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DIY – Compost Tumbler

March 20, 2012

Living by Faith Blog

Make your own compost tumbler

This is the easy and quick way to make compost. Compost made in a compost maker like this is ready in about four weeks. All that is required is some initial labor, and the following materials:

  1. Steel barrel such as a 55 gallon drum.
  2. 2 heavy-duty hinges.
  3. 4 heavy-duty rollers.
  4. 2 door latch locks.
  5. 3 drawer pulls.
  6. Heavy-duty steel plate such as a straightened “L” bracket.
  7. Nuts & Bolts to fit all of the above.
  8. Cradle to the hold barrel. This should be about thirty inches high so a wheelbarrow can roll right under for “belly dump” capabilities. Metal would be best but wood is cheaper and works just as well.
  9. Flat black spray paint.

Use a 55 gal drum (preferably already black) that has been THOROUGHLY cleaned out. You should have two hinges that will attach the door, be sure you cut the door long enough so the hinges don’t fall on a rib of the drum. Cut your hatch into the side to make a door. Then attach hinges and a door handle (aka: drawer pull) to the hatch, and reattach it to the barrel. The door is really flimsy so we bolted a steel plate to the inside of the door, which you can see in the second picture. The steel plate we used was an “L” bracket that we straightened, it’s also really sturdy and heavy duty, it came with all the bolt holes already in it. Then add a latch on each side of the door to lock it closed. Attach two evenly spaced drawer pulls on one side, and drill three 1″ holes on each side. After building the cradle, attach two rollers on each side of the cradle. After placing the cradle in the sun, and putting the barrel on the cradle, then paint the whole barrel flat blat black. The barrel turns easily in the cradle, and heats up REAL GOOD. The secret to the compost maker is that you turn it EVERY day 6-8 times in the cradle. This takes about two minutes, and allows the bacteria to get aerated. In 3-4 WEEKS, you have a rich, crumbly dark brown compost.

Make sure that you only fill the barrel about 3/4 full to allow the materials to tumble when you turn it. Also make sure that you wet the material when you add it to the barrel.
Could possibly add rubber hose around sharp edges for protection and wheels to wheel it around the yard.
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From → Compost, DIY

5 Comments
  1. enjoytheworkout permalink

    Do the latches every come open when you rotate the tumbler? My latch falls/flips open when I turn my tumbler.

    • lantanagurl permalink

      I put a lock on the latch so it wouldn’t come open

  2. Mary permalink

    My tumbler has hundreds of tiny flys swarming around it. Is there a safe way to get rid of them.

    • I have tiny lizards & tree frogs living near my compost. That’s how I deal with bugs.

    • Karen permalink

      If you have little flies, you probably need to add carbon. Put in some dirt, leaves, shredded paper or something.

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