Introduction: Drum Garbage Can Composter

I wanted to try making one of the many DIY drum composters posted on the site but was having a hard time finding a food-grade 55 gallon industrial barrel here in Brooklyn, so I substituted a relatively cheap garbage can.

Step 1: Assemble Materials

You're going to need a couple of 2x4's, lots of wood screws, two hinges, a padlock assembly, a 3-4 foot piece of rebar or PVC tubing, and lots of very small nuts and bolts. Oh - and a garbage can.

Now everything depends on what size garbage can you select - if you get a really big one, you'll need to cut your wood into larger pieces in order to build a big enough frame to allow your can (once it's been suspended by the rebar or PVC tubing) to swing a full 360 degrees without hitting any part of the frame. So buy your garbage can and then figure out what size wood pieces you'll need in order to build a big enough frame. I bough a 35 gallon can for $14.99 and it probably doesn't make sense to go any smaller than that.

Step 2: Build the Frame

I am no carpenter, as you can probably tell, and so I just built a basic frame using 2x4's, wood screws and metal plates to hold everything together. You'll probably need a circular saw and miter tool to cut the pieces.

Step 3: Prepare the Garbage Can

This is mostly simple with one tricky part. First, you'll need to use little metal nuts and bolts to permanently attach the lid to the can. Make sure you buy a can that has a lid that hangs over the top of the can enough so that you can drill a hole through both and attach them with a nut and bolt.

Then drill lots of holes all over the garbage can to provide aeration to the bacteria that will be composting your waste.

Finally, and this is the slightly tricky part, you'll need to cut a 'door' into the body of the garbage can into which you'll place waste and out of which you'll hopefully extract usable compost. If you're using a jigsaw, I suggest setting the bevel to 45 degrees so that the blade is tilted towards the center of the door. This will help to form a tight seal and not let compost spill out when you're spinning it around later. After you've made the cut, attach hinges to one side and some mechanism for keeping it closed on the other. I also attached some little metal plates on the top and bottom sides of the door just to keep it nice and secure.

Step 4: Hang the Can

Now cut two holes into the sides of the garbage can just large enough to allow whatever you're going to be using to suspend the can on the support structure. I used rebar but you could also use PVC tubing probably. You don't want these holes to be too big - just big enough to get your suspending beam through. Then I drilled 2 similarly sized holes into the two spots on the support structure where I wanted to suspend the garbage can.
I then passed the rebar through one end of the support, through both ends of the can, and then through the other end of the support. And voila!
Check to make sure it's sturdy and that you can swing the can a full 360 degrees without any obstructions.
Have fun composting!