Designing a better Lime Squeezer

From time to time we host a get-together or party where we feature fresh squeezed limeade as the main beverage.  We have universally heard 5-star feedback from people who have had this simple but good drink.

The problem is, squeezing enough limes for a party of 60+ people takes a lot of time (and limes).  After about the fifth lime the first time… I had enough!

I went down to the shop and built a simple but powerful hinged wooden squeezer about 3′ long.  It looked like two canoe oars with a hinge holding them together.  With this contraption, a suitable helper (Eli), and a big stainless steel bowl, we could really crank out the lime juice (gallons).

Since using that a number of times, I’ve thought of some improvements I’d like to make, eventually ending in a fabricated stainless steel mechanism that is easy to use, powerful, and helpful.  The force applied to the lime should be compounded at the end of the squeeze cycle, taking full advantage of maximum leverage to get the last drops out (less waste, less fatigue).

Using the power of four-bars, I’m working up a Solid Works model which should meet most of the above criteria.  I think we will soon build a prototype out of maple, which is a very hard wood.

Here is a picture of it “open”:

Here is a picture of it “Closed”:




A new stock for rubber band gun #6

In anticipation of receiving the assembly for Rubber Band Gun #6 from Dixon Tool and Die, Inc., we have been making a new rubber band gun stock to complete the package.

This stock was hand crafted out of solid 1.75″ x 6.0″ x 48″ slab of maple.  The primary tools were bandsaw (for the profile), hammer and chisel, random orbit sander, end mill, jointer, sand paper, and lots of elbow grease.

There is a technique that we implemented called “raising the grain”.  It involves rubbing the wood with a wet rag, and then letting it dry.  Loose pieces of grain swell up and in turn raise up out of the wood, where they can be sanded off.

At the bottom-left corner of this photo, you can see another blank ready to be cut.

A lot of thought and testing went into this simple design and it works really well.  The catch (no pun intended) is to allow the rubber bands to release cleanly with no interference.

Here is Mr. E holding the shop-vac to keep the end mill from clogging up.  My Sherline milling machine is not large enough to hold this stock conveniently, so we used a drill press and cross-slide vice to mill it out.  Drill presses are not as rigid as milling machines, so we had to take it slow.

A square peg in a round hole?

Yep.  We are building a rough wooden table out of the trees we cut down for a clearing on our land.  Rather than use screws or nails or saws, we opted for the axe, drilling holes, and wooden pegs.

Actually, almost all of the wood pictured was cut with a Friskars Chopping Axe.  Eventually, I got tired of chopping and purchased a nice Stihl chainsaw to help out.  Regardless, the hewing and fitting is still done with the axe.

The top boards are half-logs of a maple tree.  The pegs, also, are green maple, that we squared off with a knife and pounded into 1″ holes.