Are you thinking of making your own composting tumbler for use in your backyard?
Is this difficult to do, or is it something most people can accomplish as a DIY project?
What are some reason why you should consider doing this, anyway?
Many people enjoy building their own DIY composting products for backyard use. Some people build composting bins or piles on their own, while others go all out and make their own composting tumblers instead.
But why would anyone want to do this? It sounds difficult—do the pros really outweigh the cons of building a compost tumbler instead of buying one? Here are a few benefits of making a compost tumbler for yourself:
- It’s much more affordable to build your own compost tumbler than it is to buy a premade one.
- You can usually repurpose materials, which is good for the environment as well as for your wallet!
- The whole family can get involved in the DIY project and make it a learning experience. Teach the kids about building as well as composting while you work through this project together—just be sure to operate power tools yourself!
- If you build your own compost tumbler, you can pick the materials you prefer to work with and choose something that’s best suited to your specific needs and desires.
- Finally, making your own composting tumbler allows you to choose the size of tumbler you need without having to worry about buying something that may not work for your yard or household.
If you’re thinking of making a composting tumbler, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll give you a quick how-to guide to help you better understand how to make a tumbler that’s sure to work well for your composting needs.
Read on to learn all about how to make a compost tumbler.
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- One large, plastic barrel (55-gallon is ideal)
- Be sure to choose a barrel that is either brand new or one that didn’t contain any harmful components beforehand.
- One 3x18 piece of lumber
- 4 wheels
- 4 bricks
- Two 3-inch pin locks
- 2 hinges that are capable of pivoting
- Miter saw
- Bricks or concrete blocks
1. Use your miter saw to cut a rectangle out of the side of the barrel to allow easy access. The best way to do this is to lay the barrel on its side with some support behind it so it doesn’t roll around as you cut.
- Ideally, the rectangle should be around 20 inches long and around 18 inches tall. These measurements may vary depending on the size and type of barrel you choose, however, so adjust accordingly.
2. After this, you should have a rectangular piece of plastic that is no longer attached to the barrel. Position it so that it is at a right angle against the hole you cut, like a door that can be flipped open or closed.
3. Use your pivoting hinges to attach the door back onto the plastic barrel. Drill the hinge hardware into the barrel at the top corners of the door flap. Attach the door to the opposite sides of the hinges.
- The goal is to have a door that can flip upward to open via the hinges.
4. Close the door and position the pin locks on either of the two bottom corners of the door. These locks will allow you to secure the door closed and prevent pests from finding their way inside.
5. Drill the hardware for the pin locks into the sides of the barrel and install according to the style of lock you chose.
- The end result should be two locks on either side of the hinged door that can be slid open or closed as needed for access to the compost inside.
6. Attach the wheels to the wood board. Use the barrel to determine where these wheels need to be positioned.
- Ideally, they should be positioned a few inches from the top and bottom sides of the wood board. This will allow the barrel to sit on top of the wheels and turn easily without hitting the bottom of the board or toppling off any of the sides.
- Make sure you don’t put the wheels toward the center of the barrel, or they will knock the hardware you used on the door installation.
- Use your drill to install the wheels according to their packaging directions.
7. Drill holes into the sides of the barrel. These should be several inches apart from each other and should be large enough to allow drainage and aeration, but not so large that any of your composting materials could easily fall through.
- You can add holes to the door or skip the door, depending on your preferences.
- Aim for about ten holes per side of the barrel, give or take depending on the size.
8. Assemble the whole compost tumbler.
- Position the wood plank on top of a set of bricks or concrete blocks to give it some room to breathe and drain as needed.
- Place the empty barrel on top of the wheels and spin it to test it out. Adjust the wheel positioning as necessary.
- Add a 50/50 mixture of brown and green composting materials.
- Sprinkle on a little water and turn the compost several times to get it started.
- Lock it up and wait for it to process! (Be sure to turn it at least once a week in the meantime.)
Now that you’ve had a chance to look through the steps, it’s time to gather your materials and start building! This DIY project isn’t a very difficult one, and it should only take you a couple of hours at most to complete. It’s great for beginners, too; as long as you know how to use your power tools, you should have no trouble completing this project.
Of course, there are always issues and troubleshooting areas to look out for with this and any DIY project. When you know what to look out for before you begin, you’ll be better able to deal with problems that may arise along the way.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind that can help improve your composting tumbler experience:
- Consider using different types of hinges and locks depending on the size and type of barrel you use. This project is entirely up to you, so you can adjust the hardware as needed to meet your specific needs.
- Whatever you use to build this tumbler, pick hardware that will allow the door to secure as firmly as possible. This will prevent pests from getting into your compost.
- Consider using nuts and bolts instead of screws if you’re worried about sharp edges inside or around your compost tumbler.
- Start slow, with a 50/50 mix of brown and green materials, before adding anything that could cause composting issues.
Keep all these tips in mind as you work through the steps above and make your own composting tumbler. With the right materials and a little time and effort, you’ll have a tumbler that will work for your household’s compost for a long time to come.