How to Make a Wooden Rain Barrel: Step by Step

If you’re like most people, you use water that has been filtered and treated for human consumption to do outdoor tasks, such as watering your garden or even hosing dirt off your driveway, without a second thought. Instead of wasting such a precious commodity, use the rainwater that washes off your roof for these projects. This water is known as grey water, not fit to drink or use for cooking but perfectly suitable to use the next time you wash your car or use your lawn sprinkler. Turn off your faucet and gather a renewable source of water in your homemade rain barrel.

  1. Research local ordinances and building codes that apply to rain barrels. You may be prohibited from the construction itself or, as in parts of the southwestern United States, from harvesting rainwater in general. Be sure you know the legality of the project before continuing.
  2. Buy a lined barrel made for liquid storage or ask around at local nurseries or wineries for a used, sealed barrel. Find a barrel with a capacity of approximately 50-90 gallons. Wash your barrel completely before use, clearing all remnants of prior use, food products or chemicals.
  3. Cut a 6-inch circle in the top of your barrel using a 6″ hole saw. Fill the hole with the 6-inch round screen which will keep debris out of the water and bugs from breeding in your barrel.
  4. Drill a hole in the side of your barrel with a 29/32″ drill bit. Place the hole near the top of the barrel to act as an overflow. Insert a 29/32″ NPT pipe tap into the hole by twisting it, and reverse your motion to remove it by untwisting. Place a hose adapter in the hole, threaded side first. Connect a hose to the adapter, then direct the hose away from your house to prevent water damage from occurring.
  5. Use the same drill bit to drill a second hole on the side of the barrel, the same size as the first. Place the second hole at the bottom of the barrel’s side where it can easily be reached. Twist the pipe tap in and out of the bottom hole like you did on the top one. Use plumber’s tape to wrap the threaded end of a brass spigot or faucet. Start at one side of the threaded end and wrap toward the other until all the threads are covered. Insert the threaded, wrapped side of the spigot into the bottom hole.
  6. Make a flat platform for your rain barrel. Choose the spot where you will place it, and set down several cinder blocks with their long edges aligned. Once they are level, set the rain barrel on the top.
  7. Saw off the bottom portion of your downspout. Cut just above your barrel, about four inches from the top, then attach an elbow to the downspout to funnel the water from the roof into the mouth of the barrel.



“How to Make Your Own Rain Barrel,” City of Bremerton

Chris Baskind, “How to Start a Home Rain Barrel Project,” Mother Nature Network

“How Can I Make a Rain Barrel?,” Environmental Protection Agency

“3 Cheap DIY Rain Barrels That Actually Look Nice!,” The Fun Times Guide

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