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Mulch Bin - Screen Processor

5-23-01 - Text & photos by Tom Hintz

Click image to enlarge

   Like most woodworkers, building the basic version of something just does not have the attraction of something with a custom twist. When my wife wanted a simple mulch bin I knew there had to be a way to add something special to it, and so I did.

   The basic mulch bin is nothing more than a 2X4 framework lined with chicken wire to allow maximum air penetration. The mulch material is dumped in and occasionally turned with a pitchfork.

   I kept the dimensions simple, and meant to make maximum use of 8-foot 2X4s. The primary bin is 8 feet long, 4 feet tall and 4 feet deep. The joints are all half-laps (I had recently bought an arm saw so had to use it as much as possible in this project), glued and screwed. In the center is a 45-degree brace that separates the two bin sections. One bin can be used for new mulching material while the second can be where finished (or nearly finished) mulch can be stored to continue working it. 

The mulching screen makes this a more useful bin.
Click image to enlarge

  The special part came when I found out screening the mulch is desirable to filter out big sticks or other oversize materials. The screen is rather coarse, ½-inch openings, and needs a way to work the material through it.

   I started by making a 3-foot square from 2X4s. Before assembling the square, I ripped the bottom ¾-inch from each of the four pieces. After gluing and screwing the box together, I stretched the screen across the bottom, stapled it in place and trimmed the excess away. Next, I glued and nailed the strips I had ripped off over the edges of the screen to produce a more finished look, and to conceal the sharp edges of the screen.

   Using 1X6 material with the ends cut at 10-degrees to form a funnel-shaped chute. I glued and screwed that to the bottom of the square screen frame and bolted the whole assembly to the end of the mulch bin. A pair of 45-degree braces with half of the material dado'd out stabilizes the screening unit. By mounting the screen unit to the top of the mulch bin there is sufficient room below for a work cart to catch the finished mulch as it falls through the screen.

   The last step was to cut an 18-inch length of 1X4 material, round all the edges with the router and toss it in the screen box for use as a tool to move the mulch back and forth and through the screen.

   All of the material used was simple pressure treated lumber from the local home improvement store.

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