D.I.Y. sleeper compost bin

Michelle, Team member
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Project 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. Continue to step-by-step instructions
predetermined drill depth
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How to drill to a certain depth

If you want to match the length of a fixing or avoid drilling through to the other side, here’s an easy way to get the hole depth right every time. Take your fixing and line it up with your drill bit. Wrap masking tape around the bit to mark the length of the fixing. Then drill until your masking tape marker is flush with the surface.

Step by Step Instructions

1 Measure and mark where your compost bin will go
2 Measure, mark and cut the sleepers
3 Measure and cut the sides and dividers
4 Lay out the back and the sides
5 Measure and mark the dividers
6 Attach the second level
7 Secure the guides to the front
8 Cut the front guides
9 Cut the inner gate guides
10 Attach the front guides
11 Attach the inner guides
12 Cut the gates
13 Attach the lid
14 Start composting
15 Congratulations on a job well done
  • Step 1. Measure 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.
  • Step 2. Measure, 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.
  • Step 3. Measure 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.
  • Step 4. Lay 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.
  • Step 5. Measure 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.
  • Step 6. Attach the second level

    Repeat the previous steps to build the second level of the compost bin.
  • Step 7. Secure 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.
  • Step 8. Cut 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.
  • Step 9. Cut the inner gate guides

    Measure, mark and cut your sleeper into 50mm widths for 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.
  • Step 10. Attach 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.
  • Step 11. Attach 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.
  • Step 12. Cut 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.
  • Step 13. Attach 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.
  • Step 14. Start 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
  • Step 15. Congratulations 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.

Tools and Materials

Tools

  • Combination square
  • Cordless drill
  • 4.5mm bit
  • Impact driver
  • Circular saw
  • Dust mask
  • Earmuffs
  • Hammer
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • Safety glasses
  • Screwdriver bit that fits bugle bolts
  • Work gloves

Materials

  • 200mm x 50mm x 2.4m hardwood sleepers x 8
  • 1.8m x 1.2m x 17mm formply
  • 100mm galvanised batten screws
  • 85mm hinges
  • 40mm screws
  • 16mm screws
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