Build Your Own Storage Shed!
by Nathanael Scheffler
Hello Instructables! This is my entry into the Shopbot Contest. This Instructable will show you the steps to building your own shed. We decided that our shed would be for storage because we wanted to get some stuff out of the garage so we can use it as a shop. One of the challenges of building a shed in our backyard was that the ground was sloped in the area that we wanted to put it, so we had to find a way to get around that. Another was that we are building beside some well established trees, and we didn’t want to harm their root structure. This is why we went with cinderblock and mortar rather than poured concrete.
WARNING: In our town we do not need any permits to build a shed as long as it is under 10×10. Please check your area for regulations on building structures with/without a permit.
Step 1: Ground Breaking
We decided to construct the foundation of our shed out of cinderblocks. This will help keep out any rodents, and doesn’t risk harming the trees beside the shed. In order to lay a good foundation, we first had to level out the ground. We didn’t need to level out the middle of the structure’s base because that was later filled with limestone screening. We made channels for the cinderblocks with spades and a pickaxe, and made sure to create a channel for the electrical as well. The electricity comes from our house, which is about 10 feet away from where the shed stands.
Step 2: Materials for the Foundation
For the masonry of the foundation we went out and bought 15 cinderblocks, and suplemented these with clay bricks that we got for free off of kijiji and some concrete pavestones from a neighbor’s old patio. Clay bricks can only be used above ground, other wise they will erode. Looking back, it would have been easier to simply use cinderblocks and we strongly recommend it if you don’t have other materials to get rid of. Also, buy more mortar than you think you will need. We ended up using a lot of mortar and if you have any extra you can always return it or pour it in the cinderblocks like we did to make the foundation even stronger.
Step 3: Lay the Foundation and the Electrical
Now we can actually start building! Before you start putting down cinderblocks, lay limestone screening down in all of the channels and run and burry your electrical. Make sure that your electrical wires are clearly marked (we used caution tape) so that nobody digs them up accidentally in the future. Once your all set, you can start putting down some cinderblocks. You may need to break some cinderblocks in half, and this is easily done with a chisel, a hammer, and a bit of time. Tip: Set Rebar posts in each corner and tie strings across to help you keep the walls straight. You need to check every single block for level, especially on this layer as the base of the foundation will affect the rest of the foundation and in turn affect the main structure.
Step 4: Framing and Roofing: Materials and Tools
The framing is the most important part of the above-ground structure because it stiffens up the plywood boards and supports the roof. You will need a lot of 2×4’s, and a way to attach them. We used this as an excuse to buy some new air hammers from canadian tire. We were able to get the lumber for the entire project delivered by a company called Tamrack Lumber. They brought out a truck and dropped off all the supplies. For the roofing you will need little plates with groups of nails sticking out of them which I believe are called joist plates. These are used on the angles to keep them from shifting. The last thing you will need is a way to cut all of the 2×4’s. To do this we borrowed a very nice miter saw from a friend for a few days. It is much easier if the cutting tool can cut on angles, otherwise you will be left to improvise when cutting the peices for the roof.
Step 5: Creating the Walls
The next thing that we did was to put together all of the walls. The 2×4’s were spaced apart 2 feet from each other once cut to the appropriate length and then permanantly attached with the framming hammer. We then leaned the four frames, after marking which side they went on, against the wall of the house until the foundation was finished.
Step 6: Finishing the Foundation ( + more Electrical)
Before we can finish the base we need to get the electrical ready. Put a peice of conduit over your electrical wire to protect it from any damage it could receive while you are finishing the base and to give the shed a more finished look. Make sure the pipe and wire inside are pointing up perpendicular to the ground and are preferably going straight to the location where your first outlet will be.
The walls of the foundation have been created and the electrical is all set, now all that needs to be done is to fill the gaping hole in between them with limestone agrigate. We also threw in some concrete paving stones that we had lying around because we don’t plan on using them and we had already tried to give them away. After the limestone is in place tamp it down by jumping on it and keep filling up any places that are no longer level. After the entire base is filled with as much limestone as you can fit put a sprinkler on to soak it and set it for the next hour or so. You may need to add a bit more limestone after this is done as well.
We now need to create a base that we can nail the frames for the walls into. We did this with four 2×8’s and some bent i-bolts along with a lot of mortar. The basic process was that we bent the bottoms of the i-bolts after heating them with a blow torch, and then anchored these in some of the holes in the cinderblocks with a lot of mortar. Then we drilled holes in the 2×8’s where the i-bolts were and put these on top and screwed them in. The frames can now be solidly attached to the base with the framing hammer.
Step 7: Attaching the Wall Frames to the Foundation
The next stop is to attach what will become your shed’s walls to the 2×8’s that were attached to the foundation in the previous step. We did this by first attaching all four wall frames together and THEN attaching them to the base. This ensured that we could make sure that the frame was square before we put it in it’s final position.
Step 8: Creating and Attaching the Roof Trusses
The roof trusses support the plywood and shingles that make the roof waterproof. They are very important to plan carefully because they require strange angles and they have to fit the structure below them. We gave our shed a slight awning and this had to be accompanied by the trusses, which overhang the walls of the shed by about a foot on each side. When constructing your joists it is important to use joist plates otherwise the angles that you so carefully planned will not remain true for very long. We used a 2×4 to support the joists while we were attaching them to the walls.
Step 9: Siding
We used fake board and batten to make our shed asthetically pleasing. We put white trim on the edges to make them more pronounced as well.
Step 10: The Doors
As you can see, I have no pictures of the doors being created. This is because they took way too much trouble to make, and I didn’t really have the patience to take pictures of them being built because they were tested and redone about 3 times. Lesson to be learned: leave the tolerances bigger than you think they will need to be, you can always use weather strips to help close them up later. After 3 attempts, we finnally got the doors to work properly. The one door is held in place with sliding dead-bolts to the floor and ceiling frames and the second door is attached to it with another dead-bolt.
Step 11: Painting and Finishing the Roof
Now we get to paint the entire shed. As you can see, the mischevious doors were painted seperatly from the rest of the structure because they took so long to get finished. We used a light brown stain that was semi-transparent because we still wanted to see the wood grain, and a bright white paint to accent the trim.
Finishing the roof was done by putting down 7/16 inch boards and placing down brown asphalt shingles on top.
Step 12: The Finished Shed
Now you have finished your shed! Once your doors are on, you can add latches and locks. The windows on our shed are made of 1/4 inch thick plexiglass held in with white silicone to match the trim. The floor was finished with concrete tiles. You can now choose to leave the inside of your shed barren, to say, store a few larger items, or you can add shelves like we did. We added the shelves because we had a lot of small boxes and things that we wanted to move out of the garage. They are made from 7/16 inch thick oriented strand board and 2x2s. The shelves in the middle have some spare 6×6 chunks keeping them up, which is suitable because they are the deepest and are designed to hold the heaviest items. They are so strong that you can climb on them, even jump on them! We also added a bike rack on the right hand side that can hold our five bikes. The finishing touch on the shed was to add an electrical outlet and a flourescent lighting fixture with a switch. There is a vent in the back wall for warm summer days but it is probably unneccesary. Hopefully you can build your own storage shed and de-cluterize your life as well. Thanks!