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soil sifter

How to Build Your Own Soil Sifter (if you dare!)

If I figured out how to do it, you can, too. So I thought it was only fair that I offer you step-by-step instructions on how the Soil Sifter can be built, if you're so inclined. But if you're not handy with tools, don't say I didn't warn you!

Materials needed:
2 1x3s 36-1/2" length
2 1x3s 26-1/2" length
2 1x2s 36-1/2" length
2 1x2s 25" length
1/4" hardware cloth 36" x 27.5"
12 6x1-1/2" flathead wood screws
4 6x1-3/4" flathead wood screws
12 4d finish nails
Several dozen 3d finish nails
Several dozen T50 3/8"" staples
4 2-1/2" lengths of scrap 1x3s or a set of four L-shaped brackets

Tools Needed:
Saw (table saw preferred, but any saw that will cross-cut the above lumber will do if you're only making one)
Measuring Tape
Power screwdriver
Power drill
Hammer
Heavy duty wire cutters
Staple gun
Sanding block
Work gloves
Paint or varnish (optional)

Cut the lumber to the proper length, making sure that each pair of identical pieces are exactly the same length, and that the two longer pieces of each are the same length. Lightly sand all corners and smooth any rough surfaces. (You will want to sand again after completing and before applying paint or varnish, if you plan to do that.)

Fasten the 1x3s together in a square frame, with the short pieces on the inside, narrow side down, using 8 6x1-1/2" screws, two in each corner. Predrilling holes (using a 3/16" bit) in the ends of the longer pieces of wood will make the job easier.

Fasten the 1x2s together in a square frame, with the shorter pieces on the inside, wide side down, using staples. It is recommended that three stapes be used on each corner on one side, and a single staple in each corner on the other. Be careful when moving the frame to avoid twisting the boards, so as not to pull out the staples. The joints do not have to be very sturdy at this point, as they will be later fastened to the wire and to the frame of 1x3s using screws and nails.

Wearing heavy work gloves, place the pre-cut hardware cloth over the 1x2 frame and adjust it if necessary so that no wire protrudes from the sides, but there is at least 1/2" of cloth overlapping the wood for strong fastening. Staple one corner first, then the opposite corner, to make sure it's straight. You may have to adjust the frame slightly to square it up, since if it's only an eighth of an inch out of square, the screen will not fit properly. Then staple on all four sides, every few inches so that the wire will not pull away when the sifter is used. Hammer the staples in after they are all attached to make sure the connection is strong.

Place the 1x3 frame on a flat surface, then carefully position the 1x2 frame with the wire attached so that the side with the staples is facing down. You may have to adjust each frame so that it is straight and all four corners are even. (It will help if you leave the screws slightly loose in each corner of the larger frame and only fasten it when you have the other frame correctly positioned, with two corner nails in place.) Using 4d finish nails or screws, if you prefer, fasten the two frames together starting with one corner, then the opposite corner. Use two or three nails in each corner, so that all overlapping pieces of wood are attached to each other. Then pound 3d nails into the frame approximately every 6". Make sure all nails are pounded in straight so that no nails protrude from the sides.

You now have the basic soil sifter completed. After lightly sanding the edges and corners, cut and apply triangular pieces of shelf paper to cover the corners, with larger pieces on one end to fit the contours of your wheelbarrow. (The larger pieces should be approximately 9" x 9", the other side 6" x 6".)

Finally, attach brackets to each edge to hold the soil sifter on your wheelbarrow, using either adjustable metal brackets or scrap pieces of 1x3s and wood screws. If necessary, glue small pieces of wood (approximately 1/2" wide) to the two brackets attached to the shorter ends, since the standard wheelbarrow is 37-1/2" long, making it an inch wider than the longest sides of the Soil Sifter. (This comes about as a result of the standard hardware cloth being 36" wide. You can also purchase 48" wide hardware cloth and cut it to 36-1/2" x 27-1/2", making each piece of wood about 1/4" longer, but I don't recommend it!)

You may now apply paint or varnish if you wish. Or you can do it before you begin fastening the pieces together.

Does that sound like fun? We think so. But if you don't, we'll sell you one pre-made, guaranteed to do the job! Read a few testimonials from satisfied customers.

Some Helpful Gardening Sites

National Gardening Association
A nonprofit leader in plant-based education, serving a national audience with timely materials designed to foster an appreciation for the benefits of gardening. Lot of great information here!

My Ideal Garden: Landscape Design and Home Garden Ideas
Created by professional designers, My Ideal Garden is your online guide to pictures and advice that will help turn your landscape design idea or flower garden plan into reality.

Dave's Garden
A favorite site for gardeners around the world, articles and videos show you how to start seeds and learn how to make a garden. Members can chat with other gardeners in forums, and learn how to identify plants, pests, birds and butterflies.