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Compost Bin Progress!

November 2, 2008
three-bin composter in progress

three-bin composter in progress

It’s been slow progress- after all, I’m fitting this in around actual, paying jobs- but I’m getting there. Some technical details:

  • all the wood you see is dimensional (not nominal) local white oak. That means those 4×4 posts are actually 4″x4″, not 3.5″x3.5″. Posts are 4x4s, laterals are 2x6s.
  • For each post, I dug down 18-24″, poured an 80-lb bag of quikcrete in the hole, tamped it, set the post, poured in a second bag of crete and tamped it, then backfilled with soil. Virginia clay holds so much moisture, and portland cement loves water so much, that this is all you need to do for posts. Give it 24 hours and the quikcrete will have absorbed all the water it needs and become hard as a rock.
  • The top 2×6 is anchored to the corner posts with 5″x1/2″ stainless steel lag screws, as well as 4″ deck screws. I realized this was overkill, so everything else is attached with 3″ deck screws. Even at that, I ran down two batteries on my cordless drill getting this far.

So what’s next? Hopefully, I’ll remmeber to pick up the 1x6s tomorrow. The plan is to use 1×6 oak screwed to the back and sides, with air gaps between boards. I’ll then use 2x2s and 1x6s to create channels in which cut 1x6s will sit to hold materials in the front of the bins. To facilitate the movement of earthworms and all the other happy critters of decay, the three bins will be separated from each other by 1/2″ stainless steel hardware cloth.

My thoughts so far? WAY overbuilt. The oak is so heavy and unwieldy, I wouldn’t build anything this massive for a client. The labor would be ridiculous for what they got. The same size pieces of cedar would weigh less than half as much, so they’d be way easier to work with.  Still, unless someone wanted something this huge, I think I’d use standard nominal 4×4 posts and 1x members for everything else. The 2x6s are overkill. And heavy. Did I mention heavy yet? Oh, I also wouldn’t lag the 2x6s if I had it to do over, I would’ve through-bolted 1/2″ carriage bolts.

Still, it looks great, and it’s sturdy. Also, Virginia white oak is what wine barrels are made from, so the wood smells like the barrel room at a winery. How cool is that?

Anyhow, I’m almost done with the structural stuff, just three more pieces of 2×6 to cut and install. The 1x6s will fly going up, so I should have this done pretty soon- provided I can block out the time. I have a 3pm concrete pour tomorrow, so I doubt I’ll get back to this before Wednesday. I’ll post more pictures as the project moves along.

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