The images in the article have been affected by an old online storage provider I used to use a long time ago It seems that imageshack.us
corrupted some (or all) of my images.  I have since copied what was salvageable and placed in on my server.  Some images do not have full sizes to view.  Sorry.

 

With so many “green” projects out there, I thought I might take a common suggestion from many water conservationists and add a little to the process. I’ll combine water conservation, electricity conservation, recycling and throw in a little plumbing.We all know that having a rain barrel around the corner of the house is a good thing. Well, if one barrel is good, than four must be great! I’ll show you how to build a rack which holds four barrels and in part II, how to connect them together to store up to 200 gallons of pure water.Rain water is one of the purest forms of water available on the planet. Gardens that are watered with well water will eventually suffer from the high mineral content in the water. Some municipalities have opted not to treat their water for hardness which would make urban water the same as well water.  On our homestead the well water is high in minerals, but it’s hard [calcium, iron and manganese] that are the highest.  This is not as bad as some people who have soft [high sodium] in their water, which is bad for plants and people to drink.

Roll Out Ye Olde Barrel!

You don’t want just any old barrel to store your rain in. Before hunting for your rain barrel, consider what you want to use the water for.
  • Household use?
  • Animal drinking water?
  • Garden Watering?
  • Car Washing?
  • All of the above?
If your water is going to be considered potable, then your sourcing of the barrel will be limited. Here are some suggestions for finding the water vessel you thirst for.
  • Plastics manufactures and retailers, look under plastics in the yellow pages
  • food handling companies such as bulk food retailers, hotels and large restaurants sometimes have barrels that stored food. After washing, these containers are safe to drink from. Olive barrels are a good example
  • Check the different classified services such as buysell.com , kijiji.com or this little gem: The Calgary materials Exchange Gateway

If you want to drink the water there are a few filters you will need to run the water through. Catching water for drinking is another article altogether, which I may write one day.

I once found a supply of old Coke syrup barrels from Coca Cola Ltd. The plastic was food grade but was not UV resistant. The barrels eventually became brittle in the sun, and cracked. If you are using clear or white plastic food-grade barrels, the chances are that the plastic is not UV resistant. I have seen olive barrels used that are dark in colour, but these barrels are coveted and hard to find at any price.If you are only going to use the rainwater on your garden, then I would suggest searching around the car wash businesses. I was lucky enough to get some through a family member that works for a car dealership. The barrels that contain detergents are easy to rinse out and any residue thereafter would not be toxic to plants or humans (still, I wouldn’t drink from it). I managed to get my hands on 3 barrels to date, but have made the rack to accommodate 4 barrels.So, if you’ve got a barrel, now you need some wood for the rack. Later you will want to connect all the barrels together which requires some plumbing pieces.

I’m proud to say that I didn’t pay for any of the materials except for screws and glue. Remember my new favorite saying: “The greenest product is the one you don’t buy”. Think creatively when sourcing materials. The bottom line is that you will need these parts:

  1. 4×4 posts for legs, the longer the better
  2. 2×8 for the rails and side , 2 at 6 feet and 2 as long as your barrels
  3. screws
  4. construction glue (PL400 by LePage )

2 Posts Become 4 Legs

I’ve had 2 4×4 posts that were 8 feet long. At the top of each leg I want a lap joint for the rails. I clamped them together and marked a line at 4 feet, then I made marks for the lap joint.

The first cut was at the mark, where I would later cut right through the posts. This cut was made as deep as my saw would allow.
I set the depth of my saw blade using a scrap of 2×4 for cutting the lap joint

Now your ready to cut “hash” marks across all the waste wood you will be taking out. Here’s what mine looked like before I got the chisel and hammer out.

 

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Now I chiseled out all the waste and cleaned up the face for a nice lap joint. After I did that, I cut the middle kerf with a hand saw – a tool that has no carbon footprint, ha!
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To get the rails started I cut them to length, then took a barrel and used an edge to trace a pattern on the wood. Then I used the cut-out scrap to make the remaining cut-outs. Remember to space your “seats” for the barrels enough that they do not overlap when side-by-side. I measured the diameter of one barrel, added 2 inches, then made the next arc.

So where is the electrical conservation?

I decided to pull out my brace and bit to do the screwing.
my brace and Lee Valley hex shank bit adaptor

Yes, I have a cordless drill, but it uses electricity.  So, I put the glue on, screwed one screw into each leg, then squared up the leg to the barrel rack.  After the legs were perpendicular to the rack I finished screwing with my old tool brace.

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aligning the legs to the rack on one side of the barrel rack

 

 

This is a “to be continued” post so you’ll have to wait for Rain-barrel Rack Part TWO

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