Antique millstones are quite expensive and extremely heavy. Then one day it occurred to me, why couldn't I make my own from a hypertufa mix. And so I did. Following are instructions on how to make one with a stand.
What You Will Need:
- Portland cement
- all purpose sand
- peat moss
- vermiculite or perlite
- empty 8 oz. whipped topping container
- large bowl for mixing
- metal file for carving and knocking down edges
- old 12" deep dish pizza pan (or something similar)
- plastic to protect work surface and to cover molds while curing
- disposable latex/nitrile gloves or rubber gloves
- vegetable oil
- 1" paint brush or 1" foam brush
- 1-1/2" to 2" hole saw drill bit
- yard stick or ruler
Step 1 - Prep Work Surface
Place plastic on your work surface to protect it from any hypertufa mix that may get on it. Put on gloves to protect your hands from the caustic effects of the Portland cement.
Step 2 - Mixing
Using the empty 8oz. container as a measuring cup, mix together 2 parts each of the Portland cement, sand, peat moss and vermiculite or perlite. Two containers full of each ingredient is exactly enough to complete this project.
If you choose the vermiculite, there will be a slightly shimmery color to the finished tufa. The perlite will make the finished piece a little lighter in weight and you may see some of the white specs. I chose vermiculite for this project which will help give it a nice beige color when dry.
Mix the dry ingredients thoroughly with your gloved hand. This is important to make sure all the Portland cement is evenly distributed among the other ingredients. Break up any large pieces of peat moss and remove any sticks you might find in the peat.
Step 3 - Adding Water
Add about 8 oz. of water to the mix and allow it to seep into the dry ingredients. Add another 8 oz. and then mix with your gloved hand. Keep adding water until the mix is the consistency of a thick brownie batter. You want to be able to form a smooth looking ball and for the ball to hold its shape on its own. Allow the mix to sit for 5-10 minutes to allow the water to fully absorb into the peat moss and other ingredients.
Step 4 - Prep Molds
While the mix is resting, thoroughly coat the inside of your molds with vegetable oil, using a brush of some kind to spread the oil around. You can use non-stick cooking spray, but I find the oil works better for a mold with a closed back. The last thing you want is for the mold to stick to the hypertufa mixture.
Step 5 - Filling the Mold to Make the Base of the Millstone
Once the molds are thoroughly coated with oil, you can start filling them with the hypertufa mix. Start making the millstone holder/stand first by using the loaf pan. Press in about a 1/2" layer of hypertufa mix in the bottom of the pan and about the same amount up the sides. Press firmly with your hand to create a strong solid surface. Place the deep dish pizza pan in the center of the loaf pan. Press the hypertufa mix against the back of the pan. Once you have that side filled, turn the pizza pan around and press the mix into the other side. What you are doing is creating a space for the finished millstone to sit inside the base.
Once the sides are filled, remove the pizza pan and finish shaping up the opening making sure the mix is smooth and pressed in completely.