Here are some photos of a cheap and functional counter-top shaking table. That’s probably the socially correct term for this equipment. When pouring up molds, if I spill some on the screen, then I call the unit a “chocolate covered vibrator”.
This is just the lowest priced, smallest, dental laboratory counter-top, multi-power vibrating machine. You can see that it has a small top with rubberized surface, maybe 5 inches in diameter. It probably doesn’t matter that it has power adjust; I use the lowest setting. Maybe if you pour real thick liquids you need more power.
This unit cost me $89 new a month or two ago. You maybe can find one cheaper on e-bay; I got mine from the retail dental supplier. There are also larger dental lab units that are square surface and perhaps 6 by 8 inches and these run hundreds of dollars; so ok, you need something like that for larger molds. The key is to have hands-free when pouring.
What I did was bought a wire-mesh frying spatter screen for one buck at the dollar store; WalMart has them for $7 with an attached handle off the side. . This one had a plastic handle in the middle which I unscrewed and tossed away. At Ace Hardware you can buy what they call “duct strapping” or “plumber’s strapping”. This is a galvanized soft steel band which can be cut to length with tin snips. I think you can see that I bent each strip so as to go under the unit’s rubberized table. One of these strips must be easily detached at one end to disassemble the system so I used a wing-nut for that purpose. You want the other nuts cinched on pretty tight as the vibration will loosen them otherwise.
There is a short tab also in the photo and that is a longer screw attachment which will secure the poly plastic mold form. I punched a hole in every mold form so they can be secured to the screen ; as you can see. Any paper hole- punch will work for that. The long end of the strapping is bent up and over the screen rim so as to secure the other end of the mold tray. This way the mold can be quickly placed, filled and removed without a lot of effort or fuss. If the screw is too long then the mold must be raised very high at one end when filled to remove it from the screen. That causes the liquid chocolate to pour out of the molds. Use a screw long enough but not too long. They are so cheap that I would buy half dozen of different lengths at the hardware store and experiment to get the correct one. Deeper molds will stand higher off the screen and therefore require a longer securing screw. I have two nuts on this long screw, one on each side of the screen to prevent it from vibrating loose.
If you want to make this system look “professional”, I guess the strapping could be painted with a one dollar can of spray paint from WalMart. Be sure to first wipe the galvanized strapping with vinegar so as to cut through any surface oils on the metal before painting.
This machine is nice because you can take it apart and store it in a drawer when not needed. It is very quiet compared to some counter-top machines.
I hope these notes explain the photos.
I put an extra plastic shopping bag over the vibrator so spilt chocolate is easier to clean up. For bar molds of this size this system works well and is about as cheap as you can get. It is nice to be able to pour without having to hold the mold tray in place and without having to jiggle or bang it on the countertop.
If you have questions or if I didn’t explain something clearly enough, feel free to post questions.
Happy Holidays !