This article is an update of a version originally posted in December 2019 on Homebrewers Gorizia website.
I remember a long time ago during an evening among Homebrewers Gorizia associates, while speaking of equipment my friend Moreno said “Homebrewing is also having fun in building the equipment by yourself”. I really appreciated this phrase because building anything with my own ideas and capabilities has always been one of mine and my father’s favorite pastimes.
At the time I had been involved in brewing for a while, and I had already built some of the equipment, including a mill for grinding grains. After carefully evaluating the various models proposed in online stores, I started – as usual – to search around the web projects to give life to a DIY mill, in part for fun and in part to contain costs. I found the perfect solution: convert a chinese pasta making machine. Of course, instead of discussing first about the project with my father and then buying the necessary material I did exactly the opposite, so the project started without too many plannings but with the philosophy “Let’s start, we’ll solve the problems time by time”.
The result was a success, and even now I use it for crush the grains. Recently I disassembled an old entertainment machine and recovered some gears and chains and finally automated the mill, but I always used it with a simple battery drill.
Using waste materials the whole project cost me only 15€ (the cost of the pasta making machine).
Phase 1: Retrieving the material
Since I was aiming to keep the costs down, I had no better option than to go to a chinese store and buy the cheapest model of pasta making machine. For the mill hopper I used pieces of sheet metal that my dad had in the ceiling, the rest were just screws, rivets and a few pieces of wood, all material that I already had at home. I already had a 220v electric motor disassembled somewhere, I don’t remember where, and some gears and a chain removed from another machine.
Phase 2: Disassembling the machine
The conversion involves the modification of the reels, and to extract them it was needed to disassemble the whole machine. I also eliminated some metal parts under the reels and the support base.
Phase 3: Knurling
To prevent the grains slips on the reels it is necessary to create a series of cuttings in the material to increase the grip of the reels. This is an activity that requires the use of a lathe and a special tool, both things made available by a friend of mine.
Phase 4: Assembling the machine
With the knurled reels all that remained was to reassemble the machine. I did not reassemble the whole machine but I left the side covers disassembled since I still had to mount the hopper and I had to make some holes to fix it.
Phase 5: The hopper
All that remained was to build the hopper, the funnel of the mill. I built it from a sheet metal because I had it in the ceiling, but I could use anything from cardboard to wood. To fix it on the machine I drilled holes on both the machine and the hopper to fix the hopper with some rivets. While the width had to match the width of the reels, the chosen height was somewhere around 17cm. At the bottom I created a hole from from half of a roll to half of the other one. In the image you can see two parts that must be repeated and assembled together to create the funnel, everything fixed in the holes indicated with rivets. As said, everything was fixed to the machine with rivets, obtaining the result shown in the photo below.
Phase 6: Mill base
At this point I had to create a base to fix both the mill and the electric motor. I simply cut two wooden slats into which I made four holes for the screws to fix the machine using the holes of the original base. After that I cut some panels (in the photo below marked in green) to fix everything and to fit the motor. Then I realized that it was necessary to add two plastic strips from the reels to over the base to channel the falling grains (in the photo below marked in yellow).
Phase 7: Automatize the mill
This last phase was done entirely and autonomously by my father. First he removed the crank of the machine and replaced it with a straight metal rod of the same diameter. At this point the mill was already usable with a drill. Then he applied to the rod a gear and fixed it with his screw. A similar gear was mounted on the axis of the electric motor in the same way. At this point he mounted the chain, adjusted the distance and fixed the motor to the wooden table below. The 220V motor used has a speed of 87 RPM.
I hope that this project has been interesting to you and that it can be of inspiration for a similar projects, as you have seen with a bit of recovered material you can build a very good and inexpensive mill. It won’t be pretty, but it works.