How to Build a Compost Tumbler Screen


Compost tumblers are an effective alternative to a compost heap. Compostable materials that are chopped before composting break down quickly, but whole items added to the compost tumbler will decompose more slowly. This 24-by-30-inch compost tumbler screen can be used to separate finished compost, ready to add to your garden, from clumps of material that need more composting. You can also use it to screen garden soil and potting mixes.

Step 1

Carefully cut a 10-foot piece of 1-by-4-inch or 1-by-6-inch pine into two 24-inch and two 30-inch pieces. Make sure the cuts are straight and at right angles. Take your time with this---accurate cuts are important.

Step 2

Join the pieces to form a rectangle, using glue and 2-inch #8 screws. Place the short pieces at the ends of the rectangle, and screw through them into the ends of the long pieces. Drive the screws straight into the center of the frame ends. Wipe off any glue that oozes out of the joints after you tighten the screws.

Step 3

Cut the remaining piece of pine into two equal pieces and glue them to the small ends of the frame to act as handles. With the carpenter's square, check that the rectangle has squared corners. Adjust if necessary, then let the frame sit undisturbed until the glue has hardened, 12 to 24 hours.

Step 4

Use a wire cutter to cut the hardware cloth, if necessary, into a rectangle that fits the wood frame. It helps if you cut it so it is about 1/8-inch smaller than the frame, so that the sharp ends of the wire do not protrude. Fold wire ends under so they cannot stick out.

Step 5

Secure the wire to the frame with ½-inch staples, placing one staple about every 4 inches.

Tips and Warnings

  • Cut hardware cloth has many sharp points that can cause painful puncture wounds. Be careful.

Things You'll Need

  • 1 10-foot piece of 1-by-4-inch or 1-by-6-inch pine
  • Small wood saw
  • Waterproof wood glue
  • 12 #8 wood screws, 2 inches
  • Rag
  • Screwdriver
  • Carpenter's square
  • 2 feet 6 inches of ¼-inch mesh galvanized hardware cloth, 24 inches wide
  • Wire cutter
  • 30 wire staples, ½ inch
  • Hammer
Keywords: compost tumbler, build compost screen, screen garden soil

About this Author

Peter Garnham has been a garden writer since 1989. Garnham is a Master Gardener and a Contributing Editor for "Horticulture" magazine. He speaks at conferences on vegetable, herb, and fruit growing, soil science, grafting, propagation, seeds, and composting. Garnham runs a 42-acre community farm on Long Island, NY.