Last summer, for the very first time, a friend and I developed a passion for gold prospecting. But it wasn't just the finding of the gold that we loved, it was more the understanding of the methods used in finding it, of the engineering of how pans and sluice boxes work. We chose to build our own equipment (for the most part), veering away from the spendy stuff found online. Don't get me wrong. I'm sure that stuff works great. But we wanted the excitement of doing it all ourselves. So how did we build our own gold prospecting equipment? It was simple.
The two most common pieces of equipment in gold prospecting are the gold pan, and the sluice box. Your average gold pan is very cheap, usually about $10. Black plastic is what I prefer. The gold shows up perfectly against the black. Sluice boxes, on the other hand, can get a bit pricey. Building a sluice is actually a lot simpler than it sounds. Using pieces of plastic cut into simple geometric shapes (squares and rectangles) we build a very lightweight sluice box from plastic simply by gluing the pieces together with plastic cement and waiting 24 hours. For plans on building your own sluice box, one simply has to type in "sluice box plans" into Google and they'll find dozens of step by step instructions on how to build their very own gold catching contraption. A sluice box has a very simple design. It's just a box, after all. Who can't build a box? A lot of outfitters will try and sell you on lightweight, expensive aluminum, wanting top dollar for a simple sluice box. I say why pay the money when you can easily build a sluice with common materials.
But back to the sluice box for a moment. Lightweight plastic is easy to work with. As long as one doesn't buy sheets more than a quarter inch thick, it can be reasonably cut with an exacto blade. Add to that the cost of a bottle of plastic cement and you'll have your very own sluice box in a matter of a few hours and whatever other pieces of gold prospecting equipment you'll need.
The only thing left to do is find a river that has a reasonable amount of gold still hiding away. In California, that's pretty easy to do. Gold infested rivers are scattered all throughout southern and northern California. Different places have different levels of gold, but I'm assuming that those reading this already have a spot picked out.