Compost Bin before staining to match the barn. We only stained the exterior - leaving the interior free of all paints and stain
Compost Bin before staining to match the barn. We only stained the exterior – leaving the interior free of all paints and stain

There are few things that can make your garden more successful than compost. Compost, or “Black Gold” as it is so often called, improves soil vitality and structure – and significantly bolsters your plants health and yields. The best part of all – you can use your own coffee grounds, kitchen scraps, grass clippings, and leaves to make great compost right in your own backyard.

The market is flooded with all kinds and type of compost making systems – from wood and plastic bins, to compost tumblers, barrels and buckets. Although they all work – they also can be expensive to buy.

So here’s a way to use a few a pallets and 2 x 4’s to make a great looking double bin system for under $15.

The double-bin pallet composter is a simple structure that looks and works great! We built our 2 bin system from 3 free pallets and (5) 2 x 4 x 10’ boards in just a couple of hours.

Here’s how to make your Pallet Compost Bin

Materials Needed:
3 or 4 pallets
5 ea. 2 x 4 x 10’ lumber – cut into the following lengths : 2 ea. @ 72″ long, 9 ea. @ 27″ long, 6  ea. @ 30″
2 ½” screws or nails – approx. 40
1.5″ screws or nails – approx. 50
Tools Needed : Reciprocating saw, screw gun, tape measure and hand saw or circular saw.

Building The Frame:

If you can, find 3 similar pallets to help make the project go smooth
If you can, find 3 or 4  similar pallets to help make the finished project look great!
Once you have disassembled the pallet - you will end up with nice slats to cover your compost bin with
Once you have disassembled the pallet – you will end up with nice slats to cover your compost bin
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The front frame of the compost bin
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One of the (3) three square frames
You can attach the 3 squares to the back with screws to the front panel - then cover with the pallet boards to finish
You can attach the 3 squares to the back with screws to the front panel – then cover with the pallet boards to finish

You will want to try to find 3 pallets that are in decent shape and similar length and size. First – disassemble the pallets to end up with about 30 or so slat boards. It’s an easy process and can be accomplished in minutes with a reciprocating saw.

(Click Here to view our post : How to Easily Disassemble A Pallet In Minutes)

The frame is a simple assembly of 2 x 4 rectangles and squares. A 6′ front rectangular frame, and 3 smaller square frames attached to it to make up the 2 bins. You will want to use regular framing 2 x 4’s and not treated lumber. We get a lot of questions about using treated lumber – but we use standard everyday framing lumber. I don’t like to use treated because we are making compost to put on our garden plants –  and I don’t like the thought of any chemical byproducts leaching into the soil and compost.

The front frame is made from 2 pieces of 2 x 4 that are each 72″ long. They will lay flat and make up the top and bottom of the frame. In between we add three sandwich boards that are each 28” long. Simply screw the top board into the three sandwich boards on the top and bottom. When all assembled – your front frame will be 6’ wide x 30” high.

Next – we need to make the three square frames for the two ends and the middle section. Once again – it is simple assembly. Using two (2) 30″ boards for the top and bottom and two more 27” boards on each end. Assemble all 3 squares,  and your ready to put your quick 2 bin compost bin together.

Simply assemble each of the 3 squares to the front frame with a few screws.  One on the end of each side, and one directly in the middle attached to the middle support of the front frame.   The flat 2 x 4’s should be centered right on the middle of the vertical front board.

Now you have your compost bin carcass. The rest is easy. Starting on the front side – lay out your pallet boards all along the front – leaving about ¼” to a ½” space between boards. I lay all of mine out first so that I can get it to work out perfectly even on the ends.  You want the spacing so that your compost can get air flow.
Once that is done – I lay out the boards for each side using the same method – and finish by putting up a double set of board in the middle section to separate the two bins.  With a two bin system – you can make twice as much compost.  Or, even better, you can have one side to store finished compost – and the other to keep “cooking” the next batch!

When finished – you can leave the compost bin completely natural and unstained and it will weather to an “old barn wood” grey.

Finished compost ready to use!
Finished compost ready to use!

To make it even more pleasing to the eye – you can paint or stain the outside of your pallet boards. We never stain anything inside – once again to not allow any paint or chemicals near the pile.
There you have it – an inexpensive yet beautiful 2 bin compost system that you can use for years and years – all for under $15!

If you would like to follow along through the coming year and receive our weekly DIY and Gardening Posts – be sure to sign up to follow our blog via email, Twitter or Facebook in the right column.  –  Jim and Mary

15 thoughts on “DIY Pallet Compost Bin – For Under $15!

  • March 4, 2016 at 4:27 pm

    Do you have problems with pests getting into your compost bin?

  • December 26, 2015 at 5:48 pm

    I just found this page. Wow! Just Wow! I am so excited!

  • February 21, 2015 at 2:57 pm

    Just wondering if you did anything to keep the termites from destroying it. I built one out of pallets probably two yrs ago and the termite are having a feast on it, where the dirt is on the pallet. And any ideas on what one could do to stop them from eating it away?

  • October 26, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    Wow! So much to see (and hopefully do) on your site. I can’t wait

  • January 16, 2013 at 10:32 am

    Shared this project and link on NewlyWoodwards today. Thanks so much for the project inspiration. this is on our list for 2013.

  • January 4, 2013 at 10:27 pm

    Thanks for sharing this! We have been looking for a composter for a while now but don’t want to pay the money. I love the idea of making it with recycled materials. ~Erin

  • January 4, 2013 at 9:55 pm

    A great recycle project too. Happy New Year wishes and thank you for sharing at the hop. I hope you will stop by againsoon. I posted the new giveaway today! xo

  • January 4, 2013 at 1:14 am

    This is a great idea.. I’ve always wonder what can be done with pallets you see thrown here and there. Will definitely be putting one of these together.. thanks

  • January 3, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    What cool advice and I love your approach to using pallets for enclosing compost. Now…where to find lots of pallets. Hehe. Fun blog! Glad I found you on the Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop. – Cyndi

  • January 1, 2013 at 10:33 am

    Great job! My compost is piled all over the place in little hills. I think I’ll just plant my squash in them for now, but someday I really need to get it more organized like this!


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