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Build a Tumbling Composter – Cheap and Easy!

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One of the most physically demanding (and time-consuming) aspects of making compost in a bin or pile is that the pile needs to be turned over regularly to allow oxygen to reach the center. Without oxygen, bacteria cannot effectively break down the compost.  

Ensuring that the pile is properly turned so that all of the compost gets the optimal amount of aeration can be tricky, especially when working with larger piles. While it can be done with a shovel or pitchfork, there are easier options out there, like barrel compost tumblers.


DIY tumbling composter | WikiHow

Tumbling composters are drums that sit in a frame raised off the ground and they can be easily turned by hand. These are simple, efficient, space-saving options for composting kitchen and yard waste into rich, soil-enhancing compost.  

You’ve probably seen tumbling composters for sale at stores, as there are many different types on the market. However, the store-bought tumblers can get very expensive. Fortunately, there are ways to construct them yourself relatively inexpensively and quickly.

Here is an example of a simple homemade compost tumbler that takes very few materials and only about an hour of time. The composter shown was built using the plans on WikiHow

This DIY tumbler has all the features of a higher-priced store-bought version: interior paddles to help break down the compost as the barrel is turned, vent holes to keep the compost aerated, and an easy-open, hinged door that serves as the access point for adding the materials and removing the finished compost.  

The drum sits on a simple wooden frame and is easy to spin on the PVC pipe that is inserted through the center of the barrel.  

If a blue barrel is used, it can be painted black to absorb more of the heat of the sun, which will aid in the composting process.


Tumbling composters are very easy to use. Simply load the barrel with yard waste and kitchen scraps, close the door, and give it a turn every couple of days.  

Within a few weeks, the waste will be turned into finished compost.

The video below shows the details of this particular composter, which was built using instructions from WikiHow. See How to Build a Tumbling Composter on WikiHow for the detailed step-by-step instructions.