How to Make a Shark Tooth Sifter (That Floats!)

I’ve recently visited Florida on a trip with my family and couldn’t ignore the fact that many people were using open wooden boxes with wire mesh. When I asked about the whole scene, I found out that they were searching for shark teeth and fossils using what’s called a “shark tooth sifter.” 

That sounded interesting to me, so I thought this would be a fun activity for the kids. Being a person who likes to craft, I decided to DIY the shark tooth sifter at home with simple equipment. 

In this article, I’ll show you how to make a shark tooth sifter at home. Not only is it easy to make, but it’s also cheap. You can make like two sifters with the price of one. So let’s get started. 

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Shopping for Equipment

First, we need to shop for the equipment needed to make our shark tooth sifter. If you’re someone who crafts a lot (like me!), I suggest looking in your crafting or sewing tools first. You might already have most of the stuff we need for the sifter. 

All the needed materials can be found in stores like Lowe’s or Home Depot. I’ve also linked to some of the materials on Amazon. 

What We Need

  • 5ft long 1/2″ PVC pipe
  • Four 1/2″ PVC elbows
  • A roll of 1/4″ galvanized hardware cloth 
  • Two pool noodles
  • A dozen of 8″ long zip ties or more
  • Two dozens of 13″ long zip ties or more
  • Pruning shears
  • Hacksaw
  • Carabiner clip
  • Rope 

How to Make a Shark Tooth Sifter

This DIY project might be somewhat risky for your kids as you’ll be dealing with sharp tools. But if you want to include your kids in the project, it’s a good idea to let them go shopping for the equipment with you. Let them choose the colors of the pool noodles. It’s always fun for kids. 

We’re not using wood here because I think the wooden sifters will be heavy for the kids to hold. So instead, we’ll be using PVC poles. 

Building the Frame

First, you need to decide on the size of the sifter. We made ours 12″ x 16″. I think it’s the ideal size that guarantees a comfortable grip for you and your kids. 

  1. Measure two 12″ and two 16″ sections on the PVC pipe, and cut them with a hacksaw.
  2. Now grab your PVC elbows and attach all of your pipes and elbows to create a rectangular-shaped frame. Use your muscles and make sure that everything fits snugly. 
  3. Measure the galvanized hardware cloth. We need the wire to be about 2″ wider and longer than the PVC frame to have enough wire to wrap around the pipes.
  4. Lay your galvanized hardware cloth underneath the PVC frame. Using your pruning shears, cut the measured piece of the wire. 
  5. To be able to wrap the hardware cloth around the PVC frame, we need to cut the four corners of the wire. This step is pretty similar to wrapping a Christmas gift. 
  6. Here comes the role of zip ties. Secure the hardware cloth around the PVC frame using 8″ zip ties. You’ll need about three zip ties for each pole. Make sure that the wire is pulled tightly around the frame. 
  7. Cut the zip ties with the pruning shears, leaving a quarter to half-inch tail. 

Covering the PVC Frame

We’re using the pool noodles to cover the wire’s sharp edges, thereby making it safer for kids. They also make the sifter look better by giving it a pop of color. 

In this part of the process, you might need another hand to help you.

  1. Cut the pool noodles using a utility knife or scissors to create a vertical slit. Be careful you don’t go through the other side of the pool noodle, or else you’ll have to buy new ones. 
  2. Start wrapping the pool noodles around the PVC frame. Start from the corners first. This helps decrease the weird crease that sticks out when the pool noodle is bent. Use the 13″ zip ties to secure everything in place. 
  3. Continue wrapping the pool noodles tightly around the frame. I used about six zip ties on each side of the rectangular frame, but feel free to use more if needed. 
  4. Trim down the zip tie tails, leaving a 1/4″ exposed.
  5. Melt the tail of the zip ties with a lighter to smoothen any sharp edges.
  6. Thread a rope through one side of the hardwire cloth and attach it to your belt with a carabiner. This way, the sifter won’t drift away with the waves as you hunt for shark teeth.
  7. If you want to carry the shark tooth sifter on your shoulder, tie another loop on the same side of the pole where you tied the rope. Now, you can secure the carabiner to this loop and carry the sifter as a shoulder bag. 

Important Notes

Please wear your protective gloves when using sharp tools like the hacksaw and utility knife. You’ll also be dealing with galvanized hardware cloth that might hurt your bare hands if you touched its sharp edges. 

When wrapping the pool noodles around the PVC frame, you don’t have to wrap them around the elbows if the wire isn’t visible there. You can measure and cut the pool noodles to the size of each pole and just wrap them around the poles. 

Make sure that the pool noodles are covering the extra pieces of the hardware cloth that are wrapped around the PVC poles for your safety.

Final Thoughts

We had a lot of fun as a family looking for shark teeth and sea glass. It definitely became one of our favorite activities.

Now, it’s your turn to let your creative side out and make the shark tooth sifter at home. If there’s any step you think could be modified to work better for you, feel free to do that. Once done, head to the beach and start searching for treasures.

How To Make a Floating Shark Tooth Sifter (VIDEO)

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