Introduction: Simple Stackable Compost Bin From Pallet Collars

Picture of Simple Stackable Compost Bin From Pallet Collars

This is the easiest project I’ve ever written about. Going through my local pallet stack, I noticed pallets with hinges. I had never seen this type of pallet in the stack so I grabbed a few. After a little research, I found out they are called Pallet Collars and are used to add sides to a pallet. They are hinged and collapsible and have tabs that secure the collar to each corner of the pallet.

So why was this project so easy? I just added a few modifications and stain/polyurethane to the already built pallet collars to make them look a little nicer. (Since finding your own might be difficult, I have added instructions so you can build your own.)

With one single unit as opposed to two or three bins, the space needed for composting is minimized. Each tier stacks on top of the other, latching together to make the bin. This setup makes it easy to turn and rotate the compost, since moving the collars is simple. Just remove the top collar and place in a new location adjacent to the original bin location. Turn the compost into the new location and stack the collars until finished. This is a great alternative to having multiple compost bins next to each other.

Video showing how it works:

Step 1: Tools/Materials


  • Saw
  • Drill/Bits
  • Hammer
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil


  • Free Pallet Collars


Step 2: Drawing

Picture of Drawing

You will be building to this drawing. Note that the design can be scaled up or down. However, check the math for the sides if you want it fully collapsible.

Step 3: Cut Sides

Picture of Cut Sides

Cut wood as shown. The optional holes are used to improve aeration to the compost. Make 8 of each piece.

Step 4: Paint/Stain (Optional)

Picture of Paint/Stain (Optional)

This step is optional. I chose a cabernet colored stain from Varathane and a polyurethane from Minwax.

Step 5: Add Hinges

Picture of Add Hinges

Add hinges to sides with nails or screws as shown. Optional: To increase ventilation, add 1/2" tall rubber bumpers to the bottom side of each board. Repeat for the desired number of stacks – 4 are shown in this design.

Step 6: Stack

Picture of Stack

Stack the tiers together by lining up the corners.

Step 7: Final Product!

Picture of Final Product!

No holes were added. Rubber spacers will be added before installation.

Step 8: How Does It Work?

Picture of How Does It Work?

For the initial set up, the pallet collars just stack one atop the other. Fill up the bin with well chopped browns (fall leaves, branches, bark, sawdust, paper) and greens (grass clippings, vegetable peels , etc.), using lots and lots of browns with just some greens. Add a shovel or two of good rich garden soil. Finally, make sure to water so the compost is moist but not wet, if everything is relatively dry. Then wait and turn based on how fast you want compost. To turn the pile, take the top collar off the bin and place it adjacent to the pile. Move the compost over to new the location, stacking and filling as you go. Be sure to moisten also. Repeat the moving/stacking steps until you get rich and crumbly compost. The more you turn, the faster you get compost.


Tater Zoid (author)2015-06-06

I am inspired by your design. I've been looking for pallet compost 'ibles, and your build is fantastic. Good job.

mtairymd (author)Tater Zoid2015-06-07

Thank you

DIY Hacks and How Tos (author)2015-06-06

This is a great way to reuse materials both in the box and the compost.

Thanks. I was just getting ready to buy wood to build my own stackable compost pile so I was pretty lucky with my timing.

HollyHarken (author)2015-06-09

Thank you for posting this! Last year a neighbor at my boyfriends apartment had some of these and gave me 2. He hasn't gotten any more and I had no idea what they were. Now I have the name of the hinge. I've been looking for them for over a year now. Unfortunately you have to order a minimum of 500 from the source you provided. I don't need that many. I just wanted to make some raised garden beds. These seemed to be a great solution, but I haven't been able to get any more from the neighbor. :( I would love to find a local to me source of these.

mtairymd (author)HollyHarken2015-06-09

Thank you. I couldn't find smaller quantities either. I did find a seller that was offering them for $.02/hinge (min order of 2000). That comes out to $40/lot. I assume you could take what you want and resell the remainder on Ebay for a profit.

leroy19512000 (author)mtairymd2015-06-12

I would go in with someone on the hinges or more even.

mtairymd (author)leroy195120002015-06-12

I've received a lot of request for the hinges between Instructables and the other sites where this project is reference. Although I'm not interested in being a hinge distributor, it does sound like a potential money maker if someone has the time/energy to sell these in smaller lots.

LeisaW3 (author)mtairymd2017-05-04

Will you please tell me where I can order the hinges from? I don't mind having to buy a 100 if the price is right, because my family is doing a project to raise money for the homeless, needy, poor, people and kids in my area of Oklahoma to teach them how to be self-sufficiant and building tiny homes for them to live in and sell if they choose to upgrade their living. Thank you

mtairymd (author)LeisaW32017-05-04

That sounds like a nice project!

Unfortunately, I have never purchased them. I picked these from a stack of old pallets. I just did a quick google search [pallet collar hinge] and found them for $0.30 to $0.60 each with a min order of 10 pieces. I bet you could find better deals with more searching. Good luck.

I'm in! How many do you think you would want?

MarkBang (author)2017-03-08

Thank you for interesting post. Every summer I try to create something from pallet collars, so for me it's important to find as much information as possible in the web. Here is the useful source, which I found several months ago:

mtairymd (author)MarkBang2017-03-09

Thanks. I posted this project on a few forums. Everyone seemed to be looking to buy the hinges. At the time, I could only find them through commercial distributors in large quantities.

Rob Childers (author)2015-11-15

It's beautiful, and a great idea but I think I'd use it to grow potatoes instead. If you search aound the Internet, you will find several articles that claim that an arrangement like this can produce 100lbs of potatoes (give or take).

mtairymd (author)Rob Childers2015-11-15

Thanks. Yes, I think we are going to try to that next year.

leroy19512000 (author)2015-06-12

Can the hinges be ordered on the internet from someplace? This is a great system for a lot of uses

leroy19512000 (author)2015-06-12

Where did the hinges come from?

bombastinator (author)2015-06-11

this would be more cool if i could figure out what a pallet collar is. ive never heard of them before. I know what a pallet is. Is this part of a pallet? something for holding a bunch of pallets?

googled pattet collar. Seems it;s a bottomless folding box ring that is stacked on to of a pallet to make a box. Theyre generally impregnated with heavy duty pesticides and preservatives to keep them from degrading at sea or spreading invasive species. I would say the paint is definitely NOT optional and better be pretty rugged. Putting anti bacterials in your bacteria farm is pretty counter productive.

nolaradio (author)2015-06-09

I have tons of these at my work. So many that occasionally I throw some away. If you are going to use the compost created to plant vegetables, I would be concerned with the chemicals in the stain and/or paint. If recycling used collars, keep in mind that these are chemically treated to prevent bugs from tagging along when shipped from overseas.

mtairymd (author)nolaradio2015-06-09

They seem hard to find. I understand they are more common in Australia and European countries.

I'm hesitant to post any project related to food & pallets. This instructable might be able to shed some light on the safety concerns.

nolaradio (author)mtairymd2015-06-09

What we get is actually larger than your dimensions. Ours are roughly 31 1/2" by 47 1/4". They're called Euro Pallets. We get lots of freight from Norway that comes on these pallets and they use these collars a lot to crate a bunch of smaller items. The collars are hard to find already made in the US. We had to buy some and they were pretty expensive too. I think they were almost $20 each. I think this is the place we had to order them from:

See the heading "Phytosanitary Compliance" about the stampings on the pallets.

WildOne1985 (author)nolaradio2015-06-10

In Norway these are mainly used by businesses who supply goods to distributors or retail shops; and they pay for them. To get their money back they return them. Outside of the country that might noe be the case though, so interesting to hear.

nolaradio (author)WildOne19852015-06-10

I'm sure the cost of the collars and the pallets is figured into the price that we are paying for our goods. We got a shipment in a couple of weeks ago that had at least 30 collars. That's gotta get pretty costly.

WildOne1985 (author)nolaradio2015-06-10

I would assume so since returning them over such distances and the paperwork just isn't worth it. $20 is about right compared to the price I remember we had to pay for them. Don't throw them away! Sell the used ones and join the spirit of recycling while making a buck.

In all - a compost bin made of these as materials isn't really feasible seen from an economical point of view - for many of us.

Chemicals in the materials? There is no reason to add chemicals as these are made to be on pallets inside a warehouse or in a closed truck. That is their general purpose, so adding stuff that costs money would be weird. All the ones I've been around didn't have any visible signs of treatment. The lumber was of good quality though.

nolaradio (author)WildOne19852015-06-10

Most of what I have on hand have the HT markings meaning that they were heat treated. But I do have about a dozen currently that are marked MB for Methyl Bromide.

mtairymd (author)nolaradio2015-06-10

Nolaradio/WildOne: Thanks for the comments - pretty informative. I've now done a little more research on Pallet Collars/Euro Pallets. They can be made from almost any type of wood. I guess I would recommend Cedar for a compost or a vertical potato garden. The length of the wood is up to the builder. During the research, I found a company that shows alternate (better) ways to contruct this project.

The tough part is finding the finding the hinges. I can't find a place that sells small quantity orders. I guess you could buy in bulk (500 to 2000) at a low price and sell the remainder on ETSY or Ebay.

WildOne1985 (author)mtairymd2015-06-10

The only advantage I see to using those hinges instead of a fixed solution is that you can fold them for easier transport.

Don't sell stuff like that on ETSY - they only allow things you actually have made (or improved) yourself.

mtairymd (author)WildOne19852015-06-10

I would say the stacking part of the hinge helps.

WildOne1985 (author)mtairymd2015-06-10

All you really need for that is a two by two that is mounted on the inside corners. Or two boards on each outside corner.

You get the idea visually from this Instructable:

Hinges might be better when the wood warps, but otherwise I would go with the above idea.

Don't misunderstand - I do appreciate the effort in bringing ideas to the table!

mtairymd (author)WildOne19852015-06-11

No problem. I really like the constructive critiques and added information. I
was originally going to build a bin very similar to the one you listed:

Funny, I didn’t think to search for the word “potato” in
instructables but it looks like the designs are similar. BTW, that one looks really nice.

Anyway, I priced out the wood/materials (~$50) and sketched
out a design. The reason I wrote about this version is
because it did almost the same job and it was FREE :). Also, the entire stack collapsed and therefore
fit into the backseat of my car.

maniacse (author)2015-06-09

I am using even easier pallet compost. Take 4 pallets, place it on side to rectangular shape, on at least 2 places (up and bottom, additionaly in middle) tighten them together with rope or wire, and you are done. You do not have to drill holes, since there is already free space between planks. I made this 2 years ago and want to made another one to increase capacity. I do not have any photos here, but I think you understand me.

mtairymd (author)maniacse2015-06-09

Yep, that works also.

Hiroak (author)2015-06-08

They would make great potato boxes but you can't really buy pallet collar's.

mtairymd (author)Hiroak2015-06-09

That is a good idea for a vertical garden.

StefanL3 (author)2015-06-07


About This Instructable




Bio: I like to design and build random things.
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