Introduction: A Great Build-at-home Disc Golf Target (or a Better Use for 55-gal Drums!)

About: A jack of all trades and a master of many; After 60 years on this planet I can truly say 'been there, done that', but I can also admit I can never stop learning something new. An eternal optimist, I keep hopin…
Welcome to another outstanding Instructable from Kentucky Bum! In this Instructable I will show you how to build a kick-ass disc golf target. I have seen numerous plans (and even some for sale) but I didn’t care for any of them; too hooky, too flimsy, not robust enough, not weather-proof enough or just poorly designed. None of the parts in most any of these plans are ‘cheap’ by any standard, but if you are going to put something up outside, leave it there and expect to survive against the weather and a never-ending assault of hard, plastic discs it has to have some mass to it. If it has mass, it’s gonna cost you (KB axiom #28).
A commercial ‘portable’ target that fits in bag cost $120, a commercial semi-permanent one (all metal with a 4-legged base) will cost $175 and a pro version is gonna cost you about $400. Here’s my version of the ultimate home disc golf target. It should cost you about $95 to $100 per target (and take you about 4-man hours to build) but it should last you a long, long time.
One more note, with the exception of the outer diameter of the ‘basket’ (made from the 55-gallon drum) this target is pretty close to the target specifications shown on the website. For an ‘approved’ target the diameters for the basket should be 24.5” to 27.5”, but most drums are only 23 ½” in diameter, so these will be a bit ‘tight’ for the basket, however it should make you a better ‘golfer’; your practice target should always be a little tougher than a real one anyway.

Here is a picture of my second basket which I put up last weekend. It is made from a barrel that has a bonded on top and bottom. It looks much, much better.

Step 1: What You Will Need

Here’s an exploded drawing of all of the components with dimensions (minus the chains). You may wish to print it out and refer to it while you assemble this target.

Here’s what you’ll need:

·1 ea plastic 55-gallon drum ($10 to $40 depending on location and patience)

·3 ea PVC 3” Closet Flanges ($2.50 to $4.50 depending on design; but buy the cheapest); these are the large circular flanges that you bolt toilet seats down to, so you know they are strong.

·3 ea PVC 3” to 2” step down bushing (~$2.50 ea). These allow you to bond a 2” PVC pipe into a 3” Closet Flange.

·63” of 2” PVC Schedule 40 pipe (the thick stuff, not the thin stuff); I buy the 10’ pipe (for about $5.50 ea) two at a time; they will make 1 ½ targets each so you will get 3 targets for the $11 worth of pipe.

·31’ of 2/0 chain Passing Link (usually about $1.14/ft) OR 3 ea 10’ boxes of the same chain (I’ll tell you why I use 30’ and why I don’t use Straight Link chain below)

·15 ea #60 S-Hooks (~$3 a bag for 6)

·1 ea 3” diameter hinged binder ring (Office Depot sells these for $1.50 each). This is to gather the chains around the center tube. You can use a large twisty tie or even some bailing wire to do this as well, but it doesn’t look as cool. You can also use a large nylon zip tie, but they don’t last long being exposed to the weather so plan on finding that 3” ring someday.

·4 ea ¼ - 20 x 1 ½“ Carriage bolts

·4 ea ¼ - 20 x 2” hex-head bolts

·8 ea ¼ - 20 nuts

·8 ea ¼“ flat washers

·8 ea ¼” lock washers

·PVC cement (glue)

·1 ea bag of Redi-mix concrete cement; usually less than $3/bag for one 80# bag which will do two holes or just buy a 40# bag for each hole (a bit more usually).

Here’s the tools you’ll need:

  • Saws; preferably a chop saw and a table saw. These are to cut the PVC pipe and 55-gallon plastic drum with.
  • Drill w/ 2 different sized drill bits: ¼” and 13/64” (a 7/16” can be substituted for the 13/64” if you don’t have one).
  • 7/16” wrench (or socket set with that socket). A socket driver for your drill would be best.
  • Grinder w/composite blade (to cut chain), bench vice and hammer (to split chain). You can use a reciprocating saw with a bi-metal bit or a hack saw too, but it may take you a while…

Step 2: Step 1, Start Digging

Step 1: Start digging! The day before you want to use your target go out and dig a hole where you want to put your target then pour in some cement!
  • Dig a hole about 8” in diameter and 12” deep using any means possible (a good shovel will help here!). Take either a scrap piece of 2” PVC pipe (at least 2 feet long) or use the 36” piece (you cut in Step 2) and push it down into the earth at the center of the bottom of the hole you just dug.
  • Pour your ‘properly mixed’ cement into the hole all-the-while keeping your pipe centered as best you can (a spare set of hands helps here). (Only pour enough cement to come flush to the ground; that way you can you can pull your target and mow over it if you need too.) Use a level on two sides 90° apart to get the pipe straight up and let it set overnight. You can pull the pipe right out after the cement cures and drop it back in when it’s time to use it; give it a little twist before you pull up, it will come out much easier.
(You can also set this hole up in an old tire or large bucket if you want to move the target around, but if you do adjust the cut of the base pole as it may be a bit too high off the ground).

Step 3: Step 2, Start Cutting

Step2: Start cutting! You can refer to the drawing for dimensions of the lengths of the cuts or read them below. Use a chop saw for the PVC pipe and a table saw for the 55-gallon drum if you can; you’ll get clean, straight cuts so things will go together square.

·For the ‘basket’ cut the top of the 55-gallon drum off 8” from rim and for the ‘top’ cut the bottom of the drum off 4” from the end. You want to use the top part of the drum as the ‘basket’ because if you remove the two screwed-in plugs they make great drain holes for when it rains. Use the bottom of the drum as the ‘top’ so it helps keep the rain and leaves out. I set up my table saw with an 8” fence off-set for the basket and used a piece of 4” wide board to set against the fence for the top. If you only have a hand saw (powered or otherwise) they only trick is drawing a straight line around the circumference. If it’s not perfectly straight don’t sweat it, you won’t notice it 10’ feet away anyway.

Cut some 2” PVC pipe into two lengths; 27” and 36”. Use a chop saw (if you can) so the end will be square. This way the top will be square with the basket. The 27” cut (for the inside pipe) will give you the regulation 19” minimum gap between the top and the rim of the basket, and if you bury the 36” pipe (base pole) 12” deep it will give you the regulation 24” basket height above ground. You may make either one a little longer if you want a larger gap or a deeper basket (baskets must be 7” deep minimum) but these cuts will keep you honest.

Step 4: Step 3, Keep Cutting!

Step 3: Keep cutting! You need to cut your chain into 24” lengths. 31’ of cut chain isn’t as common as the 10’ lengths you can buy by the box [almost anywhere] so you don’t have any scrap when you’re done. 3 boxes of 10’ chain will give you 15 pieces (that’s why I use 15 chains…12 is the minimum but that few won’t stop as many discs as 15 will and if you buy it by the box you’re gonna get stuck with some left over chain; might as well get good use of it).

  • I use a composite cut-off blade in my angle grinder to cut the links. I clamp the to-be-cut link in a bench vice, cut the link with the composite blade and then (while the link is still clamped in the vice) use a hammer to ‘twist’ one end of the link enough to provide enough clearance to get the chain apart. If you do cut your chain apart this way PLEASE, PLEASE use safety glasses and hearing protection! You DO NOT want to be on the receiving end of a shattered disk at 7,500 rpm…trust me, it’s not pleasant (and could even be fatal!).
  • See the picture to see my set up. If you don’t have these tools you can use a hack-saw, a reciprocating saw (with a bi-metal blade) or (if you’re really cheap) you can have the Home Depot dude cut out each and every 2’ length for you, but if you’re going to make more than one target [like me!] you may think twice about this (if you value any relationship that you may have developed there).
Also note: I also use Passing Link chain (instead of Straight link chain) because it is wider than Straight link. Since the only job of the chain is to stop the disc it helps to have as much ‘width’ as possible; besides, if it does cost more per foot it will only be about 3 to 4 cents more. The chain is the single most expensive part of this design so it won’t break the bank to not go cheap here.

Step 5: Step 4, Drill!

Step 4: Drill! You’ll need a ¼” and a 13/64” drill (use can use a 7/32” drill in place of the 13/64” drill but you S-Hooks may be a bit loose).

·First, mark out 15 evenly spaced holes about ½” up from the lip of the rim of the ‘top’ (4” deep end of 55-gallon drum). How (you might ask)? I used a sewing and stitching guide; those are those funny little 6” rulers with the slot in the middle (and the little slide in that slot) that you find in the fabric store. Set the tips 4 ¾” apart and use a Sharpie to mark each holes location along the rim. Use the 13/64” drill for these rim holes.

·Second, switch out drill bits to the ¼” bit, grab the 3 PVC Closet Flanges. You will use them as templates for the holes you need to drill in the bottoms of the basket and the top. Turn the basket and the top rim-side-down so you don’t drill through your floor (or table). Center up one of the flanges on each drum part and drill one of the four holes. Set one of the ¼ -20 bolts though this hole and (if you have to) re-center the opposite hole and then though-drill it. Now, drop another bolt through this second hole so the flange won’t wander when you drill the third and forth hole. Drill them out as well.

·Do this for both the top and the basket.

·While you have the ¼” drill chucked up go ahead and run it though the third Closet Flange’s holes, as these holes tend to be a very tight ¼”.

Step 6: Step 5, Assembly

Step 5: Finally! Assembly!

·Bond two of the 2” to 3” bushings on each end of the 27” piece of PVC pipe and one on the end of the 36” PVC pipe. Goop up the inside of the bushings with a little PVC glue and push them down on the ends good and hard (to seat them completely). DON’T goof this up because [as any plumber will tell you] once you set two pieces of PVC together with that glue there ain’t no getting them apart…ever.

·Now, bond up only two of the Closet Flanges, one at each end of the 27” long PVC pipe. Make sure you get them completely seated on the bushing. If you don’t the gap between the top and basket will be off. Refer to the picture here; it should look like this.

·Don’t bond up the last Closet Flange; it will go on the one end of the 36” long pipe (with the bushing on it) but not for some time.

·A few minutes after you bond up both ends of the 27” PVC tube you can bolt one end of it up to the inside of the ‘top’ using the carriage bolts. Start the bolts on the top of the ‘top’ (upper side) so they are just buttons on the top. Use a flat washer, a lock-washer and a nut to secure the Closet Flange to the top from the inside. As you draw the nuts tight the carriage bolts will sink in to the softer plastic drum and keep the head will from turning as you tighten each bolt down. Tighten them down enough to draw the drum and the flange tight together without any gaps between them.

·Now place the other flange on the 27” pipe down in the bottom of the basket and push the 4 hex-head bolts though the flange and the base of the basket. They may be a bit tight, so you can use a power-driver with a 7/16” socket head on them to drive them thorough. Drive them as far though as you can without chewing up your rugs or carpet. It may help to rest the basket across a couple of 2x4’s.

Flip the whole assembly on its top and fit that last Closet Flange (the un-bonded one) to the four protruding bolts now sticking out of the bottom of the basket. Once again, it may help to have a power-driver to do this as well; it may be tight. Put the flat washers, the lock washers and the nuts on these bolts and tighten them down too. You’re almost done…

Step 7: Step 6, Hang the Chains

Step 6: Hang the chains!

·The target should look like the photo; minus the chains and S-hooks. If it doesn’t…start over.

·If it does, hang a S-Hook in each hole on the top rim. Put them in from the outside because 1) it’s easier and 2) the chains will hang from the outside in. This will make sure that when you hit them with a disc [from the outside] they will stay on.

·Hang the chains on next, one on each S-Hook, alternating from side to side to keep the balanced target from falling over. Drape them in the basket as you go. You may crimp the S-Hooks together if you fear the chains may come off, but I have not found it necessary.

Thread the 3” ring (or bailing wire) through the bottom link of each hanging chain and secure about the center tube. You can use those really big plastic coated wire ties that you find in the home-and-garden section for this as well. They don’t look as cool, but should last a lifetime.

Step 8: Step 7, Set It Up

Step 7: Set it up! You can do one of two things here, the choice is yours:

1.Put the 36” post in the cement hole in the ground and just snug the target down on top of the 2” to 3” bushing. It may take a little pounding on the top of the target to get it to seat all of the way down, but this setup allows you to pull the target out of the ground and then remove the post from the bottom of the target (although it may be real tight).

2.Put the 36” post in the base of the basket first. To do this lay the target over slowly on it’s side (a few chains may fall off the S-Hooks but you can hang them right back up) and put a little PVC cement in the bore of the Closet Flange [attached to the underside of the basket] and glue the 36” post into it before you drop it in the hole in the ground. If you do it this way you may need to ‘tap’ the bushing in flush to the Closet Flange. Use a small piece of 2x4 [wood] on cut the end of the pipe; you don’t want to bugger up this end as it needs to slip into that cement hole and come back out again.

I did it like #2 because I have no need to dismantle them after I put them in. I also did it this way because I suspect that the bonded method will last longer and the target will be a bit stiffer at impact from the disc, but that’s just the engineer in me speaking out loud.

Last, if you really want to perfect this design, hang another 6 each 24” long chains from some eye-bolts from up inside the top evenly spaced on an 8” diameter circle (just outside the edges of the Closet Flange up underneath there). Use another 3” ring on the bottom to secure them around the inner post. It will add another $17 or so to the cost of the target but the design can easily handle it. You can always add them later if you want. That’s up to you.

Any questions? Just ask! I’m sure that I might have missed something that I thought to be obvious, so the only stupid question is the one you don’t ask.

Step 9: Epilogue

   I have finished setting up 5 of these targets around the vicinity of the house and the barn. I set most them up to be between 200 to 300 feet apart (Par 3's). Some of them were also located to be over 350' from others so that I can have a few Par 4's if I want. All-in-all I have either a 12-hole course with 8 Par 3's and 4 Par 4's or a 14-hole course with a few Par 2's thrown in there. I may put up a 6th target over the swamp but I haven't decided yet if I will play it often enough to warrant it. As it is I go home for lunch and shoot 4 - 5 holes with my dogs and shoot all 12 holes at least 3 times a week. It has improved my game 100-fold as well.
    The targets themselves have weathered very, very well and have proven sturdy enough for my 75# chocolate lab to hold on to the lip and retrieve her Frisbees from inside the basket without damaging them in any way.
    Here is cropped aerial shot of my house and barn clipped from the net with the hole locations noted on it. I used this photo to layout my course so that I have good variety and some challenges. Thanks to all of you I'ble subscribers for your input. I appreciate it.