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A completed sleeper compost bin sitting amongst dark tanbark in front of a corrugated iron wall

Overview

Composting is a great way to recycle kitchen scraps and help improve your soil. This three-station compost bin is easy to make and will create plenty of nutrient-rich organic material for your garden.

Steps

1Measure and mark where your compost bin will go

Measure and mark where you want the compost bin to go. The redgum sleepers make it too heavy to move once it's made. Also, be sure to leave enough working room for wheelbarrow access.

A bare patch of ground in front of a corrugated iron wall, ideal for a sleeper compost bin

2Measure, mark and cut the sleepers

Our compost bin is two sleepers high and the back is 2300mm long. Measure, mark and cut the four sleepers for the back of the bin using the circular saw. Don't forget to wear safety gear when using the circular saw.

A length of sleeper being measured and marked for cutting with a tape measure and pencil, with a circular saw sitting in the background

3Measure and cut the sides and dividers

Measure and mark the eight dividers for the compost bin, each one should be 700mm long. Measure and mark for the two front guides, they're 420mm long. Cut the dividers and the guides with the circular saw.

A circular saw cutting through a timber sleeper laying on a painter's horse

4Lay out the back and the sides

Lay out the back piece and the sides at both ends. Then pre-drill with the 4.5mm drill bit before screwing into place with two x 100mm galvanised batten screws. Use galvanised screws because they won't rust.

A timber sleeper being drilled into the frame for a sleeper compost bin with a power drill

5Measure and mark the dividers

With the sides in place, measure and mark for the two dividers, ours measured 700mm between each bin. Put the dividers in place. Pre-drill with the 4.5mm drill bit and screw into place with 100mm galvanised batten screws. If the compost bin isn't in place, have a friend help you move it before attaching the second level of sleepers. 

The framework of a sleeper compost bin being measured and marked with a tape measure and pencil

6Attach the second level

Repeat the previous steps to build the second level of the compost bin.

A timber sleeper being drilled into the frame for a sleeper compost bin with a power drill

7Secure the guides to the front

Place the two 420mm guides at the front of the two centre bin sections. As well as being guides they also help to hold the frame together. Pre-drill with the 4.5mm drill bit and screw into place with the 100mm batten screws.

Guides being secured to the front of a sleeper compost bin with a power drill

8Cut the front guides

Now it's time to cut the timber for the front guides. Take a 420mm x 200mm piece of timber, then measure and mark a line down the centre. Clamp and cut the wood with the circular saw.

Front guides being measured and marked for cutting with a square rule and pencil

9Cut the inner gate guides

Measure, mark and cut your sleeper into 50mm widths using the circular saw. You need to make six of these. Clamp the timber to a workbench to make sure it's secure while cutting.

Inner gate guides measured and marked for cutting with a tape measure and pencil, with a clamp holding it down

10Attach the front guides

Take the 100mm front guides and put them in place. Pre-drill with the 4.5mm drill bit and screw into place with 100mm batten screws. 

Front guides being secured to the front of a sleeper compost bin with a power drill

11Attach the inner guides

To fix off the inner guides that will hold the gate, use a 700mm sleeper as a spacer and allow a 10mm gap to ensure the gate doesn't stick. Pre-drill with a 4.5mm drill bit and screw into place with 100mm batten screws. Repeat for the two other compartments.

Two inner guides cut to size and ready to be attached to the sleeper compost bin

12Cut the gates

Now it's time to measure, mark and cut the gates. Ours measured 700mm but it will depend on the size of your compartments. Once you've cut them, slide them into place.

Pieces of timber to be used as gates for a sleeper compost bin being cut with a circular saw while held down with a clamp

13Attach the lid

We attached a lid to cover two of the three stations of our compost bin. Ours was made from 19mm formply cut to 1550mm x 870mm. Formply is ideal because it's water resistant and will keep the bin dark. Hinging is a good idea because it gives easy access to the bin. We screwed 40mm screws into the sleeper and 16mm screws into the formply on the top.

A lid hinge being screwed onto a sleeper compost bin with a power drill by a Bunnings team member

14Start composting

Start with a layer of straw mulch, some garden compost and kitchen or green scraps in the first station in the compost bin. Continue to layer straw and green scraps. Keep the compost aerated by giving it a regular stir. Move the compost from one station to the next as it decomposes. When it reaches the last station, it's ready to go onto your garden.

A Bunnings team member adding garden scraps and clippings to a completed sleeper compost bin

15Congratulations on a job well done

Now you've made your compost bin, you can start recycling food scraps to benefit your garden. It's not only good for your soil, it's environmentally friendly as well.

A completed sleeper compost bin sitting amongst dark tanbark in front of a corrugated iron wall

More D.I.Y. Advice

Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.