Introduction: Barrel Boat

Picture of Barrel Boat

My first boat I ever built. Best for kids Originaly built in 2010 by my brother and I to explore the small pond at the end of the street.Total construction takes arond 1 hour with very little skill needed.Very simple construction requiring basic tools and materials to build. Can be built for free or little cost.
Note: Build and operate at own risk. I am not responsible for any harm or injury caused by building or operating boat.Life jacket recommended.

(2) 2x2x4 feet
(2) 4 foot landscaping timbers
(2) 2x4x4 feet
Duct Tape
3" Screws
55 Gallon Plastic Barrel
Counterweight ex. barbell weight

Drill & Drill Bits
Jigsaw & wood/plastic blades
Measuring Tape
Saw to cut wood

Step 1: Seal and Cut the Barrel

Picture of Seal and Cut the Barrel

First, if your barrel has caps on the top and have holes in them like my barrel you need to seal them. Caulk the cap where the hole is.
Next cut the barrel. I don't have any actual pictures but do have a Google SketchUp Model. Trace in the bottom of the barrel like shown a opening based on your size. Cut the hole big enough to get in and out of but not farther than half the length of the barrel. Drill a hole in the middle of your traced opening for the jigsaw to start cutting. Than with the jigsaw cut out the traced opening. If you have rough edges sand them smooth with sandpaper.

Step 2: Build the Frame

Picture of Build the Frame

Lay the landscaping timber parrallel to each other. Lay the 2x4s across at the ends like shown to form a 4'x4' square. Screw with 2 to 3 screws at each corner.

Step 3: Barrel Mount

Picture of Barrel Mount

Next lay the 2x2s on top of the 2x4s ach 1 foot from the end of the 2x4s. Screw on with 2 screws.

Step 4: Attach Barrel to Frame

You may need another person to do this. Lay the barrel in between the 2x2s. Make sure it is centered. Then duct tape around the barrel and 2x2s going around 2-3 times. Do this at front, middle and rear of barrel.

Step 5: Finished Product

Picture of Finished Product

Now your finished. Put your counterweight in your boat to balance it fore and aft. Make sure your seals are good and enjoy the water. Eventually a seat was added to compensate for height.


Thinkenstein (author)2012-09-18

Huckleberry Finn would have loved it!

djo4 (author)2015-08-04

What do you do if the barrel is missing the top

Wazzupdoc (author)djo42016-01-06

Don't go into the water.

JoshuaP14 (author)2015-10-08

most ingenious thing I have ever seen!

Dinoman217 (author)2015-06-28

This is Awesome! I maybe a grown man, but I might just have to try my hand at this! I can add an RC Transmitter, some motors, and a mini wireless cam, and I could build a surface ROV!

Songs-of-War (author)2015-05-17


milesnorth (author)2015-02-27

Duct tape rules again!

British Badger (author)2014-07-25

looks great fun

anasdad (author)2013-07-02

Nice Instructable! Just remember the life jacket!!!


javajunkie1976 (author)2013-06-23

I know where you got the idea for this. The 1918 Boy Mechanic Volume 2 book. Construction is identical. Still a good idea.

I wasn't aware that it was in a book

milkdud55 (author)2013-04-09

It ok if i make a modded version of this i will include your info

windtalkerdan (author)2012-12-02

I have made similar boats in the past, a lot of fun. But I would like to suggest a modification I have used that decreases the weight and increases the buoyancy. I have used PVC tubing all around and on the out side edge I stepped up the diameter of the PVC to 4" to act as pontoons. It really worked well. After all the glue is set and it is attached to frame it is very reliable.

kdf.inc1969 (author)2012-09-25

just to make sure i got the pounds right... if i multiply the kg (200) by 2.2 that will give me the pounds which would be 440 pounds if im right? and it also crossed my mind that it might be possible to use a weedeater shaft attached to the drill use with the propeller as long as you could work it all in together.

Elac. (author)kdf.inc19692012-09-26

Yup 440lbs.
The weedeater shaft would have to be solid, because the flexible shafts wouldn't handle the torque needed to turn the water and the resistance of the water against the prop. I believe to much stress of resistance would be placed on the motor.
Also with a solid shaft it would have to stay as short as needed, or to much torque will be lost in the length.
Another good idea though. ;)

kdf.inc1969 (author)Elac.2012-09-27

i didnt think about the torgue. thanks for the heads up

kdf.inc1969 (author)2012-09-23

i wonder if you could use a cordless drill with a small rod with propeller attached to the back if it would give it momentum? oh and can somebody give the weight capacity in pounds? i dont understand kg. :) ( usa ) .

Elac. (author)kdf.inc19692012-09-24

multiply the kilograms by 2.2 and that's the pounds.
If you could find a high torque cordless drill, like ones used for mixing mortar, that would be an awesome portable prop. Good idea kdf.inc1969 :)

Elac. (author)2012-09-18

This is a really coo ideal.

To add buoyancy and balance, replace the landscaping timbers with 2x4x4s and attach 3x 3 litter bottles under each of the replacement 2x4x4s. They will act as pontoons.
Also you could add a hand controlled rudder to the back cross arm if you turn this into a sail boat.

Happy sailing :)

Elac. (author)Elac.2012-09-18

*Actually you should make the pontoons or side arms a bit longer than the vessel so it doesn't have a tendency to tip forward or back. ;)

cindians15 (author)Elac.2012-09-18

When we built these boats we built two one for my brother ( the writer of this instructable) and one for myself I modified mine by adding larger landscaping timbers and much later i drilled a hole in the bow end of the boat big enough for a mast this idea was a failure only because of the barrels size and weight were not able to be pulled by the force of the wind as quickly as one might think

javajunkie1976 (author)2012-09-17

It would also be interesting to attach another barrel, either in front or back, and turn it into a space for cargo or another passenger! Oh, so many ways to go with this!!!

javajunkie1976 (author)2012-09-17

I would be interesting to attach a small sail to it for added power. Maybe even a small electric trolling motor...

AussieAnglerGal (author)2012-09-16

so cool!
how much weight would you say this boat can support?

The barrel and the wood provide plenty of flotation for any size person who can fit in the barrel. However I am not sure of the exact weight capacity.

haha ok..i may just make this :) it would be perfect for our river

Just a rough guess, but I would say about 200 kg. In order to push the barrel under the water (or to he point where water would flow into the hole) it would have to displace the same amount of water that it would hold, which is about 200 litres (200 kg). Someone will probably post a formula to calculate this and prove me wrong though.

well i could guess that its around about there and considering i weigh less then a quarter of 200kg then it should be fine :)
PS i'm glad an aussie replied with kg..i can't understand pounds! hehe

profpat (author)2012-09-17

nice one! very simple!

Misac-kun (author)2012-09-17

Do a barrel roll

l8nite (author)2012-09-16

that looks like a lot of fun !

thematthatter (author)2012-09-16

regular styrofoam can be added to the wood to make it float better without having to add a bunch of weight.

rimar2000 (author)thematthatter2012-09-16

... or PET bottles.

The project is very good.

gmckee1399 (author)rimar20002012-09-16


cindians15 (author)2012-09-16

This is a great project I had one similar to it myself however you have to be fairly lightweight or have large amounts of boyancy to support a person of heavier weight

Kiteman (author)2012-09-16

Scrap-build boats are awesome!

Also, since this is your first published project, have you seenthis group? You could get free stuff, just because you've posted your first project.

gmckee1399 (author)Kiteman2012-09-16

Thanks for the group suggestion. I haven't seen it before.

Kiteman (author)gmckee13992012-09-16

... which is why I mentioned it.

(Spread the word, tell your friends to join an post their own projects!)

Henge (author)2012-09-16

I love this idea (and the drill, I have same one).

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