Something like concrete, but lighter.
June 27, 2010 2:15 PM   Subscribe

Okay here's what I want to do. I have a plastic bin. I want to tilt it on a 45 degree angle, and fill the bottom corner with [insert substance here]. This substance would then dry, and I would repeat the process on the other side of my plastic bin. When both sides are dry, I would have a homemade sluiceway in the bottom of the bin that would be able to effectively funnel liquid out through a spout I would put in the bottom of the bin. That's what I want to do. I just don't know what would be a good substance to accomplish this. Ideally it would be light (concrete would be a pain), would adhere to the plastic bin, not absorb moisture and rot, and dry in a reasonable amount of time. I'm also open to suggestions that would approach this from a different approach.
posted by Tbola to Home & Garden (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you're just looking to create a sluiceway and not support a heavy amount of water, could you perhaps put in some angled pieces of plastic/plexiglas and maybe caulk them along the edges? That would probably reduce the weight by a whole lot.
posted by Madamina at 2:24 PM on June 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Not sure how large the plastic bin is, but could you get some plastic piping the width of the plastic bin, cut it in half length wise and attach it with caulk to the bin. You could even put a slight tilt to it to get the liquid flowing from one end to the other.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 2:31 PM on June 27, 2010

How about cement mixed with pumice or styrofoam peanuts or some other lightweight aggregate?
posted by XMLicious at 2:32 PM on June 27, 2010

Expanding foam. You could make a crude form. You might need something like an angle grinder to shape it, but it is light, waterproof and cheap.
posted by fixedgear at 2:35 PM on June 27, 2010

Polyurethane foam covered in Redgard or other elastomer paint.
posted by iamabot at 2:37 PM on June 27, 2010

Buy two identical bins. Cut the bottom off one. Cut that diagonally and insert into bin. Measure twice, cut once.
posted by A189Nut at 2:38 PM on June 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Seems like a sheet metal shop could bend you a v-shaped tray in minutes, then tack weld on two more sheet metal ends. Caulking gun for the seams, or have them weld it all around.
posted by ctmf at 2:41 PM on June 27, 2010

Why not just rig up some sort of stand that would hold the bin -- as is -- at an angle, so that the liquid would naturally drain out of the spout? You could put the spout in one corner, and tilt the bin just so, so that you wouldn't get stuck w/too much liquid left inside when it runs low.
posted by BlahLaLa at 2:48 PM on June 27, 2010

Invert the bin on a flat-topped post or pipe, gradually heat bottom of bin with high-temp heat-gun (typically used for paint removal) and simultaneously apply pressure to rim of bin to slowly deform the bottom into a roughly conical shape. (Probably a two person job. A couple of pairs of welders gloves might be a good idea.)

Unless your bin is going to be hanging from something, some sort of footing or base will need to be contrived... Does this bin nest within others of its kind? You might remove the bottom from another one and use it as a "slip-on" base. Failing that, it wouldn't be much more trouble to attach three or four short chair legs (or just blocks of wood) with screws through the bottom of the bin and seal the screws with silicone caulk.
posted by EnsignLunchmeat at 2:49 PM on June 27, 2010

Can you get a smaller bin that will fit inside the outside bin, secure it in place inside the bin at a 45deg angle to the original bin and use that? Does the original bin have to be flat? You could just angle it and cut the hole at one end.

If you let people know what size of bin you are using and what the application is, it might be easier to provide useful answers.
posted by ssg at 2:50 PM on June 27, 2010

Depending on how permanent you want this to be, could it be as simple as making the slopes out of cardboard or something else lightweight and unsuitable, then lining the bin with a bin bag (garbage bag, whatever you call it), glued down around the spout? You'd probably need to fix the bag at the top of the bin as well.

Option B: wax. Melt down a whole bunch of cheap candles (probably not tealights, most of them seem to be made of something sort of ... expanded ... wax that contracts when it melts). Either use a very, very cheap saucepan on a low heat and get rid of afterwards, or put them in an empty food can in a pan of simmering water and they'll get hot enough to melt (really vigorous boiling leads to the can falling over if you're not careful. Then you're back to cleaning wax out of the saucepan).

Of course, things you can use depend on what you want to use this for; anything too hot or oil-based would melt the wax again, and anything food-grade would ... well, I probably wouldn't use either of my ideas for something I'd be drinking (maybe the first one with a food-grade plastic bag).

Unless the liquid's really viscous, you probably wouldn't need the angle to be as steep as 45°, so if you went with the wax or something similar you wouldn't need as much.
posted by Lebannen at 2:52 PM on June 27, 2010

You could also use plaster (lightweight and dries fast) and then shellac it to make it waterproof.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 3:22 PM on June 27, 2010

Is there a reason that you can't just make a support that tips the bin to one corner, and have it drain from there? I'm also wondering about the 45 degrees. You only need to slope smooth drainage pipe at a minimum of 1% for it to carry water. The bottom of the bin might be ribbed, but if it is 24" across the diagonal, raising one corner one inch is enough to drain the bin.
posted by oneirodynia at 3:27 PM on June 27, 2010

I was embarrassed to say it's for a worm farm, but it is.
The bottom bin will be on the ground (or raised slightly) and will collect the "tea" that drips down from the worm castings.
I'd rather not have to tilt the whole thing to get the liquid out, so I was hoping to force the liquid to the spout so I can drain it off when I want to.
The bins are 2x20 gallon rectangular storage bins. One will house the worms and the composting magic, the second one will be fitted underneath to collect the runoff.
I was hoping for as unobtrusive looking setup in the yard as possible, so I don't like the aesthetic of having the bins on an angle, as it would look like clutter.
posted by Tbola at 3:42 PM on June 27, 2010

Then just add a spigot to the long end, and when you want to harvest the tea, manually tip the bin slightly (works best if your bin is on some sort of supports, like bricks). You usually have to do this with bins with built-in spigots anyway, as the spigot is always about a centimeter higher than the bottom of the bin, just like in a portable water jug.

There's nothing embarrassing about composting!
posted by oneirodynia at 3:56 PM on June 27, 2010

.. and just an FYI, not many people are going to be able to see your bin is raised an inch on one corner. You can set it up beforehand and see for yourself it if is visually bothersome. All you need is a tiny slope for drainage. If you are trying to get the smaller amount of liquid to be deeper and reach the spigot, building an interior slope from one side to the other will be easier than two angles to the middle, and will drain just as well. You can cut out a single piece of plastic (from one of the lids possibly) that fits snug in the bottom and snug partway down on the other side (this of course depends on how deep the one bin fits into the other), and caulk with silicone.

I wouldn't bother though. Worm bins always silt up at the bottom, and having it flat on the bottom gives the silt a place to build up longer before it clogs up your spigot. If everything is tilted down to the drain, it builds up there first.
posted by oneirodynia at 4:09 PM on June 27, 2010

Couldn't you use a cooler with a spigot for the outside bin? You might have to put something inside it to support the worm bin but it would already have the slope and spigot you need to drain the liquid off.
posted by tamitang at 5:11 PM on June 27, 2010

Couldn't possibly see any embarrassment re vermifarming. Love it.

As someone has already said, you do not need 45 degrees of slope. I would use a cement slurry, just bank it up 5 cm or so to create a small slope.
posted by wilful at 7:34 PM on June 27, 2010

Thanks all! Some very good advice and ideas I shall be trying out this weekend (hopefully).
I think I am/was embarrassed about the term "worm farm" due to Cousin Eddie from National Lampoon's Vacation.
"Take your cousins out back and show 'em your worm farm."

Thought it made me a rube.
posted by Tbola at 9:46 AM on June 28, 2010

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