Here's how to build a tumbler compost bin with hardware store parts. It cost just a fraction of the price of store-bought one.
We started composting at the Weekendr house a few weeks ago. This year our yard will feature a sizable vegetable garden and common sense dictates that we recycle the organic scraps from the kitchen to make our own compost.
It’s a stinky endeavor, but we’re told by our gardener friends that it will pay off in spades. Everything from banana peels to kiwi skins to egg shells get put to good use.
After a few weeks of collecting kitchen waste in a mixing bowl on the back deck, it was apparent that we needed an industrial-strength compost bin to hold the rotting organic matter. I browsed the garden catalogs but prices for commercial compost bins are steep. You can expect to pay $250 and up for a good plastic tumbler compost bin.
I decided to save a buck and make my own with a trip to the hardware store. Here’s how I did it for under $50:
- 20-Gallon Buckets (2)
- Stainless Steel bolts, 3 in. long, 1/2 in. dia. (8)
- Stainless Steel nuts, 1/2 in. dia. (8)
- Rubber grommets, 1/2 in. dia. (16)
- Metal Conduit, 4 ft. long, 1/2 dia.
- Duct Tape
- 2×4 Saw Horses (2)
Two buckets, some bolts with nuts and rubber washers, a steel pipe, and a little help from Buddha is all it takes to make a compost bin.
I spent about $40 on all the parts for this compost bin, not counting the 2x4 base that holds it.
I removed the rope handles from the buckets and used those holes to attach the 1/2-in. bolts.
The compost bin takes shape once the two buckets are bolted together.
I didn't have a 1/2-in. dia. drill bit to drill the hole for the center pipe, so I snipped a hole in the center of each bucket with wire cutters.
A fast-moving baby puts the near-finished compost bin into perspective.
I drilled holes in each end of the compost bin for air circulation and rested the pipe on a pair of 2x4 saw horses. A crank handle will make this complete.
The finished compost bin has a hole cut on top where the scraps go in.
I cut a flap lid on top for access to the bin. Right now it's held down with duct tape but I plan to come up with a better long-term solution.
I found an old rusty crank handle in the weeds while digging up the garden plot. It fits over the steel conduit perfectly! The compost Gods must be looking down on me.
The garden plot takes shape.
24 thoughts on “Weeknd Project: Make a Tumbler Compost Bin”
Pingback: The Weekndr Tumbling Composter « Andre Joseph Gallant
I would like to build this, but I have found some dicrepencies. So please clarify for me. The bolts in the picture look shorter than 3″ and you said to buy 8 of them, looks like you only used four where the handles were. Where should the other 4 be used? Did you use a different type of grommet for the conduit?– The others look more like rings- they don’t have a groove.
I think your idea is great, and appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions.
Thanks for your note. Here are answers to the questions you posted.
You are correct. Those aren’t 3-in. long bolts. More like 2 in. But it’s not a big deal, you’ll just end up up with more bolt extending out the other end.
I bought 8 bolts thinking I would need to drill additional holes to keep the two buckets together, but ended up only using four once I found out from a gardener friend of mine that the two buckets didn’t need to make a water-tight seal where they join. I decided not to go through the trouble of drilling the other four holes, since the first four were already drilled for the handle.
I used rubber washers where the bolts attach (no grooves. they come as a round ring or a flat ring and both will do fine). I used rubber grommets (with grooves) for the conduit. These were kind of tricky to install but they keep the conduit from spinning inside the bucket hole while you’re spinning it..
Have fun making your tumbler bin!
This would be good for those folk with limited space. You could make a small unit for use with balcony gardens.
I’d been thinking of picking up an old butter churn like this one (http://dairyantiques.com/Metal_Butter_Churns.html#Metal_Cylinder_Churn), but your idea is better.
¿no importa que la compostera no esté en contacto con el suelo?
¿no dificulta eso el intercambio microbiano o de la fauna del suelo hacia y desde la compostera?
Hablo poco Espanol… Combinar el suelo y la compostera in el Tumbler. 2 partes suelo, 1 parte compostera. No comprendo el segundo question.
Are you asking if it keeps animals out, such as mice and rats? If the holes are not too large and it is well sealed at the entrance hole it should be alright!’
Actually I have a bought composter with NO airholes and it works just fine.
great instructions, Thank you. I would like to use this on my blog.
Solana Center for Environmental Innovation
Making a Tumbler Compost Bin is really easy and by this Compost Bin Tumbler we can utilize all the wastes and rotate them to mix and add this fertilizer to the soil that improve all productivity……Click Here
Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wanted
to say that I’ve truly enjoyed surfing around your blog
posts. After all I’ll be subscribing to your feed
and I hope you write again very soon!
Pingback: 7 DIY and Homemade Compost Tumbler Ideas and Tutorials
Pingback: 7 DIY and Homemade Compost Tumbler Ideas and Tutorials | The Self-Sufficient Living
Pingback: 16 Cool DIY Compost Tumbler Designs & Tuitorials - Lemon Slide
Pingback: 13 Homemade Compost Tumblers For Your DIY Composting Project – Homesteadrr
Pingback: 13 Homemade Compost Tumblers For Your DIY Composting Project – Valerian's Realm
Pingback: 20 DIY Compost Bins – Lilies, Love, and Luna
Pingback: 20 DIY Compost Bins - Planting With Shannon
Pingback: The Return of Home Economics: Sewing, Sutchering, Woodworking, Oh My! | Weekndr by Matt Berger
Hello, Great idea, I ordered my buckets tonight and will have them in a few days.. You said that you cut a flap for access to put scraps in and it was held closed with duct tape atm. I was wondering if you came up with another method for getting the compost out without having to take the unit apart.
I was thinking about doing something like this on it for the access door.
Hi Steve: thanks for reading and for posting your comments. I never got around to upgrading my tumbler but the photo you posted would be a huge improvement and doesn’t look too difficult.
Okay so what happens when you go to rotate the pile? Wont that slot you cut where you put the scraps in be a problem? This is a very creative wonderful idea, but thats something that needs to be addressed. This is a phenomenal starting point tho! Very innovative!