Homemade Plastic Barrel Pontoons

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Pontoon boats are great for leisure.
Pontoon boats are great for leisure. (Image: ponton image by philippe devisscher from Fotolia.com)

Pontoon boats, generally constructed with plastic barrels and plywood, are the ideal platform for slow moving rivers where the water is calm and predictable. These types of boats are available in many sizes and generally carry several people. They can be used for leisurely purposes, as well as fishing and many other activities. Though these boats can be purchased, it can be more costly than designing and building the pontoon yourself with materials found at general hardware stores.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • 2-by-6 boards
  • 12 55-gallon plastic barrels
  • Trot-line cord
  • Drill
  • Drill bits
  • Eye-bolts
  • Large screws
  • Pliers
  • Plywood sheets
  • Notepad
  • Pen
  • Permanent marker

Determine what size pontoon raft you will build. The typical size for a plastic barrel pontoon is 12 by 8 feet.

Choose an area close to a body of water to construct the pontoon boat, so it can easily be tested when it is finished.

Set twelve 55-gallon plastic barrels on a flat surface such as the ground in two rows of six side-by-side.

Use the measuring tapes to measure the width and length of the plastic barrels. Mark this down on a notepad for later use.

Cut two 2-by-6 boards according to the measurements of the plastic barrels. Use two 2-by-6 boards for the length and an additional two for the width.

Place the boards on a flat surface to form the rectangular frame. Screw the ends of the 2-by-6 boards together with screws at the corners.

Measure one side of the 8-foot frame with the measuring tape and make a mark with the permanent marker at the center. Repeat this process for the other side of the frame. This will create a 1-inch mark in the center of the frame on each side.

Place a 2-by-6 board on the frame along the marks made in the center and affix the board to the frame with screws.

Place the 55-gallon plastic barrels onto the frame. Six drums should fit on each side of the 2-by-6 in the center of the frame.

Use the permanent marker to make a mark in between each plastic barrel. Remove the plastic barrels and set a 2 by 6 board along each mark. Use the power drill to attach the boards to the frame with screws.

Place plywood sheets over the top of the frame and affix these with the power drill and screws.

Turn the frame over and lay it on a flat surface. Mark the location of each eye-bolt with the permanent marker, as one will need to be placed at the center of each barrel on the 2 by 6 boards.

Use the drill to pre-dill holes for the eye-bolts. Place the eye-bolts and tighten them with the pliers securely.

Set the barrels back into position on the frame. Use the trot-line cord to tie the barrels down to the eye-bolts by placing it over the barrels and tying them down.

Test the pontoon before usage for security, durability and buoyancy on water before usage.

Tips & Warnings

  • Cut off any excess plywood sheets with a saw if the sheets hang over the edges of the frame. Smooth them down by sanding them.
  • Make sure to wear life jackets every time you take the boat out onto water for security.
  • Do not use the pontoon on unpredictable or fast waters.

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