Picture of Yet Another Compost Tumbler
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.

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Step 1: Mark the Axle Pivot Holes

Picture of 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.

Step 2: Drill the Pivot Holes

Picture of Drill the Pivot Holes
I used a 1" wood bit and a brace to drill the holes. It worked well. I drilled my holes an inch or so toward the top of the barrel. I did that so the barrel would sit right side up when it was empty.
The top will be a bit heavier than the bottom due to the door hinges etc. at the top.

Step 3: Cut the Top Off

Picture of Cut the Top Off
I used a sawzall to do a plunge cut and cut the top of the barrel off. I left the lip of the barrel intact.
Save the part you cut off. That's going to be a lid.

Step 4: Lid Hinge Rod

Picture of Lid Hinge Rod
The barrel top had a bit of a lip. I drilled holes for a steel hinge rod in the lip of the lid and the rim of the barrel. I though I'd need another to latch the lid shut, but I'd done a sloppy job cutting the top, and it stayed wedged closed with no additional hardware. It's also pretty easy to open. That was easy!
mukena10 days ago

Cool. I should have that tumbler.

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.

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?

phillij5 years ago
You can also buy these blue barrels with a removable lid held in place by a steel band.
Derin phillij5 years ago
I know those.They are used to hold a chemical named Ferrodor at the apartment pool here.
pxbaroni5 years ago
Great job. Fantastic step by step.
Atomman5 years ago
They say 'ibles with "Yet Another" in the title are poor... And they get very frequently?
Derin5 years ago
You could get one with a twist cap and use that.
A good name5 years ago
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.
pfred25 years ago
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
Pkranger885 years ago
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.
russ_hensel5 years ago
SinAmos6 years ago
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!