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Picture of Floating Dock with Barrels (UPDATED)
ramp7.jpg
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.......
 
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Step 1: Build the Frame

Picture of 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.

Step 2: Support the Frame

Picture of Support the Frame
Now that you have the basic shape we need to add supports.

Measure out the middle of the square and place a 2x4" support there.

The remaining bottom layer pieces are playing two roles. They are supporting the frame as well as holding the barrels against the dock and preventing them from pushing up against the decking. Place two of the boards as the picture shows and lay a barrel on top. Shift the boards around until you get the barrel sitting nicely in between the boards without touching the ground but also fitting nicely around the curve in the barrel. Mark that point, screw them in and do the same to the other side.

Now the top layer of supports that run perpendicular to the rest also have two jobs. The provide the cross support and keep the barrels from moving back and forth while in the water. So once again place your barrels on the bottom supports and measure where the barrels end. Place your top layer supports here and screw them in.

Step 3: Add the Barrels

Picture of Add the Barrels
After screwing in the 4x4" post pieces in the corner to solidify the structure you can make things a little more stable with L Braces places at each of the support intersections. This will make sure that everything stays where it is and really tightens up the frame.

Now, place eye hooks in the bottom layer of supports where your barrels lay. Two on each side the barrel. Lay your barrels in their slots and tie them up! I started on one eye hook with a knot and ran rope across the barrel, then diagonally, then across again and tied it off on the last eye hook. After you do all 4 barrels you are ready to flip.

Step 4: Flip it.

Picture of Flip it.
I did everything up to this part alone. Now I recruited some friends to come and help me move the beast. With only 3 of us total we easily go it up on it's side and slid it in to the lake. I'd say we might have been able to do it with just 2 of us but 3 worked nicely.

Flip it in to the water and tie it down to something. You don't want it floating away while you go inside to get the beer.

(It just rained for a week straight so the water level was quite high here, hence the dock basically floating in the grass.)

Step 5: Deck it.

Picture of Deck it.
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Now that you have a friend or two...and your beer, this part is a breeze. Lay out the 1x4" boards and make sure everything fits nicely. Leave a little spacing between each board. Drink your beer and hammer in the boards along each support. Once you get a few in you can jump on top and finish from there. Feels nice and stable doesn't it!

Step 6: Float.

Picture of Float.
One thing that is nice about a floating dock is that you can untie it and float out in to the middle of a lake or pond for a nice swimming platform or just a nice place to hang out.

I'm still working on a ramp and a good way to keep the dock from drifting while actually on shore. I'll be sure to post that once it's complete.

Step 7: A ramp begins...

Picture of A ramp begins...
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ramp4.jpg
So now with the floating platform/dock I needed a way to easily get on to it without stepping in the water first, so here is the walkway/ramp.

I'll go through it quick as it's basically the same thing as the platform.

Working with this was different in that the 12 foot boards are much harder to get level where I was working as the slope of the ground really came in to play with the extra 4 feet length. So I used a lot of extra boards and stuff lying around to try and keep everything flat.

Basically though it's the same idea. Frame the entire ramp with the 2x8" boards. Screw them together and level. Add the 2x4" boards down the middle as support for the barrel as well as the walkway area when you flip it over. Throw in the 33" pieces of 2x4" board for support every 3 feet. Add the Eye Hooks for the barrel, rope it down and you are ready to flip it.

I did this in about and hour and a half. Most of that time was spent making sure it was level...and it still wasn't perfect.

Step 8: Flip it and Float it.

Picture of Flip it and Float it.
ramp6.jpg
Once again, bribe a friend with beer (or in my case my friend actually brought the beer) and flip the ramp over and walk it in to the water.

Now, this is where this could easily not work for some people depending on their shoreline. Mine has a nice little hill the ramp can sit on while on land. So I set that end down and the other side floated nicely out by the platform. I had to add some dirt underneath the land side just to get everything straight but it wasn't too bad.

Now just put the decking on just like before...thanks to those 2x4"s running long ways you have plenty of support for the deck boards.

I actually ran out of boards for decking because I wasn't really thinking...remember, after wood gets milled and sent to the store it is no longer it's original dimensions...I calculated for 1x6" boards, when it reality they are more like 3/4x5 1/2"....so I came up short.

Step 9: Attach and secure...

Picture of Attach and secure...
ramp8.jpg
Now it's all finished but the platform is floating free and the ramp is somewhat unstable. So I placed poles (not pictured) on the corners of the platform and sunk them as far as I could in to the lake bed. I also placed a few on the ramp to keep it from getting pushed to the side. Just don't make anything too tight, everything needs to be able to move by wind, people walking, water level changes. I've already found the poles make great places to lauch bottle rockets from as well as place tiki torches! (I'll throw a pic of that in soon)

I also attached the platform to the ramp with rope, carabiners and eye hooks. Check out the pic on how I did it. Now it can still be easily detached to float out if need be.

It's not as stable over all as I hoped...if you walk to the far corner of the ramp it dips pretty low in the water and actually rolled the ramp before I added the poles. I guess I could just add 4x4" pillars and take out the barrel........maybe once the water level goes back down to winter levels.
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Martyrapp3 days ago
I just completed my raft yesterday & 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!
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Our barrels collapsed any ideas why?
Our barrels collapsed any ideas why?
Our barrels collapsed any ideas why? Thanks
Our plastic barrels collapsed is there a way to fix this and prevent it?
6mlmerwin92 months ago

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)?

We used 9 barrels for our 10 x 10 ft raft.
pilx (author)  6mlmerwin92 months ago
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.
CindyJ221 days ago
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 !
Bosoxfan102 months ago
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?
pilx (author)  Bosoxfan102 months ago
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.
lalunette11 months ago

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.

I used 4 metal pipes (one at each corner) to stabilize the dock.

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1ccason1 year ago
Have you tried putting a small railing & trolling motor on one for a motorized family fishing boat? My neighbor builds those.

Exactly what I was thinking of doing. If anyone has done so, I would also like to know how it went/ what you did.

J-PT skittrell11 months ago

There's the video of me on the dock. The motor works quite nicely, as you can see in the video.

J-PT skittrell12 months ago

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!

rybo1051 year ago

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"?

Omannn3 years ago
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?
pilx (author)  Omannn3 years ago
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?
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.
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Omannn3 years ago
I assume you pull out the floating dock in the winter?
pilx (author)  Omannn3 years ago
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.
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pilx (author)  rmurray-adams3 years ago
Awesome...I'm glad it worked out for you!

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!
greyrooster3 years ago
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" 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.

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.
pilx (author)  greyrooster3 years ago
Sounds great. If I ever live back on the water I'll have to try out some of your updates.
Hello this design is awesome but im trying to make a more portable and lighter one. I want to build it as a raft to float down the river. I was thinking of cutting the platform in half and adding heavy duty hinges at all the circles indicated and then splice plates on the 2x8's with lag bolts. We plan on disconnecting the barrels before taking to the river so it would be lighter and easier to transport but not sure if it would be strong enough. We would transport by truck so folding in half would be easier. What is your input?
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Your river had better run real slow. A good current and a bump with a log or boulder will send you and your barrels in separate directions. Or worse, with this much weight it wouldn't take much to punch a hole in the barrels. Who knows what would happen then. For slightly more you can purchase an inflatable raft that's easy to transport and gives more to prevent punctures. Plus you can patch it.
Great idea, I want to make one and might do it your way.
batonas3 years ago
great project but it can be made cheaper by useing plastic bottles in a net plus it would be a recycle for the bottles at the same time. with enough bottles you can literally make islands :D
arcticman4 years ago
I just built a larger model, 16' x 8', using 15, 30 gallon plastic barrells. Five rows of three barrells. Tied them in with three continuous lengths of braided poly-rope, running through eye screws and over the middle of the barrels.
Did a rough weight-displacement calculation and 15 barells should do nicely.
Other than the 16' foot length and more-smaller barrels, I employed your design so THANKS for the that !
With the 30 gallon barrels and the 2, 16' 2x4 stiffiners, I had about an inch to spare for each barrel. If you can't be smart, be lucky! (I did actually measure beforehand and knew it would be close but thought it should work).
It is now sitting on the ice of the frozen lake in front of our cabin. When the ice goes out, we'll see how she looks.
Thanks again!
JB
Hello JB,
I have read your comment regarding the floating boat dock. Your ideas sound great. Please tell me how you figure weight displacement of the dock and boat and 1-2 people on the dock?
What is the formula?

Thanks,
richard
rbhirsch1@verizo.net
jim.w.h3 years ago
I wound up finishing the dock this summer, first chance i'm getting to send this in...the instructions were spot on and some of the other advice added in was very helpful. I'd like to also say that when making a walkway out to a dock that when it is in the water and before it is secured to something else it is extremely unstable, i fell off it several times, unfortunately so did my electric driver, but craftsman makes a fine product and it still works great. I used fencing poles with one end in a bucket of concrete and the pole bolted onto the frame of the dock to keep it steady. It is able to rock up and down because the pole is in a loose fencing bracket, so there is no excessive stress on the pole or the frame. I would recommend making a good housing for the barrels because when you flip over the dock the barrels can shoot through the top if not secured in a good housing and tied down well.
rc jedi3 years ago
awesome!
STOP RELAXING ON THAT FLOATING DOCK AND GET A JOB DAMN HIPPIE!

jk
jim.w.h4 years ago
I am going with this design, however modifying it a bit to make it sort of "U" shaped so i can park multiple boats and fish from different spots. I'd like to add arm rails for safety....how would you do it?
pilx (author)  jim.w.h4 years ago
See attached image.

You could make three separate docks and attach them with bolts, make two long ones and one square one and then make them in to a U shape. It would be big but I think it would work.

For the rails, you could use wood and just make a little fence all the way around. Using 1x4s (or 2x4s for a little more stability), 1x1 posts and 4x4 corner posts. Just nail the 1x1's in to the 1x4 boards and then nail it all to the top of the dock.

See attached image.
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As to controlling the floating dock you could

A) make or buy a 'single' long oar/paddle, create a pivot point at the back middle point then whack your oar in and do sweeping motions, (google one oared rowing this create your movement.

B) use a mast and sail, just be warned that if there is a strong wind and you do not have a keel ( a holding place for a large weight underwater in the center of your boat ) there is a chance that you will flip, there is many times on my boat that without our 'full keel' we would have flipped due to the waves and wind.
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