Though the days of the California gold rush are long behind us, the idea of finding this valuable element on your own still sparks wonder in the minds of young and old alike. People have used everything from simple pans with holes in the bottom to pan for gold, to mining shaker tables, which allow for much faster separating of materials.
A shaker table is an apparatus used in the gold mining industry that helps to separate out heavy metals from other fine constituents. It consists of a slightly slanted table that has side panels to help contain washed materials. Pulverized rock is water washed onto the table where vibration shakes out heavy gold that remains and lighter materials get washed away.
Early miners used manual shaker tables driven by pulley systems. But modern ones run on generators or electric power. It doesn’t take much effort to make one from commonly available materials and recycled parts.
DIY Shaker Table
There are many forms of shaker tables. These include a Keene shaker table, a gold shaker table with a riffle design, a gold shaker dancer table, or a piece of furniture to your own liking and specifications. To make a table of your own, follow the steps outlined below.
Things You'll Need
- Old washing machine
- Corrugated aluminum 3-by-4 feet
- Lumber 2-by-4 feet
- Power drill
- Nuts, bolts and washers
- Thick leather gloves
- Metal hole punch
- Garden hose
Find an old washing machine that is operational and can still agitate. Search at used appliance outlets or ask friends for one they no longer want. Don’t be concerned with dents or dings, but make sure the enamel casing is still on to serve as a platform for the table. When it’s turned on, the washer will also act as an agitator to shake the table.
Use the lumber to make a frame that will fit snugly around the outside of the washing machine. Cut two lengths of lumber to fit along the sides of the washer and allow the wood to extend about 10 inches above it. Bolt the lumber onto sides of the washer with the help of a power drill.
Cut a piece of lumber to fit across the top of the washer and between the two poles. Allow the wider side to rest flat in front of the washer opening if you have a top loader. Bolt the wood onto the existing poles.
Make a wood frame by connecting two 4-1/2 foot lengths of lumber to each edge of the flat wood section. Slant them slightly downward so that water can pour out easily. Orient them so the wider sides are vertical and secure them with bolts. Finish the frame by attaching timber to form a rectangle. Cut and bolt two lengths of timber to the far end to serve as legs.
Bend the corrugated aluminum along parallel ridges to form a u-shaped basin inside the frame. Be sure to wear protective gloves to avoid getting cut. Bolt it into place around all sides to secure.
Punch a hole in the far end of the aluminum base using a metal hole punch, to create a drain. Fit in the right size gaskets for your hose and then attach it.
About the Author
Erin Moseley is an advocate for science education. Since 1985, she has written numerous technical, user and training manuals for major corporations, public agencies and universities. She holds a Bachelor of Science in geology.