Build a Tumbling Composter in 3 Steps

What You'll Need
(1) 55-gallon plastic drum
(1) 48-inch long pipe; 2-inch diameter
(6) All-weather 2-inch by 4-inch lumber; as needed
Circular saw
Electric drill
Hole saw
Drill bits
Measuring tape
Carpenter square
(2) Knob
String with two slipknots at each end
Permanent glue
(1) sheet metal; 1/4 the length of the barrel

In order to make good compost it needs to be aerated and that is where a tumbling composter comes in handy. This type of composter allows you to periodically turn and mix your compost in order to allow it to breath. The following steps will show you how to build your own tumbling composter.

Step 1 - Building the Wood Base

The tumbling composter needs to be turned easily and so building your own base for it to sit on is important.

Place two of your pieces of lumber so they form an "X". Use the carpenter square to make sure they are square then nail the pieces together in the center. Repeat this with two more of the boards. You now have the two ends of your compost tumbler base.

The base needs a support and this is where the other two pieces of lumber is used. Stand one of the "X" ends up then attach the remaining board to one of the legs and attach the other end of the board to the bottom of the second "X" end. Repeat with the last board and to the back of the base.

Step 2 - Preparing the Plastic Drum

Turn the plastic drum on its end and drill a 2-inch diameter hole in the center then repeat with the other side of the drum. Slide the metal pole inside the drum to act as an axle so the drum can spin.

Put the drum back on its side and cut a rectangular hole in it. Save the piece of plastic you removed. Attach three hinges equidistant apart on the drum at the top of the hole you just cut. Glue the one knob to the plastic piece you cut and another to the drum itself opposite the hinge side. Attach the plastic piece to the hinges then slide the string ends around each knob. You have now just made the door to your tumbling composter.

To help the compost turn you will make a mixing fin in the plastic drum. Bend the piece of sheet metal in to an "L" shape. Use the drill and bolts to attach the fin inside the drum on the opposite side of the door.

Step 3 - Using the Tumbling Composter

Place your new composter on the "X" base you created in Step 1 and check how well it spins on the axle.

Composting works best when it is warm so paint the plastic drum and base a dark green, black, or brown. When the sun is out and hitting the drum it will heat the contents which will hasten the composting process.

Fill the tumbling composter with old newspapers, leaves, vegetable scraps, and other compostable material. Add water to the drum to moisten the contents. Turn the composter a few times to mix the ingredients and continually check on and tumble the compost.