How to Make a Die for a Pasta Extruder





Introduction: How to Make a Die for a Pasta Extruder

I've had a really cool hand crank pasta extruder for a few years but there are limited options for brass or copper pasta dies that fit.  After making my espresso tamper out of a chunk of copper I thought I'd move on to a marginally more complicated project.  Here's the way I made a new pasta die.  I made it at techshop with a fair amount of advice from their fantastic staff. 

In retrospect I should have either started with a more straight forward shape or taken the Tormach class and used a CNC mill to cut the curved profiles.  I'll almost certainly make stupider mistakes on my next project.

Let's get started!

Step 1: Shape the Outside

Toss a big chunk of metal (in this case copper) in a lathe and turn it down to the size that fits the extruder.  My machine uses 59mm for the outer diameter, 49mm for the inner.

Step 2: Flatten and Drill the Top

The way my extruder works, the dies have a large hole on the inside that tapers in towards the outside and they have a fairly thin profile of the final shape on the outside. 

After taking the piece of metal out of the lathe, I cut it on a horizontal band saw, then loaded it into a three jaw chuck on a rotary table on a vertical mill.

A couple of light passes with a fly cutter gave me a flat surface.  After that, I used a center drill to start the three holes that eventually would be used to shape the pasta.  After the center drill, I drilled a 1/16" pilot hole all the way through the die and then a 3/8" hole three quarters of the way through the die.

Step 3: Seek Help!

Having finished (or so I thought) the top side of the die I removed it from the chuck, flipped it over, and spent a while cluelessly looking at it.  The idea here is to cut a groove the shape of an S through the bottom of the die so that it lines up with the 3/8" holes I drilled on the other side.  After mumbling to myself for a while I took my piece of copper out to the front desk to consult the guys with beards.  It's not all that hard to tell which of these two was more helpful :)

Step 4: Do Something Complicated

Here's where I made another mistake.  What we came up with as a way to cut the curves was to recenter the die in the chuck, offset so that the center of each arc would be in the center of the chuck.  The pilot hole I drilled earlier gave me reference for where the center of the S would be but I'm left to my own stupidity to figure out where the center of each arc would be.  A few pieces of aluminum from the scrap bin stuck in the chuck as shims and I'm back in business cutting stuff (this time with a 1/16" endmill).  Maybe I should have measured instead of eyeballing it.  The first S ended up smaller than the other two, and I cut a shallow groove the wrong size before re-centering the piece and cutting through.  Such is life.

Step 5: Back to Drilling...

After cutting the profile for the pasta I needed to drill a larger hole on the top of the die since the S shape ended up being bigger than 3/8".  No big deal since a 1/2" bit was big enough to make it work.  After everything looked ok I used a pick to get rid of a couple of burrs and then sanded all the rough edges.

Step 6: Test It Out!

Hey look, it sort of looks like the others.  Even better, it fits the machine!

Step 7: Make Lunch!

Make some pasta dough (about 100 grams of 00 flour for each large egg), let it rest for half an hour at room temperature, then load it into the extruder.  Even though I removed all the burrs, sanded the surface smooth, and washed the die, I discarded the first handful of dough that I ran through the machine.  Eating metal shavings isn't high on my list of things to do today.

Cut the pasta around 1.5"-2" long, toss with flour, boil for maybe 7 minutes until it's done.  While the pasta is cooking toss some leftover sauteed mushrooms (in this case yellowfoot chanterelles we foraged for last week) in a pan with some butter, add some freshly grated parm, drain the pasta, toss it in the pan with the mushrooms, adjust the seasoning, and serve with a little oregano and piment d'espelette on top.



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    That is so cool that you made your own pasta die! One of my favorite vendor visits in Italy last year was going to the pasta die factory. And yes, we can get you many shapes for your Torchio. For those of you who lack the author's awesome skills or toolset, we're the next best thing. There's a die chart you can download from our website,

    Lovely simple press...took me five minutes to find one like it online! Is this a Bigolaro? I've been looking for a press like this; the plastic die collars do break on other machines. Now I must find one of these! Thanks for sharing.

    6 replies

    Exactly. For some reason the US distributor calls it a Torchio but as best I can tell they are the same product. I got mine from Emiliomiti in San Francisco.

    Thank you...that is the site that kept popping up when I searched. It looks like they have many different sizes. Which one do you show here, if you don't mind?
    Btw, I like the organic S-shape you chose. Nice way to showcase your sauce's density/texture.
    PS (I didn't know that bronze interacted with pasta dough, giving it more texture that allows sauce to stick better.)

    Mine is size 'B', it's the only one that you can change the die without disassembling the machine. I made another batch of pasta with this die tonight, it ended up being more like 115g of flour per egg - the firmer dough gave it a nice rough texture after running it through the extruder.

    TYVM! Good to know...I would not want to make only one kind each time. Saving up for one! :.)

    I think that's called Torchio because in Italy that instrument is called "torchio" (in italian "torchio" is a kind of press, often related to food or wine... or arts, that's quite the same ;) ) and that kind pasta is called "pasta trafilata al torchio" ("torchio wire drawn pasta", I hope that this literal translation could help... I've never had to explain that in english, sorry ;) )

    Great instructable!
    Thanks for sharing!

    Thanks for the explanation! That makes the name much clearer.

    hmm, i wonder if i can use my cookie press to make pasta?

    2 replies

    You might be able to, but be careful as pasta is MUCH more dense and the cookie extruder can break as a result.

    Good to know, thanks! The plates are aluminum, but the plunger is a plastic end on a metal rod, so maybe I won't risk it.

    Very nice! Sounds tasty too.

    The Instructable made me jealous, the recipe made me hungry! :D

    Your metal shop learning adventure was humourous, and seeing your possibilities with the metal lathe caused a bit of envy. I have a wood lathe, and can just imagine what sorts of fun metal turning might be.

    Nicely done - thanks for sharing!

    1 reply

    Thanks! I've been having a fantastic time and learning all sorts of stuff.

    Great! You're finding yellow chanterelles *now???* I pick those in august/september here... in Sweden, where the temp is now -10 C!

    1 reply

    Ya. The weather in California is quite a bit different :)

    very cool. gotta say the copper/brass look, pops!
    i make dies for my barrel extruders for ceramics. the white 'cutting board' material should be easy enough to use, for those 'doers' without access to mills/lathes, etc...; ^)
    can you give some info about your pasta extruder? built or bought?

    1 reply

    Thanks! I bought my pasta extruder, it's a pretty simple machine - brass tube, piston, crank, and a flange to bolt it down.  Here is a photo of a similar one.  Mine is almost the same but doesn't have any red.

    ¡Muchas gracias!