Picture of How to make an espresso tamper
Here's my first Instructables project and I made it at Techshop. A shiny new 58.4mm espresso tamper!  I started with a 2.5"x12" copper round rod and a basic understanding of how to use a metal lathe and a vertical mill.  As it turns out, making a round thing into a smaller round thing just isn't that difficult.

Here's what I did:
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Step 1: Roughly shape the sides

Picture of Roughly shape the sides
I used a steady rest because the material I was working with was too thick to fit through the headstock of the lathe and too long to be stable on its own.  First I machined the face flat, then brought the diameter down close to the final dimension I was looking for - in this case I ended up at 59mm with the plan that the finished tamper would be 58.4mm.

Step 2: Shape the top

Picture of Shape the top
I used the compound rest to curve the top of the tamper then drilled a 5/16" hole in the center.

Step 3: Finish the sides

Picture of Finish the sides
Once I had a way to support the copper rod from both ends I removed the steady rest and turned the material down to the target size.

Step 4: Tap the hole

Picture of Tap the hole
Start with the tap in a drill chuck so you can be sure it's square, finish by hand. Copper is miserable to tap, this was the most irritating part of the project.  On the bright side, I got to test fit the handle afterwards.

Step 5: Chop it off!

Picture of chop it off!
Throw the thing in a horizontal bandsaw and cut it off.

Step 6: Flatten the bottom

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I used a fly cutter on the mill to flatten the bottom, figuring that it was easier to get the piece level using parallels than it would be by hand in the lathe chuck.

Step 7: Clean up and assemble

Picture of clean up and assemble
Remove the burr if there is one, screw the handle on and take it home.

Step 8: Put it to use!

Picture of Put it to use!
stroland2 years ago
Great looking. I do not have a piece of copper that big, but I think I will just make one out of wood (maple or mesquite). I really think wood would be fine for this purpose. I might epoxy a copper disk to the bottom just for looks.
FoodGeek (author)  stroland2 years ago
Nice! The only real advantage copper offers is weight, it's easier for me to get an even tamp if the tamper is really bottom heavy.
The only copper rod I found in that size was over 100$ for 12". I think I can add some weight in a wooden one. I am very intrigued by what you have done and now I jus need to try it.
FoodGeek (author)  stroland2 years ago
Seems like a solid plan. I'd love to see what you end up making.
timo8882 years ago
No TechShop in my area yet but I left them a note. A great idea. What makes copper difficult to tap BTW? How is the bolt secured to the wooden handle, epoxy? How did you make the wooden handle? How is the radiused edge given to the top rim of the copper tamper?
FoodGeek (author)  timo8882 years ago
Copper is sticky so the tap needs to be backed out and cleaned all the freaking time.

The bolt is just threaded in to the wood, since you're only pushing down and the handle touches the metal it only needs to be strong enough to not fall apart. Epoxy is a better idea.

I made the handle on a wood lathe in my garage.

The top edge is rounded on the metal lathe, just turning both cranks trying to get a nice curve.
Thanks for the reply. You did get a nice curve on it. I like it a lot. Makes me want to make one myself. Do you intend to make more of the copper pistons as a hobby business? I just bought a small wood lathe made in the 1930s, hoping to learn how to turn wood. I have not used a wood lathe or a metal lathe before.
fiddy52 years ago
Wonderfully well made, wish I had aceses to your toys