How to Build a Tumbler Compost Bin


Building your own compost tumbler will not only save you money but is also an environmentally responsible decision. Recycling a large plastic drum or large trash can as the tumbler will save you even more. Many gardeners chose a tumbling compost bin over a stationary one for various reasons, including the ease of moving it to different parts of your property and the ease of mixing the ingredients by simply spinning it. Tumbling composters are virtually pestproof.

Building Your Composter

Step 1

Find a large trash can with a lid or a 20-to-55-gallon food-grade plastic drum. Many local restaurants may have drums they will give away or sell for a small price.

Step 2

Drill holes evenly around the circumference of your bin. Use a bit such as 3/8-inch that will allow for room for bugs and air to enter while not spilling the contents out. Make plenty of holes for the right drainage and air flow.

Step 3

Secure your bin's lid into place with bungee cords for easy access to fill and remove, if needed. Hook the cords' hooks through one of your drilled holes, stretch over the lid and secure on the other side. If your bin's lid fits tightly, such as with the drum, this step may not be applicable.

Step 4

Nail two sets of two-by-fours into an X-frame with two more two-by-fours connecting them to create a frame to hold your tumbler, if desired. Use heavy dowel rods or metal pipe to hold the bin on the frame by drilling a larger hold through the top and bottom and threading it on. Add a handle to turn, if desired.

Step 5

Tumble every few days to allow for even mixing.

Tips and Warnings

  • Drill your holes around the whole bin and use plenty of them. Not enough holes will make your compost too wet, which can cause rot and mold.

Things You'll Need

  • Large trash can with lid or 20-to-50-gallon food-grade drum
  • Drill
  • Bungee cords
  • Wooden two-by-fours or PVC pipe to create frame (optional)


  • How to Build a Compost Bin
  • Introduction to Composting

Who Can Help

  • Different Compost Bin Options to Build
Keywords: compost bin, compact composting, urban composting

About this Author

Bobbi Keffer attended Kent State University to study education but soon found her true love to be in the garden. She prides herself on her frugal skills reusing, recycling and reinventing her whimsical style in her home and garden.