A compost tumbler is the stomach of the compost digestion system. It aerates and mixes the compost so the the bacteria reach the new stuff quickly. This one is a barrel that pivots on a horizontal axle. Every time you throw in new compost, turn the thing over.
I built one because the rich food waste that was going into the Pentagon composter was causing smell and fly problems. Hopefully the tumbler will solve that.

There are several instructables showing good ways to make a tumbler. There isn't a bad way to make one. I threw this one together in about an hour.

Step 1: Mark the Axle Pivot Holes

Wrap a piece of string around the middle of the barrel.
Mark the barrel and the cut the string so it just reaches around.
Fold the string in half and mark the midpoint.
Wrap it around the barrel again and mark the other side of the barrel where the string midpoint falls.
You now have two spots marked that are directly opposite each other.
Now measure down from the edge to each spot and make sure they are centered vertically as well as circumferentially.
<p>Cool. I should have that tumbler.</p>
<p>This one is a pretty easy yet fully functional version though. Yes there are plenty of other good workable versions out there but having options involving a wider variety of materials is always a good thing.</p>
<p>I was considering buying one of these but I think this would be fun to make. How has it held up over the years? Is it worth building?</p>
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You can also buy these blue barrels with a removable lid held in place by a steel band.
I know those.They are used to hold a chemical named Ferrodor at the apartment pool here.
Great job. Fantastic step by step.
They say 'ibles with "Yet Another" in the title are poor... And they get very frequently?
You could get one with a twist cap and use that.
I don't like tumblers. You have to stop and let the stuff break down eventually, because with you moving it around so much, all the good soil that's already broken down will be soil, but with little chunks of stuff in it.
I made compost cubes once out of EMT pipe and chicken wire. They worked pretty well. Now I have a bit too much to put into containers so I sort of have my own landfill. It takes maybe two years for a really big pile of leaves to break down. I'll have to do an instructable about how I sift the mulch someday.
Tim, I have a few questions about your composter. I am interested in making one similar, but I want to make sure it will last. How well has it been holding up? I am curious if the pivot points on your axle are going to warp the holes that you cut in your barrel. Do you think it needs support around the holes? Also, I hear that some of the compost tumblers that rotate vertically just flip the material inside, instead of really turning it well. Have you had this experience? Thanks. Stu
Tim, what I love about your instructables are the other posts you've done and how you show how you are using them. That's awesome. It shows that you build stuff and use it, not just to toss it aside. Good job.
My compost doesn't tumble and it works fine. I guess moving parts makes things sexy, but a shovel, a hand in the compost guts, and ecstasy. Get dirty.:)
This seems a whole lot more simple than other compost bins, Thanks!

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Bio: Tim Anderson is the author of the "Heirloom Technology" column in Make Magazine. He is co-founder of www.zcorp.com, manufacturers of "3D Printer" output ... More »
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