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how to make homemade sieves

updated sat 17 jan 04


David Hendley on fri 16 jan 04

You can make better sieves than you can buy - more screen
material, so more surface area, therefore faster. And they
fit right on top of 5-gallon buckets
You can buy the screen material from Trinity Ceramic Supply
in Dallas. It is bronze, and very reasonably priced.
You can also buy material at big hardware places on the web
like McMaster Supply, in bronze, stainless steel, copper, you
name it.

My preferred method for making the pan that holds the screen
is to throw a wide bottomed form with no bottom, and then
neck it in to about 10 1/2" (after firing shrinkage) at the top.
Make a good rolled lip.
What you are making is the same shape as the 'Talisman'
sieve, but made upside down.
The top (was the bottom on the wheel) will be about 16" diameter.
After glazing and firing, attach a 12" X 12" piece of sieve cloth
with an extra long stainless steel hose clamp (cut off the corners
so it is approximately round).
The rolled lip holds the cloth on. If you can't find a long enough
clamp, you can undo shorter ones and link them together.
This will take about 12 pound of clay - make it good and thick
so it will be durable.

My next favorite method is to cut off the top part of a 5-gallon
bucket, about 5 inches from the top.
Again, you will turn this over, so the top becomes the bottom.
Now you can attach your sieve cloth with a stainless steel hose
clamp. There is a notched lip on the bucket top to hold it in
This is not as good as the clay sieve because it doesn't hold as
much, and you have to place it exactly on the top of the bucket
you are sieving into.

Third on my list is the suggestion to cut the bottom out of a bucket
and attach the sieve cloth by melting it into the plastic. I use
a propane torch for this rather than a griddle (be sure not to put
the direct flame on the sieve cloth - you will melt it).
This sieve is not as easy to use, as it annoyingly slips inside the
bucket you are sieving into. I get around that by setting the sieve
on an old wire refrigerator rack on top of the bucket.
Also, you cannot easily replace the sieve cloth when it wears out,
as you can with the hose clamp method.

While you are making your sieves, buy an extra foot of material,
cut it into quarters, and make a small size, for tests and small
batches. On this scale, it's really simple to throw the sieve frame.
The opening for the screen will be about 4 1/2 to 5 inches.
While you're at it, buy another extra foot, so you will have a
spare when your big sieve wears out.

Around my shop, I have 1/4" hardware cloth, window screen,
30 mesh, 80 mesh, and 100 mesh sieves.

David Hendley