How to Build a Compost Screen

What You'll Need
8 10 feet of 2-by-2 inch lumber
Roll of screen
Wire cutters
Staple gun
Miter saw
Tape measure
Wood glue

Making compost at home is a great way to save money and provide your garden with valuable nutrients. Not only that, but you cut down on the amount of waste you throw away, as anything organic, aside from meat and lard remnants, can be composted. The process of making your own compost pile requires a fair amount of knowledge in order to do it effectively. Layering, good air circulation, the right mixture of carbon-based and nitrogen-based waste and time are all important elements. If you use a compost tumbler, it can save you a lot of trouble of turning the pile periodically. Simply flip the barrel over and the compost is turned.

Whichever way you do it, it is possible that your compost pile could end up with unwanted debris mixed in it. Using a compost screen is a good way to sift the usable compost into a container while trapping the debris. This how-to will walk you through the process.

Step 1 - Measure and Cut the Wood

If you want to sift the compost over a garbage can-sized container, it should in the shape of a square. If you will sift into a wheelbarrow, it should be rectangular in shape.

Measure your 2-by-2 lumber and cut it into 4 equal pieces for a square screen or 2 sets of 2 equal pieces for a rectangular screen. The frame should not be wider than the screen so you can use one continuous piece.

Step 2 - Miter the Ends

With the miter saw, set it to make a 45 degree angle cut and cut each end of the 4 pieces so the corners fit together to form the shape.

Step 3 - Drill Pilot Holes

Lay the 4 pieces out into the shape you desire. Perpendicular to the miter cut where the pieces join, drill a pilot hole into each of the 4 pieces. This will allow a smooth passage for the screw.

Step 4 - Apply Wood Glue and Screws

After the pilot holes have been drilled, on a flat surface put wood glue on the end of 1 piece and join it with the adjacent piece to form a corner. Immediately insert a woodscrew. Make sure the screws are not so long that they protrude out the other side. Repeat this process until the pieces are joined and your shape is complete. Let stand for at least 1 hour so the glue can harden.

Step 5 - Measure for the Screen

Measure from each side to its opposite to determine the exact width and length of the frame. Unroll the screen and measure out a length that will fit the dimensions of the frame.

Step 6 - Cut the Screen

With the wire cutters, cut the screen into a square or rectangle so the screen overlaps the edge of the frame so it can be wrapped around securely.

Step 7 - Attach the Screen

Using the staple gun, secure the screen as tightly as possible to one side of the frame. Use at least 10 staples per foot of screen so it is very secure.

Place it on top of the wheelbarrow or can and shovel in small amounts.