How To Make a Floating Dock

If you live on property that borders open water, you may want to build a floating dock. Use these steps to learn how to make your own floating dock.

  1. The first thing that you need to decide on when building your floating dock is how big you want your dock to be. Then you need to decide what materials to use. It is best to make up a diagram with measurements for your floating dock before you buy your supplies. Once you have your diagram, you can make a supply list from it. For this article the floating dock is 8'x 8'. You will need eight pressure treated 2x6s for the frame, four pressure treated 2x4s for the cross supports and to hold the barrels in place, four plastic barrels, wood screws, cement, a five gallon bucket, car seat belts, or an equivalent type of strap, galvanized cable and clamps, 5/4x6 pressure treated decking, 12 1/2 bolts, 2 flat washers per bolt and nuts for each bolt.
  2. The first step is to build the frame. For this example we are going to build the frame in two parts. This makes it easier to transport and store.
    • First cut four of the 2x6s down to 45" long.
    • Then make sure the other four are 8' long.
    • Next take two of the 45" long boards you just cut and attach them with wood screws to two of the 8' long boards, making a rectangle. Repeat this process for the other section.
    • After this process is complete, cut the 2x4s down to 45" long.
    • Next measure the top of the barrel to determine the center. (For example our barrel is 23" across, 1/2 of 23 is 11.5")
    • Once you have found the center number, take a 2x4 and measure out as in our example 11.5" at that place down 1 3/4".
    • Then lay it on top of the barrel and trace the outside edge of the barrel.
    • Contour one edge of the 2x4 to cut out the round part to fit the barrel in.
    • Once you have done this, attach the 2x4s to the frame to use as a support for the decking. The 2x4 needs to be positioned so the barrels fit securely in them making sure the cut out part is facing down.
  3. The next step is to attach the decking to your floating dock.
    Begin by screwing in the 5/4x6 decking. Make sure your screws are short enough that they won't pierce the barrels when they are in place. 
    • Once you have finished both sides, you will be able to attach the barrels. Taking your seat belts, fasten one side to the 2x4 with screws and then put your barrel in place and secure the other side.
    • You may now attach the two halves together. Using the 1/2" bolts, washers and nuts, place two in the inside center board. Drill holes at 2.5' and 5'.
    • After this is done, take the 2x6's and secure them to the ends to cover the seams from the two halves. Drill two holes in each section and secure with bolts.
    • The second to last step is to fill a 5 gallon bucket with cement.
    • Place a piece of rebar that has been bent into a loop into the center. Then take two pieces of angle iron that have been welded together to form a 2x2 box, drill a 1/2" hole and attach it to the center board with a bolt. After this is done run the cable through it, securing it with a cable clamp and attach the other end to the rebar, securing that end also with a clamp, once it has been set.
    • The final step is to add a ladder. This is made up of 2x4's. The ladder is about 3' long and about 2' wide. It extends 12" above the deck and then into the water. Attach with bolts at desired location. Now you are set to put your floating dock into the water and relax.


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