Building A Cheap DIY Barrel Cradle
A barrel is a great way to step up your homebrewing. Generally they won’t come with a barrel cradle so you’ll either need to buy or build one. I opted on building one and figured I’d share my DIY barrel cradle guide. It’s dirt cheap if you don’t have the materials and free if you have a bit of spare lumber and screws.
Let’s start with the benefits of a barrel cradle. The first one is of course it keeps your barrel from rolling away. The next one is subjective but well rumored that the even air flow around the barrel is good for what’s inside. Adding casters to your barrel cradle will give you the added benefit of mobility. Trust me you don’t want to move around a full barrel without help.
The standard cradle for a 5 gallon barrel runs about $35 online. Save yourself a few bucks and build a DIY barrel cradle with a $3 piece of lumber and $3 in screws. Time wise it should only take 20 to 30 minutes in labor. As long as you’re semi-handy and have the tools you shouldn’t have any issues.
- 8 Foot 2 x 4
- 16 2.5 inch Wood Screws
- Cardboard For Template
- 2x 11 Inch Boards
- 2x 17.25 Inch Boards
- 4x 5.5 Inch Boards With Angle Cut
- ⅛ Inch Drill Bit
- Screwdriver Bit
- Carpenter Square
Now let’s get onto the cuts.
- Start by cutting your 2×4 into two 11 inch boards, two 17.5 boards, and four 5.5 inch boards. The 5.5 inch boards will need an angle cut for holding the barrel. I’m not sure if all barrels are the same size but you can quickly make a template.
- Find a piece of cardboard bigger than the end of your barrel. Measure the diameter at the end of the barrel and add about a half-inch. Now draw a line across the middle of your cardboard. Find the center point of the line and repeat marking lines till you have enough to draw a circle. If you have a bowl that is the same diameter then use that instead.
- Use the template to draw a line across your 5.5 inch boards and then cut them. Feel free to go with a rounded cut for a snug fit if you want.
Now let’s assemble your barrel cradle.
- Grab two of the 5.5 inch boards and one of the 11 inch boards. Mark the 11 inch board on the ends with the 5.5 boards as a template. Drill two holes within each template you marked.
- Use a screwdriver bit to screw in a screw till slightly poking out and use it to mark your 5.5 boards. Pre-drill your mark on the 5.5 inch to prevent splitting. Keep the 5.5 as square as possible and finish screwing in the first screw. Pre-drill the other hole and attach last screw. Repeat on the other side of your 11 inch board.
- Repeat step 2 on the other 11 inch board.
- Square up your assembled 11 inch board with one of the 17.5 inch boards. A table or bench end works great for keeping the 11 inch board in place. Pre-drill your first hole and screw in a wood screw. Don’t add the second screw till you know it is square. Repeat on the opposite side of the assembled 11 inch board with the other 17.5 inch board.
- Repeat with the other assembled 11 inch board on the other side. You want the assembled 11 inch boards square with each other. Don’t worry if your 17.5 boards aren’t perfectly square with each other as the 11 inch assembled boards are where it counts.
This 5 gallon DIY barrel cradle design should scale up fairly easily for 10 and 15 gallon barrels. Follow the same instructions but measure your barrel to figure out the changes. You’ll want to add an extra screw for the 15 gallon to make sure it will hold. I doubt this would hold a full size 53 gallon barrel without serious reinforcement but go ahead and report back if you try.