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Build a Wood Waste Bin

A simple project made from plywood waste

by Lorenz Prem
published on July 5 2010 7:29 pm

Up to now I have been using a trash can as my single place to dump cutoffs and other woodworking waste. On some weeks my trashcan for curbside pickup would be full with scraps of all kinds. I figured I need some way to cut down on the waste.

My solution is to separate the hardwood scraps from other types of waste. Dried hard wood is great as a fire starter in my fireplace. That way it stays out of the landfill and serves a purpose too.

The Design

A trash can does not need to be anything special. A simple box made from low-grade plywood will do. I optimized the measurements to create the largest box using the least amount of plywood.

You can build this project with less than half a sheet of plywood. Take a look at the cutting diagram. The dimensions in the drawing are accurate for 3/4" plywood. The panels should be cut to the exact dimensions shown in the diagram.

The width of the side has been calculated for a material thickness of 3/4". If your plywood is thinner, which it probably is, cut the side panels slightly oversize. Trim the panels to fit after the joinery has been cut.



  • 1/2 sheet of plywood
  • Wood glue
  • nails or screws
  • 4 casters with hardware (optional)

Making the cuts

The build requires only two operations. The panels need to be cut to size, and three panels need to be routed to create rabbet joints where the panels meet. Use your favorite method to size the panels. A table saw works best for this.

The front, back and bottom have 1/4" grooves on some sides that form the rabbets that accept the side panels. The front and back have grooves on the two side edges. The bottom has a groove all around.

The fastest way to rout this groove is on a router table with a sacrificial fence. One tool setup routes all grooves. 1/4" deep, 2/3" wide measured from the edge.


Assembly is straight forward. I used glue and brads to hold the sides together. Screws would make the box even stronger, but they are not really necessary. The glue is plenty strong to hold small pieces of wood. If you happen to have clamps in your shop, use them.

I built my version out of low grade plywood. The inside is going to get dinged up anyways. I added rollers to the bottom of the trash can so it can be easily move to where I am working. Most of the time the can is going to stay close to the chop saw, the most productive waste producer.


The dimensions of this build can be easily scaled up to produce a larger trash can. Some dimensions produce less waste when cut from a 8x4 sheet of plywood than others. If you find a good design, please share your dimensions with our community.

The rabbet joints are not really necessary. If you are in a hurry, you can use butt-joints reinforced with nails or screws. The box will not be as strong, but still plenty strong enough for what it is going to be used for.

About the Author
"Lorenz is the founder of Hingmy. When he is not reviewing power tools or improving the site, he is building things in his workshop or playing hockey."