I am need of ideas on building a soil sifter (screener). I'd like something
that would deposit the soil in one wheelbarrow and allow the rocks, vegetation,
pop cans etc to be collected in another wheelbarrow, or other tidy collector. I
figure it should have some agitation so it can sift while I shovel.
Whenever I put my pencil to paper I wind up designing the Hummer of all
sifters because I get concerned with sturdiness and flexibility. I'ts a mental
So does anyone have any soil sifting success stories?
This may not be what you want. But, I built a 2x4 pine frame that
just fits over the top of my wheelbarrow. The size is about 4'x3'.
Nailed a sheet of 1/2" hardware cloth to the frame, then nailed .5"x
1.5" strips to sandwich the hardware cloth. Used a waterproof wood
sealer on the frame. I've used this extensively for 15 years and it
is still in good shape. I sift compost, soil, gravel, etc with it. A
shovel moved across the material does the sifting--no need to agitate
I took four 18-inch lengths of 1x6 and nailed them together to form
a box with no top or bottom. With large staples, I fastened a
piece of 1/2-inch galvanized mesh to the bottom, overlapping up the
outside of the box. I fastened handle on top of two opposite
I put this box on a tarp. Using a spading fork, I half fill it with
material from my compost pile. Lifting it by the handles, I shake
it over the tarp, side-to-side and up-and-down. Whatever does not
go through goes into a large bucket after sorting pebbles and other
debris into a smaller pail. What does go through goes into my
compost barrel. Sometimes, a mass of rotted leaves holds together;
I rub it against the mesh, which acts as a grater to break it up.
When the barrel is about 3/4 full, I stop. The large pieces that
went into the bucket are returned to the pile for further
I've been using this same sifter for about 25 years or more. Once
in a while, I have to rehammer the nails to keep it solid.
While 1/2-inch mesh might seem large, the resulting compost is fine
enough to use in small flower pots.
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