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Old 06-05-2009, 05:16 PM
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Mild Steel Mild Steel is offline
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Default How I Built a Reverse Dirt Sifter

First a warning...if you are looking for some fabrication wizardry you won't find it in this thread. Wizard classes were all filled by members of this board when I applied. However, this is a terrific example of the K.I.S.S. principle. Now for a little backround. Most people have dirt they wish to remove the rocks from. My problem was different. I had landscaping rocks that I wanted to remove accumulated dirt from, in other words, a reverse dirt sifter. I only had one small pile about 2 ft high to sift so the solution also had to be inexpensive.

Like any good project builder, I used the Internet to research my options. I found a lot of DIY sites that recommended forming 4 pieces of 2X4 into a shallow box and attaching screening to the bottom. The idea is that you would place the dirt into the box and then shake it back and forth with your hands to sift the material. The sites all noted that this was a lot of work. While I am not adverse to work, if there is an easier way, I'm going for it. I continued my search. I found another site that attached 2 pieces of wood on the side of the sifting box that fit over a wheel barrow. The wheel barrow supported the sifting box and all you had to do was shake the box from side to side by sliding it back and forth over the wheel barrow. That seemed easier but not quite easy enough. I continued my search. I found a lot of commercial sifting equipment that used angled, vibrating beds of some sort and then there were the rotary screens which seemed to be overkill for my little pile of rocks.

After giving it some thought, I combined some ideas from the DIY sites and the commercial sites. I built a 2X4 box with one end open. I sized it so it would fit over my wheel barrow. I used 1/2 inch hardware cloth for the screen. Then I cut two 2X4 legs to attach to one end so the sifter would be at an angle. My idea was that rocks are heavy so I wanted the sifted rocks to fall straight into the wheel barrow for easy moving. I placed my reverse dirt sifter on the edge of the wheel barrow with the legs holding it an angle. I finished the sifter late in the day so I couldn't try it until the next day. All evening I had different ideas on how to add a vibrator to the screen but I finally decided I would try it without vibration first.

The next day I set the reverse dirt sifter up to give it a try. I put my first shovel full of rocks in the sifter and I was amazed! The rocks merrily rolled off the screen into the wheel barrow and the dirt fell in a nice pile in front of the wheel barrow. I didn't have to shake the screen at all!! I happen to have very sandy, dry soil on my property so I am sure that helped. I quickly dispatched the pile of rocks much to my delight.

However, I now had one more problem. I now had a pile of dirt with small, pea gravel sized rocks in it. I could use the dirt to fill some holes in the lawn but I would need something to remove the rocks from the dirt...I needed a dirt sifter! I went back to the store and picked up some 1/4 hardware cloth so I could build a second sifter. This time I positioned the sifter directly over the wheel barrow so the dirt would fall into the wheel barrow for easy moving. Voila, dirt suitable for filling holes!

Picture 1 - Reverse dirt sifter in action
Picture 2 - Folded for easy carrying and storage
Picture 3 - Dirt sifter in action
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  #2  
Old 06-05-2009, 06:17 PM
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Hummmm. Madam, is there a corner for those who use only wood in their projects:evil::evil:
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Old 06-05-2009, 07:57 PM
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The hardware cloth is metal.....and I used 2 bolts
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Old 06-05-2009, 08:16 PM
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MS, thats a way cool solution, even if it is made of that "W" material. I've been screening fill dirt using the screen box, on the 'barrow, method. Around here, the CLEAN fill has limestone rocks, sea shells and coral chunks in it.

I may have to whip up a bedframe angle version of your rig, I want to build a small retaining wall, 3 courses of block high and tapering from the shop floor grade, to the road, now I know an easy way to get aggregate for the footer, all that shoveling,sifting,lifting,dumping and wheeling slowed that little project way down, your KISS rig is gonna get it back on the front burner again..... durn it. RED
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Old 06-05-2009, 10:40 PM
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There's an idea I'll be putting into play soon. Need to separate the dirt from the rocks in the area that I pulled all those shrubs up a couple of weeks ago.
Actually just need to bring the rocks back to the surface covering the dirt.
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Old 06-06-2009, 12:05 AM
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steve01 steve01 is offline
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Cool

Tried to build this with no luck. When i tried to weld the screen to the frame it caught fire!!! Good thing i read the thread about fire extinguisher in the shop and now i see why i needed one.
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Old 06-06-2009, 09:30 AM
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Quote:
When i tried to weld the screen to the frame it caught fire!!!
Use CO2 for your shielding gas. It still starts a fire but it then puts it out for you or you could use that hard bendable stuff for the frame....I think they call it metal
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Old 06-06-2009, 02:25 PM
kbs2244 kbs2244 is offline
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It seems to me that a garden hose woud wash the rocks of pretty well.
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Old 06-06-2009, 03:30 PM
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MS,

Good use of that high-tech W-Fiber material. When the older son co-founded a robotics team at high school, all we could afford the first year was wood, so we built the chassis out of plywood. He made a sign with the team number and the logo "Featuring W-Fiber" on a scrap of cedar siding. At the regional competition, the MC would use it to announce our team. It had one knotty broken end that looked like a finger pointing, so he'd point to our robot. I still have that hung up in the garage.
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Old 06-06-2009, 11:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mild Steel View Post
Use CO2 for your shielding gas. It still starts a fire but it then puts it out for you or you could use that hard bendable stuff for the frame....I think they call it metal
Good idea will get some co2 in the morn.!!!
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