The Sartorial Garden

Antique Millstones: Precision Tools

These early relics of times past may look like clunkers with blunt uneven edges but how they worked together was an incredible feat of precision engineering! For many centuries across the globe, millstones were used to grind various types of grains.

When ready for grinding, two millstones were positioned one on top of the other. The stone on the bottom is called the bedstone and is stationary, while the one on top called the runner rotates over it. To begin the process, grain was fed into the hole in the middle of runner. As the runner turned, the grain would be cut by the scissoring action of the carved grooved patterns along both stones. When the runner stone rotated just above the bedstone – never touching – the grain would repeatedly get ground between the grooves as it worked its way from the center to the outer ring of the millstone.

The center of the bed stone and runner would be approx. 1/8th inch apart but towards the outer edge of the millstones, the distance was closer to one thousandths of an inch.  Both perfectly balanced – quite a task maneuvering a 1500lb stone!  Every year these stones were redressed to maintain their effectiveness.

Millstones were also used as cider presses – here the runners are vertical vs. horizontal.

Millstones are extremely diverse and come in as many shapes and sizes as people – honestly no two antique Millstones are ever the same.

Today these important pieces are used in a variety of ways including fountains, steps, bases, stonewalls and centerpieces. One of our favorite garden antiques, we always have unique weathered millstones in stock. Browse online or stop by!

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