Composting - Building an inexpensive compost tumbler

Old 02-07-09, 07:02 AM
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Composting - Building an inexpensive compost tumbler

I wanted to share what I did this summer when I built my own compost tumbler. Cost me about $10 with a little ingenuity. First, I went to the local carwash place, and asked them if I could have two of their 55 gallon plastic barrels (I got two in case I wanted to make a second tumbler). Then I mounted it on a spindle. I've posted pictures of how I did it at DIY Compost Tumbler if you're interested in seeing the whole process.

One thing I would change, is that I'd paint the barrel black to get it hotter. Also, don't drill too many aeration holes. Just a few on the sides
Old 02-22-09, 07:42 PM
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That style of compost tumbler, like the organic compost tumbler is very efficient and it works. You should have made it turn on a vertical axis like that one.

Horizontally spinning ones don't mix the material enough (without molded interior fins) when you spin (once you get decent mass inside) you'll just shuffle the barrel around an unmoving interior collection.

Vertical axis tumblers work best.

You had a good idea though, with a bought tumbler you get heavier plastic, better aeration, all told a better quality product, but you're paying for it. You can easily make a vertical axis one like you did though, it won't be as good or as big or as sturdy, but it'll function for smaller volumes. There is a video on youtube someone did "how to build a compost turner" I've seen that does the almost exact same thing you did, but vertical axis. Their way seems better.
Old 02-22-09, 08:05 PM
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I built a compost tumbler several years ago with screen wire on the holes cut into each end, and a 1in piece of pipe for the center rod. I used 2"x 2"angle iron for support at 4 locations inside to also give better aeration when tumbling. so far it has worked great. I did use a black plastic drum for the tumbler so in the summer time it had to be kept watered often or it will dry the material pretty quickly. I don't think that a vertical axis one would work any better but only testing would tell.

vegetarian: old english for he who starves in winter.
Old 02-26-09, 08:16 AM
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Biker Dave,

Thanks for sharing. That's one of my projects for the summer, and I hadn't quite finished the plan in my head. I'll start keeping my eyes open for the barrels!
Old 03-03-09, 03:25 PM
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We have been looking for some time know on a compost tumbler and when we came across yours we said " wow" this is what we want, so thank you very much. The neat thing is that we alradry have 2 of the barrels from a car wash so half of it is done. Thank you
Old 01-18-11, 11:16 AM
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DiY Composter

I was checking one on *******. The one over there has a slide out tray under it for the compost. I read a lot of good ideas here, I want to start my own soon, I'll have to bookmark this page to bring Pictures too. Thanks for the good info!

Last edited by Shadeladie; 01-18-11 at 12:30 PM. Reason: Company name removed. Advertising NOT allowed.

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