Can you share your seiving and sifting techniques?

landpersonNovember 9, 2010

Hi there everyone.

I'm still dithering about here, embarrassingly enough. Today I have the materials and I am going to ask a helper to make me some seives, but since he won't be available until later today I was going to see what information I could get from y'all before I tell him what I need.

I have four Sterilite 10-gallon storage containers that measure 14 X 20 at the top.

I have screening: 1/2", 1/4", 1/8" and insect.

My plan is to make (have made since I'm terrible with nails and screws and the like) screens that will be framed -- pretty much like the pictures of Al's screens -- and will fit over the top of those containers.

I'm aging and arthritic and hauling stuff is getting harder and harder, so I'm trying to work this out so I don't have to be lifting too much too high, etc.

Oh, I'm also going to have one screen made that's big enough to fit over my wheelbarrow for the first go-round with the redwood bark.

Wow, I just did a Google Image search for soil sifters, and I am going to go and look at those pictures, too, but....any suggestions you have for me before I start off in the wrong direction would be much appreciated.

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

    Bookmark   November 9, 2010 at 1:41PM
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albert_135(Sunset 2 or 3)

The best sifters I have seen were used by archeologists. They looked exactly like tapla's above and had heavy cords or light chains from each corner and the the sifter was hanged from a structure above so that it would swing like a children's swing in a playground. Someone had a name for these and found a picture and posted a link - but that was long ago.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2010 at 2:11PM
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I think this is what you are referring to....or at least something like it. Scroll down on the page a bit....

And, I think it looks like a really good idea to make frames just like Al's and then be able to hang them over my containers....


    Bookmark   November 9, 2010 at 3:44PM
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Al: For those of us who are not intuitive, can you provide some specs for these and how you attached screening material to the frames?

    Bookmark   November 9, 2010 at 8:56PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I have 2 sets of screens, 4 in each set. Screen mesh sizes are aluminum insect screen, 1/8, 1/4 and 3/8". The screens in the large set, with the handles, are about 20" square and made of 1 x 4 pine, half-lapped (look closely at the corners) and glued, both for extra strength. The screens in the smaller set are 13" square, made with 1 x 3 pine, also half-lapped and glued - same size screen mesh. The screens are attached flush to the bottom and are stapled into the edge grain of the 1xs with 1/2 x 5/16 galvanized staples and then tapped home with a hammer.

I've been using them for more than 15 years, and I've screened tons of soil (literally) in that time, so I guess they work pretty well. ;o)


    Bookmark   November 9, 2010 at 9:26PM
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I feel that if your going to make your own soil, you have to become a screener. Unless you only want to do two pots a year. Then you could just buy a good potting soil like fafards nursery mix. I made one 40" x 26" out of 2"x 4"s and then put a plywood brace at the corners. Its very strong. I nailed 1/2" screen to the bottom which is strong. Then I just place different size screens inside that one. I don't shake the screen. I place it on two saw horses and sit in a chair with leather gloves on, and move it around with my hands with a dust mask on. Its easier on my arthrits. When I need two get the very fine stuff out of the bark,turface,perlite, or DE I put it in my wooden box with insect screen on both sides. Then I use my electric leaf blower and blow the fines out. Its much faster than screening it out.I just dump the stuff in and put a wood lid on "two screws" then I blow the stuff out in the woods part of my yard. I realize if you live in the city this may not be possible.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2010 at 9:57AM
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Oh thank you everyone for all the good ideas and the pictures. I am so looking forward to getting over this obstacle and having the right tools for the job.

I am absolutely terrible with a hammer and nails, so I will have to give good directions to someone else to make these for me, but then I'm gonna be a sifting fool....


    Bookmark   November 10, 2010 at 10:38AM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

Al and Filix, I am so saving these pictures so DH can build me something like that! He says its on the top of his list just as soon as he retires,lol...(it will be while) Appreciate the pictures.

Guess for now I'm going to have to make due using my Spaghetti aluminum strainer from Target :o)

    Bookmark   November 10, 2010 at 8:11PM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

I think I must be at least your age(82) and suffer with a back that will not stand the action needed to screen. A motion similar to that of "Chubby Checker". My screen is electrical driven by a vibrator motor previously used on a foot therapy device. If you send me an email I will send you a picture which makes construction "self evident". Al

    Bookmark   November 11, 2010 at 9:32AM
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Thanks, Al.
Guess I'm a youngster after all.
I'll just have to explain that to my joints....


    Bookmark   November 11, 2010 at 7:41PM
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deburn(6 - Boston MA)

Someone else on the forum recommended this product. It's exactly what I need. Price ranges from $25 - 40.00 + about 10.00 shipping.

The site also has instructions for building your own

Here is a link that might be useful: The Soil Sifter

    Bookmark   November 11, 2010 at 9:19PM
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Those are some of the pictures -- in addition to Al's -- that my helper used yesterday to make me four screens. Sifting can now begin....


    Bookmark   November 12, 2010 at 10:50AM
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Fantastic idea's everyone..

Now I can make one as big as I want intead of using the tiny one I bought that I paid and arm and a leg for..

Sift away!


    Bookmark   November 12, 2010 at 12:28PM
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ykerzner(9 TX)

Get a 18" x 24" x 24" packing box, for $3 at U-Haul. Open it up into the box form, staple insect screen to the top. Lay the bottom flaps out, and (for people whose backs can handle it) kneel on the flaps when sifting. I use it to sift turface and bark fines, and it can be folded back for easy storage. It beats taking 10 feet of insect screen, throwing the materials in there, bagging the lot, and shaking.

Granted, it's not as big as the commercial screens, but the two foot height of the screen helps. I also help the sifting by rubbing the turface or fines into the screen.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2010 at 11:26AM
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I built one of these with insect screen and it works pretty's also cheap!and it sits in a 5 gallon bucket!

I also used some inexpensive canvas stretchers like you would use for an oil painting and stapling a screen on them then cutting some lath for around the edge, add some wood glue (overkill?) and screw/staple the lath down. They are working well and there are lots of sizes to pick from

    Bookmark   March 21, 2011 at 8:06PM
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oops...please ignore link above and try this one :)

Here is a link that might be useful: 5 gallon bucket sieve

    Bookmark   March 21, 2011 at 9:02PM
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    Bookmark   March 24, 2011 at 8:06PM
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