Subsistence farmers in Guatemala leave corn on the stalks in their fields until it dries, then they shell it by hand, picking off the kernels with their fingers to grind into corn flour. Shelling tools make the work much faster, but commercial ones made of aluminum or resin can cost too much for a poor family.

On a work trip to a Guatemalan town with Engineers Without Borders - USA, Larry Bentley invented a sheller made from used cans and cement. It's cheaper than store-bought shellers, and it's made from materials that anyone in the town can get their hands on.

Bentley shared his notes and photos with us and we posted a how-to guide on our site. Now, we'd like to share Bentley's corn sheller with Instructables.

What you'll need:
  • Metal cans
  • Can opener
  • Needle-nosed pliers
  • Cement
  • Sand

Photo credits:
All corn sheller photos by Larry Bentley
Corn stalks overlooking Lago d'Atitlan in Guatemala by IMs BILDARKIV / Flickr

Step 1: Step One: Two Cans

Start with two used cans. One should be slightly smaller than the other to fit inside. 

Using the can opener, cut out the bottoms of both cans so that they are open at both ends.
Wonderful! I've been grinding my own flour for a while and wanted to try corn meal, but can't afford a sheller. Thanks so much for posting this.
Damn, this sounds nifty! Now I gotta find out how the actual corn-shelling works... <br>

About This Instructable




Bio: E4C’s mission is to improve the lives of underserved communities by better preparing the global development workforce, optimizing the solutions development cycle, and ensuring ... More »
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