yea, i wanted to put the jack under the cider, so it wouldn't contaminate if anything went wrong. Hands down its a much harder design than putting the jack above, but i think its worth it. And the holes are 3/16. i would do that design again, i'd say the pot is much stronger than most of the barrel strainers you could get. Its a two ton jack. If i were to do another press, i'd make it out of steel, get a bigger pot and a 4 or 6 ton jack to maximize pressure and efficiency. The press I hve now is made out of 4x4s on either side, and 2x4s going across, so its pretty strong, but i still hear creaking when i press sometimes, so i have to be carefull.