Spinning Water Filter

Introduction: Spinning Water Filter

Keeping in mind the Oaxacan mezcal production techniques and the simplicity of the tools used I found my inspiration for my water filtration mechanism. The structure of the stone wheel used to make mezcal; the large stone wheel is turned by donkeys as it pivots in a circular space (often a cement well) to mash the pulp of the agave into a coarse paste and extract the juice (aguamiel), this is diluted with water to give it the necessary consistency for fermentation. Using the concept of a big solid spinning wheel I designed a wheel that filter out the runoff rainwater and collect the end product; instead of a donkey creating the kinetic energy to spin the stone wheel, this filter will use centrifugal force of a "lazy susan" to spin and cleanse water. Having the same structure as the common top loader washing machine, this filter will have a series of horizontal layers that resemble a set of Russian nesting dolls. This filter will have 5 layers total, each layer will increasingly get bigger and will include charcoal, gravel, coarse sand, and or fine sand. Thanks to the small holes in each layer, which structurally made up of a plastic container, the water spins it will "drain" horizontally and go through each layer until reaching the final collection layer. As the runoff water is being poured into the wheel centrifugal force will make it spin and pour out the water that has gone through the first filter layers will be forced through a copper tube and then into a final water collector.

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Step 1: Gather Materials

To build this water filter you'll need…


  • 4 - Suncast basic gardening buckets varying in size 6”-15” (We used seeping gardening buckets,Can be found here.)
  • 1 - Home depot bucket
  • 1999 Toyota Corolla car hub
    • A great alternative to car hub is Everbilt 6 in. Square Lazy-Susan Turntable
  • 4 - 3/16”-20tpi x 1” machine bolts
  • 4 - 3/16”-20tpi x 1.5” machine bolts
  • 8 - ½” x 3/16” flat washers
  • 4 - pressure washers
  • 1 - 1” 1 hole arm strap
  • 1 - 1” plastic water spigot
  • 1 - 1” Rainbird threaded cut off riser
  • 1 - 1” Dig thread x hose nipple
  • 1 - 1" Plastic faucet
  • 1 1/2 “ wood screws
  • Canvas tarp
  • Scrap wood
    • Has to be enough so an 18” in diameter circle can be cut out and 15” x 15” square
  • 1" wide pallet wood strips
    • If necessary cit scrap wood into 1" wide Straps
  • Charcoal
  • 1/4" gravel
  • Sand

Tools needed:

  • 3/16” crescent wrench
  • Drill or Driver
  • Phillips head drill bit
  • ¼” pilot hole drill bit
  • 3/16” pilot hole drill bit
  • 1” Pilot hole drill bit or step ladder drill bit
  • Table saw
  • Miter saw
  • Funnel
  • Common sense
  • Patience

Step 2: Lazy Susan Assemly

  • Cut a 18" in diameter circle
  • 15" x 15" x 1.5" square (you might need to glue and clamp wood pieces together to reach thickness).

Once you have cut out both the circle and square place the car hub or bearings onto the center of the square, then trace each bolt hole to reassure accuracy when you drill pilot holes. Then taking the drill bit drill pilot holes using a 3/16" bit. Once you have accomplished that start to thread 3/16”-20tpi x 1.5” machine bolts into holes. After that has been threaded to make to tighten and secure with crescent wrench.

Now center the 18" circle to the open car hub side and repeat the same process as above to attach 3/16”-20tpi x 1” machine bolts.

Now take your newly built Lazy Susan for a spin (literally!).

Step 3: Water Spigot Installation

Using a 1" pilot hole drill bit or step ladder drill bit you are going make hole on the lowest point of a desired side of the Home Depot Bucket, please make sure to leave at least a 1/2" space between the hole and the bottom the bucket.

Once you have the hole start to thread your 1" plastic faucet adapter to the inside of the buckets, then attach the 1" plastic spigot. Now using PVC glue attach and secure the 1" PVC nipple and 1" dig thread x hose nipple to each other, then to the spigot.

Step 4: Filter Base Assembly - Brackets

Now that you have the Lazy Susan built we must now move onto the top structural portion of the filter base.

Using your largest bucket, which should be the final water collector/Home Depot bucket, center it onto the circular portion of the Lazy Susan and trace. Once you have traced it you should have at least 6 inches left on the outside of the traced circle. Now it is time to to cut the 1" wide pallet wood strips into 3" x 1" strips and 12" x 1", in total you'll need 4 - 3"x1" strips and 4 - 12"x1" strips. Once you cut them start to assemble each in pairs, using 1 - 3"x1" and 1 - 12"x1" strip make an "L" and attach them together using either wood glue or 1.5" wood screws. Now starting attaching/screwing in your newly constructed "L" shaped brackets to the outside of each quadrant of your traced Home Depot bucket circle. Make sure they secured in tightly; for our filter we used about 3 wood screws per bracket. You can no slide in your Home Depot bucket into the brackets, make sure there isn't too much pressure, that could cause cracks onto the bucket and water leaks.

Step 5: Filter Assembly

Using a drill and a 1/8" drill bit start drilling multiple holes on each of the 4 gardening buckets; drill holes everywhere, except for the bottom circular face. Once the holes have been drilled start cut out 2 pieces from the canvas tarp that should fit and cover most of the in 15" and 12". Once that prep is finished start to gather your funnel, sand, charcoal, and gravel. The very first bucket (6") will not have anything inside, since it is the "entrance" bucket, following the 6" bucket is the 8" bucket. When filling the 8" make sure to have the 6" set niside of it (almost like a Russian nesting doll), make sure to use a funnel to ensure the outer layer of the 6" is almost completely or partially surrounded by the gravel. Now you will repeat that same step, except the next two buckets should have a canvas liner before you fill it with any of the filter elements. You may need to rinse out the charcoal layer before any domestic use.

The end result should look or have the same structure as a set of Russian nesting dolls

Step 6: Putting It All Together

Now just gently place the plastic gardening buckets onto of the Home Depot bucket, they should gently rest inside leaving about 6-8" of space of water collection.

Now take your centrifugal force water filter and start filtering some dirty water.

Happy filtering!


The Water for Oaxaca Team

Check out a progress/assembly video here!

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    2 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    This looks really interesting! I've never heard of a spinning water filter. I'd love to see a video of how it works.

    Water for Oaxaca
    Water for Oaxaca

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Heres a project summary video, we filmed the most crucial parts of the assembly.