Besides improving the aesthetics of the old builds, one of the main goals of the new compost bins build is to make them mouse proof. Supposedly, one can keep mice out of their compost if they always keep the compost moist. That’s probably true, especially since compost at the right moisture can get very hot as it is composting. But out here in Denver it is extremely difficult to keep the compost even close to moist 24/7 and mice certainly love that.
To try and make everything mouse proof, I designed the bins to have a sandwich type design. The bottom, top, and each wall is a rectangle of cedar with a layer of ¼” hardware cloth fencing stapled to it. I then sandwiched that hardware cloth underneath where the sides joined up, or, in the case of the top and front, I’d sandwich it between another, slightly smaller, rectangle.
Each side was straightforward to build. I first cut the 4 pieces of wood to length and then used pocket holes to connect them together. Once a side was made I laid it out to staple the hardware cloth in place. I used tin snips to cut the hardware cloth, a staple gun to attach it to the wood, and leather gloves to protect against the sharp edges!
After a side was built and the hardware cloth attached, I assembled it with a lap joint and screws to the other sides & bottom. I added 1×4” cedar slats to the bottom to support the compost a bit and prevent the hardware cloth from sagging or pulling out from the weight.
I continued to attach the back and opposite side to the bottom, making sure to sandwich the hardware cloth under each lap joint between the side, back, and bottom. I pre-drilled everything to prevent splitting and then used 3” screws to secure the joints.
With the back and sides attached, I could add the top and front. I wanted the top to hinge open so that adding compost every day was easy. I also wanted the front to hinge down to help facilitate turning the compost.
Since the front and top are able to open, I used an overlapping joint to prevent mouse intrusion. The joint is essentially the same as a box lid, where part of the lid sits inside the box and the lid also has an overhang.
This sort of overlap for both the front and top should prevent any mice from getting into the compost bins. In the end, I made another bin using the same method as the first bin. The two bins share an inner side for simplicity.
I’d like to be better at recounting my project costs so here we go:
–Cheap wood (all Cedar 2x4s) – $53.76
-Cedar 1x4s (8x 12ft lengths) – $66.24
-I did have some left over slats from my outdoor sectional and coffee
table, so the cost to me was slightly lower than this.
-1/4″ Hardware Cloth (~36ft of a 4’x50′ roll) – ~$54.72
-Screws, staples, hinges, handles – ~$15
Not bad for two very nice looking compost bins that are slightly larger than 3’x3′ and 4′ tall. Especially if they end up being mouse proof like I hope they will be. Only time will tell. Thanks for reading along on the compost bins build, and I hope this is helpful if you ever want to do something similar!