Building A Garden Shed General Woodworking
Well, I’ll call it that, anyway. For now, it’s a temporary place for about half of my woodworking tools and supplies – all of which will not fit in my new garage workshop. Eventually, it will be used to store various things in, including lawn and garden tools.
I’ve only been living here for a few days, but I’ve already decided what I have to do to get my workshop up and running again. Having the workshop in working condition is a priority, not only to carry on with projects for this site, but to use for work that needs to be done here. Building a shed to free up enough space in my garage to properly organize everything is the first step.
My new house has two wooden decks in the back yard, and both of these have very nearly reached the end of their serviceable life. They are both approximately 12′ x 12′, and predominantly made from pressure treated 2″ x 6″ lumber. A quick count of the usable material tells me there is more than enough here to completely frame a good size shed:
Granted, it’s not the best looking stock, but the worst is just on the top surface. There are some deep cracks, but the wood is more than strong enough for the purpose.
The decks were not well made to begin with, and the upper one was built over the septic tank and one of the basement windows (which I have to replace very soon), so I would have to remove it anyway. The lower one was built directly on the ground, which is never a good idea.
The boards come up easily, without breaking. I then loaded each one on my saw horses and pulled all of the nails. This would have been a lot more difficult if the boards had been screwed down, so I’m thankful they were not built better.
With the higher deck completely dismantled and about half of the planks from the lower one stripped off, I had enough material to get started. However, standing in the way of the new shed was the lean-to shed the previous owner had built:
My first thought before moving in here was that I could use this as a temporary storage shed, to put some of my lumber, tools and other items from my old shop. I could just patch the holes in the metal roof and build some shelves inside. A closer look told me this structure was not worth the effort. Very poorly made, I would be putting anything of value at risk by storing it in there. I decided to tear it down and build the new shed in its place.
I’ll go off on a bit of a tangent here, and say a few words about this picture. This is the door for the shed, and each corner of it has one of these little corner braces. I see this kind of thing often, where the overall structure could be knocked down by a stiff breeze, while extra work is put into something that is of no consequence. The OSB panel braces the door, and these tiny blocks (which I’m sure the builder laboured over for quite some time) do absolutely nothing. That would be the biggest problem with things that people build: not recognizing where the extra effort needs to go.
It only took about thirty minutes to level the shed, but I was then faced with another interesting situation. Inside the shed, there was a thick layer of wood chips, like bedding for some livestock, even though no animals were kept there. Under the wood chips there appeared to be a few asphalt shingles, and I assumed there were just a few scattered around to stop the weeds from growing up. Wrong, these were sections of roof, apparently from a previous shed, and they were laid out as the “floor” of the new one:
These were a layer of soaked, massively heavy, swollen and decomposing OSB with the shingles nailed on. Lifting the first panel revealed a rodent condo complex of tunnels – cozy accommodations for the discerning family of field mice. All told, there were six panels, about 4′ square that I’ll have to dispose of. I guess the wood chips were the lowest cost way of disguising this from prospective buyers.
Onwards now to the actual construction. The new shed will be 8′ x 16′, and will sit on 6″ x 6″ pressure treated sleepers that run along the front and the back and act as the foundation for the structure. The sleepers will be set on compacted gravel that will be in footing trenches. Although this is not an ideal foundation, it is perfectly suitable for a shed this size.
The first step was to lay out where to dig, and I marked the lines with stakes. The trenches are dug out to remove as much of the topsoil as possible. Topsoil holds water and will expand when it freezes, heaving the shed up. A building of this kind (or any other permanent structure) should never be built on topsoil.
The two footing trenches are connected at the bottom with a narrow trench for drainage. This small trench will continue away from the building, following the slope of the land:
Digging was hampered by a very large stone, and rather than trying to move it, a trench was dug around it to continue the drainage path.
The footing trench is about 14″ wide and nearly 12″ deep at the top. I suppose it’s a good thing to have topsoil this deep, but not when you need to dig it out to build a shed:
The trenches are then filled with gravel and leveled up, ready for the 6″ x 6″ sleepers.
To completely clear the rock, one of the timbers had to be notched slightly:
It takes some time and patience to set the sleepers level in place, but the time spent getting it right pays off later. The floor is very quickly framed using the lumber from the deck, with the joist spaced 12″ on centre. This makes for a fairly stiff floor:
Making the floor exactly 8′ x 16′ means it can be covered with four sheets of 5/8″ plywood without any cuts.
The next day, the first gable end wall is framed on the floor:
There was some rain overnight, but a clear day ahead. The wall is fully sheathed while it’s flat, which is a lot easier than doing it with the wall standing:
The verge rafters are installed as well. This is made easier by having the shed already planned out in great detail with SketchUp, prior to starting. I could quickly cut the rafters to exact length using the dimensions from the plan.
The first gable end wall up and braced. The stud in the centre of the wall is short for the 2″ x 10″ ridge board that will sit on it:
The wall at the opposite end is finished, erected and braced.
The ridge beam is then attached using plywood gussets:
The ridge is this size to add structure to the roof, since I want to avoid rafter ties as much as possible. Normally, rafter ties join each rafter pair to keep the walls from spreading out under the roof load. Here, I will use just one or two in the middle.
The back wall is framed on the floor and partly sheathed:
Since the sheathing overlaps the end walls, I have to put that on after that wall is in place. Still, the two sheets I could put on are helpful for making the wall square before standing it up.
I have to frame the front wall in place, since there’s not enough space on the floor to do it:
The front wall fully framed and sheathed. The opening will be for the door, the size of which I have not settled on yet, so I leave that space unfinished.
Notice that I’ve not doubled the top plate, which I believe would be a waste of time and material on a shed this size. Also, framing it with 2″ x 6″ could be considered wasteful, but using recycled lumber and going with 24″ on centre spacing mitigates this.
With the walls done, I can move on to the roof framing. The common rafters for my roof are cut from more of the recycled 2″ x 6″, and the pitch of the roof is 6 on 12 (6″ rise for 12″ run). Using the framing square, I lay out the plumb cut:
The tails of each rafter need to be cut down to 3-1/2″, which matches the verge rafters. As shown above, this makes for a tricky cut creating the thinner rafter tail and seat cut.
The majority is done with the circular saw, then finished with the jigsaw:
The rafters are then toenailed to the ridge with six 2″ nails, three on each side. They are spaced 24″ on centre.
Each rafter is then fastened from beneath to the top plate with screws:
That’s the bulk of the roof framing done. There are four more rafters left to install that make up the rakes, but these are supported by the roof sheathing and the fascia boards.
Originally, I was going to use more of the recycled 2″ x 6″ for the fascia, but thought I’d splurge and use 5/4″ x 6″ cedar deck boards instead. Cedar is naturally rot resistant and a good, reasonably priced choice for this:
To close in the roof, I bought just four sheets of 1/2″ OSB, figuring I had enough from the old lean-to shed to make up the difference.
The used OSB was in fairly good shape, although slightly swollen. Reusing this material may seem insignificant, but it saves me some money and the bother of getting rid of it:
The fascia projects past the barge rafter by the thickness of the rake board.
The rake boards complete the roof trim and cover the edge of the OSB sheathing. Often this is a detail overlooked on a simple structure like a shed, but it’s an important one. Covering the edge keeps water out and makes for a much cleaner look:
I had enough shingles left over from doing the roof on my old house to cover this one. I started with a galvanized sheet metal drip edge to direct water away from the fascia:
It took less than a day to finish it, but I had a battle with the weather. I had to take a break from it when it started to rain, which quickly turned to snow, leaving nearly 1/2″ on the roof. That’s May in Canada, one day hot, the next snowing.
With the roof watertight, I finished the framing for the door. I made the rough opening for a 32″ door that I took from my house. The door will be replaced (eventually) with a sliding patio door, so I was free to use it here.
The header is a single 2″ x 8″, one of the treads from the stair that went up to the higher deck, and it’s more than adequate to carry the roof load:
Another piece of tread is used to make a door sill:
Cut to width at a 85 degree angle. A drip groove is milled on the underside at the outside and a filler strip is cut to lift the sill at the inside.
To cut the “ears” on the sill, I use the table saw tilted 5 degrees for one end, cutting to the line:
The filler strip is cut to length and nailed onto the bottom of the sill.
The filler tilts the sill so that I can cut the other end with the blade at 90 degrees:
The cuts are finished with the jigsaw.
And the jambs are glued with polyurethane adhesive and nailed on:
The door frame is then put in the rough opening, ready to be set plumb and true.
Shims are needed to set the frame, and it’s easy to make your own with a simple jig:
Shims of any size can be cut quickly from scrap. Here, I’ve used a piece of the 5/4″ cedar.
To shim the door frame, I start on the hinge side, making that straight and plumb. The shims are put in in pairs, with the thick end of one toward the outside:
The inside shim is slid in until the jamb is plumb, then the jamb is fastened with 2″ nails. The head of the jamb is checked with a square against the hinge side and shimmed as needed.
Measuring across from the hinge side to the latch side of the frame sets that in place, and it’s shimmed and fastened.
After a final check, screws are driven through the jamb at each shim location. I’m careful to locate the fasteners behind where the door stop will be after the door is installed.
Moving on to trim details, the soffit is made from 1/2″ plywood that is mitered at the corners:
I cut it for a loose fit, but butted it tight to the back of the fascia board. The gap at the wall will be covered by a trim board.
These cuts are quickly done freehand with the circular saw, so they are not perfectly tight. To be honest, I’m in a hurry to get this finished (so that I can get my workshop cleaned out). Gaps like this can be caulked or easily covered with a trim strip:
A simple frieze board is cut from new framing lumber and nailed in place at the corner of the wall and soffit.
And down the rake:
The frieze trim was cut 1″ thick, while the corner boards and battens that meet it are 3/4″ thick. The small triangular gap at the top of the wide corner board will be filled with caulk.
The door frame is trimmed:
Where it meets the sill, I used a generous amount of construction adhesive to keep water away from the end grain of the trim:
The trim is mitered, glued and nailed at the corners.
When I replaced some of the windows in my old house, I saved some of the glass, thinking it might come in handy for something. I made a simple picture window the right size to fit the glass:
Not a lot to it, the outside trim is rabbeted for the glass. The corners are glued and nailed together.
I marked out where the window will go and cut out the plywood:
The window frame is level at the top with the top of the door frame and nailed into the opening.
Traditionally, glazing putty is used to set a pane in a sash, but I’ve used latex caulk many times to do this:
The glass is pushed into the wet caulk, then stop is nailed on to hold it in place. This creates a water tight seal and can easily be removed if the glass ever needed to be replaced.
Looks good and lets the right amount of light in. One window is enough in a shed this size:
The rest of the trim was finished after the window went in. The shed will be painted when I get the time. I could have used a siding product, like vinyl, but I really don’t like that (as in, I hate that). I’d rather paint every five years, or so. It could also be stained, but the lumber stamps on the wood and plywood should be sanded off first.
With the outside of the shed complete, I can start putting in some shelves for storage. My preference is to sheath the walls on the inside, then build proper shelves on that. Here, that would be a waste of sheathing and the wall space, since this will only ever be used for storage and will not be insulated. I thought it would be a great use of more of the recycled 2″ x 6″, in particular the ends that were cut off for the framing. I cut pieces to fit between the studs and toenailed them in:
These can hold smaller items, like quart cans of paint and stain.
I figured shelves on one end wall would be enough, so I made them in three depths. The middle shelf is 11″ deep (two 2″ x 6″) and the one in the other corner is 16-1/2″ deep (three 2″ x 6″):
Pretty rough and rustic looking, and more than strong enough for the job. This is not the way I would do it with new material, since I think it would be wasteful, but it was a really good way to use up the scraps that I would have to dispose of some other way.
Throughout the job, my folding miter stand was invaluable, especially for the outside trim and shelves:
It takes nearly a day to move everything out here and get it somewhat organized:
The shelving on the end wall proves to be enough, with larger items put against the opposite end wall.
I built a simple lumber rack up high on the back wall, for some of my longer pieces of hardwood:
The shed finished, with the door installed. Over the summer I will paint it and post some pictures of it back here.
A very satisfying project that didn’t cost a lot, while putting old material to good use. The total cost was less than $1000, and that is very good for a shed this size, and of this quality.