Picture of 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 http://www.unitednuclear.com/ballmill.htm

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.
bpetno2 years ago
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?
jf78 (author)  bpetno2 years ago
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.
odiekokee jf781 year ago
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.
bpetno2 years ago
would it be pausible to use a high power electric drill?
jf78 (author)  bpetno2 years ago
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?
jf78 (author)  snowluck23454 years ago
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.
ninefingers5 years ago
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.
sharlston5 years ago
my ball mill insnt angled but it works fine
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.
ninefingers5 years ago
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.
frollard6 years ago
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)
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.
jhonny6 years ago
wat is its purpose?
jf78 (author)  jhonny6 years ago
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.
ironsmiter6 years ago
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.
jf78 (author)  ironsmiter6 years ago
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
Punkguyta jf786 years ago
Are you telling me you haven't actually made this? What the hell
I THINK the jf78 was saying he didn't take PHOTOS of his build, because the instructable and therefore documentation were an after-thought. Not that he didn't do the actual build at all.
jf78 (author)  ironsmiter6 years ago
That is exactly what happend i seen the pictures for this on United Nucleur but since i do not have hundreds of dollars for one, i built it and then the next week i got the idea of doing this instructable. i have made this and it does work its just lacking pictures
frollard jf786 years ago
Your pictures are pretty darn good! They don't have to be uuber print quality! Simply snap some pictures of what the diagram on each step looks like - and put that picture on the same step. Add some annotations to give meaning between the diagram and the real thing!
lemonie6 years ago
If you've got a digital camera you should use it. You're bound to produce better-looking images that the Paint (?) diagrams. Otherwise this could be taken as just theory. L