In the wide world of grinders, it seems that the 4 piece models tend to dominate the landscape, but there are certainly a sizable contingent of folks who stand by their trusty 2 piece units just the same, and so let’s have a look at both versions and talk about both the commonalities and differences respectively.
Now let it just be said for the record: the 2 piece grinder is straight up old school, and still amply gets the job done, with perhaps just a little more effort necessary required to grind down your vegetable matter. This original incarnation of an herb grinder will always be smaller and therefore more compact than its younger and much more elaborate brother, with only one opening and two subsequent separate parts to contend with.
Both the top and bottom pieces will have teeth, but neither side has any exit holes for post-ground material. This means you’ve got to -tappa-tappa-tappa- on your grinder sometimes to release the stickier material that gets thrown inside, which incidentally, some people actually seem to revel in. Perhaps that’s because it’s one way to vent the day’s frustrations onto an inanimate object. I’d like to think so anyway.
On the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got technology proudly show boating its complexity with a 4 piece grinder set-up. The first two pieces of this style of grinder will be the top lid and lower, inner grinding plate. There will always be small holes inside the lower grinding plate amidst the teeth to vacate the ground debris, and right underneath that will usually be a fine-wired mesh screen for catching and holding your grind.
That screen will be your third detachable piece, and the specific reason it’s there is because any and all pollen that was previously attached to your material is now extra loosened by the preceding grind, and as such, can now freely fall away down through the screen and into a lower storage chamber, which is the fourth and final piece of the grinder.
Now up until this point, in just looking at the features of the latter category of 4 piece grinders that are glaringly missing from the former category of 2 piece models, many would foolishly rush in and claim that it’s a no-brainer decision, and of course they want more, more, more. But let me ask you something.
What about simplicity usually always being the trump card? Let me explain. So you’ve got this amazing grinder that breaks down into 4 pieces and does all this cool stuff like exit your material from the chamber and collect pollen automatically, but what happens if even one of the eight separate lines of threading gets stripped or damaged?
The answer’s very simple. Nothing happens, because whatever part just got ruined is no longer a functioning component of the grinder. Beyond that, what about sheer bulk and weight? Have you ever seen someone try to stuff a 4 piece grinder into their jeans or even jacket pocket?
I’ll spare you the suspense and tell you it’s a pretty funny and fairly ridiculous site if you haven’t. 4 piece grinders are logistical quagmires, and actually can often take you more time than 2 piece grinders in just simply screwing and unscrewing the various pieces together. And the pollen sifter? It’s not even going to factor into the equation if you don’t have some super high end material passing through your grinder on a very consistent basis.
On the other hand, the 2 piece is not without its own share of hiccups. These can be a downright nightmare to function when you’ve got the wrong type of material in there that happens to be sticky like sap. You will be spending a -very- long time removing every last bit of ground matter, and that also means your hands are going to be covered in resin as well.
These guys may be lighter to hold in the hand, but when you actually grind with a two-piece, it seldom has the butter-smooth movement and cutting power of a higher end 4 piece, though this isn’t to say you couldn’t get lucky. And if you do happen to deal in top shelf blends regularly, you’re going to be missing out on a whole lot of potent pollen that will simply pass you by and remain non-isolated just as it occurs in nature. Where’s the fun in that?
So now that I’ve thoroughly critiqued both variations into the ground and we have a clean slate, let me just say that both a 2 piece and 4 piece grinder will serve the end user extremely well, and are superior to just using hands or scissors on their own by about roughly a factor of twelve.
It all really comes down to your own personal taste. Are you more about practicality and simplicity of build at the expense of luxury features, or do you crave a more elaborate and complex set-up that is also that much more cumbersome and overbearing in nature at times to deal with? Only you can answer these questions, and I sure hope you do, because the one thing that can’t be debated is, whether or not a grinder is worth owning!