Useful Info and Projects for the do it Yourself Miner

Table of Contents

  1. Battery Powered mini-highbanker
  2. Diamond catcher or sarouka
  3. Bucket Classifier
  4. Phil's Mining Tips and Tricks
  5. Highbankers
  6. Poop Tube Concentrator
  7. The Recreational Gold Prospecting and Mining Page (Great Link!)
  8. Home Made Dredge Plans and Photos

Diamond Catcher or Sarouka

You can easily make your own sarouka or as you spelled it shirocko (I'm not sure how it is spelled but is pronounced as I spelled it.) (The deposit to use one at Crater of Diamonds, Arkansas, was $32 when we were there over a year ago.  They may sell them or at least could tell you where to buy one.)
You can use ordinary screen wire (Stainless of a slightly smaller mesh is more durable and better but costs more etc).  The way I use
ordinary screen wire is to use two pieces  aligned so that the pieces are rotated 45 degrees  from each other.  Now all you need is a 5 gal bucket you are willing to cut up. 
Cut a ring (about 2" high) from the upper part of the bucket ( the part where the bail hooks on be cause it is sturdier than the rest). 
Now cut a second ring that will fit inside of the one cut from the top of the bucket..   (A stiff metal ring or ring of heavy pvc pipe works better.)
Lay the screen over the larger ring and force the smaller ring  into the larger ring wedging the screen between the two rings.  You should
now have a sort of round semi flat bottom screen. 
The next step is to create a rounded bottom to your screen.  It should slope about   1" from the edges to the center.    Simply use your fist or some other blunt object to poke in the center of the screen until you have forced about a 1" slope.   
Finally cut away any excess screen that sticks
out the top so it is even with the top of the rings and secure the rings together with pop rivets  in about 5 places. 
You have a sarouka.
Place you material in it, shake it side to side to center material, jig it up and down vigirously in a tub of water, flip it upside down, all the heavy stuff like quartz, magnetite, garnets, DIAMONDS  will be on top and in the center of the pile.
Try it with bits of brass, lead etc.    It works.  Doesnt work as well for gold.  The gold is so heavy it burries itself when you flip it over.    
Don Young, Dallas Tx.

Back to Top

Bucket Classifier

Cut the bottom out of a plastic bucket, leaving a 3/4" to 1" ledge on the bottom.
Cut your screen to fit so that it lays flat on the ledge you left. Leave about 1/4 " gap so if fits loosely and lays flat.
Put a bead on the inside of the ledge, about 1/4" from the edge, and with about 1/8" thick GE silicone2, the clear type. This stuff lasts forever once set...
Lay the screen on the silicone and gently press in place, till mostly embedded in the 1/8" bead. Allow to dry till screen held tightly in place.
Carefully, re-silicone the screen on place, putting about 1/4" thick layer, and tapering the sides so that all material is directed to the screen. Smooth the final coat while still wet, and allow to really dry all the way per instructions on tube.
Once this is dry, the silicone will last longer than the bucket or the screen... and you'll have no sharp edges to deal with. The bucket will still nest in other buckets, etc. I've made a series of these, each for different conditions. I start with 1/8" hardware cloth, which I use to screen the fines for separation. Then I have one with 1/4" hardware cloth, one with 1/2", one with 3/4" and the largest with 1" hardware cloth. Many times you'll find yourself in a place where a different size is more applicable to the material you're working!
Have fun!


Back to Top

Phil's Mining Tips and Tricks

[This page contains a collection of hints and tips sent in by some of the
best prospectors around: the visitors to the Minin' Gold web site. If
you have any ideas, hints or tips you would like to share, please send
them off to or use the postcard. The latest additions will
appear first so you don't have to wade through the ones you have
already read.

Panning Tubs
Rich Downing, California
I use the blue food grade barrels (plastic) approx. 55 gal. I cut these
with a skill saw about 8 to 10 inches tall. You get two out of a barrel
if you find them with the caps in place. I use them for panning out the
cleanings from my sluice at my camp site or at
home. I generally pay five dollars per barrel.

Jack Hipp, Oregon
I also use the blue 55 gal. food grade plastic barrels, but instead I
cut them lengthwise and have 2 very good panning troughs for several to
use at once, or use one for the discharge of my "pooptube" classifier
and the other for a source of clean water for the
operation. Supported on 2 2x4's they are also very easy to clean out and
can be drained with the 2 caps.

Sluice Cleanup
Rich Downing, California
I have found that the produce drawers from old refrigerators work well
for getting everything out of the sluice on my dredge. Just find one
that is slightly wider than the end of your sluice.

Riffle Material
From Spyder, Oregon
In the sewing/crafts department of the local Walmart or similar
department stores you can find a material I believe is called crochet
canvas or something to that effect. Essentially, it is a 12 inch square
piece of Plastic screen which fits nicely between the
carpet and riffles of a sluice box. It greatly increases the recovery of
fine gold.

Flood Gold
From Dennis Krupnak, California
After a heavy rain, test pan the side streams that form off the main
stream channel. Many are just small diversions that flow back into the
main stream. They are often good sites for fine flood gold which will be
close to the surface. The best concentrations are
usually at the point where the branch first leaves the main stream, but
be sure to test farther down also.

From Dave Peck, Nevada
I have been gold dredging the past several years, and have found myself
in public areas that have been dredged many times before. I had spoken
to an older couple that had been doing this for quite sometime, and they
told me something interesting. They explained to me that in the late
summer in the drier season, the bedrock dries and shrinks, creating
pockets, cracks, and crevices.
In the wetter season, the rush of water moving material down stream
fills these areas, and as the bedrock absorbs the water, it
swells, thus closing the cracks and pockets.

This last summer, I was in a area that had a lot of bedrock that had
been cleaned very  well by others. I thought I'd give it a try, so I
took a crowbar and screwdriver and pried the bedrock apart (it came
apart in sheets), and there between the bedrock sheets
was gold, sometimes one to two feet below the surface of the bedrock. I
hadn't thought of it before I was told, so just thought I'd let others

From Brian Benn, California
Another idea for a classifying screen was given to me by a guy named
Henry Henry. He is a great prospector. He goes to Alaska with the GPAA
and used to pal around with the Buzzard.

Anyway, all you do is get a 4 inch long piece of plastic pipe (pvc) or a
section of a plastic bucket. Cut some hardware cloth of whatever mesh
you want to the same diameter as your plastic pipe. Heat the bottom end
of the pipe on an old hot plate or wood stove. When the plastic starts
to melt, take it off and set it on the wire cloth. The plastic will
solidify and "weld" the screen to the bottom of the pipe.

Large diameter pvc (8 to 12 inch) works good. The thicker the pipe wall
the better. Scrap pipe can be found at construction sites and scrap bins
around industrial sites.

From Brian Benn, California
Henry Henry also has a unique highbanker design in that it has no
riffles, just carpet. It's like a beach box. The larger rocks that make
it through the grizzly clear off the sluice really fast so he can feed
it faster. He might lose some gold but I think he figures that if he
loses 10% but feeds 25% more material he'll come out ahead. It seems to
work too.

Cement Mixer
From Loren Baldwin, Arizona
Here in Arizona, we have a lot of gold bearing clay & caliche that I
separate using a small cement mixer, a couple of small barrels, some pvc
(to connect the barrels) and a small bilge pump (500 gph). Basically all
that I do is put a few shovelfuls of dirt in
the mixer, fill it with water, start the mixer, and recirculate the
water. All (or most) of the light material runs out of the mixer into
the first barrel, the water transfers into the second barrel, and is
recirculated with the pump. This method should work for moss also.

From Ron Watson, Washington
The simplest and cheapest classifier I've found is to take a plastic
bucket and drill holes in it, the size is personal preference. You
should pick a bucket that fits freely into your other buckets to make it
easier to twist back and forth during the classification process.

Clean Up Tub
From Joanne, Greg, and Azu Dueck, Canada
I have found the black Rubbermaid agricultural tubs to be excellent for
cleaning out a large sluice or dredge and working concentrates. I found
mine at a Co-Op store but the building supply stores probably have them
too. They are strong enough to drag around over uneven ground when full
of material and water.

They are fairly pricey but have a number of great features:
* Heavy construction with cross braces underneath
* Heavy, large, curl over rim for a full grip all the way around. Strong
enough to drill and put rope handles/attachments on.
* For large dredges, they will hold all the cons and still float to the
shore (carefully) once you empty some of the water out.
Dredgers can use rope attachments to hold the unit in place while doing
a clean up so that it won't sink and frees up another set of hands.
* Large enough to properly shake out those 'golden' mats.
* Range of sizes from (30 and 50 gallon seem to be a good medium size)
* For cleaning cons it is large enough for two people to pan into and
keep the overpan material in one spot. Also large enough to comfortably
screen your material.
* Large and sturdy enough to set up you clean-up concentrator inside
with overflow buckets etc.
I'm sure there are other brands and varieties out there, look around and
pick one for your needs. These larger tubs are great for the larger
operations or working the cons at home but are definitely not for
everyone even though the weight really isn't bad for
the size and uses.

Back to Top


Highbankers are basically a sluicebox with a hopper  and grizzly attached to the head and a pump used to circulate the water.  They can be operated away from the stream as long as there is a source of water for the pump.

Here's some plans for a highbanker from Jim Innes'

Highbanker Plans

Back to Top

Poop Tube Concentrator

We like to call it the "Stealth Concentrator"  because it is so quiet.   Sorta like a mini-highbanker.  Made out of basic PVC plumbing supplies.   Powered by a marine battery and a small bilge pump.

Grivy's Poop Tube Concentrator

Improved design - Stealth Concentrator - More Stable!

Back to Top

Back to Top

Information gathered from the alt.mining.recreational newsgroup.

Revised: April 18, 2010.