How to Make an Easy Compost Bin


Composting is a natural process by which soil microorganisms break down dead organic matter into nutrients that can be used by plants. Gardeners have discovered the usefulness of compost for replenishing nutrients and increasing the organic matter found in the soil, which improves nutrient and water retention. Because composting is a natural process, it is easy to use in the garden and, while garden suppliers sell prefabricated compost bins and barrels, making a basic compost bin is a relatively simple DIY project. A wood and wire bin offers the additional advantage of being easy to move when turning or using compost.

Step 1

Cut each piece of 2-by4 lumber into four 3-foot pieces. You should end up with 16 pieces of wood.

Step 2

Saw lap cuts 3/4 inches deep and 3 1/2 inches wide at both ends of each board. Make sure the cuts are on the same side of the board. Lap cuts remove part of the thickness of the board and will help attach the boards together to form square frames.

Step 3

Connect the boards at the lap joints to form four square frames and attach with carpenter's glue.

Step 4

Drill four 1/8-inch holes on the front of the board at each lap joint. Insert screws into the holes to attach the boards at the lap joints.

Step 5

Use the tin snips to cut the hardware cloth into four sections, each roughly 3 feet per side. Bend each edge back approximately 1 inch to provide some extra strength.

Step 6

Center each piece onto the back of a frame and attach it with staples approximately every 4 inches.

Step 7

Connect the frames in pairs using the hinges. Opposite the hinges, add the hooks-and-eyes to the top and bottom of the frames to join the two pairs of frames together, forming a box.

Tips and Warnings

  • If vermin raid your compost bin, keep it covered with a heavy tarp or a piece of board.

Things You'll Need

  • Four 12-foot, 2-by-4 boards
  • Power saw
  • Carpenter's glue
  • Power drill with 1/8-inch bit
  • 64 1/2-inch galvanized #8 screws
  • Screwdriver
  • Tin snips
  • 12 feet of 36-inch wide 1/2-inch hardware cloth
  • Staple gun
  • Three, 3-inch galvanized butt door hinges and screws
  • 4 hook-and-eye gate latches


  • California Integrated Waste Management Board: Build Your Own Composting Bin
  • "Rodale's Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening"; Fern Marshall Bradley, Barbara W. Ellis, and Ellen Phillips, editors; 2009

Who Can Help

  • Woodsmith: Cut Perfect Half Laps
Keywords: building compost bins, constructing compost bins, compost bin plan, compost bin design, DIY compost bin

About this Author

First published in 2000, Dawn Walls-Thumma has served as an editor for Bartleby and Antithesis Common literary magazines. Her work has been published academically and in creative journals. Walls-Thumma writes about education, gardening, and sustainable living. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and writing from University of Maryland, and is a graduate student in education at American Public University.