Water Butt Barrel Style Makeover

Introduction: Water Butt Barrel Style Makeover

About: I'm an avid self builder and workshop nut, into alternative energy and all things gadgety, living on the side of a mountain still renovating a house after 13 years, trying to be mostly self sufficient ....

We installed a lean to greenhouse that was donated 8+ years ago and lay wrapped in a poly sheet in the field until last year when we dug it out and erected it.

All the greenhouse lacked was a water supply until my father appeared one day with an old empty detergent barrel he got from the local farm supplies, I had a water butt kit lying in my shed which we hooked up.

It worked very well, but looked a bit gash, so I set about the task of tarting it up a bit.


1 Pallet
Sheet timber for the top, (i used scrap 1" thick blockboard shelving)
Old brush shaft
Scrap tin cut into strips
Timber treatment in the colour of your choice

Tools required
Table saw / band saw, or handsaw if you're a budding superhero
Pop rivet gun & 6 rivets

Step 1: Cutting the Pallet

If you’ve ever de-nailed pallets before, you know what a pain in the backside it is, especially if you want to reuse the wood.

I managed to find pallets long enough trawling about in my usual haunts, and sectioned them as marked in the diagram with a jigsaw.

They are much easier to remove when they are only fixed in the middle, remove all the full lengths, one pallet is enough if you've no damaged bits.

Step 2: Preparing the Wood

I had a few planks with damaged edges, I cut the damaged bits of on the table saw and it left me with a couple of different widths to play with.

The wood is too thick for cladding, it needs ripped up the middle, I used a table saw with the riving knife trimmed for blind cuts, a single pass on each edge gave me the thickness I needed, a bit rough on the cut side, but that side faces in anyway.

Square up the ends on a mitre saw or by hand and mark your first plank to length, my top was 1" blockboard, and i made sure the plank projected past it and marked accordingly. Using this plank as the master, all the rest were cut to length.

Step 3: The Top

The top was cut out of an old blockboard shelf using the barrel as the template, make sure when marking it that you use a straight edge down the side of the barrel as both ends are tapered.

The centre point was roughed out and a hole cut in the top as a removable lid, I used an jigsaw set about 10 degrees off square and the starting hole drilled out with a series of small drill holes.

As a handle for the top I was going to use a knotted rope, but it would have turned green within a week, I decided in the end to go with a shaped block and an old brush shaft.

Its sits nice and snug in the hole and has survived 2 winters now with no fit problems.

Step 4: Cladding the Butt

Clamp the top into position, I used a couple of internal wooden braces and a couple of clamps through the centre hole of the barrel.

I laid the cladding out roughly round the barrel and trimmed a half inch off the width of a couple of pieces.

With the barrel on a flat stable platform, use packers to lift the board clear of the ground a couple of mm  and screw the first board into the blockboard top checking for square.

Use a single screw in each board until they are all installed to give a little movement as the position is finalised, then pop another screw in each board.

The metal bands were cut from a bit of scrap galvanised tin, the bits I had were short, so they were made up from 2 lengths joined with a pop rivet.

They were trimmed to rough length, one end was screwed through into the cladding and with a pair of mole grips the other end pulled round under tension, drilled and pop riveted.

A quick lick of black hammered paint and its done.

Step 5: Installation

Before i seen some really good ables here we hit the common problem of fitting the bottom nut  on the outlet pipe, my father knocked up this wooden nut holder and it works really well, the face is angled as you cannot close it flat against the side of the butt.

While waiting for the stain to dry I formed up a concrete base and finished off a drain that was required by building control, this runs under the butt through a drain pipe, the butt sits nicely on the base with the planks floating 1/4" off it, stops the rot, well slows it down a bit :).

There we go, one tarted up water butt, the final shot here was taken a couple of days ago, needs a lick of stain, thats 2 years wear, its done well... enjoy.

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    This is a cool idea, especially if you don't want a bright blue barrel by your house. Thank you so much for sharing this!



    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Well to be honest at the start it didnt bother me that much, probably due to the fact the place was like a building site, pallets were my choice as they were free and I could rip them, any thin sectioned timber like the boards they make panel fences from would do, glad to share, love this place, hope to contribute lots more.