Here's how to build a small 3-sluice gate dam from scratch

Make your own little 3-sluice dam in your garden.
Christopher McFadden

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If you are looking for an interesting project to build in your garden, then you can't really go wrong with a little working dam. Here's how to build one. 

3 sluice mini dam complete
Source: Mr.Construction/YouTube

As you can imagine, you'll need some tools and materials before you get started.

Materials and gear needed

  • Bricks
  • Threaded metal rods
  • Plastic pipes
  • Switches
  • Wires and other electrical components
  • Actuators
  • Cement mix and sand

With all your gear in hand, let's get on with the build.

Step 1: Prepare the ground

Once a suitable site for your little dam has been chosen, the first step is to prepare the ground for your project. Dig a long trench to fit the dam and also excavate a larger area of ground to one end of the trench for the dam's reservoir. 

Once that is done, further excavate the bed and walls of the trench at the location where the dam will be constructed. Next, grab your old bricks and cement and begin to raise the dam brick course by brick course.

When you reach around the third course of bricks, lay some half bricks vertically to make the openings in the dam to form the main sluices. With that done, continue to build the dam up with bricks until the desired height is reached. 

Don't worry about making the pointing spot on as you'll be covering the whole dam with cement anyway. On the downstream side of the dam, build a plinth of bricks ready to construct the main sluice ramps from the dam. 

diy mini dam bricks
Source: Mr.Construction/YouTube

With that done, lay some bricks at an angle to form the main part of the ramp too. Once the main brick construction is finished, skim the entire exposed surface of the dam with cement. 

Smooth down the cement skim as needed. If desired, you can also add some decorative features to the dam like railings along the roadway of the dam. 

Step 2: Build the sluice ramps

With the main dam structure now complete, we can move on to completing the front sluice ramps. Create some shuttering using cardboard or plastic cards to make a set of molds for the ramp walls. 

Place the molds into place at the front of the dam on the main ramp as needed. With the molds in place, fill the molds with more cement to build the walls of the sluice ramps. 

diy mini dam sluice walls
Source: Mr.Construction/YouTube

Ensure the molds are completely filled with cement. Leave the cement to fully cure and then remove the molds as needed. 

With that done, take some cement adhesive and glue into place the frame for the sluice gates as needed. You can make the frame from anything really, but wood or metal work best. 

With that done, create a series of three sluice gates using either plastic, wood, or metal, and push them into place to the front of the dam. Adjust their dimensions as needed to ensure they can freely move up and down but can hold back water from the reservoir. 

diy mini dam sluice gates
Source: Mr.Construction/YouTube

With that done, drill three holes to the lintel of the frame to mount the sluice gate actuators. 

Step 3: Finish the dam

Next, take your motors or actuators and insert these into place above the sluice gates as needed. Extend the rotors of the actuators with threaded metal rods so that they can be attached to the sluice gates. 

With that done, attach some plastic threaded plastic tubes to the sluice gates and the threaded rods from the actuators as needed. 

These will enable the motor to raise and lower the sluice gate by twisting the threaded rod and pulling up the sluice gates on demand. 

diy mini dam sluice gate rods
Source: Mr.Construction/YouTube

With that done, wire up a series of switches to the wiring of the actuators as required. House the switches in some form of boxing to protect them from the elements. 

With that done, add a power source to the circuitry for the switches and motors too. Tidy up and fix the wiring to the motors as needed. 

Once that is done, your dam is basically complete. Now you can go ahead and flood the main reservoir ready to put the dam into action. 

diy mini dam wiring
Source: Mr.Construction/YouTube

With that done, your dam is now complete. Now you can open up the sluice gates and watch your hard work come to life!

Well done you. 

If you enjoyed making this little dam, you might want to consider putting your new dam-building skills to the test with a more advanced miniature dam structure

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