Automatic Nut Sorter For A Tidy Workspace

We all have that one drawer or box full of random hardware. You don’t want to get rid of anything because as soon as you do, that’s the one thing you’ll need. But, honestly, you’ll be lucky to find what you need in there, anyway. Enter  [Mr. Innovative’s] nut sorting machine. As you can see in the video below, it will make order out of the chaos, at least for nuts.

You might think the device would need optical recognition software or some other high-tech mechanism. But, in fact, it is nothing more than a motor with a speed controller. The sorting is done by a plastic piece built like stairs. When a nut is too tall to fit under the next step, it slides out into the output hopper. You could probably turn the whole thing with a crank and no electricity at all if you wanted to.

Drilling out the shaft required a bit of machine tool usage, so this might not be a great weekend project without a lathe. Like many of the commenters on the video mentioned, we probably wouldn’t have used a rod holder as a rotating bearing, either, but for as little as something like this would probably operate, it is likely to last a fair amount of time. It would be easy to replace it or even affix a shaft to the motor with a coupler, sidestepping several issues.

Apparently, the device isn’t perfect. You do get some missorts. We imagine that’s from a larger nut pushing a smaller nut on the way to the hopper. The Thingiverse files seem to be missing, but this is something you’d probably adapt to your own design, anyway.

It isn’t as automated, but we’ve seen a gadget that can help sort drill bits, too. Sometimes you want to sort little parts by color, too.

28 thoughts on “Automatic Nut Sorter For A Tidy Workspace

  1. I leave disappointed. Sorting nuts by height seems like a partial solution at best.

    My bucket of nuts has metric, UNC, UNF, BSF and both BS190 (large hex) and BS1083 (small-hex) Whitworth. With BS190 being the real treasure for my old-vehicle hobbies.

    Given that nut height varies by manufacturer and whether castellated or not, this isn’t the answer I was looking for.

    What I really want is a way to tell Whit from UNC. (and, to an extent, M8 from 5/16 BSF, which feel the same over the length of a nut)

    Relevant to this, many years ago (like, in the 1990s) I munged all the thread tables together to make a thread identification table, here it is:

    It’s not complete, I know. It’s deficient in metric below M3 and lacks Panzergewinde. More importantly for the task at hand it really should list the _actual_ thread OD and ID after thread rounding (Whitworth, BA) or flattening (most others).

    1. It probably won’t sort your 10-24s from your 10-32s but it’s already a miracle worker for my workshop. I accidentally made grab bags for some Bob the Builder themed birthday party or something.

        1. One of the last places I worked my boss was notorious for dumping buckets and leaving them for days and telling one of us to clean up after him. I refused to do it. I told him more than once he made the mess to clean up after himself, he would laugh at me and clean up. I was a mechanic not a janitor for an auto repair shop and my tasks were usually the biggest and most complicated.

          1. Good on you. Employers often erroneously believe they’re the lord and master of their employees. Employees are not slaves. They are not owned by the people paying their wages. Employers pay others to do tasks they can’t do themselves for whatever reason. Often that reason is ignorance more than a lack of time. It’s well past time that employees realize their worth to the organization to which they belong.

  2. I love this but it would seriously cut back on quality time with my daughter. Sorting piles of hardware and resistors, capacitors and other shop scraps are one of our favorite activities. We sit at a picnic table outside the a bunch of dixie cups, a magnet, sometimes a caliper and a cool drink. Automation isn’t everything but I love the execution.

  3. Yeah, not so much. Sorting nuts by thickness makes about as much sense as sorting them by color. Less so, since most nuts (internally threaded fasteners, finally) come in a bunch of specialty thicknesses depending on application.

    Worse, the descending thickness allows smaller sizes to be distributed at random from the first, larger slots (the video shows a bunch of M4 being distributed around to other buckets). Using sizing rods based on the ISO-metric minor internal diameter will have a much smaller error rate and will tolerate all kinds of oddball scrap fasteners.

    1. Well, you do the first sorting, and then you can sort by hand later.

      And yes, it shoud sort out the small ones before the larger, so then there will be less errors because of nuts pushing out smaller ones early.

  4. I’d certainly have either put covers on the nut bins or at least made them out of separate pieces of plastic. Emptying them, as they are, may prove to be counter productive to the sorting process.
    I wonder how it copes if you have the odd witworth nut mixed in with the metric and imperial sizes.

  5. Did you seen (0:27-00:37) what actually lands in these trays? It clearly shows that contraption does not work as expected. Bigger nuts should be sorted out first like in coin sorters. And external dimensions of nut have almost nothing to do with thread number which matters in this task.

    1. Sorry, you are wrong. Smaller should be sorted out first, as there is no way a big can pass a smaller slit. THEN the bigger one should come, as the smaller that can pass is already sorted. Then the number of errors will be less.

  6. On reading the title my mind went to peanuts, walnuts, and cashews. My first thought: “Why would anyone have so many nuts cluttering up their workspace they’d need an automatic sorter?”

    Apparently these aren’t the nuts I’m looking for.

  7. This should be re-titled “Fail of the week” because clearly it doesn’t work and needs to be re-thought. He may as well just print perforated trays that stack up with holes that reduce on every level. Or sort them by hand and spend your time on printing proper trays to not mix your nuts up in the first place.

  8. Oh, thank God, with this heat and humidity my nuts have been all out of sorts! This sorter, sort of, reminds me of those coin sorting machines that sort different coins by size and I think using different sized holes instead of heights might also work on nuts.

    1. this kind of rig is good if you have known constraints of your mixture – all same ‘Series’ (combination of hole:hex:height ratio and same threads-per-size, ie no SAE Coarse/Fine mixups) like you dropped a Prefilled Big Box like Ithemick a few posts up, but completely farts out if you have any deviation from the Series

      1. So width of should be used as a sorting critera, not hight then?
        And small ones should probably be sorted out first because then small ones can’t be pushed out before.

  9. I’m thinking of donating my assorted nuts/bolts/screws/washers to the local Habitat for Humanity Re-Store.
    There, they have volunteers sort such donations and place them into small plastic zipper bags, and price them ($0.25-$1.00).
    I can pick up the ones I need about a month later.

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