Hario Skerton / Open Top Hand Grinder Lid

Grinders are one of the keys to exceptional espresso. Discuss them here.
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Quadrifoglio

#1: Post by Quadrifoglio » Apr 02, 2009, 12:16 am

I got tired of my Hario Skerton pitching bean shards onto the counter. The lid is a butter container lid with a 1-1/4 inch hole. Slip it over the knob and handle and it is ready to go. It should work on other open hopper grinders. If you need a bigger diameter, buy some cottage cheese.

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An alternate design is to make a cut to the center "dimple" and then cut the hole (1-1/8 inch in this case).

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Disassembled and cleaned.

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spro745

#2: Post by spro745 » Apr 02, 2009, 11:28 am

First time I've seen one of those hand grinders..... how well does it work? Would it be suitable for espresso? Thanks in advance. Later!

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Quadrifoglio

#3: Post by Quadrifoglio » Apr 02, 2009, 1:59 pm

My first setting resulted in 240 revolutions to get 15g of ground coffee. Poured it into the portafilter of my Gaggia Factory and then a light tamp. It looked very fine and tamped very low in the PF. Locked it in place, raised the handle, tried to lower the handle and... nothing, not a drop. The Factory was completely choked. I turned it off and left it for over an hour. Nothing ever came out of the PF.

This grind almost choked it. If it weren't for the puck cracking, it would have choked.

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I guess this was the long way of saying it is capable of grinding fine enough for espresso. However, my palate is not suitably advanced to determine if this grinder brings out the rambunctiousness and crenellations of the coffee.

Other reviews I have seen say that the burr jumps around at coarse settings (less so at finer settings). This makes sense because the entire burr assembly is only supported at the very top. Other reviews also talked about using the nut at the bottom of the ceramic burr to fine-tune the grind. It looks like this is possible but only under very limited conditions. The burr assembly is the shaft shoulder, washer, ceramic burr, washer, and castle lock nut. The burr just slips onto the shaft.

I press fit a 9/16 inch OD x 1/2 inch long nylon spacer into the shaft tower and it fit nicely. Unfortuantely, it is a 3/8 inch ID and needs to be approx 5/16 inch. I also played around with an end cap with the thought of extending the shaft. The problem with any bushing is maintaining the centering of the burr so it isn't grinding on one side. I will leave this one to someone with machinist skills.

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This photo will give you a sense of scale. The coffee is a 1 lb bag and the pitcher is 32 oz. As you can see, the grinder is compact. Other reviews observed that this and AeroPress would make a good travel combination. The bubbarands are for an easier non-skid grip.

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SlowRain

#4: Post by SlowRain » Apr 03, 2009, 12:51 am

Great post. Very informative.

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triptogenetica

#5: Post by triptogenetica » Apr 16, 2009, 7:30 am

"this and AeroPress would make a good travel combination"

Yep - I can attest to that. When I'm travelling, it's a bag of homeroast, an aeropress, a mug, and my skerton grinder. Works excellently. The burrs have some play at coarse settings, but I've yet to add a bushing to deal with it, and the aeropress tastes good...

I saw someone using a very similar lid in Hong Kong, where I found my grinder. But in the UK, butter usually comes in 250g blocks, wrapped in paper.

Perhaps I'll have to buy some biscuits, in order to find a lid that fits... :)

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Quadrifoglio

#6: Post by Quadrifoglio » Jun 04, 2010, 2:44 pm

UPDATE

After a year of 1-2 times daily use, the Hario Skerton has become thoroughly unreliable. It won't even grind well enough for drip. Too bad, it was less messy than a box grinder.

The metal burr shaft is only supported at the top by the molded plastic top. It has enlarged the hole in the plastic and the burr rocks as the handle is turned. The grinder churns out a lot of fines and chokes the coffee filter.

For its longevity, it really wasn't worth the money.

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kupe

#7: Post by kupe » Jun 04, 2010, 3:22 pm

Thanks for the update. I bought one a few months ago and never could get an acceptable brew from the grounds it produced. Your description sounds like how mine was from the beginning. I was mostly using it with the Clever Coffee Dripper at work and the filter would get plugged every time. Sludge from fines would be all over the spent coffee bed at any grind setting. Luckily, I was able to return it. I agree, big disappointment, especially compared to the vintage PeDe and Zassenhaus grinders I've gotten since. Of course, I paid a lot more for them.
"Man roasts beans in converted breadmaker. 'It's pretty classy', he says."

sherpakid

#8: Post by sherpakid » Jun 04, 2010, 4:38 pm

I recently purchased a Skerton and love it. From my understanding, it's poor drip grinder because of the play when the burrs are spaced apart - which leads to uneven grounds, but when they are tighter for espresso, you do get decent grounds. I had a Solis 166 which I had modified. Since using the Skerton, I've been able to make much better espresso. The manual aspect of it was a pain, but I replaced the handle and stop nut with a hex nut so I could use my cordless drill to turn the burrs - converted it from a manual to 18v cordless grinder. It works great! :D

There is a mod posted at http://coffeegeek.com/forums/espresso/grinders/458630 which helps you achieve more consistent grinds when grinding for drip.

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kupe

#9: Post by kupe » Jun 04, 2010, 4:58 pm

Yeah, I even bought the parts from Home Depot which that thread talks about, but apparently they weren't the right ones, because they didn't fit. That mod needed a more detailed description, but no follow-ups to questions were posted. Here's the typical result I got with it. Forgive the terrible photo quality from my phone's camera. This is a relatively fine drip grind. Two notches coarser would produce large chunks in the middle of the sludge, but would look much the same as you see here.
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"Man roasts beans in converted breadmaker. 'It's pretty classy', he says."

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Quadrifoglio

#10: Post by Quadrifoglio » Jun 26, 2010, 2:44 pm

The Hario Skerton has a significant design flaw. The thin plastic top of the hopper tower is the only thing that aligns the burr assembly.

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The threaded stem that passes through it acts like an auger, carves the plastic away, and enlarges the hole. Then the grinder gets sloppy (or sloppier).

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I was looking for a cheap and easy way to sleeve the hopper to restore the alignment. A trip to the Lowes specialty drawers yielded a ½" x .328" x 1" nylon spacer (2 per pack). The pack was $1.15 plus tax. The burr shaft is nominally 0.315" (8 mm x 1.25), which gives .013" clearance. It isn't precision but lots better than an oversized hole. Home Depot also has the same-dimensioned spacer in single packs for $0.70 plus tax.

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The hopper tower is tapered and about ½" at the top so the spacer slides into the tower.

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Rough up the exterior of one spacer with coarse grit sandpaper (right).

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Put a rubber band on the burr shaft and position the rubber band so that there is slight pressure on the spacer when the inner burr is just in contact with the outer burr.

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Coat the spacer with high-grade silicone cement like an aquarium grade. Make the coating a little thicker toward the bottom of the spacer. Slip the spacer onto the shaft and stand the burr on its end. Don't get silicone on the ends of the space or on the burr shaft.

Lower the hopper assembly onto the spacer/burr (this has better control than trying to hold and insert the burr assembly). Press into place. Give it about 20 minutes to set and gently lift the hopper assembly off of the burr assembly. Let the silicone cure for 24-48 hours before using.

Reassemble. The hard to see washer was replaced with a ¾" od x 5/16" id nylon washer, also from the hardware drawers. Of course you need to readjust the grind setting, but it is probably off anyway from the problems in grinding.

Ok, the moment of truth. Time to grind some beans.

The grinder is significantly quieter, unexpected but yeah!
It is smoother grinding and not catching on the beans.
The grind is more uniform.
The grounds did not choke the filter.

Success!