Porlex Hack!


I like to keep things simple. Too many things clutter our lives already, yes? So when I noticed I had both a Porlex grinder and a Reg Barber tamper on my counter, I set about to find a way to make them work together!

 The first thing I did was take them apart. I found the base of the Reg Barber tamper was stainless steel, as is the base of the Porlex grinder. I also found the Reg Barber tamper base was held to its handle by what looked like a 3/8 inch threaded rod. I unscrewed that from the handle and discovered it was nothing more than a plain steel setscrew!


Well, that certainly made things easier – now all I had to do was find a way to connect everything!


I needed to make a hole in the bottom of my Porlex grinder base. For things to turn out even, I had to establish the center of the base. Here’s how I did that.


First, I traced the outline of the Porlex grinder base on a sheet of paper and cut it out. Then I folded the tracing into quarters. Where the folds intersected was the center of the circle!


Next, I held the tracing on the overturned Porlex grinder base and positioned a center punch at the center of the tracing. (You can use a nail if you don’t have a center punch.) A sharp whack with a hammer created a small indentation in the Porlex grinder base, and now I knew my drill bit wouldn’t wander as I created the hole!


Using a 3/8 inch bit (to match the size of the setscrew) and my trusty old drill, I made a hole in the Porlex grinder base.


Because the metal of the Porlex grinder base is so thin, I had some trouble with this step, and I would recommend using a smaller bit to create a pilot hole. Then that hole can be expanded, and if the pilot hole is a bit off center, the final hole can be widened in whatever direction is necessary to keep the hole in the center of the Porlex grinder base.


As it turns out, if the hole is a little larger than 3/8 inch, it won’t really matter – all the components will self-center by themselves. Also, an oversize hole will be covered by the parts inside the Porlex grinder base, and if the hole is really large, a washer can be added to keep things sealed.


Now I could begin assembly of my components. For this step, I decided not to use the plain steel setscrew in the Reg Barber tamper handle. Instead, I chose a stainless steel locknut, setscrew, and washers in order to keep similar metals in contact with each other. Also, stainless steel is much more resistant to the acids in coffee grounds, and if I ever need to wash this assembly, I wouldn’t have to worry about rust.


As I put the parts together, I realized the setscrew could collect coffee grounds in the hex key hole unless I oriented it a certain way. For this reason, I kept the hex key hole away from the nylon locking collar in the stainless steel locknut. I also noticed the stainless steel nut could collect coffee grounds around its nylon locking collar unless I inserted the stainless steel setscrew far enough to prevent this. Thus, I installed the stainless steel setscrew into stainless steel locknut until it just stood proud of the nylon locking collar. This kept any threads on the stainless steel setscrew from being exposed at the same time as it kept a pocket from being formed at the top of the stainless steel locknut.



After a bit of experimentation, I settled on two (2) stainless steel washers to use in the base of the Reg Barber tamper. I had to fill in the space previously occupied by the handle, but I also wanted the Reg Barber tamper base to stay tight against the Porlex grinder base. Three (3) stainless steel washers were too many, and they allowed a gap between the Reg Barber tamper base and the Porlex grinder base. Using 2 washers, I found the Porlex grinder base deflected slightly when everything was tightened, but this didn’t cause a problem; actually, it helped keep everything in good alignment!


 When it came to the stainless steel setscrew, I tried using a 3/8 x 1 inch setscrew, but it turned out to be too long. I settled on the same size setscrew as originally came in the Reg Barber tamper handle, which was 3/8 x 3/4 inch.


Inserting the preassembled stainless steel setscrew and locknut required the use of a 9/16 inch socket on an extension. I suppose I could have just dropped them in the Porlex grinder base and tossed them around until the setscrew protruded, but I knew I would need the socket for tightening everything next.



Now I could complete the final assembly. Holding the stainless steel setscrew/locknut assembly in place with the 9/16 inch socket and extension, I placed the two (2) stainless steel setscrews on the protruding setscrew. Then it was just a matter of tightening the Reg Barber tamper base onto the Porlex grinder base.


And I was done! Here’s what it looks like, completed. Now I have a Porlex grinder I can truly use as a tamper. Because of the American curve to the Reg Barber base, I can get an excellent tamp without having to set down the grinder base while I’m filling the portafilter. Not only does the Porlex grinder base fit nicely to my hand, I also end up saving room on my counter!

The whole project took me about an hour. If you decide to try it yourself, here’s what you’ll need:



3/8 inch bit

1/4 inch pilot hole bit (optional)

9/16 inch socket

Socket extension



1 3/8 x 3/4 inch stainless steel setscrew

1 3/8 inch stainless steel locknut

3 3/8 inch stainless steel washers (in case you need 1 on the inside)

October 03, 2016 — Gregory Cromwell