function the basket will probably be done with perforated stainless steel
I have been thinking of also replacing the wood staves with stainless steel. If but nothing else, to save my back. Lifting the baskets on a #55 press is getting old....

The only issues I have not solved in such a conversion is how to keep a custom SS basket from scratching up the paint on the tray, and yet allowing press juice to flow as well as through wood staves at the bottom. I have some ideas, but none are fully formed in my mind yet. :h
 

Cap Puncher

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I’m currently finishing a #45 press that had water damage on some of the staves. They are beech. I am actually using Ash because the only beech board at my local hardwood lumber yard, looked pretty bad.

While refinishing, i used a 12 gallon stainless basket for smaller batches. It was an insert that came with a stainless 84L pot I bought for fermentation. It was for crawfish boiling but worked great as a press basket. I cut a hole and used silicone tubing to protect the cut/paint. You could use silicone tubing at the bottom of the stainless basket to protect the paint on the press.

FYI, I’m using EZ-Do for a finish coating on my beech/Ash staves. Just did them a couple nights ago.

The top pic are the beech, 2nd pic are the Ash. Bottom pic is the stainless basket on the #45 press base (from an apple press this year)
 

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balatonwine

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I am actually using Ash
Ash, also a good wood to use. Maple is also a wood I have see others recommend.

You could use silicone tubing at the bottom of the stainless basket to protect the paint on the press.
Good idea.

Yes, I have thought of that. But since the juice actually flows down, till it hits the tray, then goes horizontal, the tubing would need to be added in pieces to allow spaces and horizontal flow from the tray. And having to remove, clean and replace a few dozen little tubing pieces seems like too much work (since I do maybe 10 different pressing a year some days apart which requires full dismantle and cleaning of everything). I thought about dipping the basket in liquid latex, and cutting holes, or expoxing in said silicone tubing, and other ideas. Basically, I simply have not decided or worked out all the +/- issues of each idea in my mind yet. :cool:

But always happy to get input/ideas from others.
 
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Rice_Guy

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@Cap Puncher always like a photo

I have several SS pots (baskets) but the biggest so far is a ten inch.
7EDDDAFE-E79C-4934-B7D3-21E9E63474DB.jpeg
I will put a plate with holes under the basket/ cake, or a plastic mesh (circle cut out of a polyethylene cutting board/ mesh that came with a pizza delivery box.) PE would prevent scratches.
I also have several sizes of PVC pipe with holes drilled on the side that I have used as press baskets. My next change will be to figure out a way to hinge or pin the PVC to break the cake out.
Not asked, but I put acrylic rounds on top of the cake and under the wood blocks, it seems easier to clean than wood.
 

Cap Puncher

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[QUOTE="Rice_Guy, post: 813249, member: 30637
Not asked, but I put acrylic rounds on top of the cake and under the wood blocks, it seems easier to clean than wood.
[/QUOTE]
I like the idea of acrylic rounds on the cake. I did 2 in Ash half moons with 2 coats of EZ-do that I custom cut for my SS basket. They work well but even after 2 coats of the EZ-do and a month dry time, color from pressing still seeped in and it was a pain to clean them. Acrylic is a good idea
 

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Bliorg

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Thanks for the thoughts, folks.

I'm pretty sure the wood that was on the press originally, which was damaged, rotted, and falling apart, was beech. The mills local to me (except one) only carry local hardwoods - beech t'ain't one of them. The other mill only carries European beech, which is WAY out of my bottom feeder price range.

Yes, walnut is softer than QSWO. And sugar/hard maple (not soft maple). Is it too soft for this service? I doubt it. That's my opinion, based on working a lot of walnut. YMMV. I'm not interested an a stainless basket, but I'm also not planning on doing 20 presses a season. Yet. Again, YMMV.

The acrylic rounds are a good idea. That said, my press plates are cast, but perforated similarly:


I'm as yet undecided as to which wood I'll end up using. Walnut is my favorite wood to work, all time. Ash is second. Fuming oak appeals to my love of woodworking and of chemistry. Maple is probably the most pragmatically appropriate wood for this (lacking beech locally); it's dull as Oprah to look at. But I may still end up with it. Like I've said - I look at this as a combination of a suitable wood, and something that I'll be happy with, and right or wrong, it's not solely a functional decision for me.

Process is a large part of the enjoyment for me. I'm enjoying every aspect of this project, including these design decisions along the way. I appreciate everyone's input about all of this - I learn a lot, and it spurs me to do more investigation. Thanks folks.
 
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