How to Make a Compost Turner


A compost turner allows you to quickly and easily turn your compost, which speeds the composting process. Finished compost is a rich soil amendment to use in your gardens and container plants, as it adds the necessary organic matter to the soil. A compost turner consists of a drum, called the tumbler, sitting on a frame in a way that allows it to turn freely. While you can construct your own frame to hold the tumbler, wooden sawhorses are readily available from hardware stores and save you the time of creating a frame.

Step 1

Cut a 1-by-1-foot access hatch in the side of a plastic drum using a jigsaw. Attach two hinges to one side of the hatch and a latch assembly to the opposite side, using the hardware included with these parts. Set the hatch back in the hole and attach the other ends of the hinges and latch to the sides of the drum.

Step 2

Drill a 1-inch hole in the center of each end of the drum. Slide a 1-inch diameter length of PVC pipe through the hole. Use PVC pipe that is 2 feet longer than the drum so that 1 foot of PVC emerges from either end.

Step 3

Drill a 1 1/2 inch hole through the top cross bar of each sawhorse, placing them near the middle. Slide the either end of the PVC pipe through the drilled holes in the sawhorses.

Step 4

Drill a ½-inch hole through each end of the PVC pipe 1 inch away from where it emerges from the sawhorse. Insert a 1-foot length of ½ inch diameter PVC pipe through each end.

Step 5

Place ½ inch PVC endcaps on each of the ends of the ½ inch pipes. Use PVC glue to hold them on if they do not friction-fit on securely.

Step 6

Open the hatch and fill the composter with two parts dead leaves or dried grass and one part fresh grass clippings and green plant matter. Add a shovel full of finished compost or commercial compost starter. Avoid packing the composter with materials, as it won't tumbler properly when turned.

Step 7

Close the hatch and secure the latch. Turn the compost at least once a week, using the ½ inch PVC pipes as the handle to turn it with. The compost should be done in approximately two to four months.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not compost meat or dairy products as they break down slowly and often rot first.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic drum
  • 2 wooden sawhorses
  • Jigsaw
  • Drill
  • 2 hinges
  • Latch
  • PVC pipe
  • PVC endcaps
  • PVC glue
  • Yard waste
  • Compost starter


  • Texas A&M Extension: Composting Structure
Keywords: compost turner, homemade compost tumbler, soiil amendment

About this Author

Jenny Harrington is a freelance writer of more than five years' experience. Her work has appeared in "Dollar Stretcher" and various blogs. Previously, she owned her own business for four years, selling handmade items online, wholesale and via the crafts fair circuit. Her specialties are small business, crafting, decorating and gardening.