How to Make a Drum Composter


You can make your own drum composter with a few building supplies and a clean plastic drum that holds at least 35 gallons. Composting is a must for any organic gardener, as well as being a beneficial way to dispose of organic waste from food and plant material. This drum composter rotates on a steel bar attached to a simple frame that requires minimum building skills to make.

Step 1

Measure the height of the plastic drum. Add 10 inches and cut five 2-inch-by-4-inch boards to this length. Cut two more 2-inch-by-4-inch boards 5 feet long.

Step 2

Place the two 5-foot boards side by side, but separated by the length of the first boards you cut. Build the frame for your drum composter by attaching three of the first five 2-inch-by-4-inch boards perpendicular to the two boards that are 5 feet long. You'll need one board connecting the 5-foot boards on each end and one in the center. Use the metal plates and decking screws to attach the boards together.

Step 3

Stand the remaining two of the first five boards you cut in the center of the 5-foot boards on your frame. These are the sides that will hold your drum composter and allow it to turn. Attach the boards to the 5-foot boards with metal plates.

Step 4

Cut four 3-feet-long 2-inch-by-4-inch boards. Angle the cuts on each of the ends 45 degrees. These are the braces for your compost frame. Attach one board to the outside edges of both standing center boards. The A-frame brace boards will run from the standing center board to the 5-foot long sides of the frame. Attach the boards with metal braces.

Step 5

Drill a 1/2-inch hole in the center of each end of your drum. Drill a 1/2-inch hole four inches from the top of the standing center boards. The hole should be in the center of the width of the board. These are the inserts for the steel rod that will hold the drum in place and allow you to turn it.

Step 6

Make the door of your compost drum by cutting a hole in the center of the side 2-1/2 feet long by 2 feet wide. Remove the cut piece of plastic.

Step 7

Attach two hinges to the plastic drum and the cut piece of plastic along one of the 2-1/2-foot sides of the cutout. Place the hinges three inches from the edge. Re-connect the cut plastic section to the drum via the hinges. Attach two barrel locks to the center of the 2-foot long sides of the cutout and the drum. Attach the handle to the center of the 2-1/2-foot side without the hinges. Attach the remaining barrel locks on either side of the handle.

Step 8

Drill aeration holes all over the plastic drum. Space the holes about three inches apart.

Step 9

Cut a 1/2-inch diameter steel rod to fit the length of your barrel from side to side, plus 16 inches. Insert the rod through one of the holes in the standing center boards, through the compost drum and through the hole in the opposite standing board.

Things You'll Need

  • 35-gallon plastic drum
  • Measuring tape
  • 2-inch-by-4-inch boards
  • Saw
  • Metal plates
  • Drill and drill bit
  • Screw driver and screws
  • 2 hinges
  • 4 barrel locks
  • 1/2-inch diameter steel rod handle


  • Building a Drum Composter

Who Can Help

  • Building a Composter
Keywords: make a drum composter, plastic drum composter, organic waste

About this Author

Katherine Kally is a freelance writer specializing in eco-friendly home-improvement projects, practical craft ideas and cost-effective decorating solutions. Kally's work has been featured on sites across the Web. She holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of South Carolina and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.