Make a Ball Mill in 5 Minutes




About: Make a better Instructable, and the world will beat a path to your website.

This is for all the pyro nuts that I came across on Instructables.

This can be used to grind chemicals to a very fine grain or to polish rocks.

Wiki says "A ball mill is a type of grinder used to grind materials into extremely fine powder for use in paints, pyrotechnics, and ceramics."

Many instructables refer to United Nuclear Ball Mills. Their small ball mill cost between $70 and $80 dollars.

For no more than $30 and in 5 minute you can build a ball mill of appreciable performance.

Check out my other Instructables:
Hack The Spy Ear and Learn to Reverse Engineer a Circuit
Super Easy E-mail Encryption Using Gmail, Firefox and Windows
Make a Rechargeable Dual Voltage Power Supply for Electronic Projects
Make a Voltage Controlled Resistor and Use It

Step 1: What You Need

You need

1. A rugged container (You can use PVC pipes or big plastic bottles)
2. An electric screwdriver (these are fairly cheap, I got mine for $10)
3. A bolt, a nut and maybe a washer.
4. Epoxy putty.
5. Steel or lead balls which in my case I substituted with screwdriver bits that I got for $3.
6. A vise clamp to hold down your ball mill.

Step 2: Bolt the Container

Drill a hole dead center of the container's bottom. Put the bolt through the hole. Thread the nut tight.

Step 3: Join the Container to the Electric Screwdriver

This is the most important step. The joint holding the the container and electric screwdriver should be strong and able to hold the weight of the assembly.

Put a little putty on the bolt first. Insert the bolt into the screwdriver's bit holder. Cover the whole joint with putty. The more putty the better the ball mill stays together.

Step 4: Clamp the Assembly to a Table Top

Fill the container with the screwdriver bits or with steel balls or lead balls. Add the chemical you need to grind. Close the container and clamp the whole assembly to a table top.

I use a popsicle stick to hold the screwdriver button down. I jam it between the clam vise and electric screwdriver (see video). But that depends on your electric screwdriver.



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159 Discussions


8 years ago on Introduction

I may well be able to find a power drill at a resale shop, or buy an inexpensive one for the purpose. Any feedback on how well a power drill motor will hold up to being run for 24 hours continuously?

I plan to make paper machie. I want to make a very fine paper pulp. While I doubt this is flammable, I would like to hear any comments on this as well. Who'd a thought flour was explosive?

3 replies

Reply 10 months ago

To make paper one of the best fibers to use are cotton lint from dryer. Also prime material for high grade nitrocellulose. Is is safer than gun/ black powder.


Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

If you want fine paper pulp, you may wish to consider using a blender. Ball mills are typically only needed for moderately-to-very hard materials that need to be crushed to effectively split them, and which might damage a blender if used in it.


Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

I seriously doubt paper will ignite. Also, if you can get a motor that plugs in, you dont have to worry about battery life. I got my motor for mine from a fan.


1 year ago

Instead of using an electric screw driver, you could use a drill and a drill bit. Just putty the drill bit (preferably an old one) to the bolt inside the container. Seems like it would be a more powerful ball mill. But I'm definitely going to try this idea. Seems like it would be cool to make some gun powder. There's some simple step-by-step instructions on Wiki How if you guys need some instructions.


1 year ago

I would stay away from lead if you are making gun powder. That smoke that surrounds black powder ignition is not good for you. Fine particles of lead suspended in that smoke would be hell on your lungs etc.. i use a tumbler to get crud off of coins taken from the sea. Beach sand won't work well with water to do the job. But the sand at the oceans edge which is coarse makes a great scrubbing agent. Maybe some aquarium gravel would work to reduce some objects in size. Commercial media is often hell to work with.


11 years ago on Step 4

hmm... methinks you should support the container. lead balls are heavy and (I'm assuming most people will want to make gunpowder with this so they'll have to use only lead balls) the current setup is going to make the screwdriver wear a lot, and the bottom of the container isn't going to last very long... I like this idea though, I haven't found a suitable motor to drive my ball mill, they're all either too weak or they're way too fast.

13 replies

Reply 1 year ago

I know this is quite literally 10 years late, but for other hobbyists, try supporting it with a screw on the other side like the design pictured. The back end's screw can go through a piece of wood, brick etc. at the same level as the screw driver, creating a healthy amount of support, for a vitamin bottle filled with lead Potassium Nitrate, Sulfur and Carbon.

Ball Mill.png

Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

Supporting the container world be tricky, but posiible. Try something like this. Not quite sure what you'd make it out of, but something along that idea.


Reply 2 years ago

2 of those, connected by a rod, with roller skate bearings?


OR, you could just attach a bolt into the cap like he did for the bottom. Make a triangular piece of wood. Drill a hole for the bolt to fit through. And find some way to support the piece of wood? Seems like it would work to me, could even make your own cradle to support everything for that matter :P I'd never use something like this so have no need to make one, but that would be my advice :D


Reply 11 years ago on Step 4

Can you only use lead if you intend to make black powder? Why does it have to be lead?


Reply 3 years ago on Step 4

i know this is mega necro, but.... you use lead because it doesnt spark. steel and ceramics do. if you're making black powder... well... kaboom...


Reply 3 years ago

to mill with? Technically yes. I wouldnt. Mill at all with them. All of your milling media will break down, and I don't want to deal with glass shards xP. For milling black powder?..... Eh... I don't know. For the record you cab mill with ANYTHING hard and heavy. You don't have to have glass /balls/. Similarly while lead spheres are hard to find, fishing sinkers are not, and work great. As do lead bullets....I actually mill things with a bunch of musket bullets xP. They arnt round. They work fine.