Being a set of Practical Rules as adopted by some of the best millers, abridged from
the third edition of the Miller's Guide.
By R.R Smith ,Inventor of the Model Millstone Dresser and the Exhaust as now used.
The Miller's guide
-- With regard to your PROOF (for I am supposing that every miller to have one, as it is the very foundation of all good milling). And have you proved your proof to be correct by rectifying two staffs to the proof ? If they fit when put together the proof is correct. A slate proof is preferable, and it is not half the trouble or expense to make , and is never known to vary ,but it must be three or four inches thick, or it will be useless. Many iron proofs cannot be depended upon at all times, but are affected by temperatures, or the way in which they are supported.
--Rectify your staff to the proof. The best you can procure cannot be depended upon. But must be proved just before use. If not correct , put a little oil (very evenly distributed on the proof) ,reduce all the highest places on the staff until it just shows an equal bearing on every part.
--To prove the stone. Place a piece of writing paper under each end of the staff, and one under the middle, placing the staff three inches from the eye. Try the stone thus all round, if right, it will hold all the papers.
-- To prove a new stone. Place a screw with the head rounded to form a pivot for the staff to turn upon the edge of the stone, make a place in the staff about a quarter of an inch deep, lower the screw until the staff ,if the stone is true, will just swing around ,and if not staff it this way ,lowering the screw until it does.
--To staff the stone. They should both staff with a good face from the skirt just on to the eye burrs. If not satisfactory when the staff is laid on, make them right with a rubbing burr, or even with a sharp bill if much out and staff them again ,rubbing the colouring off each time with a piece of white brick until they are right.
--To dress the stones. 16 or 18 cracks to the inch is the best for wheat to be cracked clean just on the eye burrs. The eye burrs to be cleaned off with a sharp bill ,so that a piece of writing paper will just draw. Some persons use a staff about 15 inches long to skin them off by, others very much object to its use, but it is important the eye burrs should bevery much smooth and true, as it is here that the bran is made. The skirt cleans it. Give the stones room to draw the corn by lowering the runner stone just round the eye, so that a staff laid across the stone will just not touch a grain of wheat laid on half an inch from the eye. At four inches from the eye just draw a paper. Or the corn can be drawn by giving the master furrows one inch more draft the first six inches at the eye; keeping the eye burrs up just to draw a paper. There is nothing gained by giving the rest of the furrows too much draft, but one way or another, the stone must be allowed to obtain its feed freely.
The secret of good grinding is in avoiding to have stones too hollow, which will be the case, if in staffing the staff is rubbed much on the stone. The stone should be rubbed off to fit the staff, not the staff to fit the stone; no part should be ever allowed to be glazed or hard. They will required to be dressing after running 80 to 100 hours.
The furrows can be kept in good order by almost any miller if a staff about six inches long and one inch wide is used to show the high places. A very good hand at furrowing can seldom be induced to use it; if used it reduces the time , judgement and skill that is required to do without it. The master furrows being a little deeper towards the eye will admit the corn more freely .
A four feet stone requires to run at about 120 revolutions per minute. Cover the damsels with leather and have them beat on hardwood - the sound will be reduced as not to annoy, the leather will last many years. The stone working on a centre is the best principle. Prove the irons once or twice in a year with papers between the ears of the mace. If much worn into each other the stone will not work freely on the nipple. Keep the wears upright and true, and before the stone is laid on the irons, rub a small quantity of grease on the ears of the driver. If the stone is well balanced (all new stones should have balancing boxes ) and true, and the irons are in proper order, it may be driven empty at its full speed and it should not touch the bed stone. Some millers prove the stone thus every six months.
Small millstones will not feed well if the wheat strikes the damsel ; if it does, the damsel will strike it against the eye and it will be carried around in the eye by centrifugal force on account of the speed (250 for 3 feet stones ) at which they require to be driven. It is difficult to avoid making too many middlings with very small stones.
Nothing can be said with reference to grinding until the stones are true, in face, and well off for furrows. Many spoutmen have been blamed for bad work when they were not at fault. Nothing is more tiresome in the business than to attend to stones that are not right or when the support under the step is not strong enough. It should be proved to see if the brass lowers when it receives the weight of the stone.
In starting a sharp stone it should not be lowered too quick or given too much feed as there is a danger of injuring the cutting nature of the stone. Keep the stone as cool as possible. If it works warm and the bran is not clean, the stone is under too much feed.
If the stone is low enough and it curls the bran, provided it is not too low and short of feed, and the bran feels hard, it is a true sign the stones are too strong about the breast and eye.
The meal should feel mellow and lively, with little middlings. Grinding low is no benefit to master millers; it injures the colour and strength of the flour, so that the quality must be made up by grinding superior wheats.
Facing or Finishing New Stones
Draw out a bed eight or nine inches wide across the middle of the stone through the lowest burrs; face this space down by a true staff. Next place a wood peg in the centre of the eye, put it down till you can just feel it with the staff ; draw another bed at right angles to the first, and face this down until you can feel the peg with the staff; face the four quarters down to these beds and the stone will be true. This properly belongs to the millstone maker.
To prepare the stone for grinding
Place a screw in the centre with a round head, make a place in the staff for this to work in, and lower the staff by the screw, and feel the staff round the stone with a little colouring on the staff; take it off with a sharp bill. The stone may thus be made perfectly true, if the staff is kept in order, but will require to be rectified almost very staffing.
To put in the dress, remove the screws and fix an iron or wooden peg in the place, divide the circumference into the same number of equal spaces that you intend to have quarters, make a hole in a thin piece of wood the distance from the edge that you intend to have the draft ( say 2 ¼ or 2 ½ inches to the fore edge ) , place it upon the peg and draw a line to each marked division on the circumference .
For a close four feet stone , 10 quarters 4 inches draft to the back of the furrow, 1 ¼ inch furrow, 1 ¾ land. If close they may have the furrows a little wider; a large number of quarters cut the eye burrs up too much.
I have seen almost every number tried from 8 to 18.
In putting a new stone to work some people feed them with sharp sand and water but it is a very dangerous proceeding as there is danger of the stones suddenly gripping each other and bring the mill to a stand and most probably breaking the machinery, and if not properly fed with water the heat will destroy the cutting quality of the stone.
Published by R.R Smith, Ditchingham Mill , Bungay
Retyped from the original, including the punctuation and phrasing,
by E.W Henbery April 2004 .