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Dual Compost Tumbler

dual compost tumblers


I was just about to lay down $170 for a compost tumbler, but after seeing them up close, I knew there had to be a better and cheaper way (for a tumbler... not just a pile 🙂 ). One of the first hits on youtube was this guy's home made tumbler. Looks nice, and offers the most interesting ventilation system which seems like it would beat all the store bought alternative. He offers up the plans for his tumbler. I'm going to have plenty of materials compost from the yard and kitchen, so I decided I wanted two tumblers, and figured I could modify these plans accordingly. I found a person on craigslist selling those exact same barrels for cheap, so I picked up 2 (plus another one for a rain collection barrel).

Making the Stand

Stratman4u's plans are comprehensive. I printed them out and went to Lowe's. Bought everything almost verbatim, but doubled or lengthened up where needed.

Cutting the 2x6s and bolting

Cut all my 2x6 lengths, and began bolting the feet and uprights together.

Modifying the plans to make a dual stand was fairly simple, and the only major change is the center upright/foot joint. I added some extra wood so that everything could be fastened together.

Center joint
This is how I laid out the center foot/uprights. Long bolts will go through those three pieces in the center, and deck screws will fasten the center braces to everything.
Completed stand
The completed, dual compost tumbler stand. A 60" threaded pipe is almost a perfect fit.

Modifying the Barrels

I found that making the stand was the easy part. I had to scrap some PVC during after some trial and error. Here are a couple tips:

  • Find the mold seam in the barrel that bisects it through the plane in which your axle will reside. Your hole will line up perfectly.
  • Go ahead and mount the closet flange. I used short, outdoor wood screws (the barrel plastic is thick... they will hold well). Insert the 3" pipe at the "half way" point in the flange, so you can go further in, or back out, to line up the axle holes you drill. Mark where you think they should be, and drill them.
  • I used a two part epoxy for any gluing.
Making the pipe

Various stages of piping the barrel.

Bug protection

I used electrical tape to hold the screen on while the epoxy dried.

Great Deal

My total cost was around $100. I'm pretty happy with the cost because I now have two tumblers, and the venting on these is so much better. For getting the compost out of the barrels, I figure I can throw a tarp underneath, and then drag it to wherever I need it, or if I need only small amounts, a 5 gallon bucket.

dual compost tumblers

My dual compost tumblers. The left one is already going.

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Comments (19) Trackbacks (2)
  1. Adding the second barrel is a great idea. Something else you might consider, get (6) 12″ square patio blocks or bricks and put them under the legs. I did this on mine and it keeps the treated wood out of the damp and dirt and hopefully it will last longer.

    You get a big thumbs up from me!!!!!

  2. Man those look awesome.

  3. Those look great. I’m going to try to make one. How easy is it to access the compost when it is ready. It looks like the compost will fall out on the supports when tipped upside down. I’m not very clever so I don’t know how to do it but if there was a way to lock the barrel horizontal, or parallel to the ground, it would be easy to shovel the compost out. Alternatively, if the barrel was higher you might be able to put a wheel barrow beneath it to receive the compost.

  4. I was planning on doing the exact same thing, doubling up on the stratman4u plans! Therefore you are at least 1 step ahead of me. Even though I have some of the barrels (pickel) you have here.. but I also have a pair of shorter/fatter/rounder red barrels I was thinking of using instead. I was thinking the shorter one would be easier to ‘roll’ the material.

  5. How do you protect the barrel´s wall, at the contact point wall/axle against erosion?

  6. Great job on your compost station.
    Now that you used it for a “whole season”, do you have any complaints about this setup? Anything you wish you have done differently? Please, let us know how it has worked so far.
    Thanks again for sharing your experience.

  7. FYI: I couldn’t subscribe to the comments on this post.

  8. They have been working really well! The tumbler that I started first is filled half way with very dark, good looking compost, and the second is just a few months behind it.

    It is unreal how much I can put into them. I have a pretty large yard, and I’ll bag the clippings for the tumblers; one mow fills a tumbler up. After a few weeks, that volume is reduced to almost nothing, and I fill it up again.

    My wife and I are also good at saving any and all kitchen scraps for the tumblers, and its amazing that I cannot find any trace of everything that we’ve put in there.

    One of the worries from doing “vertical” tumblers was how hard it would be to rotate them when they’re full (that seems to be the main concern). They are not hard at all; it’s like doing a set of pull-ups or push-ups.

    The only part I have yet to test is getting the compost out of them. I’ll try and remember to give an update when I do.

  9. Sorry for the late reply Francisco: I didn’t do anything to protect the contact points of the wall and axle. The barrel wall is pretty thick pretty, and holds well even when the tumbler is full. The axle has seen all the elements the summer has to offer, and I don’t notice any corrosion.

  10. Great ideal!!! Any updates on how recovering the compost was? Im eager to get started building this same set-up!

  11. Glad you asked! I just setup two beds (a 4×8 and a 4×12) with compost from my tumblers.

    If I only needed some touch-up compost, I would just tilt the barrel sideways and scoop some compost out with a pitchfork into a wheel-barrel.

    When I needed a whole bunch, I put a tarp underneath the barrel and just dumped the whole thing 🙂 Then I would either drag the tarp to where I needed it, or lift and dump the tarp into a wheel-barrel.

  12. Awesome, thanks!

    Well, I pretty much got the frame put together. Like you, I spent about $100 on materials. I was able to put together the frame last night minus the cross beams. I will take your advice about lining up and inserting the PVC pipe on the inside. What kind of drill bit did you use to make those holes?

    One thing i wish i had done prior to was to pre-drill the iron pipe holes on the upright before I attached them to the legs. Now i either must unbolt the legs from the uprights or hope that my measurements line up correctly on all 3 uprights thus allowing the pipe to go thru smoothly.

    Will keep you update! I must also add, this has been a fun project so for if you enjoy building things!

  13. Well she’s done and I love it!!! The wife was rather impressed too especially when i showed her the exact same commercial model and showed her how much i saved i.e. mine was less the $100 when the commercial single barrel was $220. Thanks again for the awesome ideal!

    Im not sure how you attached the screen to the flange on the bottom, but I simply placed a piece of the screen over the flange collar in the barrel and then inserted the 3″ pipe right onto it. This formed a nice tight cover on the bottom. It does however require a lil more elbow grease and force to get it on.

    Compost is cooking as we speak!

  14. Can you give any specifics on the method for making the compost-like ratios of green to brown materials etc? My mom got a double compost tumbler from Costco (for a very good deal) and they didn’t give much in the way of instructions of how much of what to mix in it. I have experience with compost piles, but this is new to me. Any tips? Thanks so much!

  15. Really like the idea. However, the original parts list isn’t available on stratmans page anymore. do you have a parts list available?
    Thanks in advance.

  16. Nice work everybody! I’m going to try making a single one for myself or our community garden soon. One addition I’m going to make is instead of a plug at the bottom to drain it I want to put a small faucet, maybe pvc, closer to the front edge near the bottom to catch the liquid as I drain it. This compost tea is very beneficial in lots of ways to your garden plants.

  17. just built a single tumbler and was looking for a double design, saw the horizontal dual version but yours is absolutely the best. Good work, im gonna follow your design.

  18. I have made and use a barrel tumbler for kitchen scraps to avoid feeding rats. It’s a nice idea but leaves a lot to be desired. Because there is no soil it doesn’t digest very well and will form a big wet mash of mess that I eventually need to bury to complete the digestion. It may be better adapted to strictly yard waste, but then I don’t need a tumbler for that.

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