Introduction: Rain Barrel Enhancement

Rain barrels are a way to collect rainwater runoff from roofs and reduce environmental problems associated with stormwater runoff.  They are pretty easy to build, but, they look like what they are, polyethylene drums.  There are commercially available rain barrels, but, they are expensive and don't look much better.

The idea of this project was to see if some sort of enhancement to the appearance of the barrel could be made, preferably using recycled materials.  This instructable is an example design.

There are many variations on the design of a rain barrel.  The design for the rain barrel I chose was from this instructable:

Wood from used wooden pallets was the primary material for this project.  Wood pallets are made using ring shank nails and trying to pry the slats off will crack the wood.  There a number of instructables detailing how to disassemble them.

Materials used to enhance this rain barrel were:

- Wood slats from used wooden pallets
- Some leftover rope to weave the  slats together
- Wood stain & brush (marked down  miss-tinted stains, not recycled, but cheap)
- A scrap of plywood and a few nails to make a jig (not necessary, but, saves a lot of time measuring)
- Some glue applied to the ends of the rope to keep in from unraveling while threading through the slats
- Some sort of hard pointed thing like a punch to help thread the rope through the slats

Tools used:
- Table saw
- Drill and drill bit a little bigger than the diameter of the rope
- A tape measure
- A few nails (for the optional jig)
- A file (for shaping the glued rope ends into points)

Step 1: Cutting the Slats

The barrel I used had a diameter of 23 inches and was 35 inches in height.  The dimensions in this text are for this barrel.  There is a spreadsheet attached that you can use if you want to modify any of the dimensions.

After you have slats you need to saw them into 21 - 3 by 38 inch, 2 – 3 by 29 inch, 2 – 3 by 4 inch and ,  2 – 1 1/2 x 36 inch pieces.  The shorter pieces are for where the overflow and spigot will be located.

Step 2: Drilling the Slats

The next step is to drill holes in the slats to accept the rope that will hold them together and secure them to the barrel.  Rather than measure and mark where to drill on each slat, I used a piece of plywood scrap and the leftover slat material to make a jig with holes drilled at the right places to put them in.

The holes for the full size slats are 3/4 inch in from each side and 3/4, 3 1/4 and 7 3/4 inches from each end.  The narrow pieces have holes halfway across each slate at 3/4, 3 1/4 and 7 3/4 inches from each end. The short pieces each have holes 3/4 inches from each side and 3/4 and 3 1/4 inches from each end.

Step 3: Weaving the Slats

I decided to use two colors of stain and a pattern for staining the slats.  From the spreadsheet from the previous step I saw I could have an alternating color of two light colored slats for every one darker slat.  All together there will be 23 full width slats and two half width slats.  The half width slats will where the rope is tied together in the back side of the barrel.

I wanted the spigot in the front of the barrel 180 degrees from the half slats.  Since there will there are 24 full size slats in all (23+1) each slat would be 15 degrees.  So 180 degrees would be 12 slats, so I would put a pair of short pieces in that position.  I wanted my overflow near the back and angling over to one side so I put it 60 degrees or the fourth slate  from the seam.

So after the stain is dry it is simply a matter of weaving the pieces together.  The ends of the rope will be tied together at the seam so you want to weave the rope so that it is on the outward side of the narrow slats.

After weaving the slats together attach them to the barrel the way you attend to intend to and then mark the spots for the overflow and outlet spigot.  Take the slats off and continue to cut holes in the barrel and attach the plumbing fittings (except for the long overflow pipe).

Step 4: Weaving Tip

To make threading the rope through the holes easier I put glue on the rope ends and then sanded it to a bit of a point.   Even so the outer sheathing  for some of the pieces of rope tended to bunch up and not go through the holes.  I found that a small punch worked well for pushing the rope through the hole.

Step 5: Attach the Slats to Barrel and Mark Positions of Overflow and Spigot

Here are is a details showing the outlet spigot and the short slats.

Step 6: Attach the Slats to Barrel and Mark Positions of Overflow and Spigot

Here are is a details showing the overflow and the short slats.

Step 7: Before

Here is the barrel before the project.

Step 8: After

Here is the enhanced version.  It might not be a work of art, but, it is visually more interesting (at least to me).