How to Build a Compost Tumbler


You can make your own compost tumbler with a few building supplies and a large, clean plastic garbage can. Composting is helpful for any type of gardener as the resulting material provides nutrients that improve the soil and help your plants thrive. Composting is also a beneficial method of organic waste disposal from food and plant material. Successful composting requires that you turn, or tumble, the container periodically for better air distribution and more effective material reduction.

Step 1

Select a large-capacity commercial-grade garbage can with a snap on, locking lid. Purchase at least a 32-gallon container. Commercial-grade containers are made from thicker plastic and are more durable than residential grade containers.

Step 2

Measure the height of the container. Add 10 inches to the height and cut five 2-inch by 4-inch treated wood boards to this length. Cut two additional 2-inch by 4-inch treated-wood boards that measure 5 feet long.

Step 3

Place the two boards measuring 5 feet long side by side. Separate the boards by the length of the first treated-wood boards that you cut. Build the frame for your compost tumbler by attaching three of the first five boards perpendicular to the two 5 feet long boards. Attach one board on each end and one in the center. Attach the boards together with the metal plates and decking screws.

Step 4

Stand the remaining two boards upright in the center of the 5-foot boards on your frame. These boards will create the sides that will hold your compost container onto the frame so it will tumble. Attach the center boards to the 5-foot frame boards with metal plates and decking screws.

Step 5

Cut four 2-inch by 4-inch treated-wood boards to measure 3 feet long each. Angle the end cuts on each board 45 degrees. These boards will brace the frame for your compost tumbler. Attach one board to either side of the upright center boards on the outside edges. Attach the other ends of the boards to the 5-foot-long sections of the frame to create an A frame brace. Attach the boards with decking screws and metal braces.

Step 6

Drill aeration holes all over the plastic container and the lid. Space the holes 3 inches apart.

Step 7

Drill a 1/2-inch hole on opposite sides of the garbage container, 16 inches from the top. Drill 1/2-inch holes, 4 inches from the top of both upright center boards. Place the hole in the center of the board's width.

Step 8

Cut a 1/2-inch-diameter steel rod to fit through the width of your container where you drilled the holes, plus 16 inches. Insert the rod through the hole on one side of the upright center boards, through the garbage container, and then through the hole on the remaining upright board.

Things You'll Need

  • Large plastic garbage container
  • Measuring tape
  • 2-inch by 4-inch treated wood boards
  • Saw
  • Metal plates
  • 1/2-inch-diameter steel rod
  • Drill and drill bit
  • Screw driver and screws


  • Building a Compost Tumbler

Who Can Help

  • Building a Composter
Keywords: compost tumbler, building a compost tumbler, garbage container compost tumbler

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.