How to Make a Basic Compost Bin From Scrap Wood
Composting is a great way to recycle food scraps and yard waste into rich fertilizer for your garden. Making your own compost bin is easy and inexpensive when you use scrap wood and simple tools. In this guide, I'll walk you through the steps to make a basic compost bin from scrap wood that will effectively compost your organic waste.
To start, you'll need to gather some basic materials:
Scrap wood boards - Look for untreated, non-pressure treated lumber scraps. Avoid woods like black locust, black walnut, and cedar that contain oils toxic to plants. Pine, fir, poplar, oak, and maple all work well. You'll need enough wood to construct four sides.
Wood screws - To assemble the boards into a box shape. Get 2-3" screws.
Drill - To pre-drill screw holes. A cordless drill makes easy work.
Saw - A handsaw, jigsaw, or circular saw to cut boards to length.
Optional: Wood glue - For extra stability if desired.
Cut the Boards
Cut your scrap boards to the desired length. A good compost bin size is around 3 feet by 3 feet - big enough to compost a good amount of waste but still easily reachable into.
Cut two boards for the short sides at 36 inches and two boards for the long sides at 32-34 inches. The long boards sit inside the short boards when assembled so they are a bit shorter.
Using a handsaw or power saw, cut your boards to size. Wear goggles for safety.
Assemble the Bin
With your boards cut, it's time to assemble them into a box. Working on a flat surface:
Lay the two longer boards parallel, approximately 3 feet apart.
Position one shorter side board on the ends, forming a U shape.
Use 2-3 screws to attach the short side into the ends of the longer boards. Pre-drill holes first for easier screwing.
Repeat on the other end with the remaining short side board.
Check the box for squareness and use a wood glue like Titebond for extra stability if desired before screwing.
In about 5 minutes you've made the basic structure - a scrap wood compost bin!
For a sturdier compost bin, consider adding reinforcements:
Attach corner brackets or L brackets with screws for extra joint strength.
Use thicker 1x6 or 1x8 boards instead of thinner 1x3 or 1x4 boards.
Sandwich boards together so sides are double thick.
These additions make a more solid bin but also require more wood.
Add a Door Panel
To conveniently open and access your bin, add a removable front panel as a door.
Cut a third short board to length. To enable easy lifting off, only screw or attach this board at the top into the long side boards. The bottom remains unattached.
Now you can lift the door panel on and off to toss materials into your compost bin with ease.
Proper airflow is key for effective composting. Here are some easy ways to promote airflow:
Drill or cut holes and gaps at the bottom of multiple boards. This allows passive air intake.
Drill sets of holes on the upper sides of your bin. Acting as vents, these let warmed moisture escape.
Add wood slats or spacers between boards during assembly. This leaves gaps between boards for airflow.
Position and Use Your Compost Bin
Place your finished compost bin directly on the ground in a convenient spot near your garden.
Toss a mix of "greens" like food scraps and grass clippings along with "browns" like dried leaves and twigs into the bin. Mix in garden soil or finished compost to introduce beneficial microbes.
Turn or mix the pile periodically with a shovel or compost aeration tool. Moisture should be like a wrung-out sponge. In a few months, you'll have finished compost for amending your garden soil!
Constructing a backyard compost bin from scrap wood is an easy weekend project. With minimal tools, materials, and effort, you can make an attractive compost bin that will effectively recycle yard waste and food scraps into organic fertilizer for your garden. The finished compost provides free nutrients for your plants and reduces waste going to the landfill.