Here's how to build a tumbler compost bin with hardware store parts. It cost just a fraction of the price of store-bought one.
We started composting at the Weekendr house a few weeks ago. This year our yard will feature a sizable vegetable garden and common sense dictates that we recycle the organic scraps from the kitchen to make our own compost.
It’s a stinky endeavor, but we’re told by our gardener friends that it will pay off in spades. Everything from banana peels to kiwi skins to egg shells get put to good use.
After a few weeks of collecting kitchen waste in a mixing bowl on the back deck, it was apparent that we needed an industrial-strength compost bin to hold the rotting organic matter. I browsed the garden catalogs but prices for commercial compost bins are steep. You can expect to pay $250 and up for a good plastic tumbler compost bin.
I decided to save a buck and make my own with a trip to the hardware store. Here’s how I did it for under $50:
20-Gallon Buckets (2)
Stainless Steel bolts, 3 in. long, 1/2 in. dia. (8)
Stainless Steel nuts, 1/2 in. dia. (8)
Rubber grommets, 1/2 in. dia. (16)
Metal Conduit, 4 ft. long, 1/2 dia.
2×4 Saw Horses (2)
Two buckets, some bolts with nuts and rubber washers, a steel pipe, and a little help from Buddha is all it takes to make a compost bin.
I spent about $40 on all the parts for this compost bin, not counting the 2x4 base that holds it.
I removed the rope handles from the buckets and used those holes to attach the 1/2-in. bolts.
The compost bin takes shape once the two buckets are bolted together.
I didn't have a 1/2-in. dia. drill bit to drill the hole for the center pipe, so I snipped a hole in the center of each bucket with wire cutters.
A fast-moving baby puts the near-finished compost bin into perspective.
I drilled holes in each end of the compost bin for air circulation and rested the pipe on a pair of 2x4 saw horses. A crank handle will make this complete.
The finished compost bin has a hole cut on top where the scraps go in.
I cut a flap lid on top for access to the bin. Right now it's held down with duct tape but I plan to come up with a better long-term solution.
I found an old rusty crank handle in the weeds while digging up the garden plot. It fits over the steel conduit perfectly! The compost Gods must be looking down on me.