Sunday, December 4, 2011

How to Make a Rain Barrel

Once again, an excerpt from "Black and Decker's The Complete Guide to Greenhouses and Garden Projects," on loan from one of my favourite places, the Powell River Public Library're someone who likes to work and play in the dirt.  Or at least you like the thought of it, and you're looking for inspiration to help you get out there.  In either case, you've come to the right place.  Like a garden itself, this book is filled with diverse bounty.  It is a compendium of information, advice, projects, and nitty-gritty details to help you satisfy your passion to grow things...

And no matter what type of gardening you do, the Garden Projects chapter is bound to have something you can really use:  planting beds, a compost bin, trellises, potting name it.  Best of all, every design uses simple, inexpensive raw materials that you work with your hands into something that's much more than the sum of its parts.  Sounds a lot like gardening, doesn't it?

How to Make a Rain Barrel
Tools and Materials: 
Barrel or trash can (minimum 44 gallons)    
Tape measure                                                   
Drill with spade bit                                            
Hole saw                                                             
Barb fitting for overflow hose                        
1 1/2" sump drain hose                                  
3/4" hose bibb or sillcock                                
Teflon tape                                                                                                                 
Clear silicone caulk                                            
3/4" female pipe coupling
3/4" bushing or bulkhead connector
Channel-type pliers
Fiberglass window screening
Sheet metal screws
Cargo strap, with ratchet or bungee cord
Eye and ear protection  
Work gloves
  1. Cut a large opening in the barrel top or lid.  Mark the size and shape of your opening - if using a bulk food barrel, mark a large semi-circle in the top of the barrel.  If using a plastic garbage can with a lid, mark a 12" diameter circle in the center of the lid.  Drill a starter hole, and then cut out the shape with a jigsaw.
  2. Install the overflow hose.  Drill a hole near the top of the barrel for the overflow fitting.  Thread the barb fitting into the hole and secure it to the barrel on the inside with the retainer nut and rubber washer (if provided).  Slide the overflow hose into the barbed end of the barb elbow until the end of the hose seats against the elbow flange.
  3. Drill the access hole for the spigot (either a hose bibb or sillcock, brass or PVC).  There are many ways to make the spigot connection.  We tightened the stem of the sillcock onto a threaded coupling which is inserted into the access hole.  Inside the barrel, a rubber washer is slipped onto the coupling end and then a threaded bushing is tightened over the coupling to create a seal.  Apply a strip of Teflon tape to all threaded parts before making each connection.  Caulk around the spigot flange with clear silicone caulk. 
  4. Screen over the opening in the top of the barrel.  Lay a piece of fiberglass insect mesh over the top of the can and secure it around the rim with a cargo strap or bungee cord that can be drawn drum-tight.  Snap the can lid over the top.  Once you have installed the rain barrel, periodically remove and clean the mesh. 
If you want pictures, you'll have to take the book out.  There are lots of other practical projects in the book. 

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