Making a Compost Tumbler out of a Barrel Making a Compost Tumbler out of a Barrel

What You'll Need
55 Gallon Drum or Plastic Garbage Can
Plastic Cement
Cordless Drill
Jigsaw
Hinges
Compost Material
Wood for Stand
Metal Rod
Pipe Caps
Metal Handle

One of the things that makes gardening much easier is a compost tumbler. With this gardening tool you will be able to make your own compost and keep your soil free of any harmful chemicals from fertilizers, and have less garbage going to the landfill by recycling your food and paper products. You will also be able to save a little on your gardening budget by making your own fertilizer instead of purchasing it.


A barrel style compost tumbler is a very easy project for any type of do it yourselfer. With a few regular items, some basic tools, and a little spare time you can build your own compost tumbler.

Step 1 - Prepare Barrel

Take your 55 gallon drum or plastic can and lay it on its side. If you are going to use a plastic garbage can you will need to cement the cover to the can so it does not come off during the tumbling.


In the center of the top and bottom of the can, drill in a 1/2 inch hole. This hole is for the rod to go through.

Step 2 - Build Frame

In order to make the barrel tumble you will need to have a frame. This can not be a regular stand as the tumbler will turn very hard and fall off the stand. A frame that is shaped like an 'X' is one that is both very stable and usable for a compost tumbler. Take two pieces of 2x4 and fashion them like an 'X'. Screw the together. Repeat this process with two more 2x4's. Each 2x4 should only be about 48" long. Where the crosses meet screw another piece of 2x4, 3 feet long, to each one to make a pivot point for the tumbler.

Step 3 - Cut Access Panel

Mark on the side of the barrel a section to cut out for an access panel. You can cut it to any size you want as long as it is all on the same side. Trace it out with marker and cut with a jigsaw. Sand off the burrs on the edges.

Step 4 - Secure Panel with Hinges

Attach two hinges to one edge of the panel you just cut out. Then set back onto the barrel and attach to the barrel. Secure a latch to the panel to keep it closed while tumbling.

Step 5 - Set Barrel On Frame

Put the barrel on the frame. Place the rod through the top of the barrel and out the other side. Place a pipe cap at the bottom of the barrel by securing with bolts. Attach another at the top of the barrel. This will hold the rod in place. Attach your handle to the top of the barrel and it is ready to turn.

Step 6 - Fill with Compost Material

Fill the new compost tumbler with soil and kitchen scraps. Turn the tumbler twice a week and as you add more material.

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