Whether you plan to make apple sauce or to press your own cider, if you have a lot of apples, you're not going to want to grind them manually. Fortunately you can make your own apple mill with just a few woodworking tools and a modest amount of skill. Start with a good, solid hardwood like cherry or oak that can stand up to the acidity of apple juice and will not add an unwelcome taste or odor to your apples.
The heart of an apple mill is a large, wooden drum, as nearly round as you can make it. It should be about 10 inches in diameter when you're done. By applying several coats of olive oil to the drum of your apple mill, letting it soak into the wood between applications, you can protect the wood from the effects of being splashed with acidic apple juice.
Making the Drum
If you start out with two pieces of wood, cut a channel down the centers before assembling them. Otherwise you will need to drill the center hole. In either case, the channel should accommodate a 5/8-inch diameter brass rod.
For a cutting surface, countersink wood screws into the surface of the drum at a 20- to 30-degree angle, so one side of the screw is sticking out from the drum's surface. The screws should be placed evenly all the way around the drum. Two-inch centers for the screws will work fine, or more tightly spaced screws will result in a finer grind.
Contain the mess by building a simple box around the wheel; the sides can be straight or flared outward toward the top, with about ¼ inch of clearances at the base. Holes for the shaft should be lined them with brass or nylon bushings. The rod runs through the center of the drum, and the bushings in the frame will serve as the drive axle.
A pulley and a small, variable-speed electric motor, or a portable power drill can be used to turn the drum of your apple mill. Place the whole contraption on top of a 5-gallon plastic bucket to collect the apple pulp.
The exact size of the mill is up to you, as long as it has a big enough hopper to put the apples through and enough screws in the drum. The basic design can be scaled up or down, according to the supply of apples you're anticipating.