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Picture of Automatic Screw Sorter

You know you want one!

If you have mountains of unsorted screws in your workshop, you probably spend lots of time looking for "just the right" screws for a job.

This screw sorter is the answer! It can sort all your different screws to length, for storage and easy access.

I found three designs on You-tube -

Video 1: Felix the handyman:

Video 2: DTU students project :

Video 3: Ray's Screw sorting machine:

I did a simple prototype of the DTU design, but screws with all threads and no smooth shank consistently jammed.

I developed my machine based on Felix's design.

I opted for 10 slots to sort a range of screws from 10mm to 62mm

I would have liked to sort screws smaller than 10mm but the head size (typically 7mm) prevents them from falling through the slot. This can even be a problem for screws up to 13mm, depending on the head size/design/screw gauge.

The spacing between the down-tubes determines the width of the collection boxes that catch the screws so this is best worked out at the design stage.

I used square aluminium tubes for the collection boxes, the same size as the down-tubes for consistency and ease of fitting but they are shallow and don't hold a lot of screws.

Step 1: Materials List:

Bottom baseboard 25 mm x 460 mm x 220 mm

Top baseboard 25 mm x 210 mm x 440 mm

2 x Uprights 38 x 90 x 219

1 x left hand front upright 38 x 68 x 226

1 x right hand front upright 38 x 68 x 224.5 (to accommodate a 1.5mm steel reinforcement plate)

The 68x38 mm & 90 x 38 mm wood is non-structural pine, bought very cheaply at Bunnings.

2 x Wooden battens 40 x 20 x 200

Motor board 15 mm x 185 mm high x 210 mm wide

2 x wooden spacers 80 x 85 x 20 to join the motor board to the fixed upright

200 watt ¼ sheet orbital sander

1 metre 25 x 25 mm Aluminium Angle

Square Aluminium tube 25 x 25 x 1800

Flat aluminium bar 2 mm x 30 mm x 1 metre.

4 x strong springs 30 x 15 mm (I got mine out of scrapped hot water overflow valves)

4 x medium springs 30 x 10mm

4 x 6 mm steel rod 210 mm long with 25mm M6 threads on each end

8 x 6 mm washers

8 x spring washers 6 mm ID 10 mm OD

6 x M6 Nyloc nuts

4 x M6 coach bolts 75mm long

4 x M6 threaded inserts

8 x 25mm countersunk woodscrews

4 x 75mm countersunk woodscrews

4 x 50mm countersunk woodscrews

1 roll of 50mm gaffer tape.

Plastic insulation tape

Inner tube rubber, foam, or other vibration damper.

Super glue

Contact cement

lwinphonekyaw3 months ago
Can i have design calculation for this screw sorting machine?
Ok.So,let me ask how do you calculate trial and error method?
I really don't know!
Bverysharp (author)  lwinphonekyaw2 months ago
Trial and error works like this: First get an idea and build a prototype. Do drawings if you need to. (I do hand sketches with rough dimensions on them, no ruled lines, no computer sketches or anything like that.) Test the prototype, and see what works and doesn't work. Find a solution to each problem, starting with the one that causes the most trouble. Try a something that you think might work, ("Trial") test it, and if it doesn't work, ("Error") try something else until you fix the problem then move on to the next problem, and so on. It is mostly estimation and prototyping, not calculation. Eg: I found that long screws balanced on the fixed rail without falling when they should. I removed the rail, put a chamfer on the edge and used pieces of plastic to create a sideways camber on that rail so that the screws would slide off rather than balance. I tested this until I had a chamfer and camber that was reasonably reliable, and then moved on to other problems, like how to feed the screws reliably. Hope that helps.
Bverysharp (author)  lwinphonekyaw2 months ago
I think you may be joking. There is no design calculation, it was built by trial and error. If you mean the dimensions, they are all in the fusion 360 drawings. If you mean how long did it take? Too long. Weeks. It would have been faster to sort my screws manually, but it was an interesting challenge, and having built it, I can lend it to people, and use it at my local men's shed when people donate buckets of fasteners. (As they do.) Hope that helps.
gm28010 months ago
I have many many cabinet drawers full of mixed screws. But they are sorted in wood screws, machine, hex head, counter sink head and so on. However, seems that when I want to make something I usually have one missing to finish the project. If I need four, I can match three, if I need eight, I can match seven. But every once in a while, I do match enough to do the project. Nice project post if it works.
Bverysharp (author)  gm28010 months ago
Thanks. the 3 out of 4 screws problem was one of my motivations.
rwbplastic gm28010 months ago
You will have to excuse me but what you are saying is that you are screwed.
gm280 rwbplastic10 months ago
Yea, I guess you could look at it that way...
Bverysharp (author)  gm28010 months ago
Thanks for that. I had exactly the same problem, which is why I was motivated enough to make this machine. at least now I know, if I am short 1 fastener, then I don't have it. Whether that is worth the time it took to build the machine and then write the instructable is another question. It keeps me off the streets.
Tinkerer135110 months ago
I think the last poster is dead wrong with the "non usable toy" remark may can not afford to buy boxes of $15 screws for every little project and will be very happy with this type of helpful and almost Free kind of sorter recycle their treasure trove of hardware that much easier!!!
I will try to refine my build a bit and make it even better IF it works I will be posting it here, (that would be a first though) ;-)
Very well done and conceived!
Bverysharp (author)  Tinkerer135110 months ago
Yes, I hate throwing stuff away. One of the things that used to miff me was that I would spend a lot of time looking through my many screws, to find 3 out of the 4 I wanted, and still wonder if there was "just one more" Now I know.
why are you exaggerating the cost of the screws. do you usually buy them in 10 Lb boxes? like he said, cost is about $4/Lb.
yrralguthrie10 months ago

An excellent write up. Very thorough. A lot of time spent on the written word. (A declining skill)

Based on the results shown in the pictures I agree it's a slightly usable toy. And very few used screws are actually usable anyway. If they are marked I'll just pay the few cents it takes to buy a new screw. I value my time building too much to intentionally use ugly parts. I make enough mistakes as it is, without intentionally adding flaws. Screws are cheap. Many times I can buy them for $3-4 per pound.

The biggest drawback to the project in my life would be the time spent building the machine vs. sorting by hand.
Bverysharp (author)  yrralguthrie10 months ago
Yes, Point taken. Its the sort of thing that would be best if you had to do repetitive sorts of the same kind of screws, EG. if you were doing stage scenery setup & pull down with say, chipboard screws. When I started it I had no idea how long it would take to fully implement, and some of the motivation came from seeing a 50 litre drum of screws and fasteners thrown out by a men's shed that I belong to because they were "too hard to sort" I like to recycle.
why are you assuming he is trying to sort thru used screws? i have an assortment of screws that I pulled out of their boxes and left lying around and then finally when i saw a whole lot of screws lying around i put them into another box because it was too much of a nuisance to sort them. so now i have a big bag of screws of different sizes. and yeah, I still have the boxes of screws that they came from. On the other hand it does seem to be a lot of work to build this sorter.
Why did I assume he was sorting used screws...I looked at the pictures.
LesB10 months ago
I would like to build this but I need to sort my screw collection before starting to build....

Phil_S10 months ago
Diameter next. Then material - brass, mild steel, stainless etc.
My solution is an 8-cm bar of 25-mm aluminium, drilled from M2 to M8 and hacksawed marks along the edge at 5-mm intervals. Find a sunny place to sit and while away a couple of hours.
Personally, I don't bother with old slotted screws and for woodscrews, I just use the metric recessed head ones now. The bit of aluminium does machine screws as well.
Heath Robinson would be proud.
I think , it's funny but non usable toy/