Coffee grinder mechanism

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Forum topic by Aaron_T posted 11-11-2008 03:31 AM 17263 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3 posts in 3453 days

11-11-2008 03:31 AM


After finding a couple coffee grinders in the Projects showcase as a result of a google search I decided to make this post. I would like to make several coffee grinders as Christmas gifts for some coffee addicted friends. The intention is for them to have coffee grinders to use, not just look at. As such I am concerned about the quality and usability of the coffee grinding mechanism I have been able to find online.

It appears that most of the mechanisms sold are imported by Penn State Industries, including the ones sold by Rockler (less expensive from PSI than Rockler!). Interestingly Rockler’s site suggests these are for decorative use only while a person I talked to at PSI said they had never heard that before.

The only other mechanisms I can find for sale are from the Woodturners Catalog. I think these are different, at least one of them is definitely different.

Does someone know of another source? How about opinions on the mechanisms listed above?

I have heard from one person that used the PKGRIND3 mechanism from PSI. To summarize his comments: it works okay, slow grinding, beans do not self feed, for decorative use only is appropriate.

Thanks for any info that can be provided!

- Aaron_T

16 replies so far

View Steelmum's profile


355 posts in 3932 days

#1 posted 11-11-2008 02:53 PM

I use a coffee grinder, its electric. Coffee beans are hard and you need to grind them very fine. I think that for hand grinding a pepper mill would be more appropriate. This is just the opinion of a woodworker that is one heck of a cook. A pepper mill is useful, there is no way I would grind coffee beans by hand.

-- Berta in NC

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1519 posts in 4094 days

#2 posted 11-11-2008 07:40 PM

I have a fairly expensive burr grinder in the kitchen. I’d love to replace it with something small that can turn out 2 tsps of a consistent grind every morning, especially something that’s pretty and fits in the decor of the kitchen, but I haven’t found that mechanism yet. So I’m just another person interested in your search.

Steelmum, that’s an interesting idea about the pepper mill, but neither of mine give consistent sized output, I get powder and chunks.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View Rustic's profile


3253 posts in 3566 days

#3 posted 11-11-2008 07:56 PM

Woodcraft has them

--, Rick Kruse, Grand Rapids, MI

View Aaron_T's profile


3 posts in 3453 days

#4 posted 11-12-2008 01:05 AM

Thanks for the replies.

Coffee beans should not be ground fine if using a french press, which the intended recipients of my coffee grinders use. Electric grinders are great for waking up the entire house first thing in the morning, which I know about from experience. I currently have a cheap, plastic, manual grinder that does a good job of grinding beans for a french press. It’s not much to look at and would not make a very exciting gift.

If I wanted to buy instead of build it looks to me like Zassenhaus of Germany has a robust conical burr mechanism. Their grinders look nice too, but I really prefer to make my own housing. A German friend helped me write an email to Zassenhaus asking if they would sell just the mechanism. I am guessing they will not but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Woodcraft does not have grinder mechanisms listed on their web site. Maybe they did at one time. Even so, I bet they sold the same ones as Penn State Ind, Rockler, etc.

Today I called and talked to a helpful person at the Woodturner’s Catalog. She said their grinders (link in my original post) are imported from Taiwan but she did not say if they come from Penn State Ind. While on the phone she looked at the Penn State Ind. web site and said they do look very similar, and may be from the same factory. She had used the grinders before and said they do work but may not be up to my expectations.

The hunt continues…

- Aaron_T

View Stuart's profile


1 post in 3400 days

#5 posted 01-03-2009 09:02 PM


Did you make any more headway on this? I found your post trying to solve the same problem exactly—building a mill for use with a French press.

My son is headed to Germany for a few months. Maybe he can track down a source of the mechanisms used by Zassenhaus, because I don’t see anything else available here.



View Aaron_T's profile


3 posts in 3453 days

#6 posted 01-04-2009 03:12 AM

Hi Stuart,

Sounds like we are on the same hunt. I had no luck finding a high quality grinding mechanism. The only ones I was able to find are those linked in my original post.

With the help of a German friend I contacted Zassenhaus. It took them a loooonnng time to get back with me. We emailed them several times and called three times. Each time we were told “they were looking into it.” Then, about 5 weeks after our initial contact, I received an email saying “sorry we do not sell just the mechanism.” I wish they would have just said that in the first place rather than leading me on for over a month.

Though they would not be for Christmas presents anymore, I would still like to build three grinders. If your son has any luck finding a source I would be eager to know about it.

Thanks for the follow up and good luck in your search!

- Aaron

PS: Yet another friend of mine has gone to a French press for coffee, it was a Christmas present from his wife at my wife’s suggestion. He agrees with the rest of us that the coffee is richer and less bitter.

View itsrob's profile


1 post in 3293 days

#7 posted 04-20-2009 08:56 PM

I’ve been using this camping grinder for years and decided I wanted to try and make my own housing so I recently ordered a couple more of them for re-purposing. One thing I like about them is they look much different from the traditional “cast iron with a dome” variety. These grinders get mixed reviews, but I’ve enjoyed mine. I can grind enough for my french press in the time it takes the water to boil.

The mechanism looks like it will be easy to remove, at least from my old one. It has ceramic burrs so I think the Crush Grind series of mechanisms might be similar. The upper section is attached with a wingnut that is also used to adjust the grind (easiest adjustment I’ve ever seen). The lower section of the burrs is attached to the plastic housing with a couple of screws. Your local camping store might have one of these to look at.

Looking around on the web I also found a simple bowl style grinder here:

View tiikeri's profile


1 post in 3276 days

#8 posted 05-07-2009 03:24 PM

I’ve been struggling with the same issue. I’m designing a manual coffee mill as my Master thesis work and realized how impossible it is to get the mechanisms.
What I consider important in hand grinding is that I believe it would be good for people to do something with hands and slow down a bit. When grinding coffee manually you can’t basically do anything else than think meanwhile achieving something, both things essential for wellbeing.

View Dean J's profile

Dean J

19 posts in 3013 days

#9 posted 02-17-2010 06:14 PM

If anyone finds a good source for a conical mill mechanism, it’d be awesome.

View poopiekat's profile


4349 posts in 3704 days

#10 posted 02-17-2010 08:24 PM

Lee Valley:,250,43298
There ya go!

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View Dean J's profile

Dean J

19 posts in 3013 days

#11 posted 02-17-2010 08:52 PM

@poopiekat; the same grinder is cheaper on the Penn State Industries site, mentioned earlier in the thread. I’m looking for a conical burr grinder, which more evenly chops everything up; problem is, they only seem to come with the box already attached! :-)

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3240 days

#12 posted 02-17-2010 09:46 PM

Another good manufacturer is Tre Spade – Italy – I had a friend that worked in one of the coffee places as a barrista – she said they used Tre Spade’s…and that they came in separate boxes which required them to be assembled. Perhaps they might sell the mill mechanism as a separate item? Otherwise…you might just look around at yard sales, thrift stores, goodwill…...etc…buy a used/older unit, trash the box and make your own….Most folks consider the hand crank items as junk (thinking the electric ones are better) so the prices would be inexpensive.

Didn’t see that this was so old a post….but may be a solution.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View johnsouky's profile


2 posts in 2984 days

#13 posted 02-23-2010 08:27 PM


I just want to let you those links regarding coffee grinder, i hope it will help you. Let me know.

Have a nice day!

View jasnyc's profile


10 posts in 2645 days

#14 posted 02-12-2011 11:24 PM

Anybody find conical burr grinder mechanisms?

View flatscat's profile


8 posts in 1580 days

#15 posted 12-30-2016 05:29 PM

Lee Valley has a nice model that should be the cats meow.

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