Compost Tumbler: How-to

The compost tumbler is finally complete! This project has been marred by indecision and mistakes (but then I do like to muddle through don’t I?) but it’s done at last. Had I done everything right first time (and had everything to hand) it would have only taken a couple of days!

I actually finished the bulk of the tumbler barrel in one Saturday afternoon, and the lid (once the latch had been delivered) in another.


The tumbler mechanism is where I came unstuck (as you may have read in Compost Tumbler). I initially made an A-frame type support for the scaffold pole, then decided that wasn’t good enough and opted for rolling the tumbler on ground-based wheels, but I wasn’t happy with that either.

Finally I came up with the current design. Not only does it work perfectly but it was the quickest and easiest of the attempted designs to assemble and finish (and used up the remaining parts from the scavenged cable reels, which I thought was a bonus).

As you can see I went back to the original plan of mounting the tumbler barrel on a scaffold pole, but this time instead of constructing a frame I threaded the pole through existing holes in the top half of the spare flanges and secured these in place with ground stakes.

This was a very quick design to implement. All I had to do was fashion a couple of stakes from wood I had lying around, drive them into the ground and attach the outer flanges. All that was left to do was to cut the pole down to size, and for that I’ve had to wait to borrow a hacksaw (I really should buy one soon as it’s the second time I’ve had to borrow it recently) which accounts for the delay between these two updates.

If truth be told though, while this design is functional I’ve been feeling a bit iffy about the aesthetics, wondering whether I should cut the outer flanges into triangles so that it more closely resembles the tumbler that mine is based on. At present I’m unsure of what to do, but I am sure that I’m not changing anything right now! I may do in the future, who knows.

What I used:
2x industrial cable reels
1x scaffold pole
2x gate hinges
3x metal straps (200mm)
2x post stakes (I fashioned my own)
Nuts, bolts and screws
Poly-weave lining (a cut out dumpy bag)

Approx. time taken:
Tumbler barrel: 1 day
Tumbling mechanism: 2 hours
Procrastination and revision: weeks!

How-to (slideshow)

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