Project Ideas With 55-Gallon Plastic Drums


Although 55-gallon drums are primarily used as containers for various products, they can be used in other ways as well. A 55-gallon plastic drum can be the basis for diverse DIY projects that range from constructing a piece of furniture out of a plastic drum to using the plastic drum as part of a homemade raft project. 55-gallon plastic drums can be purchased new or they can be recycled drums that formerly were used as storage containers.

Rain Barrels

  • 55-gallon drums are often used in rain-harvesting projects. Some rain-harvesting projects call for two or more 55-gallon drums, but a simple system can be built using only one drum that serves as the rainwater reservoir. When preparing the drum for the system, a hole is cut in the top of the barrel to receive the water, which is usually rainwater diverted off a roof into the drum. Additionally, holes are drilled in the side of the drums to allow for access to the water, for overflow and to link drums together when more than one drum is used. Drums that have previously held chemicals are not recommended for this project.

DIY Raft

  • Due to their buoyancy, 55-gallon plastic barrels are sometimes used in water-related projects that need something that floats. One such project is a DIY raft. This project involves using 55-gallon drums, plywood, bolts, 2-by-4s and steel cable meshed together to form a raft.

Compost Bin

  • A 55-gallon plastic drum compost bin project can provide a two-fold environmental impact. Recycling a used 55-gallon plastic drum keeps a chunk of plastic from ending up in a landfill, and composting also provides environmental benefits. This 55-gallon plastic drum project can be accomplished by simply drilling six to nine holes over the entire length of the drum to allow even air circulation throughout the compost bin and adding compost. The compost can be mixed by laying the drum on its side and rolling the drum a few rotations every few days.


  • Some 55-gallon plastic drum projects are easier to envision than others are. One that is not so easy to envision is making a chair from a 55-gallon drum. Making a chair out of a plastic drum takes recycling to a new level and provides an inexpensive piece of furniture. A plastic drum chair project can be completed with a few basic tools that include a screwdriver, jigsaw, drill, and a heat gun and with a pieces of hardware that include drywall and machine screws, nuts, washers, c-clamps and a piece of flat steel. The directions to building a plastic drum chair are moderately complex, but the general idea is to cut the drum in half, forming a base from one half and fabricating the top and arms from the other half.

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  • Photo Credit barrel racer image by Clarence Alford from
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