How to Build a Metal Compost Bin


Composting is a method of reusing kitchen and garden scraps to create a rich organic matter packed with essential nutrients for the soil. Home composting provides multiple benefits, including a reduction in household waste, less methane emissions and freer landfills. Composting can be done in an open pile or an enclosed bin. The latter contains the waste and prevents scavengers from spreading it and creating a mess.

How to Build a Metal Compost Bin

Step 1

Purchase a large 20- to 35-gallon metal drum from your local farm, fleet store or home department store. You can also ask a factory if they are willing to sell one to you at a nominal price. However, make sure it was not used to store chemicals.

Step 2

Draw a large rectangular opening on a side of the metal bin through which a standard size shovel can easily fit. Carefully cut over the marks with a jigsaw. This opening will serve as the door through which you will pile waste into the bin and remove compost. Smooth away rough and sharp edges along the body of the bin and the cutout piece with a metal file.

Step 3

Attach a pair of metal hinges to the body of the barrel next to the rectangular cut using a drilling machine with metal bits and sheet metal screws. Place the cutout piece over the opening, extend the hinges over it and attach them so one side of the door is secure. Attach a hasp closure to the other side, aligning it in the center of both the hinges.

Step 4

Measure and mark the center of the lid and base and drill a 2-inch hole over each mark. Insert a metal pole through one hole and extend it over the other, allowing at least 2 to 3 feet to protrude from each side. Drill half-inch holes throughout the body of the bin, spaced 4 to 6 inches apart, including the lid and base. These holes will aerate the compost and allow water to drain out.

Step 5

Take two lengths of 2-by-4 lumber for the frame and hold them so they form an X-shape. Use galvanized wood screws at the intersection to connect them. Repeat the process with the other two lengths of lumber.

Step 6

Attach a large turning crank or lever to a side of the base with a drill and sheet metal screws.

Step 7

Use a post-hole digger to make holes in the ground and stand the X-shaped frames into them. Carefully place the bin over the frames so the metal pole rests over the frame and the bin is 2 to 3 feet off the ground.

Things You'll Need

  • Large metal bin
  • Marker
  • Jigsaw
  • Gloves
  • Metal file
  • Drill
  • Sheet metal screws
  • Two metal hinges
  • Hasp closure
  • Metal pole, 2-inch diameter
  • Large lever or turning crank, 1-inch diameter
  • Four lengths of 5-foot long 2-by-4 lumber
  • Galvanized wood screws
  • Post-hole digger


  • Compost Information
  • How to Build a Compost Bin
Keywords: compost bin, metal compost bin, home composting

About this Author

Tanya Khan is a freelance author and consultant, having written hundreds of thousands of words for various online and print sources. She has an MBA in Marketing but her passion lies in giving her words wings.