How to Make your own Compost Unit

Are you thinking that this compost thing sounds pretty cool? That getting dirty, saving the earth AND reducing your garbage is something you are up for? 

Welcome earth saver to the video of how I made a pallet compost unit in my backyard. 


Below is a quick cheat sheet for you to save and follow along with during the video. A more detailed breakdown of "ingredients" can be found after that.


DIY composter cheat sheet

If you like more details, we've got them! Check out below and let us know if you have any other questions in the comments.

  1. Pallets - 10 (2' x 3')
    Craigslist is a great place to find pallets for free. If you have a friend willing to get rid of some, even better!

Craigslist Free Pallets

Note: It's important to have a symmetrical unit and unfortunately pallet sizes do vary. Make sure to get enough pallets to allow you to have at least a pallet on every side - if you're making a double unit (like I am here) make sure to buy double.

2. Screws
In this unit I needed two types of screws
  • 3.5" wood screws
    • To screw the pallets themselves together
  • 1.25" wood screws
    • To screw the connectors into the top/bottom pallets
3. Connectors
Simpson Strong Ties are pretty cheap ($0.65) and I wasn't too concerned about aesthetic. Anything similar to this style will work if you find something you like better.
simpson strong tie
4. Drill or Impact Driver - we use an impact driver in my build mostly because my husband really likes it, but also because it did seem to work better for the pallet to pallet combo

Proper Site Location

The best location to build and leave your unit is somewhere flat, concrete, asphalt or clay underneath if possible, and able to get sun and some rain
A bit of shading can actually be helpful to protect the pile from too much rain and potential leeching (liquid from the breakdown process running off into your yard)

How to Build It!
  1. Start by pre-setting up all materials to make sure you have the pallets where you want them.
    1. Because not all of them are exactly the same (wooo!) sometimes it takes a few rounds of stacking and unstacking to make sure they're going to fit together nicely.
  2. Connect first pallet walls together
    1. If smaller pallets (2'x3')
      1. Join the top and bottom pallets together with a connector on the side. This is the most stable join location.
    2. Line the first two pallets up next to each other at a 90 degree angle
    3. Get out "screws" and grab drill or impact driver
    4. Connect together so that the screw ends are on the inside of your unit
    5. Screw a few in at the top and bottom of the posts
    6. Once you feel it is connected properly, give it a good test with force to make sure it is not going to come apart
  3. Connect the remaining wall so that you have three to six sides with an open front
    1. If you are doing a double unit - make sure to complete one side and both back joins before inserting your center piece
    2. Save one side for last
  4. Use your last pallet as a "door" 
    1. In this build I have chosen to keep the door unhinged to the unit. This gives me additional flexibility for turning my pile and protection from my curious dogs. They are pretty smart and would open the hinge if I left it there. 
  5. Optional Hinge Installation
    I have left a pallet as a removable door in this video for easier turning of the pile. If you would like to add on a hinge, make sure that you add a latch on the opposing side.  

Happy Building!

1 comment

Mo Palmer

Finally checking out your website – Everything about it is so cool!
Thank you for bringing this to Fort Wayne!

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