Thursday, July 28, 2011

Do It Yourself, Homemade Gold Sluice Box

Have you wondered if using a sluice box would help you find more gold?  Here how you can plan and build your own gold sluice box......
 
 
A sluice box lined with riffles is one of the oldest forms of gravity separation devices still being used today. They are simple and have been in use all across the world for thousands of years. A sluice is really nothing more than an artificial channel lined with devices to catch gold through which water flows moving the lighter materials such as clay, sands and gravels out of the sluice. They heavier materials remain behind, trapped by the riffles. For many years, most sluice boxes were home made affairs designed and built in the gold prospector himself. To this day, in the gold bearing regions of  third world countries, prospectors design and build sluice boxes out the most unusual items – sometimes whatever materials are available locally. You don't really need any special sluice box plans - the exact size is really not all that critical.  They come in all sizes and a can range from small, portable aluminum models used for prospecting all the way up to large sluice boxes hundreds of feet long, which are used at fixed installations in commercial operations.
Making your own gold sluice is actually a very good beginning project for new prospectors in my opinion. Just take a close look at the sluices being offered by the manufacturers, and that will show you how to build your own sluice box.  It won't be difficult to get some ideas to make your own plans. Sluice boxes can be made out of wood, aluminum, plastic or steel. Injection molded plastic is not really an option easily available to the do-it-yourself prospector, and steel has a tendency to rust, so wood and aluminum are the preferred options.
In developing plans for a homemade sluice box, the more time you spend thinking about your design, the better. You don't want to have to buy parts you don't need, but on the other hand your slice box needs to work and catch the gold efficiently. A good plan and a good understanding of how a sluice box traps gold are important to your design. I think using miners moss underneath your riffles is a real important item for capturing that fine gold. That is why miners moss is used in the sluices of nearly all commercial suction gold dredges. Having a liner underneath the riffles is an important aid in catching small gold dust, and is very worthwhile. I went with miners moss under all the riffles in my sluice, and I strongly recommend it for you.
   
The typical wooden homemade sluice is made of boards and varies in width from 8 to 18 inches, usually with a depth of 6 inches to a foot.  A typical length would be in the three to 6 foot range. Riffles can be made from half inch square dowel nailed about every 6 inches down the length of the sluice.  The section without riffles in the top of the box about a foot long is often left for the spot where material shoveled in.  This type of sluice box does catch gold, and is easy to build, but is hard to clean out at the end of the day.  In addition the gravel will beat up the wooden riffles over time.  It is also possible to create steel riffles that fit inside a wooden sluice, and in that case you can also use miners Moss or some similar material to line the bottom of the sluice underneath the metal riffles.
Homemade sluices can also be made from lightweight aluminum. Wooden sluices tend to become waterlogged in increased greatly in weight after they have been in the water for time.  This gives aluminum quite an advantage and it is certainly preferred in the construction of the homemade sluice.  The trough of the sluice, whether aluminum or wood, is usually roughly the same size.
For those interested in making their own home made hand fed sluice box from aluminum with steel riffles as a do it yourself type of project, I can say if you have any metal fabrication skills, you will find this an easy project. A little welding, a little metal folding and the project is done. If you purchase fairly thin aluminum sheet it will be possible to bend it yourself into the trough shape as a single piece (just don’t go too thin).
The prospector's portable gold sluice box has an advantage that it can be quickly taken up and moved to a new location, as the prospector searches for spot with good gold. The grade slope when the sluice is set up usually ranges from about one to 2 inches per foot.
The riffles are really the most important part because they are the part of the sluice box that catches the gold. Riffles are often assembled from small slats of steel set at about 45° angle held in place by a rail on either side. They are best assembled by being welded together.  Take a look at the pictures with this article and you can see how I have welded my riffles together into a single easily removable piece.  Keene and many other sluice box makers do the exact same thing.  This makes the riffles easy to remove when it is time to clean the sluice out undercover the gold. Removable riffles, whether in wooden or metal troughs are held down with bots or wedges to keep them from moving around. Now my welds aren't pretty, but they do the job - they just need to be sturdy and hold the riffles in place.  I so strongly recommend that you consider buying one of these welders that I have done up a whole web page on it. If you are seriously considering building your own sluice box, check out my page: Low Cost, Small Arc Welders For Home Use
The more tools and fabricating skills you possess, the more likely it is that your home made dredge project will be a success. I have done up a page on the hand tools needed for this type of project, you can check it out at:  Mining Project Necessary Tools
If you would like to view some more information on how to operate a sluice box, be sure to check out my webpage on using one:  How To Use A Sluice Box To Find Gold
The hand sluice properly set up with smooth flowing water.
Prospecting with the Grandson - Priceless!

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