Yeah, you read the title right, great way to make your wife happy! And I mean that, let me explain…
So you are a prepper or you wouldn’t be reading this article about water storage. As a prepper you know that having safe water to drink and cook with is the fifth most important priority in mitigating risks and threats during emergencies, disasters, and grid-down. With that knowledge you understand the need to store water. I am not blessed with a pond on my property or a swimming pool in my back yard like some people. So I have to figure out ingenious water storage methods.
But, the challenge doesn’t end there. My wife, the patient and sweet person that she is, has her limits. Cases of water stacked in the living room, or five gallon water containers lining the hallway is not her idea of a normal life and house. Yeah, go figure…right.
As the saying goes, “Happy wife, happy life!”
A couple years ago our 13 area church congregations got together and I organized a group buy on 30-gal water storage barrels. Last year I did a “proof of concept” project to make sure my idea would work and hold up through four-seasons of weather.
The idea was simple, I didn’t have a true storage area left inside my house for something as large as a 30-gal water barrel. So, it had to go in the garage or outside. I really cherish my garage space, I call it my “workshop”, so the water barrel(s) had to go outside.
Uh, huh…about now you are wondering how that is going to work out. Hang in there, it works out just fine.
So, the garage was out. And, neither my wife or me like the idea of bright blue barrels sitting outside anywhere. First, it was an eyesore. Second, it would telegraph to a lot of folks that we had drinking water. Third, it would cause questions to be asked that I really didn’t want to address. Only one real option left.
The barrels had to go outside, and my wife didn’t want an ugly eyesore. Well, let the home designer begin!
My wife got to work trying to figure out how to turn the water barrels into a decorative outside functional work of art. She succeeded. The concept was pretty simple, we would decorate the barrel making it actually hard to recognize. And part of that process would be making it somewhat functional as well. The end result was a very “pretty” table. Yeah, table.
Bear with me for a few more minutes, you are gonna like this.
Off to Hobby Lobby we went. We went to the sewing section and found some great looking burlap. Then my wife convinced me that it would be some accent trim. I agreed…regardless of what that meant.
Once home we set up the bright blue, food grade, barrel in the garage, ah, er, workshop. I had previously cleaned the inside of the barrel by rinsing it. I cleaned the outside with a little acetone. That would help prep the surface to work better with teh glue. We got the hot glue gun ready, the spray glue, a sharpie and a pair of heavy shears.
Here is how we applied the burlap material to the barrel step-by-step:
Step #1 –
Notice that we left enough material overlap the top lip of the barrel. You can see we used the sharpie to mark the material. Later, as we were gluing the material down, we could use those marks to ensure that we weren’t getting “cock-eyed”. We also used that material to hot glue to the top to make sure we had a good anchor for the material to stay in place.
Step #2 –
We started at a seam in the barrel. We designated this the back of the finished piece that people wouldn’t see. I applied a generous amount of hot glue to the barrel and placed the start of the burlap to the line of hot glue. We pressed the material down well into the long blob of glue. We held it there while it set and cooled. Yes, the glue was hot. Hence the term…”hot glue.”
Step #3 –
While I held the burlap material my wife would spray some glue, about a 4” swath, onto the barrel, top to bottom. She made sure that she got a larger portion of the glue on the curved part of the top of the barrel. As she would draw away, I would press the material on to the freshly glued barrel surface and hold it there till it set. We would then rotate the barrel slightly and do it all over again till we reached the starting point.
Note: When pressing the material into the barrel that has been freshly sprayed with glue, make sure you use one hand to press the burlap into the curve piece of the barrel that is near the top, and hold it there. It will tend to want to pull away.
Step #4 –
Once we reached the starting point we went back to the hot glue gun. I placed a generous amount of hot glue on a small strip of the blue plastic and a whole bunch on the beginning strip of burlap. My wife then placed the material on the spot and I pressed it firmly into place. The hot glue bonded well with the plastic, but even better with the originally glued burlap.
Step #5 –
Then we put a whole bunch of glue on the top of the barrel right along the ridge 4″ – 6″ at a time and curled the burlap over the top lip. This will hold the burlap in place on the barrel really well, especially with the table top sitting on it.
Step #6 –
Then we flipped the barrel over to finish up the bottom of the barrel. I cut off the excess material so we would have a relatively flat bottom piece that the barrel could sit on and be level and not be wobbly. But then again, it was going to have 240lbs of water in it to steady it up.
Notice the folds? This helps keep the sides from showing any “bunching up” of material.
We applied generous amounts of hot glue when bonding the material with the barrel.
Step #7 –
I used a piece of heavy twine to gather and hold the burlap material up in the grove just under the barrel top. This step helps the accent piece to mold to the indent more smoothly.
I tied a slip knot in one end of the twine, passed the twine around the barrel, and through the loop of the slip knot. I pulled it tight, placed a half-hitch to secure it. Then came the hot glue…plenty of it to secure the knot to the material.
Step #8 –
Then came the accent piece. To start the accent piece we used hot glue just like we did with the burlap at the staring seam. We used the spray glue once again to hold the accent piece in place as we circled the barrel with it. And yes, once again we paid particular attention to the indentation near the top of the barrel.
Note: On the first barrel we did a year ago we used more hot glue to hold the accent piece in-place. It is up to you what you want to do. The heavier the material of the accent piece the more likely you are that you can use hot glue. Hot glue holds better than the spray glue. But hot glue is more likely to bleed through the material.
Step #9 –
Go buy a round wood table top at Lowes. For a 30-gal barrel you want a 24” top. I didn’t sand it, I simply used some leftover wood deck solid stain that I had used on the front deck I had built two years ago.
Note: You can use stone if you wish. You might look at a piece of scrap granite or quartz from your local dealer. Sometimes scraps (a.k.a. remnants) can be picked up cheap.
Step #10 –
Find the right place for the new decorative piece, place it with the seam to the rear where it won’t be seen, fill it with water, add a little bleach, put the table top on it, and then get away from it. Finally let your wife decide what goes on it to make it look as if it is a high-end piece of yard furniture.
Note: When the barrel was about ½ full I put about a 1/2 pint of unscented bleach (8 ounces) in the barrel. I didn’t put the bleach in the water to make it safe to drink. I put it in there only to deter the growth of algae, bacteria, etc. As you well know, you should filter/purify all water prior to drinking it when in an emergency, disaster, or especially during grid-down. < click to read more about water storage >
Take pictures of it and put it on your Facebook page telling everyone what it is and that you built it yourself.
Note: Yes, that violates OpSec. But you want to brag about it right? I did…you just read about it.
A couple final thoughts –
- We rarely get a hard freeze in our area. But, I did leave a couple inches of space at the top of the barrel for expansion if it does freeze.
- In an area of the country where you get hard freezes for long lengths of time you may have to leave more space in the barrel for the water to expand.
- NEVER put any additive in the water to prevent it from freezing. You could end up killing yourself and your family if you do.
- One option is “heat tape” wrapping to keep the water in the barrel from freezing when the weather turns bad.
- While the barrel is now camouflaged, it is still noticeable if you prominently display it. I suggest placing it in a location that is “subdued” and the area is out of the way, and naturally discreet. Place furniture in front of it to further break up it natural outline. Plainly speaking…don’t draw attention to it.
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