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Homemade Cornmeal: GrainMaker Hand-Powered Mill Sets The Standard

By Hank Will, Editor-in-Chief


Tags: tools, kitchen, farms, grains,

GRIT Editor Hank Will at the wheel of his 1964 IH pickup.Rarely do I find so high quality a tool that I get gooseflesh using it, but last night when I converted about five pounds of the Bloody Butcher corn we grew last summer into homemade cornmeal with our GrainMaker hand-powered mill, gooseflesh crawled all over me. Homemade cornmeal is easy to make if you can source some nice and hopefully open-pollinated corn and have access to a home-sized mill. I’ve used the C.S. Bell No. 2 mill to grind meal – and it is possible to make fine cornmeal with that mill using multiple passes, but the GrainMaker is truly a work of art that delivers finished cornmeal (from coarse to fine) in a single pass. I can’t wait to try it with some other grains and may even use it to whip up some homemade nut butters next year.

Hank's about to grind some Bloody Butcher corn with his GrainMaker mill. 

Proudly made in Montana, U.S.A. at a precision machine shop, the GrainMaker reeks of American pride and a master craftsman level of quality that is not attainable in any but a handful of shops in the world. With the GrainMaker you won’t find poorly finished castings or stab yourself on stray metal slivers that were somehow missed by quality control. Instead you will find a perfectly functional and absolutely gorgeous piece of metal craft that is simple to use, intuitive to assemble and that actually works exactly as intended. Top that off with a lifetime warranty and the mill is nothing short of phenomenal. My GrainMaker grain mill came with a beautifully crafted, optional clamp that reminds me of some of the German-built machinists vices I’ve had the privilege to use over the years.

The GrainMaker hand-powered grain mill comes with a pair of feed screws. One is essentially a spring-steel spiral that is suited to feeding smaller grains to the grinding burrs, while the other, called the GrainBreaker augur, is machined from stainless steel. The GrainBreaker’s cracking action makes it easy to mill larger and harder grains such as corn and dry beans in one pass. The GrainBreaker cracks the grain as it is fed to the grinding burrs – my experience with making cornmeal with the GrainBreaker installed was entirely pleasant. So that you don’t have to lose the different feed screws in a cluttered kitchen drawer, the GrainMaker comes equipped with a post to store the unused feed screw on and a pin to lock it into place.

Hank's grinding Bloody Butcher corn to make cornmeal with his GrainMaker mill.  

Photo Courtesy Karen Keb 

Although I chose human power for the making homemade cornmeal with my GrainMaker, the mill’s flywheel doubles as a V-belt pulley and the machine is sufficiently robust that it can be set up with motor power easily – without voiding the warranty. For the more ingenious the GrainMaker would be simple enough to drive with a bicycle or even a geared down windmill. The GrainMaker has a red powder coated finish that makes cleaning it as easy as brushing and wiping the surfaces. If you made something like peanut butter with the device or ground coffee beans, you’d likely want to disassemble the unit and give it a good cleaning before switching over to wheat. Wondering about the kind of bearings used to locate the GrainMaker’s main shaft? The company installs only sealed roller bearings, which will give you plenty of years of hard use before needing to replace them.

Roughly 5 pounds of Bloody Butcher cornmeal ground with a GrainMaker mill for a top secret project.  

Finally, the good folks at GrainMaker are friendly, incredibly knowledgeable, helpful and justifiably proud of their product. These are the folks we need to be doing business with – especially in these economic times. If you are interested in learning more about the GrainMaker hand-powered grain mill, I know Bonnie Jones will take good care of you.


Hank Will raises hair sheep, heritage cattle and many varieties of open-pollinated corn with his wife, Karen, on their rural Osage County, Kansas farm. His home life is a perfect complement to his professional life as editor in chief at GRIT and Capper's Farmer magazines. Connect with him on .

nebraska dave
12/16/2010 8:47:00 AM

@Hank, I am envious of all the nifty gadgets you get to test and report about. This grain mill looks to be a solid built machine that would last for generations if need be. Just like things used to be made back in my grandpa’s day. It’s great that you have a job that requires just what you like to do. I always looks forward to your reports about different homesteading products. Keep up the good work. Have a great Kansas winter day on the homestead.