How to make a water trough out of wood

Updated February 21, 2017

Water troughs were traditionally constructed out of wood. More recently, troughs are made out of galvanised metal, stainless steel or some form of plastic. Although these modern troughs may have the advantage of durability, they lack character and time-honoured tradition. A modern organic farmer or those interested in self-sufficient homesteading would do well to construct their own watering troughs out of wood. Although wood is not the most durable method for storing water, it does hold water well and can be replaced or repaired with ease and little expense.

Set two of the 2-by-12-by-48-inch rough milled pine boards parallel to each other approximately 12 inches apart. Measure with a tape measure 3 inches in from each end of both boards. Mark these points with a pencil.

Place the two 2-by-12-by-12-inch rough milled pine boards between the two long boards so that they are perpendicular to them and lined up with the pencil marks.

Fasten the boards together using a screw gun and 3 ½-inch coated deck screws. Screw from the outside of the long boards into the ends of the square boards. This forms the basic box for the trough.

Take the remaining long pine board and lay it in line with the edges of the box. This will form the bottom of the trough. Use a screw gun to screw the bottom into place. Space the screws evenly every 6 to 8 inches.

Flip the trough over. Place the two 4-by-4-by-12-inch rough milled pine posts parallel to each other approximately 36 inches apart. Set the trough on these posts. The posts form the base for the trough, which simply rests on them.

Fill the trough with water. It may leak until the wood swells. Once the wood has swollen, the trough will cease to leak.


If leaking is a great concern, melt paraffin wax and pour it along the seams of the bottom of the trough.


Do not use treated wood. Treated or painted wood presents a health risk to animals. Always wear safety glasses when woodworking. Follow tool safety instructions.

Things You'll Need

  • Three 2-by-12-by-48-inch rough milled pine boards
  • Two 2-by-12-by-12-inch rough milled pine boards
  • Tape measure
  • Screw gun
  • Coated 3 ½-inch deck screws
  • Two 4-by-4-by-12-inch rough milled pine posts
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About the Author

Jonah Morrissey has been writing for print and online publications since 2000. He began his career as a staff reporter/photographer for a weekly newspaper in upstate New York. Morrissey specializes in topics related to home-and-garden projects, green living and small business. He graduated from Saint Michael's College, earning a B.A. in political science with a minor in journalism and mass communications.