Introduction: Sushi Maker

When we moved from South Africa to Australia beginning of 2013, it was a bit of a shock to me to see how expensive things are in Australia. By bringing our South African Rands over, we had to divide them by 10 to get one AU Dollar. This meant that a AU$10 Sushi meal is equivalent to a R100, where as in South Africa you would not pay more than R25 or $2.50 for the same Sushi meal. I also came over without employment and did not earn the local currency as yet and that meant that we had to live of our savings, and that was in Rands.

This whole situation forced us to become more aware of every cent we use and subsequently, we simply stayed away from any restaurants and take away foods. That also meant that I couldn't enjoy Sushi that I loved so much. After a year without Sushi, I decided to check out how I could make my own and if it will be cheaper by making it myself.

I tried the conventional way of making Sushi with the bamboo mat and it worked (almost), but this method requires a lot of practice. Knowing that I will make Sushi 4 or 5 times a year, I simply will not get enough practice to perfect this method.

I researched a few commercial products and decided to make my own DIY version of a commercial product.

And another warning! You might use power tools during this construction and I urge you to use all the safety measures with regard to the tools you use. Please be careful as I cannot and will not take responsibility for any injuries that may arise from this build!

Step 1: Bill of Materials (BOM)

There is really not a lot to mention but here it is:

  • 500mm length of 40mm PVC pipe
  • Bicycle tube
  • Super glue
  • 300mm of 10mm x 10mm timber
  • Small piece of 42mm wide timber

Tools include the following:

  • Hack saw
  • Mitre saw
  • 40mm hole saw
  • Scissors
  • Sand paper

Step 2: Cut It!

First you will need to determine the length of your device. I worked on the width of the Nori-sheets (sea wheat sheets) that is available at our local retailer and added about 20mm to the length. The extra 20mm ensure that you can compress the Sushi roll sideways before pushing it out onto the Nori-sheet. The Nori sheets I am using is about 200mm wide, so I added 20mm and cut the PVC pipe 220mm long.

Next you need to split the PVC pipe down the middle. I did this with my bench saw but you can use a hack saw or mitre saw as well. Please be careful not to severe your limbs when using an electrical saw! After this I sanded everything to remove any loose PVC and smooth things out.

Now you can cut the clips that will keep your device closed when pushing out the Sushi roll. Make them around 25mm to 30mm wide and only cut open one side. Making them wider also increase their strength but it also makes it more difficult to get them over the main piece.

Cut out a strip of bicycle tube that you will use for the hinge. Now I know some people might say that the bicycle tube rubber is not food safe but if you look carefully at the pictures, you will notice that the rubber never come into contact with the food so it is pretty safe.

For the plunger, you can use any food safe material that is strong enough. I used wood, but that is a nightmare to clean afterwards, so if you can get your hands on plexi-glass or acrylic-glass, that will be better. Simply cut out a 40mm disk with your hole-saw and mount on a piece of 10mm x 10mm timber or any other food save material.

Sand everything and remove any sharp edges for ease of use. Now you are ready to assemble everything.

Step 3: Put It Together!

Now it is time to put everything together. Take the two halves of the main PVC pipe and place them on top of each other. Apply super glue where the rubber cut out must be glued and attach rubber. Be careful not to glue the PVC back together. Leave it to dry and check every now and again if the rubber is still firmly attached.

Take the 10mm x 10mm piece of timber and attach the 40mm disk to the end with a screw or glue. Make sure this part is strong because a lot of pressure will be applied on this part.

Leave everything to dry properly and then give it all a good wash. Now you are ready to make some sushi.

Step 4: Preparing Sushi Rice

You can buy a complete Sushi rice kit with all the ingredients and instructions included or you can use the recipe below.

Absorption Method

  1. Bring 1 cup rice (250g) and 1 1/2 cups water (375ml) to boil, stirring occasionally.
  2. Lower heat, cover and simmer 12-14 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and stand covered for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Now add your ingredients to make sushi rice.

Gentle Boil Method

  1. Bring 1 cup rice (250g) and 6-8 cups water to boil, stirring occasionally.
  2. REDUCE HEAT AND BOIL GENTLY, uncovered, 12-14 minutes.
  3. Drain well.
  4. Let the rice cool for 10 minutes, before adding your ingredients to make sushi rice.

Microwave Method

Use 1 cup rice to 1 1/3 cup water, however, as there are great variances between microwaves, refer to your microwave manual for instructions.

Ingredients for Sushi Rice

While the rice is still warm add the following ingredients. (This will make 2 rolls, approximately 24 Sushi pieces)

  • 1 cup Cooked Sushi Rice
  • 2 tablespoons Rice Vinegar (or 3-4 tablespoons Sushi Vinegar)
  • 1 tablespoons Sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt

After mixing ingredients let the rice mixture cool, before using.

Step 5: Suggested Fillings

Here is a list of suggested fillings. This list is by no means complete and is only limited by your imagination.

FISH: Raw, cooked, smoked or marinated:

Tuna, Salmon, Squid, Eel, Shrimp, Prawns, Crab Meat, Mussels, Caviar, Scallops & Oysters etc.

MEAT: Cooked or Smoked:

Chicken, Pork, Beef (also marinated)


Strips of Asparagus, Avocado, Capsicums, Carrots, Celery, Cucumber, Garlic, Red Onion, Spinach, Spring Onions, Sweet Corn etc.


Cream Cheese, Omelette strips, Pickled Ginger, Gherkins etc.


Wasabi paste, Chill paste, Ginger Paste, Japanese Horseradish (Green Mustard) etc.

Step 6: Make Your First Sushi Roll!

Now that you have your Sushi rice and ingredients ready, lets make some Sushi! Get your Sushi maker and add some spray-on olive oil or normal olive oil to the inside. This is to ensure that you can squeeze out the roll easily when finished.

Pack each side of the maker with about a quarter cup of Sushi rice. The exact amount will come with practice. Too much rice and you will have difficulty pushing out the roll. Too little rice and your roll will be too loose. Make a little channel in each half for your ingredients.

Now you can place your ingredients in the middle. Try not to put in too many ingredients as it may push out on the sides when you try to get the roll out of your Sushi maker.

When you are finished packing the ingredients, close your Sushi maker and put a clip on each side to keep it closed. Turn the Sushi maker on it's side and place the plunger on top. Compress the roll until the plunger is about 20mm into the tube.

At this stage, place your Sushi maker to one side and get a Nori sheet ready in front of you. Take the Sushi maker and from one side of the Nori sheet, gently push out the Sushi roll onto the Nori sheet. When you are finished, take some water and gently wet the end of the Nori sheet that will be on the outside. Start rolling up the Sushi roll in the Nori sheet until the end sticks.

Now you have a perfect Sushi roll. Take this roll and refrigerate for 10 to 15 min to soften the Nori sheet. Remove from fridge and cut into bite size pieces with a wet clean knife. I suggest you wipe and wet the knife after each cut so that the rice don't stick to the knife.

Step 7: Conclusion

As you can see from this little project, sometimes when some skill is required in doing something, there are ways to make it easier. It also show that when you do things yourself, you can do it at a fraction of the cost. I hope you enjoyed this Instructable and please visit my website for more great ideas and recipes.