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Soil Sifter, an easy garden tool to make

In this the age of "Let's go out and buy it!" not too many people are thinking "How can I make this?"  One of these easy to make and handy garden tools is a soil sifter.  As handy as this garden tool is, they are not available in the store!  I have had several customers come in looking for them and they were disappointed to find that the soil sifter was not sold in the store.  In fact, if you go onto our website and do a search for a soil sifter, you will not find one. 


There can be several variations of sifters, but the one that is the most valuable is one that is easy to use and only needs one person to operate it.   I have one that I used when I dug out my front flower bed and it came in very handy for sifting out rocks and other plant debris.  All that you need is some 1/4 inch galvanized screening which is available in the building department of your local Home Depot and some 1inX3in or 1inX4in pine planks available in the Building/Lumber Department of your local Home Depot.  You can use a more expensive wood if you want but the pine works very well and it is cheap too!!  I like to use the ¼ galvanized screen material because that is a good size for sifting in my garden or flowerbed.


                                         Galvanized 23 gauge roll .25 in x 36in x 5ft.jpg




Your next step will be to take your 1inX3in or 1inX4in plank and cut it into2ftX2ft pieces or if you prefer you can make your sifter rectangular, measuring 18inX24in.  I like to have a size that will fit over my wheel barrow so that I have a mobile container available in case I need to move the soil,  so I prefer the 24inX24in size.  You can make your sifter any size you want!  Just be sure to cut your boards the proper length.  If you are off by 1/4 inch, no worries, the screws will hold your sifter together! 


                1inx4inx8ft Better Kiln Dried Pine.jpg                  Pine 1inx4inx16ft.jpg


Soil sifters come in many varieties from commercial grade ones used to build roads, ones that are used in in Archeology, large units used to sift soil that is used in composting, ones that separate rocks and debris out and leave gold behind!  Some are commercially made and many are handmade.  The simple soil sifter can be made with just a few simple parts like we discussed earlier.  I like the lighter wood because it is easier to handle and easy to store.  Remember, lighter is good, especially when you are using your sifter for a long period of time.  As you start to get tired, that sifter starts to become real heavy, especially when you load it up with soil!!!!! Whew, be sure to pick a shady area, and have plenty of water on hand to keep yourself hydrated.  


You soil sifter does not have to be a work of art but it should be made sturdy enough to hold 2-3 shovels full of dirt that needs to be sifted.    When building your own soild sifter, be sure to securely attach the screening to the bottom of the frame.  This can be done with large staples or you can use a galvanized strip to anchor the bottom of the sifter.  The idea is to hold the screening in and to allow the screening to hold the weight of the

dirt as you sift it.  

             1.25 in Galvanized staples.jpg  Galvanized strap 20 Gauge Simpson Strong Tie .75 in wide.jpg

If you plan to move the sifted dirt from one are of your yard to another it would be a good idea to have something to transport the soil with like a wheel barrow or a dump cart.


                               Wheelbarrow 6 cu ft True Temper Orange flat free.jpgDump Cart Plastic.jpg         


Once you have acquired the equipment and the parts that you need, it is time to build our soil sifter.  


 1. Step one, measure the boards and draw a pencil mark across where you are going to cut.

 2. Step two, cut your boards to the decided length.

 3. Fasten the boards together using wood screws or drywall screws.  Use the ones with the Phillips head.

 4. Cut your galvanized mesh to the outside width of your box.  

 5. Fasten the galvenized mesh to the bottom of the sifter using the 1 1/4 in staples or the galvanized strap.


If using the galvanized strap, you will need to anchor the strap to the bottom of the sifter using wood  screws or drywall screws.  The galvanized strap may need to be cut to length.  Gonna need a hack saw for this one!


Now you are ready to use your new tool!

                            Soil softer over wheelbarrowCAU0E5PF.jpg     Sifter box w galvanized straps on bottom.jpg 

Pictures courtesy of:


Ok, now that you have it built, let's go have some fun!!!


This has been another of,


Not what you were looking for ? Try posting a question
Posted 2012-04-10T23:04:12+0000  by Rick_HD_OC Rick_HD_OC

Hello.  I just wanted to let you know that the first photo of the pair at the end of your article is a photo of the Soil Sifter I make, which is available at  You are welcome to use that photo or any other from my site as long as you identify where it came from.  There are also instructions on my site for building a full-size Sifter, but I am offering them for people who are not comfortable sawing wood or cutting screen!  





The Soil Sifter

Posted 2012-04-26T23:39:31+0000  by writer89

Hey, I just wanted to thank you for including a photo from the Do-It-Yourself dirt sifter project I completed a few years ago.  I just updated my website and put even more photos and videos up showing how it's really easy to build a dirt sifter with the materials you described!


The full instructions for my home built dirt sifter can be found on my home improvement blog.  I found that the staples didn't work, which is why I switched over to the metal straps. 


I also made the whole process a lot easier by building a wooden frame from my wheelbarrow with some left over wood and by attaching old skateboard wheels to my dirt sifting frame!  The wheels made the whole process of sifting out the dirt super-easy!


Thanks for featuring my project!



Posted 2013-05-20T21:34:18+0000  by tomk
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