corking and caging by hand is very doable and dare I say it, faster than some of the semi-automatic equipment.
The most important piece of equipment is going to be your corker... get the Italian CHAMPAGNE corker;
Anything else and you'll be hating life as you do the "corking two-step" as I like to call it.
There are two methods you can use to tie the cages
1. the cordless drill w/ a hook -- requires a bit of finesse to master and you will break cages from time to time -- we used this method for several months
2. the new wire tying hand tool that Williams offers -- accurate, inexpensive, fast and easy to use -- just tried this tool for the first time and I'm a believer!
You may also need to compress the top of the corks (depending upon how far you set them in) as you are tying the hoods and we've found that a bench capper works best for this.
Idle Hands Craft Ales