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This is a floating dock that's easy to make and works beautifully.
Here is quick parts list of everything I used:

4 - 2x8" pressure treated lumber. 8 feet long.
7 - 2x4" pressure treated lumber. 8 feet long.
17 - 1x6" pressure treated lumber. 8 feet long.
4 - 4x4" pressure treated posts. 8 inches long.
4 - 55gallon plastic Barrels
100ft of Rope
16 - Screw in Eye Hooks
10 to 20 - L shape braces
Galvanized screws and Nails
Drill/Screw Driver
Hammer
Silicone Caulking

UPDATE
Here are the parts for the ramp/walkway I added (Step 7)

1- 55gallon plastic Barrel
2 - 2x8" pressure treated lumber. 12 feet long.
2 - 2x8" pressure treated lumber. 3 feet long.
2 - 2x4" pressure treated lumber. 12 feet long.
3 - 2x4" pressure treated lumber. 33 inches long.
4 - Screw in Eye Hooks
6 - L shaped corner braces
1" steel pipe...length depends on water depth.
Rope...screws...hammer.......

Step 1: Build the Frame

So once you have your parts head out to the body of water you want to place the dock in. Get as close as you can as your final product will be quite heavy and you don't want to have to move it too far.

Luckily I had a relatively flat area near the lake I was placing mine and I could keep things pretty level.

Lay your 2x8 boards out in a square and screw them together. Make sure and keep two sides of the square on the inside of the square effectively making an 8'x8'4" square. I used the pieces of 4x4" posts in the corners as a right angle. I didn't screw these in yet incase I needed to make adjustments.

At this point you can also ready your barrels. Make sure the plugs are tightened and then apply a layer of silicone caulking over the plug to ensure a good seal and prevent leaking. I did not fill the barrels with any sort of ballast but some people suggest doing so for stability. But my final product was quite stable so no worries.

<p>We built this using the published plan but increased the size to 12X12. Used 8 barrels for stability. Used 2X8's with 2X6 interior stringers for strength. The 2X4's are then angled to better fit the barrels and also fit within the 2X8's with little overhang. The L brackets had to be bent to also secure to the 2X6's. I did not build the ramp as it will be tethered to my new dock when not moved to the middle. With the 8 barrels, two of us can walk around on it with very little movement. I still need to trim the deck boards, add the ladder and cleats and anchor but I'm calling it a success.</p>
<p>Looks great! How well do the barrels withstand winter and the lake freezing around it? Will they start to crack after several harsh winters in the lake?</p>
Will I have to cut the two top supports to fit them in the frame?
<p>I<em> used barrels as both flotation and as rollers to move the dock. If I had to build this again, I would place the barrels so that they would extend outward from the side to provide more stability. There are aluminum brackets which capture the ends of the barrel and has rollers which the barrel to roll. My barrels also flattened once they hit the cold water. I had sealed them on avery hot day without considering the physics of air cooling and contracting. </em></p>
<p>Awesome idea - where did you get the brackets? You should do an instructable for this one!</p>
<p>amphi-dock.com</p><p>My brackets are available in Oregon. Enough for 6 barrels.</p>
<p>Thanks for the link, totally appreciate it. This is the dock for us!</p>
<p>Sent you a private e-mail re this idea. Mcjanet @mail.com or at friends's gilmorerf@mcsnet.ca</p>
<p>COPY OF MSG ALSO SENT VIA E-MAIL BECAUSE I AM VERY KEEN TO SEE HOW YOU BUILT THIS:::</p><p>Genius</p><p>We want a floating dock but need to pull it out of the water each fall because of ice where<br> we live. Yours is the first one I have ever seen that is self rolling -<br> We are seniors and need something like this so we can pull it out with a<br> vehicle of some sort. Please, let me know how to build this as soon as<br> you can. Currently our pier is all over the place because it floated <br>off its stands [water in lake rose] so yours would simply go up and down<br> with the water level, Again, genius</p><p>My e-mail is Mcjanet@mail.com or you can send this to a friend at gilmorerf@mcsnet.ca</p>
Our barrels collapsed any ideas why?
<p>never heard of that - see above re wt allowance for each barrel - check to see if you got good sturdy barrels</p>
<p>never heard of that - see above re wt allowance for each barrel - check to see if you got good sturdy barrels</p>
<p>This is a great design, thank you! How did you drive the poles into the ground? Did you have to dig them out, and did you use concrete? </p><p>Thanks! </p>
We have a cottage on the Alleghany River in Pa. 50+/- years ago (I'm 59 so i was a kid!) Our grandfather built our families a floating swimming raft using 4 or 6 55 gallon steel/metal drums that were readily availble then...at least for him!!<br><br>With the river having a current, he attached a cement block on a chain that became an anchor. The water (and sometimes riders on the raft) helped us lift the anchor and walk further out from the edge of the river, into deeper water, or carrying it back upstream if our jumping or diving or more likely the current dragged the anchor downstream and not in front of his and our side-by-side cottages. He also placed handles at the sides of the deck so we could help pull it upstream. We'd put the anchor up on the deck and just use the handles if there were as usual 4 or so kids to pull it along.<br><br>To add to your design: <br><br>1) we only used this swimming deck for swimming and not a dock.<br>2) he purposely placed the barrels in the direction to allow the dock to rock from side to side to help swimmers in the water to jump back up on the deck. If it didn't rock, it would be harder to climb on. Its much easier to hop on if it tips toward you.<br>3) the heavy steel drums floated lower in the water so it was easier to climb up on the deck.<br>4) We made another dock years later for my kids as the old one floated away when heavy rains made the river higher and lifted the cement block up. As it wasn't resting on the bottom of the river, it just floated downstream when we weren't there. A fix may have been a longer chain. The plastic drums we used made it harder for our kids to jump on since it didn't rock down to climb on. We had to add a ladder to the front so they could get back on by climbing up the ladder.<br>5) he stapled an old piece of carpet to cover the deck and the sides so we didn't scrape or get splinters in our arms or bellies when pulling ourselves up on deck to dive or jump off again.. <br>6) at the end of summer, our parents...mabe 6 or 8 men...carried it up away from the river. As winter snow melts would raise the water level, we were unable to leave it out in the river or at the edge, so it was lugged up and stored out of water until the following year.<br><br>So if a person reading your excellent instructions for building this deck is &quot;messed up&quot; and is too unstable to walk on...keep the mistake for swimmers and build another one with the barrels turned in a different direction! And I'd also recommend using clean, and sealed heavier steel drums for a swimming deck! This is one of my most favorite things in my early pre-teen and teenage years growing up on the Allegheny River!
Our barrels collapsed any ideas why?
<p>Dave, You probably sealed your barrels on a hot day and the air cooled when it hit the water and contracted the barrels. I would think that if you floated the barrels for a couple of hours prior to sealing them and launching that this would not happen. </p>
<p>Great Design. I old school rolled it into the water with logs.</p>
<p>Good Day! May I ask you something? What is the maximum load that a single 55-gallon plastic barrel could carry? I just need to know for my research purposes. Thanks :D</p>
Just over 500 lbs. Provided this is fully submerged...
I got our blue plastic 45 gallon barrels from Rust Check. $15 each. We put hooks in the raft to attach to the end of the dock so we could easily disconnect it to bring it out deeper for jumping off when we were at camp. We also added a few gallons of water to each barrel so it was more stable in the water ! Our raft is 10x10 ft. We also added solar water proof lights to it so it was more visible in the water at night !
How many barrels did you use for your 10x10 raft?
<p>I like the Idea but any chance of getting a photo posted of the posts you used for stabilizing the dock, I just wanted to see how the posts looked after.</p>
I'm wondering if there would be a way to rig up something so that the floating dock is primarily kept at the end of another pier in a semi permanent position - maybe even connected to some non moveable posts but then when we wanted to move it out to deeper water on weekends we could easily move it. Any thoughts?
I put a few poles on the far end through some mounts that I sunk down when it was to stay in place. Then I would just pull them out when I floated it out. I went though a few different poles though trying to find a good strong one that wouldn't bend with a good wind.
I'm thinking of building one for a large pond, to swim to/from, without the ramp. One thing I haven't seen anyone mention in the comments is weather. Can the dock survive winters, where the water freezes? I assume you'd need to pull it out of the water for winter. Can it be left outside, or will the barrels crack? Any tips on wintering?
<p>Here are seven reasons why 55 gallon drums make better dock<br>floats: </p><p>1. <strong>Drums are more Rugged </strong>&ndash; The walls of a typical 55<br>gallon drum are twice as thick as the walls of standard rectangular dock float.<br>A 55 gallon drum can be beat with a sledge hammer without damage. Do NOT try<br>this on a rectangular dock float. </p><p></p><p>2. <strong>Drums don&rsquo;t require Foam Filling </strong>&ndash; Rectangular dock<br>floats are typically foam filled to keep the walls of the float from<br>collapsing. This increases the weight of the float and If the float ever gets<br>punctured, the foam inside can become water logged with no way to dry it out.<br>Drums, on the other hand, have a shape that makes them strong without requiring<br>foam filling. If, somehow, they ever get punctured, the water can be easily<br>drained and the hole welded up, returning the float to 100% capacity. </p><p></p><p>3. <strong>Drums won&rsquo;t crush in the Ice </strong>&ndash; The round shape of a<br>drum keep the ice from grabbing hold of it. As the lake freezes, the drums get<br>pushed up on top of the ice. When the ice thaws and shifts, the drums and the<br>dock are not damaged. Rectangular floats will easily crush in the ice. </p><p></p><p>4. <strong>Drums slide easily across the Ground </strong>&ndash; The round<br>shape and ruggedness of drums allow a dock to be easily dragged over sand,<br>gravel, even small rocks. Hook your dock up to your truck and drag it up on<br>shore. </p><p></p><p>5. <strong>Drums sit the dock higher above the Water </strong>&ndash; A<br>typical dock floating on 55 gallon drums will sit about 20&rdquo; above the water<br>where as a dock on rectangular floats will sit only 10-16&rdquo; depending on the<br>design. A higher floating dock more in line with pontoon boats and ski boats. </p><p></p><p>6. <strong>Drums are much less Expensive </strong>&ndash; Brand new<br>rectangular dock floats can cost anywhere from $110-140 not including shipping.<br>A brand new 55 gallon drum is only about $50 and used drums are almost always<br>available in the $5-15 range. </p><p></p><p>7. <strong>Drums are already Everywhere </strong>&ndash; Shipping a single<br>rectangular dock float can cost $30-45. But used drums are already available in<br>just about every community. Just search for &ldquo;55 gallon drums&rdquo; or &ldquo;55 gallon<br>barrels&rdquo; on Craig&rsquo;s List. Locally available drums dramatically reduce shipping<br>costs. </p><p></p>
I just completed my raft yesterday &amp; floated it on our pond. Thanks for the simple plan! I added a second layer of 2x8's to the skirt to hide the barrels. We love it!
Our barrels collapsed any ideas why? Thanks
Our plastic barrels collapsed is there a way to fix this and prevent it?
<p>Is the ramp a little wobbly with only the one row of barrels in the center of it? I plan on making it for a boat dock so will make it 4' x 16' with the same basic design concept (thanks very much by the way) and anchor it with cement blocks and chains to the shore bottom, do you think the height is okay without filling the barrels with water for an 18 foot jet boat, or should I perhaps use 6 barrels (2 side by side across on each end and the center)?</p>
We used 9 barrels for our 10 x 10 ft raft.
The ramp was wobbly for sure, I would think just turning the barrels 90 degrees from how I set them would help a ton. I'm not sure there would be enough room to set two barrels side by side with the 4' wide ramp. If you make a little wider with the same basic design I think it would be super stable. Regardless everything sits nice and high with no water in the barrels, not sure how high a 18 foot jet boat sits but I'm sure you could climb in. Good luck.
I am going to use this design for an anchored swim platform. How sturdy is the 2x8 and 2x4 construction? Should I use that or go with 2x10 frame and 2x6 joists and 2x4 cross beams?
Up to you. I found it super sturdy, a 2x10 frame would give it a few more inches above the water which could be nice but the build as-is I found extremely stable.
<p>I recently built a floating dock inspired by your plans. I use it as an anchor point for two gangplanks. One anchored to the shore and one anchored on our main 16 by 16 floating dock. It works quite well.</p><p>I used 4 metal pipes (one at each corner) to stabilize the dock.</p>
Have you tried putting a small railing &amp; trolling motor on one for a motorized family fishing boat? My neighbor builds those.
<p>Exactly what I was thinking of doing. If anyone has done so, I would also like to know how it went/ what you did.</p>
<p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/G6tvtHEBCfc" width="500"></iframe></p><p>There's the video of me on the dock. The motor works quite nicely, as you can see in the video.</p>
<p>Just finished building my dock. I added a little support for my motor to hang onto using a couple 2X4's. I'm currently building the battery box, but I'll get a video up once it's on there and done!</p>
<p>Do you have to trim the two 2x4's that go across that hold the barrels at the end? Wouldn't it be 7' 8&quot;?</p>
I'm back and my walk way is in place. Yes I did some modifications which seemed to work out great. I increased my walkway to 4 FT. and turned the barrel sideways I added an extra 2x4 in the middle laying it down for extra support of walkway. I figure with all the kids I have with me I needed to make it wide enough for all the kids to get in and out safely. I also added 2x4 for handrails with some rope just for looks and a quick grip if needed. I also used cable to put my barrels on with a turn buckle to tighten the barrel if needed. It is really stable. I joined my dock and walkway with 4 eyebolts, 2 on dock centered and 2 on walkway that went just on the outside of the ones from the dock. which, I ran a metal pipe with caps on the end. If you put a nut on the eyebolt and mount it through the dock and walkway you can slide the pipe through and tighten the caps down easily. It was really an easy project.
I assume you pull out the floating dock in the winter?
I live in Florida...so it stayed out all the time. Sadly I'm not at that house anymore though.
Thank You and your instructions, I was finally able to put in a dock, My 14 year old son and I were able to comprehend your instructions and my 11 year old daughter loves it. We are now going to attempt your ramp, Turned out perfect with no issues had it built in 2 days ,first day got stormed out. totall hours about 6. We have had it in the water about 6 weeks and no issues what so ever. Uploded a photo of my 14 year old fishing off of it very next week.Thank You again.
Awesome...I'm glad it worked out for you! <br /> <br />As for the ramp I'll echo what some have said in that it is not the best of plans...it is a bit unstable and will rock or even roll over if you aren't careful. My personal suggestion now is to modify the plans to place the barrel perpendicular to the platform so that it wont have the tendency to roll. Maybe you can make some good additions and post your own! Sadly I've moved from the house where all this was built so I can't try it myself. Good luck!
I'm currently making a 12' x 12' using this design. I'm now mounting the barrels. I decided to use plastic coated wire to mount the barrels. Instead of eye hooks I am drilling holes. The wire works great for me and I can twist it tight much easier than using poly rope. I was surprised how quickly this dock can be made. I'm 70 yet slapped it together in a few hours. It actually took me longer to purchase the materials at Home Depot than to build it. I used 1/4&quot; lag bolts to put it together as they won't pull out later as nails will. Also easy to correct mistakes. I'm going to place a railing to keep the grand kids in. I'm also going to build some benches with a place for fish food and fishing poles inside. I went with 5/4 deck boards which will be screwed on. I plan to hinge the ramp to the platform, then bolt the ramp to 4 x 4s sunk in concrete. <br> <br>Now for the big problem. I have four more ponds on the farm.
I forgot to add that I fabricated the dock on the railings of a 16' x 7' flat bed trailer. Sure made it easy to have a raised flat surface to work on. No bending over and should be a snap to back it up and slide it in the pond.

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