Mike's Trommel

email:  mikelaine(at)sbcglobal.net

Here you'll find directions to build an inexpensive, compact, and light weight hand trommel.  It is designed to classify quantity material for your dry-washer, sluice, pan, or garden, and can also be used as a worm harvester.  The cost of construction is around $50.


  • Light
  • Shortens dry-washer run time
  • Helps dry damp material for dry-washer
  • Classifies so material carried to dry-washer or sluice is not large, heavy rocks
  • Inexpensive
  • Excellent worm harvester and compost sifter / screener
  • Tumbling shakes and separates gold from rocks (higher yield)
  • Compacts for easy storage up on end or light enough to hang on the wall
  • Built from easily available materials
  • Can be used for gardening / composting / aggregate classification
  • Readily replaceable parts
  • Quickly classifies large quantities of material
  • Take many buckets of classified material home to work
  • Sturdy and weather proof
  • Is adaptable to high banker, hanging sluice, and recirculating water use
  • Allows material to be re-run as many times as necessary
  • Plans are free (the right price!)
  • Email if you need assistance
  • No electrical or gas engine parts
  • Turns effortlessly
  • Ergonomically designed with an upgrade idea available below
  • Saves buckets from early death due to rocking bucket type classifiers
  • Can be used by yourself or accommodates teamwork
  • You don't get tired or sore from rocking buckets or shaking classifying screens
  • It's also fun to build!

  • 2 Five Gallon Buckets (.75 mil or greater gauge)
  • 1 roll #19 gauge 1/2" Mesh Hardware Cloth Screen (or woven is better if you can find it)
  • 20' X 1" PVC Pipe
  • 6 PVC 1" Elbow Fittings
  • 5 PVC 1" Cap Fittings
  • 1 PVC 4 X 1" Cross Fitting
  • 5 PVC 1" T Fittings
  • 1 PVC 1" Coupling Fitting
  • 4 HYCO 12" Pipe Strap Bar
  • 2 Bags #8-32 X 1/2" Machine Screws  (comes 8 pack)  (need 16 bolts with nuts)
  • 1 Bag  #8 Washers (comes 30 pack)  (need 16 #8 washers or larger fender washers)
  • 2 Bags #10-32 X 2" Machine Screws (comes 4 pack) (need 8 bolts with nuts)
  • 1 Can PVC Cement
  •           3 Hose Clamps 1 3/4" (Optional)
  •         1 Old Bicycle Tube     (Optional)

$  2.78  ea
$11.97  ea

$  5.61  ea
$    .57  ea

$    .54  ea
$  2.34  ea

$    .57  ea
$    .42  ea
$    .78  ea
$    .98  ea

$    .98  ea

$    .98  ea

$  4.44  ea

Total  $47.33 + Tax

  • Drill and Bits
  • Sabre Saw
  • Screw Driver
  • PVC Cutter or Hack Saw
  • Tin Snips
  • Needle Nose Pliers
  • 1/2 round File or 1 3/8" hole drill
  • Tape Measure
  • Emery Cloth or Sand Paper
  • Cut 11 pieces 1" PVC X 6" Spacers.
  • Cut 1 piece 1" PVC X 41 1/2" Axle.
  • Cut 2 pieces 1" PVC X 29" Sides.
  • Cut 2 pieces 1" PVC X 14" Front Legs.
  • Cut 2 Pieces 1" PVC X 21" Rear Legs.
  • Cut buckets 7" from top.
  • Cut bottoms from buckets to leave material for hopper.
  • Cut screen 24" X 39" leaving long wire ends on sides to connect by bending.
  • Attach wire screen to outside of upper bucket and inside of lower bucket using 4 bolts with washers.
  • Cut 8 Strap Bars 6 " long and bend 1/2" at ends to 90 degrees which leaves a distance of 5" from axle to bucket.
  • Drill offset axle holes at 90 degrees about 4" from front axle end and bolt barrel supports.
  • Drill offset axle holes at 90 degrees about 13" from rear axle end and bolt barrel supports.
  • Glue the coupling to rear axle.
  • Assemble and glue handle assembly using cap, three six inch pieces, and two elbows.
  • Sand 2" of forward axle to easily fit "T."
  • Connect and bolt axle to barrels checking for 1/2" clearance at front.
  • Bearings are front "T" fitting and rear 4 X 1" Cross fitting.  They are drilled, liberally lithium greased, and bolted, not glued so they can easily be replaced when worn out.  File or drill the inside of 1" X 4 fitting until handle assembly slides easily though to connect to axle's coupling.
  • Assemble frame and check for clearance.  Do not glue legs to "T" fittings on frame.  In the future legs can be stored inside of trommel or bungeed to stay in place.  Glue frame and set legs slightly outward for added stability.  Slide handle assembly through greased rear bearing and into coupling.  Drill and bolt handle assembly to coupling and also where bearings attach frame.
  • Cut each remaining bucket material down the side from top to bottom.  Overlap the two pieces by 2".  Drill 5 holes then bolt together.  (Or buy another bucket and use half to have a smooth hopper slide.)
  • Drill and bolt the hopper assembly to frame checking for clearance from struts and close fit so rocks can't slide under the hopper.  Trim using snips being sure to round edges where it enters barrel. 
  • Optionally attach bicycle tube dust shields (highly recommended to prevent wear.)

           * Hint:  Use back-lighting when attaching axle struts to barrels.  It is much easier to see where
 to drill.




Hopper Construction:



......... and here's where I store mine.

Compost and Worm Harvester


Trommel Upgrade
Ergonomic Frame with Bucket or Sluice Flume

See Trommel Upgrade

Legs come apart with an interior bungee threaded through 1/2" holes and knotted.  There are 45 degree fittings glued to 1" X 2" nipples on the front legs giving more room for tailings to pile.  Couplings of  1 1/4" X 6" PVC pipe have been glued to  1" X 3" nipples from "T's" to slip-attach legs.  The legs have been extended and a bucket flume ( 1 bucket with bottom cut off and sliced down the side) is added to allow buckets to be filled under the trommel.  Front leg extensions are now 21" and the rear legs are 24 1/2".  On a side note I have cut screens of different size mesh to sleeve over the barrel.  The size of the screens are 22" X 38"  with 3/4" folded over on each end of the 38" length so to thread smoothly around the barrel.

See Mesh Size Change

Trommel in the Water

Trommel in the Desert Southwest

Trommel in the river with sluice.

Guest Speaker

Temecula Valley Prospectors Meeting

A Chapter of the Gold Prospectors Association of America

Check out this great day at the claim!

Copyright Laine 2010