Used pallets make great compost bins. It’s like having the four sides of your bin built for you and usually you can get them for FREE. It’s also a great way to reuse old pallets that could potentially end up in the landfill. The spaces between planks provide good ventilation and they can be easily assembled in a variety of ways to form a square compost bin.
As with all bins, you can make it as easy or as detailed as you like. Use your creativity and come up with your own design that suits your specific needs. Remember to avoid treated or painted woods that might contaminate your compost!
WHAT YOU NEED
4 – equal size pallets
4 – 2-1/2 inch ‘L’ brackets or similar bracket (2 holes in each side of the L)
4 – hook & eye gate or other style latches
16 – 1-1/2 in. – No.10 galvanized wood screws (Robertson head preferred)
Alternatively use wire ties or even zip ties to secure the corners.
Hammer, crowbar, and screwdriver
Alternatively you may want to have a power drill with 1/8 in. bit to drill pilot holes for the screws.
HOW TO BUILD IT
Unless you get pallets that are in good shape, the first step may be to repair the pallets. For this reason it is always a good idea to get an extra pallet that you can use to for the parts needed to do the repairs. Alternatively you can remove boards from one side to do the repairs, however this assumes that the pallet you get has boards on both sides. Not all pallets are built this way. You may also need a few nails to do the repairs, however if you are a little more industrious you can simply remove and straighten some of the existing nails to reuse as required.
Stand two pallets at a 90 degree angle. Fasten these together using the 2 – ‘L’ brackets and 1-1/2 wood screws. (one at the top and one at the bottom) If you have a drill, making 1/8 inch pilot holes for each screw will assembly a bit easier. Start by placing the ‘L’ brackets near top and mark holes with pencil before you drill the holes. If you don’t have a drill, use a nail and hammer to start a small hole so that you will more easily be able to get each screw started. Just tap the nail in ¼ to ½ an inch and then remove it.
Now stand a third pallet up and attach it to one of the pallets already assembled using the same instruction above. You should now have a 3 sides of you bin together and are ready to start you removable front panel.
Place the last pallet in front of your new bin. Attach a set of hook & eye latches near the top and bottom of each side, using the eye parts on the “gate” pallet. Again, if you have a drill and make pilot holes for these it will make them easier to attach. If not, use your hammer and nail again. If you have trouble turning the hook or the eye all the way in, just insert your screw driver through the hole of the eye and use the leverage of the screwdriver to turn the hook or eye.
To make a pallet bin that is more portable, here are two options:
Option # 1
Instead of using ‘L’ brackets to attach the corners together, use 4 – medium sized gate hinges. Attach two pallets together into an ‘L’ shape using 2 of the hinges and then attach the other two pallets together into another ‘L’ shape using the other 2 hinges. Now attach the hooks and eyes in the opposite corners of the two ‘L’ shapes.
When you want to turn or harvest your pile, you simply release the hooks and take both sides away. You can now reassemble the bin adjacent to material, shovel the unfinished compost back into the bin and harvest the mature compost that was at the bottom. The other advantage to this construction is that the two ‘L’ shapes will fold together like a book and can be moved or transported elsewhere without having to take them apart.
Option # 2
Tie the corners of the four pallets using baling wire, rot-proof rope, or even zip ties. You could just tie 3 of the pallets together using these ties and then install hooks and eyes in the other 2 corners as indicated above to form a removable panel. Regardless, in this way the bin can be easily disassembled and moved or transported if needed.
You’ve built it, now it’s time to use it. For more on getting started, check out our composting program information. If you have questions:
- Give us a call: toll free at 1-866-394-8880 or in Winnipeg at 925-3777
- Drop us an email