Building A Compost Tumbler In 10 Easy Steps

Have you been looking at the fancy compost tumblers online after getting tired of turning your compost piles? You don’t need to spend money to buy one if you know how to build your own compost tumbler.

As a gardener, I need fertilizer on a regular basis. As bacteria need oxygen for aerobic respiration to create rich compost, proper aeration is necessary. You can use a tumbler tool or a pitchfork to turn your compost for better aeration. If you have to do it regularly, it becomes a lot of extra work.

You can use a compost tumbler instead of a pitchfork to make things easier for you. The tumbling composter rests over a wooden structure, and you just need to rotate it to mix the compost ingredients. Composting is amazing as you witness the nature in action. It converts what we consider waste into superfood for garden beds.

Tumbling composters are great for red worm composting too as worms cannot survive direct sunlight and hot environment. You can place the tumbler in the shade to let the worms party with your vegetable scraps and give you fine compost in return. Red worms make the composting process faster and more efficient.

Building a compost tumbler is incredibly simple, and it lasts for years.

Building A Compost Tumbler In 10 Easy Steps

What Do You Need To Build A Compost Tumbler?

  • Cylindrical Container

You will need a large cylindrical container with a lid that fits well, such as a garbage can. Get a plastic can with a capacity of 30 gallons.

  • Drill

You will need a drill motor, paddle bits, and drill bits to make holes in the container for proper aeration.

  • Steel Pipe

A Steel pipe or a PVC pipe that runs through the center of the barrel will work as the axle of your tumbler. You need to place it over the wooden saw buck to rotate it.

  • Ear and Eye Protection

You can wear some ear and eye protection gear to make your job more convenient and safe.

  • Six planks of 2×4 treated lumber

2x4s will be used to construct the wooden base for the tumbler to rotate. 2×4 treated lumber are pieces of wood that are approximately 38x89mm in dimensions and treated with an anti-termite solution. You don’t want your wooden sawbuck to collapse after a couple of months. That’s why it is best to use the treated lumber only.

  • Saws

You will need saws like Jigsaw, Hole saw, and circular saw to cut the wooden pieces to the desired shape. You don’t necessarily need all of them.

  • Nails

Nails are required to attach different pieces of wood and the barrel.

  • Hinges

Hinges can be used on the tumbler door.

  • Latches

You will need a latch for keeping the door of the tumbler shut.

  • Door handles

Door handle will be fixed to the tumbler door and used for opening and closing it.

  • Large Handle

Another larger handle will be used for easier rotation of the compost tumbler.

  • L-shaped Metal Sheet

You will need an L-shaped metal sheet to fix it inside the tumbler. It will be used for easier and efficient mixing of compost while you rotate it.

  • Hand tools such as hammer, measuring tape, framing square, metal ruler, pencil

Hammer will be used for nailing. Metal ruler and measuring tape will assist you with the measurements. Framing square will help you cut perfect shapes, and pencil helps you with marking.

Building A Compost Tumbler In 10 Easy Steps

Step By Step Instructions For Building A Compost Tumbler

1.      Drill holes in the center of the lid and bottom of the container

Using the ruler, measure the diameter of the base of the container and the lid. Divide diameter by two to find the central point. Drill the holes at the determined points and make sure that they are large enough to allow the steel or PVC pipe to go through them.

You can measure the diameter of the pipe and drill the holes accordingly.

2.      Drill holes in the container’s body for aeration

With the one-inch bit, drill holes in the body of the container. You should drill around 20 holes evenly for optimum aeration.

3.      Create a door at the side of your barrel to add compost

With the flexible metal ruler and framing square, frame a rectangle where you want to construct the door. The measurements of the door will vary according to the size of the barrel you use.

For most barrels, a door of the size of 9×14 to 11×16 is optimum. Keep the longer side of the rectangle parallel to the length of the barrel.

Drill some small holes along the marked lines for the door to allow some space for the jigsaw to cut. Use the blade to cut three sides of the door and leave one side intact. You can also cut the fourth side if you plan to use hinges.

Secure a piece of wood to the inside of the barrel on the longer side where you will fix the latch. Keep the wood exposed out to about half an inch. Secure another piece of wood inside the door at the same edge and leave 1/2 an inch plastic exposed.

You can use a piece of wood to act as a stabilizer at the uncut edge. If you like, you can cut this side as well and use hinges for the door rotation.

Add a latch to the side where you secured the pieces of wood using drill and nuts.

4.      Attach the door handle on the door

Attach the door handle to the door of the container. You will be able to open the door of the barrel comfortably using the door handle.

5.      Attach an L-shaped metal sheet inside of the barrel for better mixing.

Use an L-shaped galvanized metal sheet and bolt it to the interior of the wall at the opposite side of the door. This metal fin will act as a weight balance, and it will work as a mixer by turning the compost when barrel rotates.

6.      Pass the pipe through the central holes of the barrel.

The pipe at the center will allow the barrel to rotate over it. Make sure that each end of the pipe sticks out of the barrel to rest on the wooden structure.

7.      Attach the Rotating Handle

Nail the larger handle at the tumbler equidistant from the door and the metal fin inside. This handle could be used for easier rotation of the container on the wooden saw buck.

8.      Building a wooden support for the compost tumbler

Take two sets of 2×4 wooden planks and nail them in an X-frame. Nail two 2x4s at the feet of the X-frames to join them and construct a structure that can support your compost tumbler. You will have to measure the length of the 2x4s at the feet and match it with the length of the pipe.

9.      Rest the compost tumbler over the wooden structure

Make sure that each side of your pipe is properly resting over the X-shaped side of the wooden sawbuck.

10.  Rotate the compost tumbler

After constructing the wooden structure and resting the barrel over it, try turning it. The pipe will act as an axle and should be able to rotate the tumbler without any bumps or imbalances. Ensure that the wooden structure is sturdy enough to continue supporting the barrel for a long time.

To Sum Up

I hope you liked my tutorial for building a compost tumbler in a few simple steps. It saves me time and makes composting very easy. I don’t have to turn the compost for aeration manually. I just rotate the tumbler to get the job done.

Building A Compost Tumbler In 10 Easy Steps

You need to keep adding organic waste materials to it, such as kitchen scraps, dead plants, fallen leaves, old newspaper, cardboard and similar stuff. A compost tumbler is a life-saver for a gardener.

So, what are your thoughts about it? Please let me know through your comments. You can share this short guide with your friends who are interested in gardening.

Author Bio: This is Ella Wilson, the founder of TinyPlantation.com. I have a great interest in plants and gardens and I am fascinated with fruits and vegetables. I wish to share my passion with you through this website. Feel free to read my articles and guides and share them with others who might benefit from them. You can reach out to me anytime if you have questions.