Making New Handles for 20L Buckets

Bucket with new bucket handle

When we have our Sustainable Living Weekends, everybody uses the bucket composting toilets. So we can never have too many 20L buckets. The buckets generally come from food processing businesses who are very pleased to find a second home for the buckets rather than sending them straight to landfill.

However, many of the buckets have plastic handles, and these are the first part of the bucket to break. Not a pleasant thought when the bucket is full of fresh humanure! So before each Sustainable Living Weekend, I check each bucket and put those aside whose handle is dodgy. And that was my job a couple of weeks ago. The result was quite disheartening – 29 of our 50 odd bucket supply had handles that were either broken or on their way out. I told Dan I’d have to throw all of these buckets out because we couldn’t expect anyone to change the toilet buckets over if the handles were broken. “Why not just repair the handles?” he asked. Well … just too obvious! Why didn’t I think of that?

I don’t try any new job without consulting the Internet first. And sure enough. Lots of other people have come up with solutions for replacing bucket handles. As with anything we do, we take a little bit from one person, another bit from another, and add our Hazelcombe Farm take to the mix. And here’s what we came up with …


  • 20L bucket with broken handle
  • 2 x 12mm washers
  • 19mm polypipe about 140mm long (from scraps we have lying around).
  • Heavy duty baling twine (used to tie up the big bales of hay) 1580mm long (also recycled). If you want your bucket to look much fancier, you can also buy new 12mm rope. I like buying my rope from Ropes Galore. Both quality and prices are very good.


  • Small hammer
  • Flat head screw driver
  • Sharp knife
  • Drill with 12mm bit
  • Tape measure


  1. Remove the old handle using the hammer and screw driver

    Removing the old bucket handle
    Removing the old bucket handle
  2. Drill 12mm hole through the bucket on either side where the old handle was attached.

    Drilling 12mm hole for new bucket handle
    Drilling 12mm hole for new bucket handle
  3. Join the 2 ends of the baling twine with a knot, thread the unknotted end of the baling twine through one of the 12mm washers then through one of the holes in the bucket from inside out, and pull tight.

    First hole with knotted rope ends and washer
    First hole with knotted rope ends and washer
  4. Thread the baling twine through the polypipe, and then through the second hole in the bucket, from outside in.

    Threading the baling twine through the second hole
    Threading the baling twine through the second hole
  5. Thread the baling twine through the other 12 mm washer and tie a knot right at the end of the baling twine.

    Bucket complete with new bucket handle
    Bucket complete with new bucket handle


All done. Simple, wasn’t it! And here are all the completed humanure buckets.

20L humanure buckets with new bucket handles
20L humanure buckets with new bucket handles

We use 20L buckets for so many things around the farm. The photos of making the new handle are actually taken of a small wicking bed we made which is home to our French tarragon – just coming up as Spring approaches.

Bulk food storage buckets
Bulk food storage buckets

We buy a lot of food in bulk and store it in a combination of 5L, 10L, 15L and 20L buckets. When a food bucket gets a bit old then it becomes a wicking bed bucket or a humanure bucket.

2 thoughts on “Making New Handles for 20L Buckets

  1. Hi there,
    Your bucket composting toilets concept fascinates me and I would like to know about your process and what you do with the human waste.
    Growing up we used a “bucket dunny” but the waste was just deposited in the bushland over the road from our home.


    1. Hi Tom,
      We have 2 big bays (1 m wide, 1.2 m deep and 1.2m high) where we empty the buckets – and cover with more sawdust, which we get from a local door and window manufacturer. We use 1 bay at a time until it is too high to comfortably empty the buckets. Then we start on the other bay. At the latest when we need the first bay again, we use the compost (because by this time it is beautiful rich dark compost) on trees. It is actually safe enough to use on vegetable gardens, but we err on the side of caution and build hot composts for those gardens. This Spring we have been establishing a syntropic forest, planting a huge selection of trees (fruit and nut trees, deciduous trees from around the world, eucalypts and acacias) as both seeds and seedlings, and they have all gone into rows we first ripped with the tractor then ran over with a rotary hoe then added our humanure compost and finally a thick layer of woodchip. The trees are growing beautifully. Mind you, the season is the best season I’ve ever known!

Leave a Reply