Tool shed

You know how a while back I told you I might use up all those logs to build a tool shed? Well I finally sat down and drew up some plans. This is sort of how it might look in terms of scale (rough freehand drawing):

I am going to excavate that hill a bit and snug the shed up in there. It’s going to be about 6′ wide by 4′ deep, and 5’11” tall at the peak. I would make it taller, but I don’t want to have to get a permit so it must stay under 6′. Besides it’s usually only me in the garden anyway, and I’m a shorty.

I want to try to build it entirely with my own lumber. Yes, I know that if I just splurged for some 2x4s, plywood, and joist hangery stuff I could have the whole thing done in two days. But I want to see if I can’t use primarily what I already have available, and techniques that early homesteaders used to work with raw timber. I will probably have to buy the cinderblock footings and some strong-ties to keep the rafters together. Other than that I should be able to do it all with a handsaw, a chisel, and my power drill.

  • The back and sides of the excavation will be lined with stacked Freecycled brick to keep the dirt at bay for a little while. The highest point of excavation is probably going to be about 2-3′, so I’m not that worried about it collapsing.
  • Foundation: I’m going to excavate a bed about 6-8″ below ground level and set the footings into a bed of gravel: since that area gets fairly wet in winter it will need good drainage. The gravel I will be digging out of the beds around our pool – the previous owners had filled the beds with shiny white rocks (which makes planting impossible), then let it get overrun with ivy (which makes me curse). Provided I can get a shovel in there at all, my new compost screener should then do an admirable job of separating out all the gravel I’ll need to surround the cinderblock footings while at the same time preparing the beds for planting next year. The gravel will be the tool shed floor – no fancy floor joists and plywood here.
  • Most of the joints will be mortise-and-tenons, despite what I drew below – I think that will be stronger.
  • I’m going to try to do the roof and sides without buying any plywood. I’d like the roof to be shingled and the walls to be clad with halved logs, bark-side out. I was going to make my own shingles but … a) I will probably be way too tired at the end of the project to contemplate doing that, and b) I’d have to buy another tool to do it anyway, so…. probably not. Shingles are cheap, aren’t they?
  • I had also thought about getting some of that clear acrylic wavy stuff they use for greenhouse roofs to let the light in, but I think that would just look odd with super-rustic split-log cladding below it.

I’ve been trying to look up techniques for building with logs but all I seem to be finding are companies that want me to hire them to build me a log cabin. No, I just want to see detailed drawings of joinery that I can use to attach round timbers. Anyone with experience feel free to chime in.

As far as I can tell, the easiest way for me to do this is to assemble each wall fully on the ground, disassemble it, and then raise it piece by piece – posts first, then beams+studs, then rafters and cross-braces last. Who knows though – I will probably just figure it out on the fly. Anyone wanna recommend any books?

This is going to be a very rough-and-ready type structure. It’s something I want to do mainly to see if I can – but I’m not going to expend crazy effort on getting it to be totally watertight, draft-free, or rodent-proof. Nope, this is not a house, it’s a tool shed and maybe a place to pee in an emergency and it can darn well have a yucky gravel floor. My poor shovels will just have to deal with a little draft now and then – after all it’s better than where they are now, getting pooped on by the chickens.

I’m excited, but in that tentative this-will-be-awesome-but-I-don’t-really-want-to-start-because-it-will-take-forever-and-be-really-hard kind of way. It’s fairly hard to get enthused about hard work anyway when for the last three days I’ve been stranded on the couch under a growing mountain of used kleenex, feeling like my brains are running out my ears and thoroughly high on Nyquil – but I keep trying to remind myself how great it will look next year surrounded with sunflowers, with its bright blue door and a little mailbox for hand tools tacked to the outside. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of looking at something you made with your own two hands, and I’m looking forward to it.

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