How to Make a Tumble Composter


Composting is the process of converting kitchen and yard scrap into nutrient-packed biodegraded matter that enriches garden and container soil. Many homeowners are making their own compost, thus reducing household waste that ends up in landfills. A compost tumbler is a large barrel that is turned frequently with a handle, thus eliminating the need to physically turn the scrap with a pitchfork or stick so it mixes well and decomposes faster.

Step 1

Purchase a 30- to 55-gallon heavyweight plastic barrel or bin with a tight-fitting lid.

Step 2

Select a shady area in your yard or garden to place your tumble composter. Placing it too far from your kitchen will discourage you from adding scrap to it in the cold winter months, while keeping it too close may cause the odor to drift indoors. Use your judgment to select an appropriate location.

Step 3

Measure and mark the exact center of the lid and base of the barrel with masking tape. Drill a 2-inch hole over the marked spots. Drill 1/8- to 1/2-inch holes spaced 4 inches apart through out the body of the barrel, including the lid and base to allow air to enter.

Step 4

Mark a large rectangle opening on the body of the barrel through which a standard size shovel can easily enter. Use a sharp knife to make a cut carefully; making sure the barrel is supported so as to prevent the cut from extending further than the marked lines. Remove the rectangular piece and keep it aside.

Step 5

Drill holes into the rectangular piece and attach two hinges on either side. Place it into the hole in the barrel and extend the hinges over the body. Drill it into place. Attach a hasp closure on the parallel side, aligning it in the center of both the hinges. String a six-inch piece of leather cord or rope through the hasp and tie a firm knot to prevent it from opening as it tumbles.

Step 6

Place two of the 2-by-4s on the ground and position them together so they form an X-shape. Join them together by drilling galvanized wood screws at the intersection. Repeat this procedure with the other two lengths of 2-by-4.

Step 7

Measure and mark the distance on the ground. Dig holes over the marks with a shovel and insert both the X-shaped frames into them securely.

Step 8

Drill a 1-inch hole on one end of the metal pole and insert the one foot long metal rebar into it that will serve as the handle. Insert the metal pole through the base of the barrel and extend it through the lid.

Step 9

Fill your tumble composter with scrap and wet the contents to a moist consistency. Place the ends of the pole on the top part of both the X-shaped frames.

Things You'll Need

  • Large barrel
  • Measuring tape
  • Masking tape
  • Drilling machine
  • Sharp knife
  • Two hinges and hasp closure
  • Hasp hardware
  • Six-inch leather cord
  • Four 4-foot long 2-by-4s
  • Wood screws
  • 2-inch wide metal pole
  • Metal rebar


  • Composting Guide
  • Composting Information
Keywords: tumble composter, homemade compost, diy tumble composter

About this Author

Tanya Khan is a freelance author and consultant, having written hundreds of thousands of words for various online and print sources. She has an MBA in Marketing but her passion lies in giving her words wings.