Magazine article Sunset

Speedy, Neat, and Easy to Build, This Is Sunset's Triple Decker Composter

Magazine article Sunset

Speedy, Neat, and Easy to Build, This Is Sunset's Triple Decker Composter

Article excerpt

Speedy, neat, and easy to build, this is Sunset's triple-decker composter Unruly piles of compost not only look sloppy, they can also take up a lot of precious space in a garden. One solution is the multilevel compost bin shown here. Built for use in our editorial test garden, the bin is trim and compact: the three interchangeable sections and a sifter-lid stack snugly and take up little space. Wire mesh on the sides lets air circulate through for quick composting (we produced compost from shredded garden debris in only two weeks). Bricks elevate the corners, to keep air circulating underneath and prevent the frame from rotting. To build one, you'll need a hammer, saw, drill, wood rasp, snips or shears to cut the mesh, and a 4-inch C-clamp. Allow about a day for construction.

Materials should cost about $55 For a composter like ours, buy seven 10-foot rough redwood, cedar, or pressure-treated 2-by-2s and two 8-footers. Select straight, clear wood, identical in thickness so the bins will stack. Also buy 32 standard 3 1/2-inch L-brackets; 104 3-inch and 24 1 1/2-inch #10 galvanized woodscrews (or 1/4-inch lag screws of the same lengths); a box of U-shaped wire staples; 12 feet of 48-inch-wide 1/2-inch wire mesh; and eight bricks. For the vertical corner pieces, cut the 8-foot 2-by-2s to 12 pieces 16 inches long. For the seven horizontal frames (including the lid), cut the 10-footers into 14 pieces 30 inches long and 14 pieces 26 to 27 inches long. (To determine the exact length of these last pieces, multiply the width of the 2-by-2s by 2 and subtract the result from 30 inches.)

Make the squares, then the bins Working on an elevated flat surface, arrange pairs of 27- and 30-inch 2-by-2s to form seven 30-inch squares. With L-brackets in each outside corner, predrill and screw in two 3-inch screws nearest the corners. (This will temporarily hold the squares together.) In each corner of three of the squares, clamp a vertical 2-by-2 post in place, raising the post about 1/2 inch from the work surface. (A scrap of 1/2-inch plywood will help you align the posts in their raised positions.) Screw in two more 3-inch screws to hold it; remove the clamp. To complete the three bin frames, clamp and screw on the three top squares. Allow 1/2 inch of the vertical piece to rise above the top square. Finally, use the rasp to bevel the top outside edges of the protruding verticals enough so the stacking squares will easily drop over them. …

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