Posted By on May 26, 2009

compost_tumblerImagine having a endless supply of fresh compost for your garden and at the same time reducing your carbon footprint. By recycling your yard and kitchen waste using a compost tumbler, this can be a reality. While there are  many tumblers on the market that  can be  purchased, building one yourself is a great way to save money. The tumbler featured in the plans below, equals or exceeds the features of most manufactured tumblers. It can be built in about an hour using only a circular saw, jig saw, drill and bits.

With the exception of the plastic barrel, all the materials for this project can be found at your local home improvement center. Look for a barrel that has a screw on top. Our prototype used a recycled 60 gallon pickle barrel found on Craiglist. You want a food grade barrel, not one that has been used to hold any type of contaminate that could end up in your garden. The tumbler stand is made from treated 2×6 lumber fastened together with carriage bolts and deck screws. The barrel rotates on a axle made from a piece of 3/4″ galvanized pipe that is capped on each end to secure it to the wooden frame.  A short collar made from pvc pipe is placed on both sides of the barrel to center it.

The key to speeding the composting process is good airflow. This tumbler incorporates an internal aeration system consisting of a perforated 3″ pvc pipe that runs up the center of the barrel.  It is anchored on the bottom of the barrel using a pvc closet flange and is supported internally by the axle that passes through the pipe which is capped on the top to provide access for cleaning. The axle also acts to break up and mix the organic material helping to speed the decomposition process.

When constructing this tumbler, the dimensions of the timber stand are dependent on the size of your barrel. The dimensions below will work fine for a barrel that is 23″ in diameter and 44″ tall. If your barrel differs, make the uprights half the height of your barrel plus nine inches. The feet will need to be about the same length as the height of your uprights. Make your center horizontal supports as long as the diameter of your barrel plus 6 inches. The length of the pipe axle will need to be the same as your center supports plus 2 inches.

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DIY Compost Tumbler

DIY Compost Tumbler

Once you have constructed your tumbler you will want to place it in an area that has partial shade. You want your compost to heat up, but too much sun will dry it out too quickly. You should also elevate your stand on bricks or blocks so that the wood is not in direct contact with the ground.

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