How to Make a Compost Bin from Pallets

Reader Contribution by Benedict Vanheems
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Photo by Getty Images/tera24

A compost bin made from wooden pallets is cheap and easy to make. Check that they’re safe for composting in — the pallet stamps should display the IPPC or EPAL logo, and also the letters HT, which stands for heat-treated. Don’t use pallets with the letters MB on them as this indicates that the pallet has been treated with methyl bromide, a toxic pesticide.

You’ll need four pallets of matching size (or you can cut them to size). To join the pallets together you will need four corner brackets, a box of screws, and two pairs of hook and eye latches. You’ll also need a drill, a screwdriver, and a saw.

Building a Compost Bin with Pallets

Stand three pallets up, lean them against each other so the two side walls are flush with the width of the back wall. Screw them together to hold them in place while you add the brackets.

Screw a bracket at the top and bottom of each corner of the bin. The bin walls are now complete.

Using a saw, cut the fourth pallet in half between two of the rear slats and then between two of the front slats. These will be used to make a stable door to make filling the bin and keeping the contents in easy.

Attach the doors to the walls using two strong hinges per door. Make sure the bottom door is slightly up off the ground so it can swing open freely, and for the same reason leave a slight gap between the bottom and top doors. The final step is to screw in your hook and eye latches near the top of each door.

This is all that’s needed, but for additional strength and rigidity you can screw in plate brackets at the rear corners and hammer in lengths of rebar either side of the walls.

You can also attach wire mesh to the outside of the bin to help contain the contents, if you wish.

It’s easy to add more compost bins alongside the first to expand your composting capacity. Three bays is a good setup; the first bay is the active bay that is currently having material added to; the middle bay is full and actively composting; and the third bay is ready-to-use mature compost.

Learn more about building your own compost bin in this video.

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