Carpentry Skills: How to Build a Shed

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A Garden Shed with Rafter&Ridgeboard Roof under Construction

A Garden Shed  under Construction     photo © 2013 by r.a.kukkee


Exercise those Carpentry Skills:  Build a Handy Garden Shed

Want a shed?  Doesn’t everyone need a shed to store garden equipment, bicycles and garden equipment ?  How about that outdoor and hunting gear?    If you have the most basic DIY skills, you can build a shed for storage you can be proud of, and get some of that  clutter out of your garage!


Decide how big your shed is to be, get a building permit if necessary, and go for it!  You’ll need to decide how big your shed will be.  8x12’ is a handy size. Will you build it directly on the ground, or install a floor deck?  Decisions must be made in advance, planning is essential, make a sketch or two. Decide how steep your roof will be, where it will be located precisely.  Use stakes and string to locate your imaginary shed first.  Ready? Here’s how to go about building  that shed.

To Build a Shed You will need

Blocks or timbers for the foundation  or alternatively, if building walls directly on the ground,  lay down 4-6" of  gravel for the floor to raise the grade and ensure it remains dry. 2x8 or 2x10  for the floor frame if you are building a floor deck ½” or 5/8” plywood for the deck (floor) and 1/2" plywood for the roof 2x4” or 2x6 studs for the walls Oriented strandboard sheeting, plywood, or boards for sheeting the walls and roof Pre-manufactured trusses suitably sized, or alternatively 2x6 for rafters & ridgeboard 3” Ardox (spiral) spikes 2” or 2-1/2” Ardox nails for sheeting Doors & windows with suitable metal flashing as needed Siding as desired Metal soffit and fascia if desired Shingles or sheet metal and suitable strapping for the roofing. Paint Essential carpentry tools;  hammer, square, saw, carpenter's lines, etc. A helper or two can be pretty handy too.

Preparing the Foundation

•    You have selected and outlined the  area. Clear it of grass, brush, roots, and trash. •    Level the area for the foundation. It’s nice to add some crushed rock or gravel to the surface if your building won’t have a wooden or concrete floor. If you’re building directly on the gravel, start with the walls, but choose pressure-treated wood for the bottom plates! •    Build the foundation for the floor. Pour a cement pad, use patio blocks to support beams, or even a couple of creosoted railway tiesIf wood is to be in contact with the ground, use pressure-treated wood to prevent decay and failure. •     If the deck is to be of wooden construction, use 2x8 or 2x10 floor joists for the framing. •    Ensure the deck frame is square, measure diagonally from corner to corner both ways. Install a header across the ends of the joists to close it in. •    Install ½” or 5/8” plywood sheeting for the floor.

Assembling the Walls

•    Measure the longest floor dimension, and make 2 sets of precisely matching 2x4 plates, for the top and bottom plates of the walls. •    Lay out the walls with studs on 16” centers  or 24” centers. Mark the position of the studs on the plates, always measuring from the same end for both walls.                       *Hint: Back set the first stud and measure for all studs from that point, to ensure the edge of 4’ sheeting falls in the centre of the stud to minimize cutting and optimize use of materials. •    Double the end studs for strength.  You’ll be fastening the short walls to the corners! •    Assemble the walls, measuring  diagonally both ways from corner to corner  to ensure the wall is square.. •    Apply oriented strandboard wall sheeting, plywood or boards. Check to be sure the wall is square prior to nailing the sheeting firmly.  Note:  It is impossible to ‘square’ the wall after sheeting has been nailed securely, so 'tack' it first.   Use 2" or  2-1/2” nails for sheeting.

Stand the Walls Up

•    Stand up the two long walls in the correct position on the edge of the foundation,  ensuring they are standing vertically (plumb) and squarely on the foundation.  Secure the walls in place firmly with temporary bracing!  *This is where the helpers come in, sheeted walls are heavy! Use caution when lifting walls!                               Note: You may wish to install a weatherproof gasket under the wall location prior to fastening the walls down.

•    Frame the remaining short walls, including doors and windows as desired.  Remember, the ‘hole in the wall’ should be an inch bigger both dimensions than the window or door you are going to install. •    Sheet and stand the short walls, and fasten them securely with spikes to the long walls.

Build the Roof

•    Apply the roofing trusses or use ‘rafter & ridgeboard’ stick framing method to frame and construct the roof. Install storm anchors on rafters or trusses in areas prone to violent windstorms. •    Frame in the gable ends, ensuring the studs are correctly spaced to facilitate sheeting.   Sheet the gable ends with suitable sheeting. •    Apply 2x4 strapping across the rafters if you are installing sheet metal roofing, otherwise apply ½” plywood to the roof and  install shingles or the chosen roofing materials. •    Install the window(s) and door(s) shimming to ensure they are installed squarely. Don't forget metal flashing over the windows to prevent leaks. •    Choose and install siding, and metal or plastic soffit and fascia if desired. •    Paint the building with exterior grade paint and trim the doorways and windows as desired.

There! You did it!

Move all of that stuff into the shed, and  you may wish to start planning the next one.  As experienced shed guys know, we can never have too many sheds. ##  

Is that Incoming I hear?


2 Responses to Carpentry Skills: How to Build a Shed

  1. Mandy says:

    I want to build myself a shed and have exclusive storage places for my gardening and carpentry tools, except I have no space to build a shed. How I would love to have one! But someday I will build myself one. I will. I will. 😉

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