Compost Toilet

This weekend we at last got down to work on the compost toilet, which we seem to have avoided doing on out last 3 visits.

The toilet area is to be situated to the SW of the wood, adjacent to the area of Sweet Chestnut coppice.
lunar-wood-24_25-07-10-001Having identified where we wanted to build the toilet area: Far enough away from the cooking and sleeping area to be private, but not so far as to be a long slog in the winter, Fi widened and cleared a path there using a weed whacker. Now that the whackers are sharp they work a lot better and easily slice through: bracken, brambles and birch saplings.

lunar-wood-24_25-07-10-003Next we set to clearing an area about 20 ft. in diameter where the toilet was going to be built. We had decided to construct our toilet using materials from as close as possible, so as we cleared the area we saved any useful looking poles and brush for later use. The clearing involved the felling of 5-6 small Sweet Chestnut trees (3″-5″ in diameter) as well as grubbing out the roots of a few fallen trees about 9″ in diameter. This was not as bad as it sounds as the soil in this area is very shallow… but we did work up quite a sweat!

lunar-wood-24_25-07-10-005Next came the construction of the main framework for the building.
We used the larger poles that we had saved from the clearing of this area to act as the 4 supporting posts. After marking things out on the ground we used an iron bar to make guide holes, about 12″ deep, in the appropriate places for them and then hammered the main posts into these using a post driver… not so easy with the ground being so dry.
Next we added the 2 cross members which will support the roof, one at the front and one at the back. These were fixed to the main uprights using Turbo Coach Screws from ScrewFix. We then added two temporary roof beams to hold the whole thing together while we worked on the walls. These were just lashed on with old bits of string.
lunar-wood-24_25-07-10-007The final part of the main framework was made using thinner poles, 1″-2″ in diameter. We marked the two diagonals of the main structure on the ground and from where they crossed we drew out a circle that passed through all four posts. This was to be the line of the walls. On this line we marked positions for the poles at about 12″ apart, made holes with the bar and then knocked in stakes (about 6″ in the ground and 5′ 6″ sticking up.
By this time we were both pretty tired, so we called it a day and went back to the camp area for a well deserved shower and meal.

lunar-wood-24_25-07-10-021The next day we collected thin Birch saplings to weave in and out of the uprights, these would become the walls of our new toilet. Mostly they were about 1″ in diameter and about 15′ long.
I fixed a small rod to each of the door uprights for the ‘laths’ to but up against and we began to weave our walls. We started with a few rows of whaling, two rods twisted over and under each other as you go, working from both ends and overlapping at the back of the structure.
lunar-wood-24_25-07-10-025Once all the base was well connected we started to weave using individual rods and just building up the leafy ends at the back which we did for a foot or so. While doing this I experimented with cleaving some of the thicker, straighter birch poles. This was not too hard and definitely a lot easier than cleaving thin Sweet Chestnut poles. This has made us re-assess our plans a bit. Now I’ll probably use a few rows of cleft poles every foot or so to add to the visual interest and to strengthen up the back of the structure.
lunar-wood-24_25-07-10-027So… By the time we finished for the day we’d woven about 18″ of wall. It’s going to take quite a few more poles to finish it off. Not the most orthodox of structures but we are trying to use every part of the trees that we fell. On our next visit we’ll probably select slightly thicker saplings, remove and cleave the bottom 9′-10′ section and still have the tops to weave as well.
As for the roof… that’s still in the planning stage, but hopefully we’ll be able to construct it so that we can collect any rainwater that falls and that can be used for washing.

Just A Quick Update…The toilet is finished and up and running

The toilet seat and plywood for its enclosure were from a bit of skip diving as was the dustbin. What dustbin? I hear you say.
Underneath the box is a bottomless dustbin in the toilet hole… this is there because we’re on such sandy soil that we wanted to prevent a soil collapse.

When full we can move the hole within the enclosure by sliding out the dustbin and digging a new hole within the enclosure for it. That’s the theory anyway… how easy it is to slide out  remains to be seen!

The only bought materials were the few turbo coach bolts, some varnish for the box and a few screws.
Some of the walls are cleft to give a bit of texture.

The roof has an old tarp on it so that we can collect the rainwater and is then it’s thatched with the brush left over from the construction to camouflage and prettify it. Any other left over brush had been dead hedged to form the ‘Toilet compound’ This area has now been planted with Willows for basket making and to make use of the excess nutrients.
It’s been in use for 9 months now and so far no smells.

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