Make a Ball Mill in 5 Minutes




Introduction: 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.

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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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158 Discussions

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.

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.

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.

17 replies

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

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.


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

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

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...

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.

Lead ball for shooting out of black powder rifles should work fine and are easy to come by. (If a little expensive without having other uses for them.)

Lead or brass can be used for black powder.

No you can also use some of the new ceramic balls but they're even more expensive than lead balls. The reason you have to use lead or ceramic balls is because the won't spark when they slam together in the ball mill. Which if you were making black powder or another explosive chemical would otherwise result in an explosion.

Powders can explode due to the mix of fine particles and air. If you have ever worked in dangerous situations and had the "Health and Safety" training videos, you may have seen the "Exploding Flour Lorry" video. You wouldn't normally associate flour as in the stuff you bake with as being highly explosive. The video shows a flour truck being detonated, the film crew are about half a mile away when they ignite the truck contents. They couldn't fine anything of the truck other than a mangled chassis and one set of wheels. The rest of the truck had been blown to bits. So when grinding, you are advised to follow some basic H&S protocols or you could end up seriously hurting yourself, killing yourself or find the local anti-terrorism squad kicking your door off and holding you under the prevention of terrorism laws we all now live under. Happy grinding.