I don’t know about you, but I love a good DIY project. I also really dislike having lumps in my compost  when I go to use it. When laid on the garden beds it just looks messy, and I like having a well kept vegetable garden! 

After years of picking the lumps, bumps and other un-composted debris from the compost, I finally decided to make a compost sifter. This was a project I planned during lockdown, so I was excited to get this built when we could finally go out and buy the materials.

Although I only made this recently, it has been a game changer for us. We now have beautifully fine and fluffy compost ready to use when we prepare our beds next month for the start of the main growing season.

I built this compost sifter to fit over the IKEA Samla 130l storage box. You may want one bigger or smaller to sift your compost into your chosen container, be it a  wheelbarrow, pot, bucket or storage box like ours.

Don’t make it too big though, as timber is heavy and when it is full of compost it will be difficult to shake! 


Materials needed:
U nails
Wood screws
Timber (4×1 inch)
Timber trim (optional)
Hardware cloth (1/2 inch)
Handles (optional)

Tools needed:
Wire Cutter
Tape measure
Drill & drill bits
Screwdriver, or screw driving bits
Sander & sand paper

Time needed:
1-2 Hours


Cut timber to size.

I took the easy option and got the 4×1’s cut cut to size when I purchased it at the hardware store.


(Optional) Sand the boards.

The boards we got were rough sawn timber, so there was quite a few splinters and rough edges. As I knew Amirah would be using this with me, I didn’t want her to injure herself. So I used an electric sander to smooth the boards, and rounded the edges slightly.


Build the frame.

Screw the boards together to make the frame of the compost sifter. I pre-drilled the holes to make it easier.


Attach the hardware cloth.

Lay the mesh hardware cloth over the the frame you just assembled. It can be a a bit difficult to hold in place, so it may be easier with a second person to help.

Attach the hardware cloth to one side of the frame with screws, staples or nails. I used U-nails and a hammer to knock them in.


Cut & attach the hardware cloth.

Cut the hardware cloth to size, and attach to the remaining 3 sides. Be careful as the cut ends can be sharp.

Well done! You have now made a basic composter sifter. This is suitable if you just want to sit the sifter over a bin of some sort, and push the compost through it by hand. However I made ours a bit fancier for 2 reasons:

  1. To prevent Amirah for hurting herself on the wire mesh underneath and;
  2. I wanted to be able to slide this compost sifter back and forth across the Samla box so that the compost would fall through the holes by itself. This would be difficult with the exposed hardware cloth.

Keep reading to learn how we finished our compost sifter!


Attach guide rails.

I had a bit of scrap 2 x 1 inch timber from an old project, so I cut 4 small pieces to attach to the bottom of the sifter. You could also use off cuts from the 4×1’s used to build the frame.

These will act as guide rails along the sides of the IKEA Samla box we will be using the collect the compost in. Without these guide rails, it would be difficult to keep our compost sifter directly over the box and much of the compost would fall to the ground and not in the box.

Above: Guide rails added using small pieces of 2″x1″ scrap wood


Attach wooden trim.

I found this decorative wooden trim while I was buying the timber for this project. It is rounded on one side, and flat on the other.

I attached this to the underside of the frame, so as to cover the exposed hardware cloth.

An added bonus is that the rounded side will make it easier to slide the compost sifter back and forth as we sift the compost into the storage container.


(Optional) Attach handles.

Attach cabinet handles to either end. This makes it easier to slide back and forth, as well as making it easy to carry.

I am really pleased with how this project turned out. It’s a great addition to our tool collection, as it works really well, saves time and should last for many years.


Did you know that compost sifters have uses other than compost?! You can use it to remove rocks from garden soil, pop your harvest on it and give the veggies a rinse with the hose, or even use it to dry your onions for storage!


Are you going to try to make your own? Let us know in the comments below, and if you are on Instagram make sure to tag us @amirah.and.jamies.garden to show us the results!