Welcome to the instructions and knowledge of how to build a barrel raft to live, float and have fun on. We have researched other barrel barge designs, rafts and docks before we started. Our raft is built and designed with the intent of living and floating for roughly 90 days.
“When in doubt, build it stout” ~Milan.
The overall dimensions come out to be just over 21′ x 10′, with a pontoon-style polyurethane barrel configuration.
Instructions on how to gather the appropriate barrels and seal them.
Search Craigslist for the nearest person offing barrels at a cheap rate. We found these from a greenhouse for $5 a barrel.
Before purchasing, make sure you have all the necessary caps with proper threads. On these barrels, one cap had thick threads and the other had thin threading. If possible, acquire dry ice, drop a small amount into each barrel prior to closing; this helps the keep the barrel shape when placed in cold water. Plumbers glue is used on all the threads, then silicone over the entire bung to seal them permanently.
Instructions on how to frame a homemade barrel raft
2- 10″ Carriage bolts through corners of exterior frame (2×8’s)
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We decided to build our raft in 2 sections instead of special ordering 24′ long boards. You can see in the picture below that we spaced out the support braces (2×6’s) to compartmentalize each barrel individually.
Notched out each brace for extra stability
And if that wasn’t enough, we added a carriage bolt through each one. LOVE these things!
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To connect the two halves of the frame, we lined them both up and ratcheted them together to get them nice and tight. Then screwed in a bunch of metal braces and even screwed in some of our scrap wood to make sure this puppy wasn’t coming apart
Ready for the deck!
Instructions on how to deck the surface of a homemade barrel raft.
Items Needed Quantity 2″x6″x12′ Pine Deck Boards 44 3 1/2″ Exterior Deck Screws 10 lbs (2 boxes) 1/8″ Drill Bit 1 Heavy Duty Drill 1 Hammer 1 Circular Saw 1
For surfacing the raft, 2″x6″x12′ pine deck boards were used. To cover the 21’x10′ frame, 44 deck boards were needed.
Laying the boards vertically, from either end the 12 foot boards end on a decking support. When staggering every other, a full 12′ and roughly 9′ deck boards is needed per column.Space each board with a two 16D nails, this width will allow for expansion when wet and water to wash out.
Read more: Offshore life raft
Decking boards are never fully straight, they must be pushed (board) or pulled (nail). To accurately place the next column, measure from the starting side across your new laid sections, check for even measurements all the way down.The wood tends to split when securing the ends, drill 1/8″ pilot holes before screwing to prevent this. Drill pilot holes on an angle if necessary.
Measure and drill 1/8″ pilots if needed to screw through any frame bracing brackets.
Use a circular saw to remove the extra decking.
Step back and appreciate your new rafting or docking surface.