How to make a soil sieve

You will need

  • 8m of 25mm x 50mm treated timber
  • Wood stain
  • Wire mesh sheet with 1cm holes
  • 12mm x 40mm wood screws
  • Tape measure
  • Saw
  • Sandpaper
  • Pliers
  • Screwdriver
Do it: all year round
Takes just: 2 hours


Toby Buckland makes a soil sieve (or riddle) for sifting out large lumps from soil, leaf-mould and compost, to leave you with a fine material suitable for seed sowing and potting mixes.

You should aim to make your soil sieve slightly bigger than your wheelbarrow so you can quickly work your way through a pile of compost directly from the heap.

How to do it

Measuring a wheelbarrow

1Measure your wheelbarrow, so you can build your sieve to fit comfortably across the top.

Cutting timber

2Cut the timber into eight pieces and fix them together to form two equal-sized rectangles. Smooth any sharp edges with sandpaper. Use pliers to cut the wire mesh to the same size as the frame.

Painting timber with wood stain

3Paint the timber with wood stain to preserve it and add colour, then leave it to dry.

Attaching mesh to the top of the timber frame

4Set out the lower half of the timber frame on a flat surface and place the mesh on top.

Screwing the timber frames together

5Screw the upper and lower parts of the frame together, sandwiching the mesh in-between.

Adam's tip

Your sieve can also double as a drying tray in autumn and winter for onions, garlic, root crops and beans before you store them.

Discuss this project

Talkback: How to make a soil sieve
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BillinDetroit 24/11/2011 at 15:27

You can also make the frame of 2x4's and staple the screening directly to one face. This becomes the -bottom- face when seiving ... allowing you to seive larger quantities, roughly a bushel, at a time.

Len2 24/03/2012 at 16:36

I like the simple idea. I made something similar, but now quite so nice. However, I found it handy to put some low walls around the four sides of the sieve.