How to Make a Basic Compost Bin From Scrap Wood

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.

Gather Materials

To start, you'll need to gather some basic materials:

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:

  1. Lay the two longer boards parallel, approximately 3 feet apart.

  2. Position one shorter side board on the ends, forming a U shape.

  3. Use 2-3 screws to attach the short side into the ends of the longer boards. Pre-drill holes first for easier screwing.

  4. Repeat on the other end with the remaining short side board.

  5. 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!

Consider Reinforcements

For a sturdier compost bin, consider adding reinforcements:

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.

Consider Aeration

Proper airflow is key for effective composting. Here are some easy ways to promote 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.