How to Build a 3 bin Compost System

One of the best ways to cut down on your yard and/or food waste while generating free nutrient-rich fertilizer for your garden is to set up an ultimate compost bin. Instead of a single compost bin, you can use a 3-bin compost system for the best results.

Not only that it will reduce the waste stream but also let you always have readily available compost and continue composting all year long. As such a composting system consists of three bins, you'll be able to pile up the middle and the left bin with your materials and turn them over each week. Once the materials get ready, you can transfer them to the right bin and proceed with composting until you create a rich, organic fertilizer.

Why pay for fancy plastic tumblers when a DIY composting systems can do the trick? It's completely free and quite simple to build. Just follow these steps and make your own 3-crate compost system.

Materials and Tools

​​First of all, you need to gather the materials required. Check out the list below.

  • ​Basis & top: Three 2x4 pieces of lumber, each of which should be 10 feet long (cut them into three 9ft pieces)
    Basis & top: Three 2x4 pieces of lumber, each of which should be 10 feet long (cut them into three 9ft pieces)
  • ​Divider frames: Three 2x4 pieces of lumber, 12 feet each (cut them into eight 36" and eight 31 1/2-inch long pieces)
    Divider frames: Three 2x4 pieces of lumber, 12 feet each (cut them into eight 36" and eight 31 1/2-inch long pieces)
  • ​Front: One 12 ft 2x6 (cut it into four 36" long pieces)
    Front: One 12 ft 2x6 (cut it into four 36" long pieces)
  • ​Inside: Two 10 ft 2x2 pieces (cut them into six 34" long pieces)
    Inside: Two 10 ft 2x2 pieces (cut them into six 34" long pieces)
  • ​Slats: Six 8 ft 1x6 pieces (cut them into a total of 18 slats, each of which should be 31 1/4 inches long)
    Slats: Six 8 ft 1x6 pieces (cut them into a total of 18 slats, each of which should be 31 1/4 inches long)

You will also need the following items:

  • One 25ft roll of 36" wide 1/2 inch mesh hardware cloth
  • Twelve 4" long 1/2 inch carriage bolts with nuts and washers
  • One box of poultry netting staples (around 250)
  • 16D 2-lb hot-dripped galvanized nails
  • Two quarts (8 cups) of clear shellac along

​​As for the tools, make sure to prepare:

  • hammer
  • tape measure
  • circular saw
  • carpenter’s square
  • wire cutters
  • paint brush
  • socket wrench
  • drill with 1/2 inch bit
  • pencil

Divider Frames

The wood-and-net frames will serve as dividers for the bins.

Form the butt joints from the pieces of lumber - two 36" and two 31 1/2" pieces into a 35" x 36" square. Fasten them with nails. Build up 3 more frames this way.

Before attaching the hardware cloth to the frames, you need to cut it into one 9ft length and four 37" lengths. Once you have folded back the edges one inch or so, center these pieces on each frame. Be sure that the frames have square corners before you attach the mesh with poultry netting staples. The staples should be placed every four inches.

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Bases and Top

Put 2 dividers at the ends so that they are parallel to each other and 9ft apart. The 36" edges should be positioned on the ground. Then place the other 2 dividers in such a way that they are 31 1/2 inches apart and parallel to each other. That way, all the divider frames will be equidistant, i.e. positioned at equal distances.

Put two 9ft 2x4 pieces on the upper side of the dividers by making sure that they lie flush against each other. Use the 9ft boards to determine the centers of the inside dividers. Then drill the 1/2 inch holes through the junctions of dividers and boards, and fasten the boards with temporary carriage bolts. The long boards need to be placed on the bottom.

Connect the remaining 2x4 lath to the top the same way. Use a carpenter square to check out if the bin is really square. If so, secure all the boards tightly with bolts and staple the 9ft piece of wire from the back.

Front and Inside

To make the front of your triple compost system, fasten a 36" 2x6 piece to the baseboard and front of outer dividers. Then take another two 2x6s and center them on the front of the inner dividers so that they are flush with the upper edge and overlap around one inch on both sides. Nail them in place and the front side is done.

For the inside of your DIY bin system, nail the 34" 2x2s from the inside of the divider frames. Make sure they are flush with the upper edge and parallel to one another. There should be a small distance between the 2x2s and front boards to create a one-inch slot from inside of dividers. That will allow you effortlessly slide each slat from all sides.

Slats

Finally, put the 1x6 slats in the 1-inch vertical slots. Note that you'll need 6 slots per bin. Take the shellac and paint the untreated wood. That's all!

(Last Updated On: January 23, 2018)
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