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For avid gardeners in need of compost, compost tumblers are exceptional devices that anyone can build with a few tools, the right materials, and a little mechanical aptitude.

By the MOTHER EARTH NEWS editors
| March/April 1979


  • The first and simplest of MOTHER EARTH NEWS''re the same size.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

If there''s this: Compost is unequaled as a soil conditioner and enricher. The wonderful substance fertilizes, aerates, and adds valuable humus to the soil. And, best of all, it''s unfortunate that such an intimidating mystique has developed around such a basic substance. Compost is, after all, simply decayed organic matter, and all of the complicated techniques, recipes, and procedures that have been developed merely help Mother Nature do her job a little faster, and with less unpleasant odor. The fact is, you can have these advantages and simplicity too, with any one of the compost tumblers we''ve no doubt seen these composting drums advertised. They are high-quality, "" units, but the commercial models usually carry a price tag of $225 or more! That'' researchers have developed three different build-''t need a lot of fancy tools to build any one of these nifty tumblers. In fact, you can get along just fine with a handsaw, a power drill, an electric saber saw, a screwdriver, and a pair of pliers. The only thing you might want to purchase is a pop rivet tool, and you can even "" this item by merely bolting certain components together.


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These homemade revolving compost bins are not at all complex. In fact, regardless of the type you decide to build, there are only three basic parts: [1] the drum that holds the decomposing material, [2] a loading/unloading door on this drum, and [3] a stand to keep the whole shebang at a convenient level and to provide clearance for the drum to rotate. We''ll be able to tailor your equipment to fill your own composting needs.

The Drum and Skate Soilmaker

The simplest rotating drum composter design utilizes a standard 55-gallon barrel and a pair of steel roller skates. Refer to the Drum and Skate illustration when following these instructions. Start one off by scrounging or buying a dent-free and nonrusted drum, then cut an access door into one end of this barrel using a saber saw equipped with a metal-cutting blade. (Be certain to leave the 1""lip""ReadMoreDiv""ReadMoreButton""padding-bottom text-center""javascript: void(0)""javascript: ReadMore()""btn btn-primary btn-lg readMoreBtn""ReadMore""display: none;""door"" strip of thin flat stock or sheet metal to the interior side of its bottom edge (the side opposite the curved part of the hatch). Then attach two more cut-to-length strips of metal to the outside surface of the door, one at either side. To hold the door securely in place, mount a window-sash lock on its rounded edge, and fasten the "" part of the lock to the lip at the edge of the barrel.

Now you''s legs and shoulders with lag bolts. To provide a sturdy base and prevent the stand from "" attach the two 1"" cross braces to the legs as indicated.

The rest is easy: Disassemble a set of steel-wheeled roller skates—leaving four separate pairs of wheels—and then mount each pair on the upper horizontal supports so that the drum''s three clover-leaf sections, and—using the remaining half of the second barrel—fashion a covering for this hole (make sure this "" has at least a 1 1/2""cloverleaf"" X 4"" holes in the upper horizontal supports, set the barrel assembly temporarily up on milk cases or cinder blocks so that the holes in the wooden frame are aligned with the openings in the two floor flanges, and run your section of electrical conduit through the frame and the barrel assembly, forming an axle which will simultaneously support the composter and allow it to rotate. Hold the conduit axle in place with two short lengths of 3/4""chock""https://opimedia.azureedge.net/-/media/Files/MEN/Editorial/Articles/Magazine-Articles/1979/03-01/Three-Low-Cost-Compost-Tumblers/Hot-Water-Tank-Composter-pdf.pdf?la=en&hash=5375C9F08F457EF6A4E7099E9C75D0CE8D5B4581"" hole in each end (the former top and bottom) of the tank, and insert a length of 1/2"" of tubing protrudes from each of the container''re in business!

Now for the Easy Part

Once you have the rotating drum composter of your choice completed, you''s Guide to Home Composting.


Share your thoughts.
Mac
3/16/2016 11:48:48 AM

Since I am an old scrounger I was able to build a compost barrel from some stuff I had around the house. The direct expense for the barrel was $0.00. Since the barrel I used was left over from another project my indirect expense was the $10.00 or so I had paid for the barrel originally. Everything else was things I had scrounged up for free over the years. Instead of cutting the door into the end I put mine on the side reinforcing both it and the barrel with some scrap pieces of flat metal I had laying around the house. My hinges were a couple of old utility hinges I had salvaged somewhere and my "" is a couple of eye bolts I had laying around and a piece of wire. I had an old metal frame lying around that had been given to me that was just the right size so I attached some rollers I had salvaged from the 1 last update 2020/08/07 old store displays and then painted the barrel black with some leftover paint. Since I am an old scrounger I was able to build a compost barrel from some stuff I had around the house. The direct expense for the barrel was $0.00. Since the barrel I used was left over from another project my indirect expense was the $10.00 or so I had paid for the barrel originally. Everything else was things I had scrounged up for free over the years. Instead of cutting the door into the end I put mine on the side reinforcing both it and the barrel with some scrap pieces of flat metal I had laying around the house. My hinges were a couple of old utility hinges I had salvaged somewhere and my "" is a couple of eye bolts I had laying around and a piece of wire. I had an old metal frame lying around that had been given to me that was just the right size so I attached some rollers I had salvaged from old store displays and then painted the barrel black with some leftover paint.


Monica Cooper
9/7/2013 9:22:08 AM

I have been looking for a simpler way to do my compost,The mixing and turning a pile is just getting to be to much for me to deal with.This is just what i have needed for awhile. Thank You,It has brought joy back into doing my gardening or what i fondly like to call my dirt theryapy it is really starting to catch on.


Monica Cooper
9/7/2013 9:22:06 AM

I have been looking for a simpler way to do my compost,The mixing and turning a pile is the 1 last update 2020/08/07 just getting to be to much for me to deal with.This is just what i have needed for awhile. Thank You,It has brought joy back into doing my gardening or what i fondly like to call my dirt theryapy it is really starting to catch on. I have been looking for a simpler way to do my compost,The mixing and turning a pile is just getting to be to much for me to deal with.This is just what i have needed for awhile. Thank You,It has brought joy back into doing my gardening or what i fondly like to call my dirt theryapy it is really starting to catch on.


tonyo141
9/5/2013 10:01:37 AM

I made my tumbler out of an old plastic bait barrel. Instead of a frame to roll it on, I just roll it across the yard a couple of times, flip it end for end, and roll it back. The flip helps mix it a little better, I think! If I add a lot of stuff at once I just roll and flip a few more times. It doesn''m planning on building a single drum composter. My thought is to divide the inside of the drum in half using chicken wire and having an "in" door and an "out" door on either side of the chicken wire. Am I over-thinking this? The raw material would go in and as it decomposes, the organic matter would filter through the chicken wire to where the out door is located. Then I''d appreciate any thoughts on this.


CHARLES GILTNER
3/8/2012 3:15:48 AM

For what I would need making two water tank models one above the other on the two fence posts would work very well, saving space and adding a little greater capacity/steady supply. The cloverleaf design is pretty good for the barrel although contrived for added capacity. The base for that as shown looks like it would separate without an additional brace on each end to keep the legs together under load and lateral stress of turning the composter. Very good work, thanks for sharing.


Robert Heinis
3/7/2012 9:40:14 PM

David, in the image gallery http://www.motherearthnews.com/multimedia/image-gallery.aspx?id=66584&seq=1, regards Robert


DAVID MCCANNON
3/7/2012 8:50:04 PM

Where''t Normal

Soap Crafting


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