How to Build a Compost Bin

Compost bins aid gardeners in making their own compost, so their plants will thrive with unlimited amounts of free organic fertilizer. They are relatively easy to construct with a little handiness and the right tools. This compost bin is flexible and can be moved easily to turn a pile or build a new one. Most importantly it can be used as a stationary unit and works well in small areas.


  • 1 12’ 2” x4 “
  • 3 12’ fir 2”x4”
  • 12’ of 36” wide ½” hardware cloth
  • 100 1 ½” galvanized no. 8 wood screws
  • 4 3” galvanized butt door hinges
  • 150 poultry wire staples or power stapler
  • 1 10 oz. Tube exterior wood adhesive
  • 4 large hook and eye gate latches


  • Handsaw and chisel,
  • or radial arm saw with a dado blade,
  • or circular saw
  • or table saw
  • Hammer
  • Screwdriver
  • Tinsnip
  • Caulking gun
  • Pencil
  • Small carpenter’s square


  1. Cut each 12’ 2”x4” into four 3’ long pieces. Cut a ¾” deep and 3 ½” wide section out of each end for a total of 32 lap cuts.
  2. With a handsaw and chisel cut ¾” down at the 3 ½” line; cut a ½” deep grove into the end of the board.
  3. Place a thick wood chisel into the end grove and split the wood with a hammer to the 3 ½” cut.
  4. If you’re using a radial arm saw, circular, or table saw instead of a handsaw and chisel, set the blade to ¾” depth and make multiple passes until the entire section is removed.
  5. Create four 3’’ square frames from the lap-jointed 2”x4”s. Use enough construction adhesive to fill the gaps when the lap joints are fitted together.
  6. Use four screws to affix each joint.
  7. Use tinsnips to cut the hardware cloth into four 3’’ square sections; bend the edges of the cloth back over 1” for strength. Lay one onto each of the four frames, center, and tack each corner with a poultry wire staple.
  8. Tension the cloth to prevent sagging when filled with compost.
  9. With two hinges, connect each pair of frames. Place the hook and eye gate latches onto the other ends so that the sections latch together.

Tips and warnings

  • Once you’ve completed your compost bin, do research on how to make valuable compost and add it to your bin.
  • One of the most common issues you will face with having compost is the odor; if your compost begins to smell very strongly, you could be putting too much water into your bin or too many scraps–try to find a balance.
  • Never put meat into a compost bin; it will attract rats and other critters and give your compost a repugnant odor.
  • When the scraps are fully decomposed, from top to bottom, wait a while before using it. Newly decomposed compost still contains heat that can kill plants instead of helping them to flourish.
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