Homemade Gold Dredge With a Power Jet

Written by tom lutzenberger
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Homemade Gold Dredge With a Power Jet
Telling apart raw gold and fool's gold (pyrite) can be confusing for the beginner gold hunter. (Pyrite (fool's gold) isolated on white image by Tamara Kulikova from Fotolia.com)

Economic hard times and increase in gold value since 2005 both contribute to the rise in the number of gold-seekers again invading creeks and rivers looking for riches. Like miners of yesteryear, today's gold hunters can also dig the waterbeds for gold. One method is using a home-made dredger.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Hacksaw
  • Rivets
  • Rivet tool
  • Hammer
  • Rope
  • Welding tool
  • Metal cutter tool
  • Drill
  • Screwdrivers
  • Socket wrench and socket set

Show MoreHide


  1. 1

    Talk to prospector shops and clubs to understand how water dredging works. If possible go out with a mining group to watch how they use their homemade dredgers for the day. Take pictures to record how the equipment works, looks and is used.

  2. 2

    Map out where your dredging will take place. Not all locations will accommodate a large dredging operation. Visit the location to make sure you understand what dredging is allowed and what is not. Make sure to identify any park authorities in the area and obtain their permission to operate before beginning any dredging. Identify locations in a creek or river with sufficient flow and eddies as target locations for dredging activities.

  3. 3

    Design the dredger on paper. Base this design on the general locations it will be used in and size needed. Identify how the suction hose will be created and used. Design where it will connect to a power jet vacuum to draw up the silt and mud. Next draw the connection to a sluice box where the pulled up river dirt will be transferred to for separating the gold and draining the water. Lastly, draw the draining apparatus from the sluice box to allow for removal of non-desired material. To keep the mechanism afloat, include in the design some kind of flotation device it will sit on--large truck inner tubes are frequently used.

  4. 4

    Make sure your mechanism has a long hose and nozzle for ease of use, flexibility and movement. Use some kind of small, gas-powered engine to provide power for the system to work (a lawnmower engine is ideal). Connect the jet mechanism to the engine so it has a power source and make sure it has an intake that reaches water so it can create the power water jet effect. Attach two hoses to the engine and jet mechanism assembly: the first to provide the jet propulsion to move the water through the system, and the second to suck up river bed material and transfer it to the sluice box. Connect a small sluice box with a filter on the bottom for the sucked up water and material to be deposited into and to catch the gold. Connect a drainage to the sluice box so the unwanted material can go back into the river water or can be scooped out separate from any gold. Nevada Outback Gems provides real function dredge photos that show how the assembly should look.

  5. 5

    Test the dredger. Use some small pellets and paint them a bright red colour. Put them into a water pool with other dirt and mud or test the system with the pellets in a river pool. Suck up the dirt underwater where the pellets are placed. Count the number of pellets that are captured in the sluice box. If the count is significantly less than placed in the water, adjust the dredger suction and filtration to capture better.

Tips and warnings

  • Take your time building the dredger and testing it. This will avoid disappointment later on when travelling to a river site and finding out the hard way something was overlooked.
  • Water pumps and hosing are prone to plugging when the suck up material and stones are too big to pass through easily. Practice understanding what to suction and what to avoid. This can cut down on a lot of breakdowns that occur otherwise.

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