Introduction: Beach Hut Compost Bin From Recycled Pallets

I wanted to make a compost bin for our small garden. It had to be big enough to work and small enough to not take over the tiny space. And because it would live opposite the bench it had to look better than those plastic jobs the council give away. Using old pallets I made one in the shape of a beach hut. Well, we do live in Brighton.

Step 1: Getting the Wood Together

You can see it's a small garden, mostly decked. Note the old green bags I was using for compost before the bin.

I begged some pallets from the builders at a nearby house renovation. It took a while to work out the best method for getting the planks off. I found this video which might help you.

Next I spent a while planing and sanding the planks. Another labour of love, but it is satisfying! I made good use of my old cheapo 'workmate' for all the cutting and sanding.

Step 2: Making the Frame

I had some nice square section pieces I'd hoarded. These became the corner posts. The thick bits from the pallets were used as the horizontals: 4 for the top, 4 for the bottom and 3 in the middle. I drilled through the corner posts (you can see 2 holes were offset from one at 90 degrees at top, middle and bottom). Through these the horizontals were screwed to the corner posts.

Step 3: "Floor"

More timber I'd hoarded: some thin planks from an old shelf unit. These were cut to size and pinned to the bottom frame. You can see I added another cross piece in the base. Not sure if that was called for but I thought the floor might sag otherwise.

Step 4: Sides

I drilled and screwed the planks from the pallets to make the sides. I cut them after attaching to be sure of a clean line.

Step 5: The Back

I used the longest pieces I had for the middle of the back. There are a couple of tricky cuts for the edge strips - I had to saw them lengthways but leave an L shape at the top. Again, I trimmed the top ends away after they were fixed in place.

Step 6: Frame for the Top on the Side That Opens

I added a short bit of the thick wood at the top for strength. It's only needed where the flap opens up on one side. The planks of the roof on the other side will be pinned to the body of the bin so it's strong enough there. You can see I covered the screw holes with wood filler.

Step 7: The Front

(I should have taken some more pictures of this stage, sorry!) I knew I would need access to turn and remove the compost so I put a door in the front. This made those tricky edge strips a bit more fiddly to saw correctly but I used a couple of clamps to hold them in place when cutting and it was okay. The door section has some batons on the back to hold the planks together. Like the back, the front has a frame piece on the opening side.

Step 8: The Roof

On one side, the roof has to open to put in compost. I cut a 90 degree notch out of the frame pieces at the apex. In this I placed another square section as a cross beam. It sits a little proud so the planks will be flush. The far side of the roof is pinned in place. You can see an extra little baton to which I pinned the top roof piece on the sealed side. On the other side the flap has batons like the 'front door' and is hinged at the top.

Step 9: Fixing the Hinges for the Front Door

A bit blurry, this photo but you can see I raised the whole thing up to fix the hinges at the base. You can also see those batons here.

Step 10: Magnetic Catches

I put some little magnetic catches to hold the front door in place. However, these proved too weak when the bin got full and I've replaced them with a bolt on the inside.

Step 11: Finish With Woodstain in Stripes

For that beach hut vibe I used contrasting tones. Standard pine and mahogany stain/varnish combo stuff. I would have preferred more interesting colours but the choice at B&Q was limited.

This project was completed about 4 years ago and I'm glad to say we are still using the compost bin. We have drastically cut down on the amount of stuff that goes to landfill and we have plenty of really lovely dark compost for the garden.