Instructables
Picture of Recycled 55 Gallon Barrel Chair
Today, we are going to make a surprisingly comfortable chair using only six small bolts, nuts and washers, six drywall screws, simple hand tools, a little ingenuity and a recycled 55-gallon plastic drum. Why? Well, that is a good question, partially because it is in our nature to make things, but mostly because I had a bunch of barrels that needed a purpose.

You see, I have a small business where we use a lot of all-natural vanilla extract, hundreds of gallons a month, so we buy it in large quantities. It comes to us shipped in food grade 55-gallon plastic drums, which we formerly shipped back to the manufacturer for reuse. Recent changes in food safety guidelines makes the reuse of the barrels impossible, so we now have several of these on hand. I refused to send them to the landfill and even if we wanted to, the flammable nature of vanilla extract would have classified these as "hazardous" waste. On the other hand, even though the barrels are made from recyclable plastic, our county recycling center could not process them, so it seemed to me that a better use would be to find a way to reuse them locally. I started out working on ways to reuse the barrels in our business and we have had great success with that, using them to store raw materials, in our pickling processes and even as a human powered mixer for dry materials, but still the barrel stack grew. So I expanded my views and began to use the barrels in different ways, first we made rain harvesters for ourselves and our staff and friends, then we made compost barrels for everyone, but still we had these blue barrels piling up. That is when we began working on more interesting projects and it was from one of those projects that the barrel chair was born.

We were working on a prototype for a human powered paddle wheel pontoon boat, using the barrels for the pontoons and the main paddle wheel assembly, when we decided we needed a low backed chair for the Captain to occupy as he barked orders to the people on the bicycles driving the paddle wheel, but that is another, needlessly complex and ultimately doomed, project and story. Anyway, we hit upon the idea of using half a barrel as the basis for the chair. A couple of hours later we had a surprisingly comfortable working prototype and a new focus for our endeavors . Within a week we had gone through several generations, making small design tweaks to the chair and the construction process, until we finally had a process and finished product we were happy with.

Thank you to everyone who voted for our project in the Epilog Challenge.
 
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afiehler4 months ago

I made this a couple years ago and it now occupies a deer blind in the woods. Holding up to the weather just fine.

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VikingDK1 year ago
Really love the idea, and your story about your company etihcs
taria2 years ago
to bad I don't have any way of getting 55 gallon barrels where I live, these would be a cool idea. But I do love the inscrutable, it is awesome!
if you are local I will come with a trailer and take these off your hands. :) As many as you want to get rid of.
manonegra2 years ago
The third seat of the 4th picture seems really happy!!
ejepson3 years ago
Thank you for the instructions. We made our first chair and hope to make several more once we get the design down. It took us a while to figure out the base of the chair but we realized that we needed to include the lid and the locking metal ring. I don't think we are using the same type of barrel as the instructions use. The metal ring keeps the back and base connected but we are having an issue with the seat fitting nicely on the base. Also, we don't see the purpose of the spring under the seat, because once you sit on the chair the seat bottoms out on the base. We might try our next one without the spring loaded base and also keeping the seat attached to the actual bottom of the barrel. Although this means the inverted lid with the bungholes will become the seat, we thought we might get a circular cushion to fit in nicely. Also by leaving the bottom attached, would allow us to have storage underneath the seat for a variety of things including ice cold beverages (tailgating chair?). Thanks again for the design!
ejepson ejepson3 years ago
Just wanted to share a picture
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SIRJAMES093 years ago
TY Sir. figures. I'll have to find a source close by here then. :(

I was soooooooo hoping you would be in my neighborhood. oh well, that's how it goes....first your money then your clothes. LOL
SIRJAMES093 years ago
I have a Q. your place of business, would it be anywhere near Baltimore MD??

you say that you have an over abundance of these barrels, I would love to take a few off your hands. *hint hint*
Monkeybrad (author)  SIRJAMES093 years ago
Sorry, we are in the southeast.
SIRJAMES093 years ago
they look awesome!!!! 8=D

inhabitart3 years ago
super duper creation... i loved it...:)
davidkichi3 years ago
Awesome instructable and very wittingly labelled!!! I'm curious if instead of tossing out whatever left-over pieces of plastic you could use them to reinforce the armrests or to heat them up into plastic ball caps to cover the metal bolts if not too toxic? Btw, would love to see a spray painted version in another color!
Mike Harbin3 years ago
Love the idea, as well as the intelligent commentary that went along with it as we were walked through the project. Now I just have to find a source for barrels on the cheap or better yet free. Then I get to listen to the wife on starting another project that she won't see the value in until she sits on the finished project! Thanks.
natcrazz4 years ago
I'm not sure how to make the angled cut from this step. In the picture, is it from point A to D?
Monkeybrad (author)  natcrazz4 years ago
I am not quite understanding the question. If, in your diagram, C is the bottom of the barrel, then the cut is from A to D, but A would need to move down. The idea is to create an inside bevel for the spring loaded seat to match up with in the final product. I hope that helps.
I have been seeing this Instructable for about forever now, so I decided to rate this 5/5 :)
It did help. My chair is completed and it's great. Thanks a lot.
Sorry, I've been having trouble with the image.
Barrel.JPG
Here's the Image.
Vari-Lance5 years ago
I think washing out the bottom half of the seat, filling it with ice and beer, would make for a great "Cool Tailgating Chair"!!
 sounds like a good idea but would you want to have to get up every 5 minutes to give everyone a beer?
add a hose and a spigot! beer. kssssssssssh. beer. kssssssssssh.
Just the bottom part is open, the part where you sit is closed, so you would have to do a redesign. Nice idea!
cdncycler4 years ago
Almost looks like a giant adult pottie...lol!!
I was thinking that you could actually use it like that when you are out-of doors but still want a bit of home out there. Just a thought. Hay, Make a bathroom out of nothing but barrels if you have so many! Vanilla-scented too! That would be a great series instructable! O_O :)
bobkoure4 years ago
This brings to mind a couple of build-it-yourself barrel camp chairs in "The Prairie Traveler" (pub ~1860). One of my favorite books when I was a kid. Now that I think of it, that book was one giant instructible for folks traveling west (Conestoga wagon repairs, types of teams to use, gear to buy, gear to build yourself, route comparisons, etc.)
Lorax984 years ago
WOW! Now give us some mods so that we can turn this into a comfortable toilet seat for use in wilderness camping. It should have an option for open pit or disposable bags. No, I'm not kidding. Sitting on a 5 gallon barrel or toilet seat on a rickety steel tube frame is nerve racking at best. Why shouldn't campers have the luxury of a 10 or 15 minute meditation in comfort just like at home.


Bababooey4 years ago

BOAT!  BOAT!  BOAT!  BOAT!

SOMEONE BUILD THE BOAT!!!!!!!!!

k but im not gonna make an instructable about it nor am i gonna build a boat.
is it me does it look like a  toilet?
JTaylor234 years ago
Is that a new type of saw? It appears to be either be sawing it back together or cutting with the back of the blade? LOL This is a great project.
super_aceX4 years ago
This is a great idea! Maybe you could post that barrel table idea as well!
Microtek4 years ago
If you still have way too many blue barrels piling up, there is always someone on Craigslist looking for them for whatever use... Free section? pay it forward... lol.... great instructable!
Crystalkini4 years ago
I absolutely love them... Such a fabulous recycling idea... would you sell them?  Depending on the price... I might be interested!
Ole bally4 years ago
 with a hole cut in the 'seat' - awesome 'dunny' for the bush!
Great Instruction! Thanks for sharing this. We've made 20 of your chairs for the Instructables Restaurant. The visitors loved them!
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you cut th' bottom out fer th' seat ? did it not come with a lid ?
Monkeybrad (author)  gearhead19515 years ago
We use both ends of the barrel for the seat. The original barrel top forms the base of the seat, then we use the leftover piece from the side to make a spring and cut out the bottom of the barrel to make a nice flush spring supported seat. It makes for a much more comfortable chair.
Where are you located? Will you give away or sell any of the barrels or do you know anyone who will? I found directions for making horse jump standards out of the barrels. My daughter is just getting into jumping so we could use 6 for jumps and/or obstacles. Any info on where I could get some would be very much appreciated. Thanks!
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