Build a Tumbling Composter for $25 or Less!

Introduction: Build a Tumbling Composter for $25 or Less!

About: Hello. I am the host of the pod cast, The Pond Plant Girl I am here, because I have tons of ideas about how to better grow your garden with simple inexpensive tools, such as my latest - a 5 x 10 ...

Instructions and Video! This is something I've wanted to do for a long time! I came up with an easy way to put it together and you can do it too!


1.  24" long rebar, 4 pieces

2.  28" long rebar, 1 piece

3.  5' long 1" PSI 40 PVC Pipe, 4 piece

4.  28" long 1/2" PSI 40 PVC Pipe, 1 piece

5.  1" elbow fittings with 1/2 inch thread, 2 pieces

6.  1/2 " threaded fitting, 2 pieces

7.  32 Gallon size black plastic garbage can

8.    Hammer

9.    PVC pipe cement

10.  Yard Stick

11.  Swim Noodle or Rubber Inner Tube

12.  Industrial Glue

13.   Razor Blade or sharp knife

14.   Pipe Cutter

Step 2: Preparing the Can

The can used was a black plastic 32 gallon trash can purchased from K-Mart for $11.98.  A swim noodle was glued inside near the top as a gasket to help prevent leakage when the ran is rotated.  This is a was an item I had around the house and a temporary fix.  A better choice would be an old rubber bicycle tire.

A half inch hole was easy to drill on opposite sides of the can with a razor blade and made a nice tight fit to slide the crossbar through.  The crossbar should be about 1 yard long, 1/2 inch (40 PSI) PVC pipe.  The picture below shows rebar and no PVC pipe.  I decided the plastic pipe was better to prevent rusting.  For added support, slide a long thin piece of rebar inside the 1/2 inch PVC pipe.

Step 3: Putting It Together

This was unbelievably easy! The connection between the crossbar and the legs was made with two 90° angle 1 inch elbow PVC joints with a 1/2 inch threaded inlet.  A 1/2 adapter was screwed into the threaded inlet to attach the crossbar. But before I glued everything in place, I had to make sure the legs were level and even.

Setting the Legs

The tricky part was setting the legs and it took me a couple tries before they looked right. When you snap the 1 inch diameter legs into the PVC elbow joint, they will be at the correct angle for your frame.  However, you will need to pound in rebar stakes to keep the frame stable and in place.  Use the angle of the legs as your guide to pounding in the rebar at the same angle.  It's okay if you are off just a little.  Use a yard stick to help guide you in the spacing of the legs on each side.  The legs are precut 5 feet long, however you only really need about 4 feet in length. 5 feet will work just fine, but if you want it shorter and do not have a pipe cutter, ask your local hardware store (such as Lowes or Home Depot) to cut it for you. 

Step 4: Glue the Joints and Finish!

There is no need to glue in the 1 inch pipe to the joint, but you will need to glue the crossbar into the joint adapter. This will keep it from popping off!  The best glue to use is PVC pipe cement.

All you need now is grass clippings and veggie cuttings to fill the can and strap a bungee chord over the lid for extra support and you are ready!  Only fill the tumbler about 1/2 way.  Tumble your new garden composter a couple times per day.  In the hot summer months your compost should digest fairly quickly!

Your comments and questions are always welcome! 


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    2 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Excellent Instructable!! I've copied 2 today. This one for the compost and another for the 5X5 greenhouse. From Internet I've read similar things, but they always drill ventilation holes in the barrel. How do you keep the lid on?


    10 years ago on Introduction

    have you tried to see how heavy a load you can put in without the top popping off? i'm going to try this one this afternoon