Thursday, 30 September 2010

Build Your Own Homemade Gold Sluice Box

Author: Chris Ralph


Have you ever thought of going prospecting for gold? Using a sluice box may help you find more of that beautiful yellow stuff. Here how you can plan and build your own gold sluice box. These do it yourself projects are popular with lots of folks, and fun to think about even if you just end up buying a store bought product. Here are some thoughts on how to build your own do It Yourself, hand fed Gold Sluice Box – I think it’s a great project for beginners. A wooden sluice like this was the first piece of prospecting equipment I ever built.

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.


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 about 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). More information and detail on building a sluice can be found on the authors website.
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