These screening machines are primarily for production earthbag builders and other natural builders who want to mechanize the building process for maximum efficiency. They are useful for screening soil for earthen plaster, earthen floors, straw/clay and, of course, soil for earthbags. One advantage is the ability to utilize soil from the building site, which would offset the purchase or rental cost of the soil screening machine/attachment. The screened soil would be ready for filling earthbags. The rubble can be used in rubble trench foundations, under floors and as fill material.

Soil screening machines are usually not needed for earthbag building. Typical clayey/sandy soil can often be used as is to fill the bags. Or you can use road base or crusher fines, which have been processed in a gravel yard. This is my preferred approach because using a readily available material that’s already been processed greatly reduces labor, speeds construction and eliminates the need for a screening machine.

More soil screening videos:–mys (note how he is standing and shoveling from the wrong side — either that or build a lower soil screen)

Sandbag Machines (covers a wide range of machines for automating all aspects of earthbag building)


Soil Screening Machines — 8 Comments

  1. It is pretty cool to see how those screens work in the videos. Simple, but effective the loose small stuff falls through, and the bigger stuff slides into a different place. It is kind of cool to see what was in the dirt, all the twigs, and rocks, and leaves.

  2. I love the vibrating screen shown in the first video, this would lend itself well to the earthbagging process. Some years ago, I made a manual screen using 1/4 inch mesh hardware clothon a wooden frame to screen sand removed while constructing a sidewalk using paver bricks. I had to shovel the sand from the path into the screen, with a wheelbarrow situated to capture the waste material with the sifted dirt going back into the hole. This was hard work, having to stop, vibrate the screen, break up clods and such, all by hand. I like the mechanized version much better.

    Great research on the sandbagging machines shown in the last link, btw. Many of these would work very well to speed up the bagging process.

    • Some readers may be thinking machines are not needed. That may be true in some instances. But keep in mind that people’s situations vary from place to place. For instance, in some places gravel yards don’t wash or screen the sand. Sometimes you need clean sand (concrete work, plaster, etc.) and sometimes it has to be screened. I tried to show a variety of machines from simple to complex to help speed the job.

  3. Hi, Owen I have a question and I searched the site but could not find what I was looking for. Is there a method for determining how much fill material you will need? When I am ready to start I will probably use road base as my fill material. Also, is there a method for determining the number of bags used? Your book does it have this information in it? Thanks for your continued work.

    • My book explains how to figure out how many bags you need. It’s also on this blog. Search ‘how many bags’.

      Calculate soil quantity by determining the volume of the walls = width (16″) x height (usually 8′) x wall length (perimeter). Don’t mix your units. Use all feet or all inches. So it’s just simple math. Disregard windows and doors. Add a little extra to compensate for compaction.

  4. I wish I had such nice dirt as in the first video. On my site, earth is very clayey, making it almost impossible to remove all roots and other things which would rot in the earthbags.

  5. Absolutely invaluable Owen thank you for this post! We have recently updated the United Earth Builder website and have praised yours and Kelly’s work as well as others in regard to sustainable building practices. Thanks Again!

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