Joined: February 8, 2013
|Sorting The Spill
|Posted on Tue Apr 05, 2016 1:07 pm
|Link to Post:
| So, I was sorting and putting away some new rings (as one does), and I accidentally knocked over three of my boxes of rings; those multi-compartment type boxes which don't have separate lids for each compartment, just one lid for the whole box. Two of the boxes were okay after the tumble, but the third box, its lid broke, and there were rings all over the floor. Yes, yes, I should have had all the rings inside zip-lock bags, but I didn't. I did manage to pick up all the rings from the floor, but what I had, well, it was ring-soup; all the rings mixed together.
I thought I would share the multiple methods I used to sort out those rings back into their proper places.
Method 1: Colour By Colour
These weren't anodized aluminium rings, they happened to be a mix of Bright Aluminium, Stainless Steel, Plated Brass (in five colours), and Plated Iron (in gold). So I was dealing with the following colours: Gold, Silver, Black Ice (aka Black Nickel), Antique Copper, and Antique Bronze (aka Antique Gold). My preferred method of sorting items by colour is to do one colour at a time.
This needs the following:
- Container full of the ring-soup
- Empty container of similar size
- Smaller empty container for temporary holding of rings
- Shallow container or plastic lid, to do the sorting on
- Pair of tweezers to pick up rings with (or you could use your fingers, but I found it easier with tweezers)
- One small container for each colour. This could be dishes, or boxes with lids, or zip-lock bags, whatever.
So what I did was grab a handful of rings from the ring-soup, and sprinkle them out on the sorting-tray. Then pick out all the silver rings, putting them in the temporary holding container. Then when there are no more silver rings on the tray, pour the remaining rings into the large empty container. Then repeat with another handful of rings from the ring-soup, until there are no more rings. Then I had a small container of silver rings, and a large container of gold, black-ice, antique-copper and antique-bronze rings. Poured the silver rings from the temporary container into the container set aside for the silver rings.
Then did it again for the gold rings, then the antique-copper. And then there were only two colours left, so one could toss a coin as to which one one picked out and which one was left in the tray.
Yes, this is double-handling, but in this case I consider brain-fatigue more of a problem than physical fatigue. The brain finds it easier to do its decision-making if it just has to process a yes/no question rather than a multiple-choice: Is this Colour X or not? There is also the factor that with picking out one colour from the rest, it brings pattern-recognition to bear (e.g. round gold thing) and your eyes start picking out the desired rings much faster; at least that's what I've found.
Method 2: The Toothpick Method
The Black Ice, Antique Bronze and the Antique Copper happened to be all the same size rings, so I thought I was finished with them, but I noticed there were a few mismatched rings in the Antique Copper set -- quite possibly there since I bought them. So I applied the toothpick method. Take a long toothpick (or a bamboo skewer, or a thin knitting needle) and stick it into the container of rings (best to be a dish or box, because I wouldn't want to poke holes in one of my zip-lock bags). Lift up the toothpick, trying to catch as many rings as possible on it. Then hold the toothpick level and look at the rings which are dangling on it. The larger rings will be hanging lower. And for rings which have the same outer diameter but different wire diameters, the ones with a smaller wire diameter will be hanging lower. Slide the rings off, into separate containers for the different ring sizes. Repeat until you've run out of rings.
Method 3: The Magnet Method
This method only works if one is trying to separate ferrous metals from non-ferrous metals, and not every alloy of iron is attracted to magnets, so it doesn't always work. What I had at this point was one container of silver rings (a mix of Bright Aluminium and Stainless Steel), and one container of gold rings (a mix of plated brass and plated iron). What is more, the silver rings were more or less identical in size (wire diameter 1mm, and mandrel-inner-diameter 5mm, though they had differing springback). So I was really hoping that I could stick a magnet in the container and just pick up all the stainless steel rings. Alas, it did not work; the stainless steel was insufficiently magnetised by the magnet. I think like one ring in the entire bunch was picked up. Not very useful.
However, with the gold rings, it worked beautifully. All the plated iron rings went SNAP onto the magnet, and then I peeled them off into a separate container. There were some brass rings that came too, if they were hooked up or trapped by an iron ring, but not very many of them. A word of caution: this method is best done in a container and not on a tray, because the rings jump up so enthusiastically to the magnet that some of them go flying.
Method 4: The Sifting Method (aka the Gold-Panning Method)
I was left with the container of silver rings, which as I said above, were pretty similar to each other. Yes, I could have painstakingly picked them out by colour, since the BA was highly polished and shiny, while the Stainless was dull, but a quicker method was preferable. Then it occurred to me that Aluminium is very light, and Steel is rather heavy. Could I do something with that? Yes.
I took the container of silver rings and shook it back and forth pretty vigorously. Lo and behold, the Aluminium rings started "floating" to the top. Not all of them, but a lot of them. So I picked out the bright shiny BA on the top, and sifted the rings some more. Not all of the rings came to the top, but as there were fewer and fewer BA rings, they became easier to pick out in the midst of the dull stainless steel. So the sifting definitely sped that task up.
Maybe I should title this post "How I Sorted My Rings With Science!" Cognition, geometry, magnetism and density.