I built a wheelie bin storage unit using (mostly) pallet wood
That’s a rather ambitious claim for this post, although technically it is true, I did build a wheelie bin storage unit using mostly pallet wood. It’s just not very good.
Wheelie bins are a necessary eyesore in my front garden. Fortunately I was looking for a slightly larger scale carpentry project that would develop my skills. I started doing some basic research by simply looking at the variety of designs available online.
There are plenty of variations and several companies offering pre-made versions. Youtube is also filled with useful videos of people building their own wheelie bin storage units. I watched these countless times, but I found this one in particular to be the most helpful because it was laid out pretty simply:
I used Sketchup to Design My Wheelie Bin Storage Unit
I looked at this project as an opportunity to try to develop my skills at Sketchup and digital design work for building projects. I made a model of what I thought would work. Bear in mind, I am no expert and I am a very novice handyman.
In the end, the difference between what I imagined and what I built is significant. This was because I wanted to construct the project from reclaimed pallet wood. The design changed in the middle of the building process because I couldn’t source pallets with planks of consistent thicknesses and widths.
I still feel that using sketchup at the start of the project was a good idea because I was able to figure out some of the challenges and see some problems ahead of time. For example, I could see where I might have a problem attaching things together. It also really helped me to figure out how much wood I would need to buy for the construction of frame (something I could not fabricate from pallet wood).
Where is a good place to find pallets in Dublin?
During the build, I working in my second job which is located in an industrial estate. I found plenty of pallets in the warehouse and dotted around the estate but it was very hard to find ones of a consistent quality.
The better source of pallets I found was my local building supply merchant. This was more useful because they get in a large deliveries which come into the yard on several of the same kind of pallets. They view these pallets as waste and there is a stack of them left at the back of the yard which they are happy for you to take away. The extra benefit is that you often find oversized pallets with longer planks.
As I collected them, I started discerning the different pallets and identifying which ones gave sturdier wood. These were worth seeking out because they were easier to break down. I started to avoid collecting certain types of pallets because of the nasty connector blocks made from glued chips. These just made a mess during deconstruction.
1st Mistake - Over-Ambitious Floor Plan
I have no idea why I originally thought this was a good idea… maybe it was because I was watching loads of videos about building your own shed. My initial plan was to dig a hole and then suspend a floor frame to sit on a the foundations of the wall beside the enclosure and some blocks. I built it and put it in place but then I realised it was too high, too heavy and just not needed.
I ended up filling the hole back in, putting the stones back where they were. I opted for a simple panel as the floor. I divided it into sections based on the size of the three bins.
2nd Mistake - Bought the Wrong Wood
Silly boy. I bought untreated wood to build the frame of the wheelie bin storage unit. This was a mistake because I should have bought treated wood. The frame was built before I realised my mistake. Nevertheless, we will see how long it lasts in the exposed Irish climate.
3rd Mistake - Positioned it Under a Tree
I positioned the whieelie bin storage unit at the front left corner of the garden. Which is right under a tree. This tree gives off a sticky residue ever year when it flowers. So half of the enclosure will probably get sticky and discoloured because of this sticky residue this (but there’s a chance that this might help to solve the untreated wood issue).
The design called for a total of 12 hinges – two per door. I originally bought the phoenix brand hinges because I liked the colour and the finish. I only bought enough for one set of doors to test them out first.
However, when I went back to the building suppliers they were out of stock of these Phoenix brand hinges due to a problem with the supplier. typical! I eventually gave up and settled for the standard metal hinges from Woodies. Although they are not the aesthetic that I wanted, they are sturdy and work well.
Painting and Assembling the Wheelie Bin Storage Unit
I painted all the panels using a greenish stain and started assembly in situ. I didn’t bother painting the inside.
Costs of DIY Wheelie Bin Storage Unit
While I don’t count the tools I have as a direct cost for this project I guess you could factor in that I used a chop saw, an 18V drill, a crowbar, a hammer and a speed square.
- Pallet wood – Free
- Wood – €7.60
- Paint – €17
- Hinges – €36
- Screws – €11
Timeframe & Thoughts
This project took me a lot longer than I wanted. Mostly because of my lack of confidence. I estimate that in total it took me a week but that time was spread out over months. I kept over-thinking everything and I was scared of making mistakes.
I don’t expect the construction to last. The paint is already fading a little and I want to add. I could replace the door and lids with a more sturdy construction. I also want to add latches to keep the doors firmly closed on windy days.
You will get one email a month with a summary of posts from that month so you can keep up-to-date with my progress and failures. Grand job!