How To Build A Dock or Wharf


A nice dock goes a long way to making a lakefront cottage enjoyable. A dock provides a place to swim from, tie up your boat, receive boat visitors, fish, or just enjoy the looking at the lake. We went one year without a wharf at our camp and to be honest missed having it. One of the first places I head for when we arrive at the camp is out on the wharf to have a look around the lake.

Our dock is a bit of a hybrid, part floating dock, part stationary. It consists of one section that goes from the shoreline to a small rock “crib” and then extends past that to a float, then another float and finally a third larger float at the end. It stays in place with some ropes tied to the shore and two metal pipes driven into the bottom of the lake at the end of the wharf. The pipes allow the floating portion of the wharf to move up and down as the water moves up and down.

These days there are lots of options and “stuff” for wharves, hardware, connections, hinges, pipe holders, floatation blocks, etc etc. You can even get something called a “Dock In A Box” which is essentially all you need to build a wharf or dock depending on your specifications and requirements. All you do is add the wood.

There are also a couple of excellent books available to the dock builder, cottager, lakefront home owner that will help you to decide on the best dock for your lakefront property and then show you how to build it.

The Dock Manual: Designing/Building/Maintaining


Building & Maintaining Docks: How to Design, Build, Install & Care for Residential Docks

As I mentioned, in addition to some great reference books on dock building, there are a wide assortment of hardware you can buy to connect your dock or wharf, and to keep it in position regardless of the water levels. For example:


Pipe Holders

Dock Cleats

Connector Hinges (Great for joining floating sections)

Side Leg Holder

Corner Plate


With the right hardware and some lumber, floatation if you go with a floating wharf, you can build a great dock for your cottage.

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