Introduction: Compost Bin

Picture of Compost Bin

I've seen a few compost bin designs online and took a little from each one and came up with this.
you can take yard clipping ,leaves and kitchen scraps. any organic material will work ,just never put meat in a compost bin. when its done cooking you have nutrient rich soil that you can use for all kinds of gardening applications

Step 1: Materials

3 2x4 x 8 pressure treated
1 galvinized chain link fence post
4 3.5inch 1/4 bolts with washers and nuts
6 or 8 6" 60d nails
one 55 gal barrel (must be food grade)
4 latches
one piano hinge
one box of 10-32 3/4" nuts and bolts ( make sure they fit your hinges and latches)
paint if you want . I use barn paint from tractor supply co . its cheap and it doesn't require primer!
now I bought most of my materials but you can use what ever you have on hand also. the whole project only cost me 50 dollars so its not that expensive any way

Step 2: Assembly

Picture of Assembly

first cut 2x4s in half
take 2 2x4s measure and make a mark half way down both of them . then center them and bolt ( you can use nails but bolts work better) them together.
repeat for other side.
you should have two giant X's
it doesn't matter which way they go,so pick one side as the bottom measure up 3 inches from each foot for the bottom braces.
now attach your other 2 boards with nails or screw them together.
your frame is now done and you can start to work on the barrel.
you can cut your bottom braces a few inches longer than the barrel for a better fit but you don't have to .

Step 3: Post Hole

Picture of Post Hole

now get a hole saw to match your post and drill in the center of each end of the barrel.drill a hole and put a bolt through the end to keep it from sliding off the frame. you'll also need to trim the post to length.

Step 4: The Lid

Picture of The Lid

this is the most difficult part of the whole project take your time to cut , drill and line everything up.
I use 4 latches because the heat from the compost can warp the lid and the plastic is somewhat flexible anyway. the piano hinge adds stability also.
start by marking the door out. I used a carpenters pencils , its a little hard to mark mark on the plastic.
then drill 4 1/4" holes in the corners.
cut out door with a jig saw . i made mine big enough for my shovel the fit in just use good judgement and dont make it to big or small.
first drill and bolt the hinge to the barrels first.
now drill and bolt the lid on . drill two holes and bolt them together first just on case they don't line up. the drill bit will try to slip on the plastic so start your drill slowly.
make a handle out of what ever , a simple finger hole would work.
now drill and attach the bolt side of the latch first then slid bolt open and use it to line up bolt reciever. close each bolt when you go to install the next one so the stay lined up. take your time aand it should be ok

Step 5: Ventilation Holes

Picture of Ventilation Holes

on the opposite side of barrel from the lid mark off 4 evenly spaced 1/4 holes across the barrel.then measure 6 inches down from each hole till you all gone all the way around. just make sure it has some ventilation. this would be a minimal amount .
now randomly drill some hole for the spikes . drill a hole a little small than the spike and just nail them in. these help brake up the material when you rotate the barrel speeding up the composting.
you should use 4 to 8 spikes what ever works best . you can always pull them out.

Step 6: Add Compost!!!!

Picture of Add Compost!!!!

the only other thing you could do is paint it black . they make paint that will stick to plastic. I live in south Florida so thats really not necessary but if you live in northern climates you might need to find a good sunny spot and place it there! the advantages of this barrel composer are quite a few. its quick, cheap and effective. no bugs or rats, almost no odor. you can use it in a very small yard and not bother the neighbors.
I square foot garden ( mel is a genius ) and buying fertilizer and compost can add a lot of expense you don't need. I save a lot of money growing my own food and you would amazed how much food you can grow this way .good compost can double your harvest!


juan_chi (author)2017-11-08

I wonder how do you harvest the humus from this composter? I mean, is it possible to take the humus gradually along time?

BrettB29 (author)2017-01-16

Great idea and plans! Mine came together nicely. I made one small modification, which was to cut a 4" notch in the lip of the barrel (the right hand side in your photo) to "lock" the barrel in place against one of the supports. I'm sure once I get more compost in there it won't be spin as freely, but it was handy to have even during construction.

kwick1 made it! (author)2016-12-14

The latch didn't work out so i have since replaced it

AlexandraA2 made it! (author)2015-06-19

A very great project! My boyfriend and I spend about $50 on the supplies. I'm very excited to see how well this compost bin works. We added a bar on the top, above the barrel so when the door opens it lays on the bar. I'm happy with this project.

ThomasM28 (author)2015-05-24

ThomasM28 (author)2015-05-24

ThomasM28 (author)2015-05-24

ThomasM28 (author)2015-05-24

tpierce5 made it! (author)2015-05-13

Great write up. Spent around $50 on mine, used a 5 foot long 2" 40 PVC and it holds up. It's been going for a week and a half and doing well!

clevernonsense (author)2013-03-13

you absolutely can compost meat scraps, we've been doing it for years. just make sure it's in smaller bits and mix it with a lot of browns

Meat does of course compost beautifully, the only reason you see it not recommended everywhere is to avoid attracting vermin. It also smells worse than rotting vegetable matter.

Rotating compost bins made from plastic would be difficult for vermin to access I would think though.

DogTubs (author)2011-10-04

Great plan! I built a couple, but now wondering if it the best way to compost because it dries out so fast. Any ideas on keeping the compost moist?

abpatriot63 (author)DogTubs2015-03-20

Hey dogtubs, I like your design, can you tell me the materials used in making it. ..?

coxj2000 (author)2012-07-29

A: My mom and I are in a dispute. She is an environmental biologist, and says just piling the organic matter and spraying it with water will produce compost within a month to two months. I think that an enclosed bin with vents will work more quickly. She pitches vegtable scraps in her garden or put them in a pile with horse or rabbit leavings, and I collect them along with horse and rabbit leavings and mix them with a 1-3 nitrogen rich to organic inert matter (leaves, paper, twigs [twigs rot slowly] etc.,) then spritz every day and churn every several days. There does seem to be a hype with rotating bins. Any second opinion from others who have tried both?

B: I use an old plastic white printer box from the days printers were giant turned on its side. It had four wheels, but two broke off. This is working, but do you think I should paint it black? Not much visible light can get through. I think it is 1/8 to 3/16 inches thick, but I am not sure of its composition? I think the white is good on the inside but not out. Help, please?

ty.trammell (author)coxj20002015-02-12

Basically if you do it right you can have compost in 14 days this way.

ThomasP5 (author)2015-01-13

I made one just like that! Thanks for the great post. If you are into composting you should checkout

MichaelE6 (author)2015-01-07

It works great, made it for my mother inlaw and she loves it!

fzbw9br (author)2014-10-02

perhaps a couple pieces attached across the bottom from the back feet to the front feet, so the weight isn't borne by the bolts/nails at the middle of the X.

zBackman (author)2014-04-12

let's modify this great idea.

2x4 X let's call this the foot (where it touches the ground) and the arms (up in the air)

There is no need for the arms beyond the size to hold the post in barrel. So move the cross up near arm end of 2x4. This effectively raises the drum for easy emptying into a wheelbarrow (we have to put this compost elsewhere)

Between the two Xs there are braces.near the feet. Remove one from one side because it will be in the way of the wheelbarrow. Two braces on the backside or just move up nearer to barrel on one side.

We run a pig farm. Use their feces for a bio digester then load the spent feces into compost maker add other vegetative material and waste from concrete plant (minerals) <btw trace minerals is what makes kickass soils.

If you are in the States contact your local ag agent to get soil samples done and adjust the mineral content accordingly.

Compost is heavy, so making this easy to unload is important.

If you get a back ache. Go to.

No sweat no strain permanent back pain relief. 100% guaranteed

bean28 (author)2014-02-06

It looks great and want to make one but I have few questions. I want to know how many weeks does it take to compost kitchen waste. Also, can I remove composted wastes to make room for additional waste or do I have to wait until all waste is composted?

edx111 (author)2013-03-19

what I used to do is make a pile with alternate layers of grass and cow manure, with a little wood ashes thrown in alternative layers and a little water over the finished pile. After 3 days I turn it inside out and then repeat every 2 days after that. The finished compost is ready in 3 weeks flat

mel53 (author)2013-03-19

Great queations I would like to know the answers to them also.

welder tig (author)2013-03-19

i have built one of these for a food company for mixing dry ingredients , instead of the shaft being straight off set it one dia of the shaft , one end will be high and the other will be low . this will toss the scraps from one end to the other . or if you want a straight composter using a steel shaft weld a bar to each end , drill a hole and put a bolt thru it so the barrel will not slip on the shaft

cfishy (author)2008-07-20

where did you get the barrel? nice compact design, i like it.

ic517 (author)cfishy2008-07-21

look in craigs list. they can be hard to find. remember if you going to use compost for vegetables it must be food grade.also try feed stores or livestock sometimes they know where to find them

Agent_JC (author)ic5172008-08-15

You don't necessarily need food grade. I sell used plastic (HDPE) barrels in the Indianapolis area on Craigslist to people who use them for composting and rainwater collection. Some of them had harsh chemicals in them but when cleaned out well you can use them for these purposes. The natural cycle that takes place while composting makes short work of any chemical residue breaking it down into basic compounds.

clevernonsense (author)Agent_JC2013-03-13

yikes, NOT true. in fact, several components of plastic will break down into even more toxic chemicals.

mbtech (author)Agent_JC2010-02-14

interesting.  can you point me to the website that explains how the composting cycle breaks down the chemicals in these barrels?  I love biology and chemistry stuff.

Jaxoat (author)cfishy2009-06-18

Talk to a professional plumber, especially if in the colder climes. I have a friend who receives glycol for hat water heating systems and he had several that I acquired at no charge.

You can also try brew-yer-own beer places. They get malt concentrate in barrels.

GrowNatural (author)2013-01-10

forgive me if this has been addressed previously,
I am confused on how the barrel is secured to the pipe?
It would seem to me that the barrel rotates on the pipe,
how would one make it so the barrel and pipe are one?
therefore one can install a turn handle.

strumok (author)2013-01-08

Inspired by this design, it keeps a pretty even temp even in winter. It does leak a little, but no big deal, and it's nice to put the coffee grounds somewhere useful besides the trash. Started this one with leaves, then added other stuff, mostly egg shells, coffee, fruit and vegetables. Occasionally tea bags. It's fun!

gardenlvr (author)2012-03-05

I have been looking into making one of these myself. I am trying to decide if I want to use roller or your design? One concern is the pipe in the middle, when the barrel gets heavy will it elongate the holes? Or should I reinforce the ends with plywood bolted onto it and the hole through that and the barrel? Other wise this design is very portable :0)

rhodge-1 (author)gardenlvr2012-04-26

Add aluminum plates to the ends with the holes drilled for the pipe. after side door is cut; add a plate inside and then Pop Rivet them or use plated bolts to sandwich them with the plastic.
Use the drive gear for a bicycle pedal gear and the driven gear at the wheels; or the equivalent- Like those maybe on a small motorcycle perhaps?
Use the pedal shaft and ad a handle extension perhaps.
Change the foot pedal for a hand grip.

rhodge-1 (author)rhodge-12012-04-26

Make the hand grip with a free moving grip; not fixed to the shaft as that would be hard to turn it.

moreforles (author)2008-12-19

just wondering if 3" pvc tubing would be strong enough to use in place of the post, if say filled with the right stuff foam......? I only ask because I happen to have it on hand, along with an old wooden swing/club house for the wooden frame and a blue barrel just like the one pictured. and a second blue barrel should be available shortly, so I can make one for my father in law too... maybe his first (for practice) then mine...

JakeBlanton (author)moreforles2011-11-13

I used 2" sched-40 PVC as rollers when I was moving my 1600 lb (empty) gun safe to my new house. Usually had 4 pieces under the safe at any one point in time and the weight is distributed across the entire length of the 2" roller instead of just along 2 points like you would have in this project. Still, it seems pretty strong...

did you use the pvc? did it work?

crzyuilter (author)2011-09-11

I've been filling my bin for a couple of months now. Pretty heavy to turn, but doable. How full do I fill it? When is a good time to stop adding to it and just let it decompose so it can be emptied and started again? Thanks!

yuemei87 (author)2011-09-05

This design is working splendidly in my backyard in the tropics. Our house puppy used to always eat the food out of the compost corner but this is no longer a problem. I added a few extra venhilation/drainage holes to ours because its monsoon season now, but overall thank you for sharing!!!

One Question- How full do you usually keep it? Halfway?

crzyuilter (author)2011-07-26

We just finished our compost bin and are thrilled with the design. We did make it higher off the ground (hoping the wheelbarrow will fit under it for easy of moving of the compost). We used one of the comments about drilling all the hinge and latch holes before cutting out the door, and it worked like a dream. That was probably the easiest part of the project. I used a Sharpie marker and drew a door using a magazine (flexible, but with straight edges) as a template. Note: After marking the top, bottom and one side I slide the magazine over before marking the last side so it would be wider. We then taped the piano hinge and all the bolt fasteners on with masking tape straddling the Sharpie line. Drilled all the holes, removed the hardware and cut out our door. It was easy to attach all the pieces to the door then put it on the barrel at the piano hinge side. All lined up perfectly, tightened, and on to setting it in the garden. We will load it with compost I've been collecting in a cardboard box and see what happens. It looks great. Thanks for the great project help.

wridgeway (author)2011-06-19

i built 2 sets of the A-frames, used white pvc (2' i.d.) for the end barrels, and a piece of grey conduit (2" o.d.) to slip in between the 2 end barrels, adding a third barrel in the middle. 2 end barrels are blue, center one black.(gets somewhat hotter).I drilled some 1 1/4 holes about 2 inches from the end of each barrel and turn them with 2 pieces of 1" pipe 24" long. stick the pipe in a hole, catching the pvc and turn down, and grab the next hole with the other pipe, keep turning for a full revolution. my first batch will be done in 2 days, and i'm staggering the barrels so i'll get a batch every week. Also the 1 1'4 hole at the bottoms will drain off excess "tea" into a 5 gallon bucket-dilute 1:1 with water.

merlehanna (author)2011-05-14

Inspired by your Instructable...Thanks again!!!

STF (author)2008-08-28

Here's one I built. I had some old 4x4's lying around so I thought I would use them. The one picture is what I drew up in Inventor. I guess stacking it is endless if you have a ladder :) Instructable to come with dimensions.

STF (author)STF2008-08-28

Here are the pics:

merlehanna (author)STF2011-05-14

very nice!

SpinWard (author)2008-09-06

Here's the one I built. Great instructable! I used 2 hinges instead of one piano, I couldn't find a good one. Instead of the big spikes, I used a bunch of wood screws that we had and haven't used.

merlehanna (author)SpinWard2011-05-14

Fantastic adaptations made in your version.......

merlehanna (author)2011-05-14

Great instructable! My son and I hope to make this into a father and son project today...Thank you very much for sharing :)

miguel64 (author)2011-05-06

Does it leak or drip? I want to make and put mine on a tiled urban terrace and I wouldn't like to dirt it...
The post is great. Thanks!

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