Introduction: Rain Barrel Stand
My wife said I could get rain barrels to add to our new house! Of course, she is involved in the process and wants them to look good, so this is the design we came up with for the rain barrel stands. I had made one rain barrel stand previously and it looked flimsier and shabbier. I had better tools this time and some options for wood. All the wood is basically scrap wood and the screws are general purpose yellow zinc-coated 1-5/8" and 2-1/2" screws.
To make one stand, you will need:
- 4 - 2x4 x 12" legs
- 2 - 2x4 x 24" joists
- 2 - 1x4 x 24" braces (pallet planks work well here)
- 9 - 1x1.5 x24" slats (I used a 2x ripped to 1" width pieces)
- 8 - 2-1/2" General Purpose screws
- 26 - 1-5/8" General Purpose screws
- Electric Screwdriver/Drill (if you have 2, use one to drill and one to drive)
- Saws to cut boards (I used a table saw to rip the slats and a miter saw to cut to length)
- Tape Measure (measure twice, screw once)
- Straight edges (framing square, ruler, straight board)
You can easily modify the dimensions of the wood to suit your needs. This might be slight underkill for this application - the fully laden barrel is heavy (55*8=440lb water) but I think it should work. I would have used something else on top if I did not have a table saw also, but I think the slats give it a great aesthetic. Your stand ends up about 13.5" tall with this design which will probably work well for a flat area, it could probably be raised up another foot or so, but I wouldn't go much taller without increasing the width of the legs (double the 2x4s or use 4x4s)
Step 1: Getting Started
The frame of the stand starts with your legs and crossbracing. Lay the 4 legs out about 24 inches apart and place the braces across them squared up at the corners. Getting the legs square at this stage will help everything line up later on, so use a framing square if you have one, or measure the diagonals to get it square (more on that later). Sink two screws in each end of the brace to attach it to the legs. You can put the first screw in to hold things in place, then square it up and put in the second one. Pre-drilling the holes is almost always a good idea, especially if you think your wood is prone to splitting or you are attaching screws near the edge. Use a drill bit that is slightly smaller or equal in size to the shank (solid center part without the threads) of your screw. Even with the extra time it takes, it's usually worth it.
Step 2: Setting Up the Frame
I pre-drilled the holes in the 'beams' to avoid splitting and make sure they were lined up nicely - 2 holes in each end. As you can see, my lumber was slightly smaller than a true 2x4 so there is an underhang where the leg sticks out slightly. You can hardly see it in the end. Place the beams on top of the legs making sure everything is flat on the floor and more or less squared up. Make the edges of the beam and legs flush, then install one 2.5" screw in the outermost corner hole in each leg. With one screw in, the frame can pivot and flex so you can get it squared up good! This is where the tape measure is needed to check the diagonal length (see picture). Measure the distance from one corner to the opposite corner, then do the same thing going the other way. If the frame is square the two distances should be equal. If one is longer than the other, push those two corners toward each other (diagonally) so they come together, then measure again. It should only take a small adjustment, depending on how close you were in your initial guess. You should make sure these screws get sunk slightly below the surface of the beams. I like to use a screwdriver with a good grip to make the last couple turns and not overdo it.
Step 3: Lay Out the Slats
Put your slats on top of the frame and lay them out according to the pattern of the wood and any defects you may want to hide on the inside. Decide which side you want to be the top that you will see and turn that side face down for now. Push all the slats together, bottom-side-up and draw a line down the middle of the beam. A framing square works well for this but you can use any straight edge. You will want to make sure your line is between your two screws in the beam so your screws don't collide. Move the slats so the line is overhanging the beams, then drill a small hole in the center of each slat. The lines are helpful to make sure all your screws line up. Centering in each slat is not as big a deal, you can measure that too if you want, but I did not. Once all your holes are drilled, flip the slats back over and lay them out about where they should go.
Step 4: Install the Slats
Start with the two end slats. Put them flush on the edges of the frame and install the 1-5/8" screws on each end. The next part can be a bit tricky and there is more than one way to approach it. You can calculate using math what the spacing between each slat should be and use a tape measure to space them out. I used a different method which was fairly successful. Look for a small piece of scrap wood that is about the right size (see picture) and test out how it would work without screwing yet. I found two little scraps that were about right and used them to space out the slats. Work your way in from the outsides, slat by slat. You want the last slat you install to be the middle one (or middle two if you have an even number). Hopefully at that point, the space that you have left is about the same as the rest. Mine were off slightly but not enough to really notice (I made the mistake of telling my wife). Take the space that you have and spread it out evenly so that the that last slat is right in the middle. Now you're done, go put a rain barrel on it!