I am very good at getting lots of supplies for projects and then never actually getting around to creating them! In this vein, last year I saw a Craigslist ad for a bunch of pallets for free and my mind immediately went to pallet wall! So I rented a pickup, went and picked up over 20 pallets, and they’ve been sitting in my backyard ever since! However, as I finished my garden build this spring I knew that I wanted to create a compost bin. With my budget nearly gone I remembered the pallets! I decided to create a DIY Pallet Wood Compost Bin for just the cost of hardware (most of which I actually already had!)
I LOVE how the compost bin turned out! Its rustic but still refined and blends in seamlessly with my garden’s structure. So I thought that you guys might want to create one of your own as well! I created a compost bin that fits the dimensions of my garden very well, but these instructions are easily scaleable if you wanted to make your pallet wood compost bin larger or smaller!
Pallet Wood Compost Bin Cut and Materials List:
I used wood that was completely reclaimed from pallets here!
For the Base:
8- 36” 2×4 Boards
4- 21” 2×4 Boards
About 10 feet (width) of 36” Pallet Planks
8- 4” L Corner Plates
3 Inch Screws
2.5 Inch Screws
For the Lid:
2- 18” 2×4 Boards
2- 26” 2×4 Boards
38” Wide of 36” long Pallet Planks
4- 4” L Corner Plates
4- 2” L Corner Brackets
2- 6” T Strap Hinges
1- Hook and Eye
Pallet Wood Compost Bin Instructions
Breaking Down Pallets
Before we get started building we need the materials! Breaking down pallets is definitely time consuming and you need a lot of them because the weathered ones tend to splinter, but the look and cost effectiveness of them is definitely worth it in my mind!
To break them down all you need is a lot of patience and a couple of tools! I use a hammer, a screwdriver to drive out stuck nails, and an old beat-up pair of pliers. Every pallet is different, so you need to figure out which method works for each pallet you’re working with. A few tips:
- Look for weak spots! Nails sticking out, loose boards, a gap in-between the planks and 2x4s and work from there.
- Don’t work too quickly! To prevent boards from splintering work methodically so you can feel what needs to be loosened up first so they don’t crack.
- Be gentle with the nails! Lots of pallets have old nails that will break if you yank on them, so use caution.
Building the Base
To create the base structure we are going to create two identical squares and then turn them into a box.
First, arrange two 36” 2x4s and two 21” 2x4s in a square on the floor with the narrow side of the 2×4 facing up. You want to make sure that the 21 inch pieces are INSIDE the 36” boards to create a rectangle that is 3 feet long by two feet deep. The 21 inch boards added to the width of the 2x4s will add up to the 24” or two feet that we are looking for.
Secure the rectangle together by using 3 inch nails on each corner, driving from the 36” boards into the 21” boards. I used a total of 8 nails, two on each corner. Create two of these 3 foot by 2 foot shapes.
Optional: Use the 8 four inch corner plates to add extra stability and durability to the base structure by adding them to the bottom of one of the rectangles you’ve created and and the top of the other. (The bottom will protect from the earth and the top will protect from the lid!)
To create the framework for the base of your pallet wood compost bin we will secure the two rectangles you’ve created with four more 36” 2×4 boards. Make sure that your corner braces are facing towards the outside of your structure if you’re using them!
We are creating a box here, so secure the 36” pieces on the inside of each of the corners of the rectangles you created with more 3 inch screws. I like to secure the wide side of the 2x4s to the long sides of the boxes (pictured below) but as long as you secure the four posts to the inside of the top and bottom frames you created you’re fine! *Make sure that you keep the boards flush with the top and bottom of your frame- everything put together should measure 3 feet tall, 3 feet wide, and two feet deep.
Now that the frame of your pallet wood compost bin base is built we add planks! You’ll be adding pallet planks around the outside walls leaving the base where the ground will be and the top open. Add the planks starting at the corners and then leaving about a 1” gap between each board. An easy way to do this is just by using a plank with its short side down as a spacer in-between planks as you place them!
To secure use 2.5 inch nails at the top and bottom of each plank, screwing them into the 2x4s that create the top and bottom structure!
Building the Pallet Wood Compost Bin Lid
Building the structure of the lid is similar to the two squares you created for the top and bottom of the base, but laying them down instead of standing the 2x4s on their short sides!
Create a rectangle by laying two 36” 2x4s wide side down for the log sides and slide two 18” 2x4s wide side down inside of them! This should create a rectangle in the same dimensions (3 feet wide by two feet deep) as the base’s rectangles! You can secure these together by using pocket screws if you know how to make them, but instead I started securing by adding corner plates to keep the boards in place and then L-brackets on the inside of each corner to add extra strength.
To form the lid we add the 26” inch planks flush with each other (no spaces here!) and secure them with 2.5 inch screws to the lid base we just created. Make sure that the planks line up with the 2×4 that you will be placing towards the back of your compost bin, and that the extra inches of board are where the front is to create a lip to lift the lid! If you are using handles and the extra corner plates on the inside four corners you can secure them now.
Finishing the Pallet Wood Compost Bin
The lid and the base is built so all we need to do is to connect them! I am using two six inch T-strap hinges. You have two make sure of two things when adding the hinges to the back of your compost bin: first make sure that you are securing them to the 2×4 that faces the back of your compost bin- this should be the side that does not have a lip of pallet slats poking out and second make sure that you place the hinges so that the ‘strap’ is centered on a pallet slat!
Place the lid you built directly on top of the bin’s base. If you added the corner plates they should be touching! With the flat edge of the hinge flush with the top of the lid’s back 2×4 facing down secure the hinge with the screws it came with. The T-Strap will secure onto the pallet slats you lined it up with on the base of the compost bin. Now it is connected!
For extra security you can add a hook and eye closure to the front side of the bin- you should be able to hand screw it in.
And that’s it! Enjoy your new (very inexpensive!) compost bin! I’d love to know what else you’d like to see me build! Be sure to tag me over on Instagram if you make this!
Psst… prefer this in video form? I’ve got you!
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