Instructables

Compost tumbler on a stand

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Picture of Compost tumbler on a stand
Create an effective and sturdy compost tumbler in 1 - 2 hours, with little out of pocket cost. These tumblers were built using materials I had lying around the house, and from items obtained through Freecycle. The only out of pocket expense was for the conduit/pipe brackets (less than $5 for the three tumblers I've made so far). Composting with these tumblers has proven to be extremely easy, and quite a bit quicker than our old "pile" method.
 
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Step 1: Get a barrel

Picture of Get a barrel
A barrel with a large, securable top is the key. We found 4 of these 50 gallon barrels through a post on Freecycle. They originally contained grains, and came from a brewery. These barrels are light enough to transport easily, but sturdy enough to take a beating. The large opening makes it easier to put organic material in the barrel, and the screw top lid easily contains everything as the composter is tumbled. A word to the wise: leaving the barrel upside down in the winter is not advised. We found one of the lids frozen shut when left in this position!

Step 2: Gather materials and tools

Picture of Gather materials and tools
tools you'll need.JPG
Materials
- the barrel
- 2 x 4 lumber: approximately 24' per barrel stand. I used scraps from a construction project
- 3/4" galvanized conduit or similar, non corroding pipe. Approximately 3' per composter
- 2 heavy duty conduit/pipe brackets to attach the conduit to the stand.
- galvanized/decking screws

Tools
- drill (an electric/corded drill works best for this job)
- 3/8" and 1" drill bits (spade bits like Speedbore are best for this job)
- saw (if you've got access to a miter saw you'll be much happier)
- phillips screwdriver
FeliciaR12 days ago

This is great. My compost barrel came with a stand such as this. However after a few years the barrel is still in great condition but the wooden stand is starting to break down from the elements. Anyone have any ideas on how to replace the stand with something that won't decay over time?

djohnson562 years ago
One way to eliminate the bee problem, without hurting the bees is to drill smaller holes... You might need more of them... But if they are smaller it will keep more insects out.
fastercat4 years ago
Thanks for the DIY how to!
I will attempt this before purchasing a compost tumbler.

Just a thought, maybe the ground beneath the tumbler could be dug out large enough for your wheelbarrow to fit underneath for loads to be emptied.
or make the stand high enough as in this version ... http://www.instructables.com/id/Compost-Tumbler-2/

never did this before - hope the URL makes it through the post : )
sindaear5 years ago
I'm curious how this composter works through the winter. I live in North Dakota and didn't think it would work to try composting outside (in the winter) because the cold would halt the decomposition. If the decomposition produces enough heat to keep it going through the winter I would be interested to hear that. Otherwise I am curious if anyone has tried any kind of artificial heating to continue the process through winter.
Try putting your outdoor compost under an exhaust vent from a gas appliance such as a water heater, furnace, or dryer.

Our house makes compost slurry by putting peelings, eggshells, coffee grounds and filters into the blender with a little water. We keep our compost bucket of slop warm by sitting it under the gas appliance exhaust vent at the side of the house. Come spring and there's a nice big container of compost sitting outside the house near the garden area!

You may want to use flexible vent hose to guide the hot gasses to a place under a barrel tumbling composter.  Good luck!
sgsidekick5 years ago
I actually have a store-bought tumbler similar to yours. Wish I'd seen yours first! But I have a question for you: mine is prone to bee nests in the summer, thus rendering it unusable unless we kill all the bees. They seem to really love those holes in the sides! Do you have any hints for that? I really like your model and will be working at getting another barrel. Thank goodness there's no welding! That keeps me from doing a number of projects. Nice work.
How about using nylon window screen and goop (the adhesive used for tennis shoe repair)? Cut the screen into little patches a little larger than the holes and stick the patches on with goop or auto trim adhesive. The screen still allows air circulation and keeps out bees and flies. If the goop can hold tennis shoe soles together it should hold these little bits of screen.
Dsleight4 years ago
made it in a few hours, will be great!
cudubh5 years ago
The only recomendation I could make, would be to add a few large nails such as 20 penny spikes through some of the side holes. That helps the compost to "tumble" rather than "slide" as you turn the barrel. Also drilling a hole through the board for the conduit might be a little stronger than the brackets. How much weight do your composters typically hold?
p0g0685 years ago
hi please excuse my spelling English its not my first language, I have read many Instructables on composting I'm very interested on this subject, i have found your instructable very clear and easy to understand these is very helpful for me because it will be my first time building some thing like these tank you very much
jeff-o5 years ago
Hmmm, there are a few small breweries in my city, I wonder if they'd give me barrels like this for free, or at low cost? I should investigate...
Go on Craiglist in your town for them get a food rated one not a chemical one. If you look you will find them for really good prices
Well I'd assume that barrels used for raw materials in making beer would be food-grade...
Sorry jeff-o I was not actually commenting on your comment alone. But for other readers as well =)
alashe105 years ago
nice work- very clear. i could benefit from rigging one of these up. i'm familiar with the "smelly soup" you mentioned...
Bobblob5 years ago
Great idea and well done Instructable. This is similar to one I made a few years ago but with no bee or worse, wasp issues. According to the info on my pictures it was made in 2002 which was well before I was aware of this place but thought to add my own small effort to the Instructable Brain Trust on this topic. The parts. I used a cheap but “lockable” 32 gallon trash container. The frame was made of 1" x 2” wood strapping ( cheap and not very sturdy but it did work), PVC pipe, a cast iron pipe flange in the bottom to hold the PVC and 3/8” dia bolts for the pivot point with washers and nuts as shown. The trash container had thin walls so I used wood on both sides of it to strengthen the pivot point. I was careful to get the location of the pivot point on both sides (distance from the top of the trash container to the pivot point) to match accurately to minimize any wobble as it was rotated . I drilled many holes in the PVC pipe as shown and also many holes close together at the bottom of the trash container where the pipe flange was mounted. In effect I made my own “screen” there at the bottom, hence no wasp or bee issues. All the aeration was accomplished through that screened hole and up the drilled PVC pipe. The ends of the PVC “T” were open as well. I used dirt as a starter and put grass, weeds and household waste in it like coffee grounds, eggshells etc. This was made at my wife's request, once she left it untended for a while and the contents were about liquidfied. It worked well, Sadly it didn't make the move with us..gave it away.
Composter.jpgComposterInside.jpgComposter&Aerator.jpgComposterPivot.jpg
jiaola5 years ago
try eBay for the barrel. i found some used olive barrels that look almost exactly like the one pictured. its a food grade barrel about 47 gallons in size
dbinvt (author) 5 years ago
Thanks!

Ah, bees.... Yeah, they can be a bit of an issue. So, too, with flies. We had a number of minor issues with this problem, and given the potential for sudden hive collapse syndrome (or whatever it's being called now) we're unwilling to harm bees in any way. We thought of hot gluing small pieces of window screening in place, but given the large number of holes it was impractical. We tried simply laying sheets of screening inside and stapling it to the sides of the barrel, with limited success.

For us, the problem sort of solved itself. The bees were attracted to fresher fruit and other sweet bits added to the pile, so if we quickly rotated the tumbler and buried the fruit, the bees went away. Or we used a different barrel until the bees moved on. I suppose some fiberglass screening could be stapled around the circumference of the barrel (on the outside), using smaller, stainless steel staples. Sounds a bit awkward, though. Anyone else have an idea?
kelseymh5 years ago
Very nicely organized instructable, and well in keeping with this year's designated "theme"! One small suggestion; you uploaded all of your photos in one step (great idea), but that means all of them are attached to the Intro (not so great). You might want to remove all the pics from the Intro except the one showing the completed project.
dbinvt (author)  kelseymh5 years ago
Thanks for the suggestion! I'll remedy this immediately.