Item Sorters are super sweet. But, I have a skeleton farm, and am getting tons of non-stackable drops. Since armor can be smelted into iron/gold, I'd like to smelt those drops in a furnace, and burn bows in a furnace. And trash all leather armor. Is there a way to sort out these non-stackable items in vanilla survival?

  • It has been a while since Fabian answered. Did you ever figure this one out?
    – IronAnvil
    May 19, 2018 at 18:10
  • @IronAnvil Not really. Fabian's answer is partial, but gets at the key point. There's no "universal" sorter, but a couple of "partial" tricks. So, I abandonded my "universal" approach, and just have some partials in key areas. It helps, it's not ideal. An exhaustive list of tricks would be awesome....
    – John
    May 19, 2018 at 22:40
  • What partial tricks have you employed? I like your idea with the grinder. Are you still doing most of it manually?
    – IronAnvil
    May 20, 2018 at 2:50
  • @IronAnvil Nothing beyond what Fabian says below.
    – John
    May 20, 2018 at 13:21

5 Answers 5


There is no one way for all of them, but most can be sorted using different tricks: Armour and weapons can be equipped to zombies and unequipped again, potions and water bottles can be filtered using a brewing stand, shulker boxes can be placed and broken automatically and so on.

For now, please just look up " sorter" for all of them on YouTube, I'll expand this answer later once I've figured it out for all items myself.

  • Okay, that helps a lot. Turns out only burnable items will load from a hopper into a furnace. So, that's half of the problem very neatly solved (does require some redstone.) I haven't figured out smeltable or not though.
    – John
    Apr 23, 2018 at 3:25
  • But you can't take it out of the furnace automatically. Apr 23, 2018 at 7:20
  • 1
    Since, I "want" all burnable items to go to the furnace, that works out well for me....
    – John
    Apr 23, 2018 at 13:32
  • How does one equip and unequip a zombie with redstone?
    – John
    May 20, 2018 at 13:21
  • 2
    As of 1.15, it's possible to deploy armorstands and equip them with armor using dispensers. Non armor/weapon items will be dropped, the rest is equipped and then you can break the armorstand with an arrow to drop all the armor (and recycle the armorstand for reuse). One problem is it works with leather and diamond armor just as well as with smeltable variants.
    – SF.
    Mar 9, 2020 at 11:52

A temporary solution for armor, it can be dispensed onto an armor stand, then use a cobweb to catch the non armor items into a hopper for further sorting. Only problem is you can only have so many armor stands. After the farming is complete you could break the armor stands (by hand or from dispensed arrows) and sort them afterwards, and reload your stands back into position manually.

When you place a hopper under a brewing stand, it will remove the water bottles before the brewing commences.

Bows and fishing rods are fuel for furnaces.

I have no solutions for saddles or enchanted books yet.

  • The armour stand idea is really valuable now (in 1.15), because armour stands can be summoned by dispensers! Dec 31, 2019 at 16:46

You can actually sort unstackable items using a design using allays by silentwhisperer. I’m not sure if he created it, but that’s where I saw it first. It works in Bedrock, and I think it works in Java Edition, as well.
(See this video).


Use a regular sorter (

) to sort out arrows and then bone and the armor and bows end up in the last , Junk chest on the end. Also there is a way to filter out all non-stackable items in the middle of the sorting line up (
) but those non-stackable items can not be further sorted by hoppers. Hope this helps GL, webyankee


Designs I found for filtering non-stacking items didn't work for me in Java Edition, but this seems to. The redstone torch, like in the design in the video, will burn out if it flashes too much, but if you use a comparator as a NOT gate, then it won't burn out. You put a weak signal into a comparator and subtract a strong signal that is put into the side when a non-stacking item is in the hopper.

screenshot of the design described above

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