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Materials - Tools - Remarks

Making a 16 X 16 Floating Dock.

This dock design has not been tested by any engineering firm or regulatory agency. No guarantee is given that the dock is safe for use.

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Materials List

All measurements are imperial inches and feet.

Lumber
19 pcs. of 2 X 10, 16 foot long for framing

35 boards of 1 X 6, 16 foot long

16 short pcs. of 2 X 6, each 16 inches long, for retainers


Other Parts
6 pcs. Styrofoam billets, 20 inches wide, 9 or 10 inches thick, 8 foot long. These are standard billets made by Dow Chemical.

4 pcs. corner brackets. More about them here.

4 pcs. inch-and-a-half pipes, length to suit conditions

32 machine bolts (hex heads), 9/16 X 3 inches

32 nuts, 9/16

32 large washers for above bolts (5/8 washers work best)

Some 4-inch galvanized spiral nails for framing. Don't use shorter or smooth nails

Some 3-inch galvanized spiral nails for decking.

8 tie down rings (the screw-in type)

Source of Materials

In Canada, the lumber, foam billets and pipes can be purchased from most building supply stores. We bought our foam billets at Collins Home Hardware in Chapleau Ontario but you should be able to order them from any Home Hardware dealer. If you live in the U.S.A and cannot find the foam billets locally, try at http://www.dockbuilders.com Whatever you use, make absolutely sure that you get the right type of foam. A lot of foam, even some of the kind used for flotation under the seats of boats will become water logged over time when it is constantly in the water.

The corners can be ordered from any machine shop or from Superior Machine and Hydraulics Ltd. That shop has all the specs on file and will ship world-wide if you desire.

The nuts and bolts can be bought at a hardware store or at an automotive parts store near you.

Tools Needed

Half-inch electric drill
9/16 wood bit (not larger)
Half-inch ratchet with 7/8 socket
7/8 wrench
Hammer
Hand-saw for cutting foam billets. (A chain saw works much better)
Circular saw (skillsaw)
Tape measure
Carpenter's square
Chalk line
Pencils

A scrap piece of 1/2-inch plywood, about 30 to 36 inches square to set the corners on during assembly. That makes a flat surface, since you will probably work on the beach or in the grass.

Cutting the 2 X 10 Lumber

Make 4 pieces exactly 16 foot long.

Cut the remaining 15 pieces so that they are shorter than 16 foot by twice their thickness. If you use dressed lumber, that usually comes to about 15 foot and 9 inches. To get this length correctly, measure your lumber's thickness, double that and deduct it from 16 foot. That way your dock will end up being exactly 16 X 16.

What does it cost?

In 2002 we built 15 docks for about 30,000. in Canadian Dollars. That was all for materials and included no labour. Since we bought so much lumber and so many foam billets and corner brackets at once, we saved a bit of money no doubt.

If you have built one of these docks using metric measures, we would appreciate getting your materials list so that we can pass it along.

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dock1.jpg - 12911 Bytes
Click here for another view of these docks

Here from May through September, you can see a webcam image of some of these docks in actual use

General Remarks

The simple square shape of this dock makes it easy to build. The use of standard materials keeps waste to a minimum. T-shaped or L-shaped docks are more difficult to make.

If you reduce the size, you will probably regret it because smaller docks are tippy. Being 16 X 16, this dock will give you a stable and comfortable platform. Its sides are long enough for tying up four modest boats. You can put a bench or some lawn furniture on it and still have room to move.

The two trickiest problems with making a floating dock are keeping the dock in position and stopping it from coming apart at the corners after a few years. With this dock, both of those problems are solved by the steel corner brackets.

The dock is held in place by 4 pipes that are dropped down to the lake bottom through sleeves. The pipes are not driven in. The pipes have no plates at the bottom and therefore burry themselves slightly in the sand or muck by their own weight. There are no troublesome chains or cables that get in the way or have to be adjusted.

When you want to move the dock, you simply stand on the dock and pull the pipes out.

The method of anchoring the dock with the 4 pipes works well if your water is not more than about 10 feet deep. In deeper water you would probably need stiffer (larger) pipe. If your water is not more than about 5 feet deep you might consider using galvanized fence posts. They are thin walled tubing and come in 7 foot length. They have the same outer diameter as inch and a half water pipe. These fence posts are much lighter and hence much easier to pull out. Here we now use fence posts nearly exclusively. They are also much cheaper.

If your lake freezes over, be sure to pull your pipes out in the fall, otherwise they will bend when the ice shifts. The dock itself must be parked in an area of the lake where the ice cannot push it against the shore and crush it. See here what can happen if you don't. Such a protected area is usually a sheltered bay or the side of the lake where the prevailing winds do not blow against the shore. Or there might be a convenient point of land that can offer protection in its lee. Otherwise your dock will be destroyed. If you have such a sheltered place, just tie a rope to one of the tie down rings and fasten it on shore.

If there is no protected place available, you will have to take the dock out of the water before freeze-up. But this applies to all types of docks, floating or solid. Fortunately this dock is easy to move. The best way to tow the dock is with a rope from the bow of the boat with the motor in reverse. Pass the other end of the tow rope through one of the corner brackets.

Here are some docks coming out of hibernation. The picture was taken on April 25, 2003. We get about 30 inches of ice.

Pipe comes in 21 foot lengths here. In our situation, we cut the full lengths either in half to get two long sections, or in three 7-foot pieces.

Pulling the pipes out is usually easy. But if the lake bottom is soft, the pipes will have sunk a little way into the muck, by their own weight. In that case you might not be able to pull them out with your bare hands. We use a modified JackAll jack when a pipe is stuck in the muck. Automotive supply stores usually sell these strong jacks, at least they do in Canada.

Wrap the short piece of chain twice round the pipe where it comes out of the dock. Then start jacking.

Our jack has a piece of chain permanently attached to it, and also a grab-hook for the loose end of the chain. To lighten the jack, we have cut off about half of the upright bar and handle. Note also the safety rope that lets you fish the jack out if you drop it in the water.

The Styrofoam flotation billets are made by Dow Chemical and can be ordered through a building supply store. In case you have trouble locating the right billets, we got ours from our local Home Hardware building supply. Ask for Doug Collins. His number is 705-864-1030.

With 6 billets under it, the dock floats high and is very stable, even when several persons are on it. Without a load, the dock will float in about three inches of water.

If you plan to load and unload a floatplane from a dock like this, it will have to support several people and a lot of baggage. In that case, you will need more than 6 Styrofoam billets to support the greater weight. Our airplane dock has Styrofoam solidly right across without any vacant spaces. That takes 16 billets.

We had a Beaver floatplane tied to one of these docks for several years. The dock never moved, not even with strong winds pushing against the airplane.

If you want to tie a floatplane to one of these docks, you will have to make sure that the pipes don't stick up very high above the dock. Otherwise the horizontal stabilizer will hit. We kept two or three sets of pipe for our airplane dock. As the water went down, we switched to shorter pipes.


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