Best sifter/sorter/trommel?

I’ve made plenty if charcoal but I’ve never needed to grade it.
I have some sifters I made for compost, but they tend to be a lot of work.
I’ve considered making a trommel or shaker table to make the job easier, but I was concerned the payoff would not be worth it.

What is the best tool you’ve used for sorting charcoal into fuel sized bits?

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I make a ramped sifter to get my dust out, fill up a bucket and pour my grinded charcoal on the ramp. I use window screen for my dust separation I think the squares are probably 1/16" in size.

For my bigger stuff I just place hardware cloth about 1" square size over a wheelbarrow and shovel the grinded coal onto. Just takes a few jostles and it’s fine.

You could build a trommel using a bucket cut in half, then make a cylinder from hardware cloth and attach it somehow, maybe big staples or jumbo hose clamps?

I think a lot of guys set their trommel at an angle with the mouth pointed upwards.

If this is for dust separation you could just collect the good stuff after some turns but if it’s to separate the big pieces out you’d want something to catch the engine grade charcoal that falls out.


I should add I only sift big stuff out before I crush my coal, the crusher does a good job of sizing anything else down I just want to get the “already fine” sized stuff to keep myself from having to handle all of it. I sift for dust after grinding.


Hmm, I think the ease of using screens might be due to the dryness of the material.
I will try using the sifters I have.
A trommel might be more useful with wet clumping materials,and fuel charcoal shouldn’t be damp.


Kristijan is experimenting with slightly moistened charcoal, in a down draft reactor where it can convert the moisture into hydrogen like a water drip would do in any other charcoal reactor. He doesn’t have to add much. But that’s after its been sized.


Just for the record a 5 gallon bucket really isn’t wide enough for a 2 screen trommel. The bucket is 12" in diameter, if you wrap the outside screen around bucket, and then you give the second screen 2" of clearance, then the inside hole is only 8" in diameter. It works but it really doesn’t have enough space to get a very high feed rate. If you have decent support on the inner screen you can add something to tumble inside to break up the chunks, but beyond the stability, the hole isn’t big enough. . Which the tumbling concept works if you don’t have brands, but without proper support it breaks if you try to use something to heavy… :stuck_out_tongue:

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Hi Sean!
I looked for pictures of the trommel I built a couple of years ago bit i couldnt find any.
I made the trommel with support from bicycle rims and reinforcement mesh. To the mesh i added the screens i wanted. The trommel was about 7-8 feet long. In both ends i had a bicycle rim.
I’ll havet to find some pictures to post here, my english isnt good enough to explain😔

Om not using the trommel anymore, I use a shaker table nowadays. I’ll get some pics of that one too.


I have a trommel I made out five gallon buckets and quarter inch expanded metal lath. I couldn’t find the pictures of it on here but it was built for sifting worm castings and compost. Not worth the mess for charcoal. For charcoal I built a wooden frame that sits just inside the rim of a wheel barrow. Same quarter inch metal lath. I spread the crushed char across it and hit the frame with a rotohammer. I can sort quite a bit of fuel pretty quick like that. Otherwise I just have the lath screen in a five gallon bucket and shake it by hand. Can fill a five gallon bucket in a couple minutes even like that.


i just use a large piece of screen over the wheel barrow. I skipped the frame part. lol

The nice part about the trommel was mine was all contained in a barrel so not much dust. It would have been better if the initial hole was bigger, so the rocks I threw in actually had a better chance to tumble, if you only put a little bit in, they tumbled and broke up larger chunks so you didn’t need a grinder. Essentially the entrance became a ball mill.