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Building a Compost Bin from Wood Pallets

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 1 5

Building a compost bin using discarded wooden pallets is the easiest thing in the world and is by far the cheapest way I have found to do it. There are many plans available on the internet like the 3 Bin System and bins using chicken wire and other materials like that. The problem with plans like those is that most of time they call for using new and sometime spendy materials in their construction. But anyone who is trying to stick to a budget or simply doesn’t want to invest much in something that by its nature will rot away wooden pallets are a good option. They are fairly common throughout the country and most could be had for free or very very cheap. Some good places to look for pallets would include


  1. Lumber Yards,

  2. Warehouses

  3. Big Box Retailers

  4. Hardware stores

  5. Any place that receives large shipments


While most businesses are eager to get rid of pallets some do use them for there own purposes so make sure to check with the management of the building or business before you go taking

Pile of Pallets
anything. When you are picking out pallets make sure to grab ones that are still in good shape ie. not broken, rotten, split or otherwise compromised. I have found it advantages to bring a tape measure along and make sure the pallets are roughly the same dimensions so it will be easier to assemble them into the bin later.


After picking out at least four good pallets you should also pick out a couple pallets that you can break down for their parts in case you need some extra material. Bringing all these pallets home you should place them as close as possible to where you want to the compost bin to be so the distance you have to move it is minimal after assemble.


Things You Will Need


  • Screwdriver

  • Hammer

  • 2-3 inches nails or screws

  • 4 pallets

  • 2 galvanized outdoor hinges

  • flat pry bar

  • someway to secure the door, ie bungy cord, chain, rope etc.


Things That Are Useful


  • Someone to give you a hand

  • Clamps to hold pallets while you are fastening them together.


Now that everything you need is in one spot the time to build has come. Before you can start screwing the pallets together you need to make some modifications to them first. Taking the damaged pallets and the flat pry bar and hammer carefully pull the best panels off of the the

Side Wall
damaged pallets. Then take those panels and attach them to the inside face of the pallets you will be using for the bin. By doing this up the height of the pallet you will create a tight enough build that will let you hold small kitchen scraps in the bin but will also let enough air in on the sides to aid composting. This step is essential unless you will be putting only large scraps in the bin like yard waste and leaf litter.


With the pallets boarded up in the inside you can now assemble the bin with just a few screws or nails. Standing the pallets upright you can now place 3-4 screws/nails in each pallet securing it to the one at a right angle to it. Once you have 3 pallets assembled it should have a back and two sides that can free stand by themselves


Turning the third pallet into a door usually requires a bit more modification. You will most likely have to take a piece of scrap 2x4 or a section of the pallets you took apart and fasten it on the inside of pallet that will serve as the door. This will need to be done in order to provide a attachment point for the hinges on the door. With a little more help from a friend you can easily attach the door to the free standing pallets and secure it shut with a length of chain or rope.


With the door in place you have a completed compost bin made from pallets. With it in place where you want it you can immediately begin to compost almost anything organic.

Finished Compost Bin
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Jun 26, 2013 3:40am
thats a good way of using old pallets. they come in handy for so many different types of things plus woodworking ideas and crafts, toys can also be made from them.And best of all they are free
Jun 26, 2013 4:48pm
I have found them very useful around the property. Just recently a friend of mine used pallets to fix a chicken coop door that was damaged by wind.
Jul 2, 2013 3:58pm
This has been on my 'to do' list for too long. Thanks for taking the time write this. Eileen has a great point too regarding the variety of uses for pallets.
Jul 3, 2013 10:01am
I hope this article gave the inspiration you needed to go out and get a compost bin built. If you find you need more room the design can be easily expanded to using 6 pallets. The 6 pallet design is very useful for composting yard waste like grass trimmings and dead leaves. If you have any questions about putting a compost bin together just post them in the comment section and I will get back to you as quick as I can.
Jul 5, 2013 6:32pm
I'll start with a small version and thanks for the heads up on the expansion and availing your help. I appreciate it!
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