Compost Bin

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Project by Scott R. Turner posted 08-31-2010 04:25 AM 3624 views 9 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This dual compost bin was one of the summer projects this year. I’m posting it partly because I don’t see any other compost bin projects here at LJs.

The design was based on this project at the Lowe’s website. My version had several modifications. First, I eliminated the floor; it seems counter-intuitive to build a compost bin that holds the compost away from the earthworms and other bugs of the soil. Second, I used 4/4 lumber for the slats; it seemed like expensive overkill to use 5/4 lumber for those parts. Third, I replaced the middle joist in the bottom frame with a header running the other direction (see picture); I thought the joist unnecessary since I wasn’t adding a floor, and it would make it harder to shovel compost out of the bins. Fourth, I eliminated the carriage bolts to attach the posts to the bottom frame and just nailed them in; this seemed simpler and just as sturdy to me.

These changes impact the design in a couple of ways. First, you’ll have to space the back slats more than 1/4” apart since they now have to reach all the way to the ground. (Or you could add another slat.) I added hardware cloth to the back walls as well, since the gaps were bigger. Second, the side runners for the front slats will be too wide if you use the recommended 2×2 spacers. Instead, use a 1×2 along with a thin Masonite or similar strip. Third, you can avoid buying the 2×6 lumber for the floor. I also ended up with excess 2×4s, so you may want to check that part of the material list.

The gardening community seems divided about whether it is safe to use treated lumber for compost bins. I chose to use treated lumber for the bottom frame (where the bin is in contact with the ground) and regular grade lumber for the rest. Everything got two coats of primer and two coats of exterior grade paint.

A couple of tips about the build. First, I attached the hardware cloth with a staple gun. If you’re going to do it the old-fashioned way with fence staples you’re in for a day’s worth of work. Also, 3/4” fence staples will come through 4/4 wood, so be careful about where you attach. Second, the assembled bin weighs quite a bit. You’ll need two people to move it, or you might want to do the final assembly in place (as I did). Finally, I don’t recommend the barefooted drilling technique being demonstrated by my son in the above picture :-)

Hope this proves helpful to someone!

5 comments so far

View rimfire7891's profile


123 posts in 3867 days

#1 posted 08-31-2010 05:52 AM

Hi Scott,

Nice job on the bins. Have made a few sets over the years. My dad made some out of brick with concrete floor, which goes along with your observation that it hinders the earthworms and bugs.
My last one where built from pallets. Untreated they lasted for 15 years or so and eventually the remains ended ended up in the fire pit.
I have theory about compost. As long as you don’t put too much green stuff in the pile you don’t need to turn very often I just have three piles now and turn them once a year with the neighbours skid steer. By the time the third year rolls around you have great smelling very good compost. Just have big enough piles that you have enough for you needs for that year. Helps to have a lot of leaves.

Your bins look neater than my piles and in a small space, they really are the answer to keep the neighbours happy.

Lot of people think compost is yuk, they are missing out on those great earthy smells. Hopefully your son carries on the tradition. It certainly helped me that my dad was a compost head.

Thanks for posting. jb

-- Playing with wood and metal for the last 50 years, driving and building Land Cruisers for the last 40. Experience is what you get when you don't know what you are doing.

View DYNO360's profile


151 posts in 3829 days

#2 posted 08-31-2010 07:48 PM

Wow, I like it! It’s great to see someone do extraordinary work on a common, everyday object.

View SteveW's profile


397 posts in 3822 days

#3 posted 08-31-2010 11:12 PM

As an avid gardener myself, and with three compost piles cooking all the time, I can really
appreciate how good that looks. Thanks for posting,

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! SteveW

View lowrange's profile


10 posts in 3787 days

#4 posted 09-08-2010 04:30 PM

I liike it. May have to replicate this at my house. Right now i have 3 pallets put together with an open front. Not too attractive.

View Martyroc's profile


2712 posts in 3270 days

#5 posted 02-04-2012 02:27 AM

Hi Scott, it looks good, if I had a bigger backyard I might do one without a bottom, but I had a couple of buddies over to help me move it twice ( almost empty of course, still very heavy). Since we moved in only 2 years ago and I have re-arranged the backyard a few times, due to some structures the previous owner had installed and not maintained. The first move was the wife said it was to far from the kitchen back door, and she didn’t want to walk across the backyard to empty vegetable scraps. The second was the dead tree removal and play set for my daughter. It might never move again, but now that I have said that it most certainly will.

-- Martin ....always count the number of fingers you have before, and after using the saw.

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