Picture of Floating Dock with Barrels (UPDATED)
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
Silicone Caulking

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.
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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.

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lalunette7 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.

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 skittrell7 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 skittrell7 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!

rybo10511 months 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"?

Omannn2 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)  Omannn2 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.
Omannn2 years ago
I assume you pull out the floating dock in the winter?
pilx (author)  Omannn2 years ago
I live in 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.
pilx (author)  rmurray-adams2 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 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!
(removed by author or community request)
Very interesting. i just built a platform myself (12x15') and put it on 6 barrels (3 on each side) The pass-way is connected to the platform. When I walk the pass-way to the platform, the platform swings down on the side of the connection. Does anyone know how to flood the barrels in order to have a more level and stable platform? or any other advise how to stabilize?
You can put some water in the barrels and that will stabilize them a bit but they will hold less weight on the dock, no big deal really unless you plan to have a lot of people/equipment on the dock. I used fence railings in the water so that the dock can ride up and down the posts without flipping.
greyrooster2 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)  greyrooster2 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?
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
arcticman3 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!
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?

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

jim.w.h3 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 would you do it?
pilx (author)  jim.w.h3 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.
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.
jim.w.h pilx3 years ago
yep thats pretty much what I had designed, i'm gonna go another step further and make swinging doors in the rail to get into the boats. I have a fish and ski, a paddle boat and canoe so would park the motor boat in the middle and the other boats on the outside...I eventually wanted to add a roof/bimini top to the deck to keep it from getting too much sun and protect the boats if there is some rain.
2 other quick questions,

I've noticed some lakes have restrictions against barrels...I didn't notice if it was just metal barrels or all barrels..I don't understand why it would be against plastic barrels unless they held some sort of pollutant prior to being used for a dock, which I wouldn't want in the water anyway. Have you seen this type of anti-barrel building codes around where you are?

Also, what program did you use to make the above drawing, I can't seem to find a good one. thanks!

jon.bender3 years ago
save money on eye screws and just drill holes in the framing to lace you rope through
Irock1483 years ago
would this be able to hold a boat
bumpus5 years ago
Awesome! Just what I've been waiting for. Quick question, what was the approximate cost of such a project?
pilx (author)  bumpus5 years ago
Like PKM said there are so many different variables in price here but I spent just over $200.
Barrels = $60
Wood = $140
Screws/Nails/Rope/Eye Hooks = $20 bucks or so
alegault pilx4 years ago
Where did you get the barrels? Do they have them at Lowes or Home Depot?
You can sometimes get empty plastic water drums from your local water treatment plant (Not the sewage plant) I have built a deck very similar to this one and my dad was able to get 4 55 gallon barrels for free. There are also 35 gallon barrels, if you want a "low rider" dock. You could also get steel oil drums... but i would be leary: steel rusts and oil + swimming pond = icky
Fyerfytr pilx5 years ago
Thanks for posting this, I am heading to Home Depot in the am for the lumber, it will be great on our farm pond.
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