How to Build a Compost Bin

How to Build a Compost Bin

Trent Johnson
Feb 26, 2010

One of the best things about compost bins is that there are so many ways to build them. While some look better than others, they all function the same if designed properly. You can use anything from a simple wire frame to pallets or fancy metal brackets. See a custom build method, after the jump.

From ThisOldHouse, here are the basic steps to creating a compost bin from scratch. See the complete how-to with photos at ThisOldHouse.

What You Need

1x4 lumber, enough for 24 horizontal slats, 8 vertical legs, 8 slats for the lid, and 8 battens for the lid 1 1/8" wood screws


Chop saw or circular saw Electric drill/driver


1. Cut Lumber to Size
You'll need to create the following pieces:

  • 24 horizontal slats
  • 8 vertical legs for corners
  • 8 slats for the lid
  • 8 battens for the lid and slide-in panels

The length of the lumber is based on the dimensions of your compost bin. If you want a 4' x 4' bin at 3' high, then cut the slats to 4' and the vertical legs to 3'.

2. Create the Back and Sides
Lay two legs of wood on the ground and attach six slats across them with the wood screws, placing the ends of the slats 3/4 inch from the outside edge of the legs. Leave a 3/4 inch gap between the slats to allow for plenty of air circulation into your bin. You can use a 1x4 turned on its' edge as a spacer. Follow the same steps to create the sides so you have 3 walls.

3. Create the Front Panels
You'll make two half-height panels for the front to allow for easier access to your compost. Use two battens, half the height of your bin, and attach three slats spaced 3/4 inch apart and the battens set 1 5/8 inches from the ends of the slats. Duplicate for the upper panel but make sure the batten extends 3/4 inch past the bottom slat.

4. Assemble the Bin
Glue and screw the sides of the bin to the edges of the back legs. Attach front rails to the slides of the bin to create a track for the front panels. This will allow you to remove and add panels depending on the current use of the bin.

5. Build the Top
While a top is optional, if you had birds or animals you want to keep out of the bin, it's probably a good idea. Assemble a top similar to the front panels by attaching four slats to two battens.

See also How To: Make a Shipping Pallet Compost Bin and Best Composters & Tools 2009

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(Image 1 by Flickr member Vetcw3, licensed under Creative Commons; Image 2 by Flickr member Andy_carter, licensed under Creative Commons; Image 3 by Flickr member Addedentry, licensed under Creative Commons; Image 4 by Flickr member Spierzchala, licensed under Creative Commons; Image 5 by Flickr member Chromalux, licensed under Creative Commons)

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