14 May 2009

Compost bin

Maybe I’ll catch up on some – what, two months? – missed posts at some point (treasure hunt, circus, now summer theatre festival all conspire to suck my time from updating this blog, if not also updating the house). Meanwhile, let’s go with what we know (and have pictures of). Today’s illustrated lesson: how to make a compost bin for $4.

Start with scrap wood. I took some 1″-square posts – probably from an old wooden swingset – cut them down to 3′ with a 45-degree cut at one end so they became stakes. Miscellaneous scrap of a huge variety of widths cut to 3′ gave me the planking for the sides.

Depending on the weight of the scrap wood you’ll probably want to assemble (or at least connect the sides to each other) closer to where you plan to place the bin. This next image shows three completed sides, leaving about a foot of each post at the bottom to be driven into the earth. This turned out to be unnecessary (and hard to do) so I wound up driving them about 6″ deep, and moving the top plank on each side to close the bottom. I think planning for 6″ of clearance at the bottom of each post should be fine.

Locate the bin, pound into the ground with a mallet or hammer and woodblock. Here you can see the ‘swapped’ planking, leaving some space at the top of each stake – handy if I ever string or fit a cover over the top.

As luck would have it, I stumble across what looks like part of a shipping crate in a junk pile – and it was the perfect width to serve as the bin’s gate. If you don’t have handy piles of pre-built salvage lying around your neighborhood, just remember that the gate you build out of scrap won’t be as wide as the other ‘walls’. Two hinges and a hook from the hardware store were the only materials costs on this project – about four bucks in all.

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