How to Make a Compost Bin

Making a Compost Bin With Pallets

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Compost bins are tidier than a loose compost heap, but can be expensive to buy. Fortunately it’s easy to make your own compoet bins very cheaply—using old wooden pallets.

You’ll need four pallets to make your compost bin (cut them to size if they’re not all the same), and they should display the IPPC or EPAL logo plus the letters HT, which means the wood has been heat treated and is safe to use for composting. Avoid pallets that have the letters MB on them, as these have been treated with a toxic pesticide, methyl bromide.

You’ll also need:

  • Four corner brackets
  • A box of screws
  • A drill
  • A screwdriver
  • A saw
  • Two hook and eye latches
  • Optional: two plate brackets, some lengths of rebar, and a roll of wire mesh.

Building a Compost Bin with Pallets Step by Step

  1. Stand up three pallets to make the sides and back of the compost bin. The two side walls should be flush with the width of the rear wall. Screw them together to hold them in place temporarily while you work.
  2. Screw two brackets to both corners of the bin, one at the top and one at the bottom.
  3. Using a saw, cut the fourth pallet in half between two of the rear slats, then cut the front side in half between two of the front slats to match. Saw close against the slats for a tidy finish. These will make two opening doors, like a stable door.
  4. Attach the doors to the walls using two strong hinges on the outside of each door. Position the bottom door slightly up off the ground for easy opening. A small gap between the bottom and top doors will make it easier to open the two doors independently.
  5. Screw in a hook and eye latch near the top of each door.
  6. Optional: For additional stability, you can add a plate bracket at each rear corner and hammer lengths of rebar in on the outer sides of the walls. To help prevent any of your composting materials from escaping the bin, you can wrap the bin in wire mesh, and attach it with u-shaped nails or a staple gun.

3 Bay Pallet Compost Bin

Over time, to make a really efficient composting system you may wish to add additional compost bins alongside the first. Three bays makes composting easy because it allows for the three main stages of composting. Bay 1 is the active bay, which you’re currently adding composting materials to. Bay 2 has been filled and is rotting down. Bay 3 contains ready-to-use mature compost.

When Bay 3 is empty, it then becomes the new active bay, while Bay 2 should now be ready (or close to ready) and Bay 1 is left to rot down.  

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Pallet compost bins

Built several bins from pallets and they worked well. Now I travel the trash truck route looking for bed springs (double bed and larger preferred) and most of the pallets are now old enough and rotted enough to go into my springs. New material stays in fine, second stage will let a little out but once it gets settled is no problem and by the time it is ready to move to stage three, has reduced in size to the point it fits easily. I really like using them.

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