Ball Mill From Mainly Recycled Parts





Introduction: Ball Mill From Mainly Recycled Parts

This is my first instructable and I will be showing you how to make a ball mill for grinding chemicals from some recycled washers/dryers and a few parts from your local hardware store.

Please read all the way through the instructions before building to be sure you are capable of finishing it.

This instructable was based on pictures from United Nuclear check it out

The finished product should look similar to this

Step 1: Materials Needed

Materials you will need --

1. A motor -- I got one from a old dryer that is rated for around 1600 rpm which is good for this
2. 2"x4" -- Amount will vary with the size of the mill.
3. Pulleys(4) and Belts(2) -- Size will also vary. I was able to salvage mine from a old washer.
4. Ball Bearings(4) -- You may be able to get some from old junk or buy the cheaply.
5. Switch(1) -- Get a standard light switch.
6. Wire nuts and electrical tape -- Hardware store.
7. A rotatable wheel (optional but recommended) -- Like on the bottom of filing cabinets.
8. A container -- Size will vary.
9. Two poles -- For shafts make sure to get them to fit inside of your ball bearings.

It may seem like a daunting list of items but they are fairly inexpensive and you can salvage most of them or you may even have them laying around your house.

Step 2: Obtain the Motor

Find a old dryer, I happened to have one in the barn so I i ripped it apart. Sorry for no step by step images of the first parts but I was not planning on making this instructable at the time i removed it. The dryer you will want to get is a small one capable of plugging into a standard 3 prong 120v house outlet. If you cannot find one then you will just need to plug it into a 220v plug.

You should be able to find how to get it out by yourself but i will do my best to talk you through it.

1.) Turn the machine over and locate the screws on the bottom. (may be on side or back for different
2.) Take the screws out and unbolt the motor from the bottom panel and remove the panel.
3.) When the motor is loose follow all the wires to the motor and pull any plugs on the motor to be
able to remove the motor
4.) With the motor removed find the power cord going to the machine and cut it off (you will need this

Step 3: Prepare the Base

Now its time to size up your machine. consider the following in the decision of the size
1.) Use (will you be using it for small batches of chemicals or large batches.)
2.) Area available (where will you be storing and using it)
3.) Cost (Cost will vary with the size..generally the bigger the machine, the more it costs.)

For this application I will be making the dimensions 2 ft wide by 1.5 ft long.
1.) cut two pieces 2 ft long and two pieces 1' 2" long.
2.) cut a piece 5 in long and another 7 inches long
3.) screw them together using the guide shown

Step 4: Mount the Motor

If possible mount it using preexisting mounting plate (how it was mounted in the machine) if it is not possible for example, the plate is on the bottom you can find another method.. I will cover a few in this step.

For my motor I need another way of mounting because my mounting plate is not accessible. I will use metal straps to tension the motor down. Mount it in the shaded area shown in the picture.

Depending on your motor, the pulley system will vary so use what is already there if possible.

Step 5: Add the Shafts and Bearings

Next, you need to mount your bearings for this application I am using metal straps and a couple screws to hold them in place. There are many ways these can be mounted so be creative. mount them in the shaded area in the first picture. The space between the sets of bearings and the motor will depend on the length of belts you have so be sure to compare it before you mount it.

After the bearings are mounted, insert your shafts through the bearings so they extend out as shown in the second picture. be sure that when you pully is mounted on the shaft closest to the motor that it will line up or the belt other wise may slip.

Step 6: Add the Pullies to the Shafts

Take the pullies and mount them on the ends of the shafts as shown in the picture (are you seeing a pattern?) then put the belts on between the pullies and make sure they are straight and make adjustments before moving on.

Step 7: Add the Wiring

ok now on the motor there is a clip with three wires on mine one was black one was green and the third was blue (black=neg blue=hot green=ground) now cut the plug off and strip the three wires. Next strip the plug wire i told you to keep, revealing three wires mine were black white and green, strip them too and attach the black to the neg the green to the ground and the white to one of the switch terminals, then connect a wire from the other terminal to the hot wire on the motor being sure to wire nut and electrical tape all connections possible. you can mount the switch wherever you want.

Step 8: Get a Grip!

For the shaft to properly spin the container it needs to be able to grip it metal on metal or plastic on metal just wont do. You can add grip by gluing any rubbery material around both shafts and container.

Step 9: Add the Angler

For the mill to work properly the chemicals and grinding media must collect in one area so the entire setup needs to be on a 30 degree angle so here we will add two legs to the base.

this doesnt need much explanation just hold the front up (front being the way the motor is pointing) and measure 30 degrees and screw a leg on both sides.

the angle is shown in the picture courtesy of united nuclear

Step 10: Optional Step

This is optional but is highly recommended as it alows the container to rotate much smoother. cut another piece of wood that is 3/4 the diameter of your container and mount it as shown in the picture (the green box is where to mount it) pointing up forming a 90 degree angle with the base on each side. get a rotatable wheel like from a file cabinet and add it to the top of the new board to the container will hit against it.

Step 11: Done!

Just set your container on the shafts add the chemical and right amount of grinding media and fire it up. If you find it is going to fast then gear it down by replacing the pulley on the end of the shaft that connects to the motor with a bigger one and if it goes to slow then use a smaller one to gear it up.

Note: do not use more weight than the motor can handle and be safe using this following all guide lines and percautions found here

Thank you for reading this tutorial and leave comments plz



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    im 15 and want to make some pyrotechnic grade black powder for model rocketry purposes. is their a high saftey concern? what i mean is could it easily autoignite if i dropped a bottle of it or bumped it?

    2 replies

    I'll start with this, please do not try to make black powder without the assistance of an adult with some working knowledge of chemistry. While making black powder is not the most dangerous thing to make, it is not hard to mess up and make it dangerous. That being said, I do have a moderate safety concern, however, if you get assistance it can be a great learning opportunity. And to answer your latter question, no black powder is not volatile enough to ignite from impact, however, it lights at a relatively low temperature; meaning that the smallest spark or flame has the ability to set it off. Please be safe and as always I take no responsibility for loss of life, limb, or money.

    All of the above as jf78 said, plus BP is usually milled damp or wet which helps with the above issues, and is usually milled with leaden balls so that there is no chance of sparking. after milling, and while still a damp "paste" is the time to form it to the correct grain size for your purpose. The grains are then dried. Dry powder is (obviously) the most reactive/dangerous state.

    would it be pausible to use a high power electric drill?

    1 reply

    In theory it would work but I see two problems. First, you would need to gear down the drill quiet a bit because a ball mill works better at a slower RPM. Second, I would be afraid a drill would start to overheat. A ball mill usually runs for hours and sometimes days on end, and drill motors aren't designed for that prolonged of use. But then again that is all my opinion. Let me know how it works if you try it.

    I'm thinking about using a chain and sprocket instead of belt and pulleys, do you think this would work? What advantages do each have?

    1 reply

    Im sure it would work. You would get more power transfer than a belt and less chance of slipping. but on the downside it would probably be significantly more noisy and if you do go with this i would advise a guard over the chains so you dont lose fingers.

    Use heater hose on the rods. It is durable, available at hardware and auto parts stores, and cheap. Spread some good Contact Cement or "Goop" on the rail before slipping it on.

    I also use sealed ball bearings  on mine and needle thrust washers.  They are a bit Expensive (try eBay or tear down burnt-out motors); but worth the less hassle. I rebuilt a regular tumbler that had plastic sleeve bearings that constantly  wore out out or  got a ring cut in them.

    Yes, it will, but they work better at a slight  angle. Prevents the balls from wearing on the lid, too, and the mixture from clinging to it.

    When ball milling, always use about 2/3 balls by volume.  Make sure the drum isn't going too fast--say 2 revolutions per second, max. It helps to glue a couple of wooden "paddles" inside the drum to aid mixing.

      If the drum goes too fast, it will no longer tumble and drop the balls, but just throw things outward due to centrifugal force. 

    Remember also  to stop it , take out the drum and place it base-down,  then open the lid a crack every couple days or so to  vent it--don't let pressure build up.

    On step 7 - ALWAYS switch the BLACK wire - in AC terms it is the 'hot' wire that goes from -110 to +110 volts. The white wire is neutral (zero volts)...meaning if you switch the hot wire, the circuit past the switch is 'dead' while off, but if you switch the white wire, the circuit will be live, just not connected - and you can get a nasty shock! This is why there is a polarized plug (with a fat prong and a narrow prong)

    2 replies

    to claify - the black on the wall plug side is hot... I would think the wiring would be the same on the motor too...

    Motor might have a Red wire, or even yellow or orange, especially if you use a 220v/110v motor.   Check the motor's label, if it has one. If not, google it. I have a nice dishwasher 1/2 HP motor, but it needs the starter hooked up to work, as in the appliance. The wiring diagram was available online.  Try to use continuous-duty (Big) 1/-1/3 or so hP induction motors(ones without  brushes).  Drill motors are intermittent use only, and will burn out in a month of constant use.


    Its purpose is to grind chemicals usually used in making fireworks. Please google your questions before posting them.

    Also they make nice rock tumblers. If you use a heavier jug, like made of steel or thick  PVC pieces.

    Well written... but you really need to use your own pictures. From a construction standpoint... put all three pulleys on the same side. Then, construct a guard for the pulleys and belts. no more pinched fingers :-) you could even simplify and use a 2-step pulley for the first shaft.

    2 replies

    thank you for your input..i wanted to use my own picture but i wasnt really planning on making this instructable and my digital camera sucks anyway lol

    Are you telling me you haven't actually made this? What the hell