Simple add-on grain hopper for malt mill

I saw a preview of this bucket-based grain mill hopper in Zymurgy’s gadget edition, but when I read the details it wasn’t simple enough for me.  So I made a simpler version of a plastic bucket extension for my hopper:

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This hopper extends the low-volume hopper that came with my Schmidling Maltmill, allowing me to mill my entire grain bill in one go.

Time: ~1 hour

Materials needed:

  1. Malt mill with hopper that you want to extend
  2. Plastic bucket.  I got a used 3 gallon food-grade bucket from a local ice cream parlor (Kilwin’s).
  3. Scrap plywood

Tools:

  1. Jigsaw
  2. Staple gun (if not available, finishing nails or glue would work)

Steps:

  1. Measure the pieces for a lid to cover the top of your hopper.  It will rest on the current hopper, with a lip around the edge to stop it from sliding off.  It should have 5 pieces, a lid and 4 edges:
    1. Rectangular lid that matches the dimensions of the existing hopper
    2. (2) Edge pieces, on opposite sides, the length of the hopper on that dimension.  These should be tall enough to overhang the lid by 1/2″ so that the lid stays centered on the hopper.
    3. (2) Edge pieces on the other two sides – these will need to be longer than the hopper to account for the added width of the edge pieces on the other two sides.  These should be tall enough to overhang the lid by 1/2″.
  2. Cut the pieces for the hopper out of scrap plywood.
  3. Cut a circular hole in the bottom of the plastic bucket, leaving about a 1″ margin around the edge (see pictures below).
  4. Set the bucket on the lid top and trace this circle onto the surface of the lid top.  As you trace, make an aligning mark on both the lid and the bucket bottom to align them later.
  5. Cut out the circle in the wood lid with a jigsaw.
  6. Glue or otherwise attach the wood frame together.
  7. Staple the bucket to the lid top:

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view from top of the hopper

This operation increased the volume of my hopper from 3 lbs to about 15 lbs.  My frame is snug around the existing hopper and is not at risk of toppling off, even with a full bucket of grain.  And milling with the bucket lid on, it reduces dust.

Unlike fancier DIY hoppers, I have to brush in the last few grains that get stuck on the bucket’s rim:

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a little malt stuck on the rim

I thought about adding an incline to solve this, but the brushing at the end of milling only costs me a few seconds each brew day, so wasn’t worth it.

After building this I found out that Schmidling sells a large hopper adapter, which is very similar to what I built.  But this was an easy and rewarding DIY project and my cost of $1 (for the bucket) came in well under the $29 for the manufacturer’s version.

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