If you're like most homeowners, you know there's no such thing as enough storage space. There's a limit, after all, to the things you can squirrel away in your basement and garage. What you really need is a garden shed — one large enough to house an arsenal of outdoor power tools while providing organized space for everything from rakes and shovels to fertilizer and fuel.
There are two choices when it comes to building a wooden garden shed: You can buy a kit — and put up with the manufacturer's choice of materials and layout — or you can design a structure to suit your needs and tastes. This approach may cost more and take longer, but it's the best way to get what you want. We had in mind a basic 9-by-13-foot shed built with decent materials and conventional framing methods. Material costs for our project came to around $2,400.
Most wooden sheds are set on concrete blocks or treated-lumber skids. That's all they need, even in deep-frost situations, because the soil moves uniformly as the ground freezes and thaws. To accommodate our sloped site, we built on solid concrete blocks set on compacted crushed limestone.
Start by laying out and staking the four corners of the shed. Dig 6-inch-deep depressions at each corner and at the center of each long wall. Use a torpedo level to check that the bottom of each hole is level.
Pour about 4 inches of crushed rock into each depression and level and compact the rock with a hand tamper. If your site is sloped, set and level the blocks on the uphill side first, leaving 4 to 6 inches above grade, then use a 2-foot level taped to a straight 2-by-4 to determine the height of the downhill blocks.
When stacking blocks for the downhill supports, glue them together with construction adhesive. Then, cover the area within the blocks with landscape fabric and 2 inches of crushed rock.
Building the floor
Cut pressure-treated 2-by-6 sill lumber to lie flush with the outer edges of the blocks, and then cut the band joists that rest on top of the sill. Stagger the sill and band-joist lumber at the corners and nail each sill piece to the bottom of a band joist. Fit the offset corners together and secure them with 16d galvanized nails.
To lay out the floor framing, mark the first joist location 15 1/4 inches from the outside edge of the band joist, and mark all subsequent joists at 16-inch intervals.
Set the joists
Cut 2-by-6 joists to fit between the band joists. Sight down each piece to determine its crown (bow), and set the joists in place, crown up. Secure them with 16d nails driven through the band joists.
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Then, install the 3/4-inch tongue-and-groove plywood floor. Use the factory edges to make sure the band joists are straight, and nail with 8d galvanized nails.
Adding the walls
Cut the wall plates for the long walls and lay out the studs on 16-inch centers with the first stud 15¼ inches from one end. At both ends of each wall, install triple studs to act as nailers for the short walls. You can use scraps in place of a center stud.
For the wall with the door, mark its rough opening on the plates. Build a door header from 2-by-6s sandwiched around a ½-inch plywood spacer. The length of the header is the rough opening plus 3 inches for the jack studs -- the shorter studs on each side of the opening that support the header.
Cut two jack studs to the height of the rough opening, nail these to full-length, or king, studs so their bottom edges are flush, and secure these doubled studs to the floor plate at the rough-opening marks. Then, nail the header in place on the jack studs. Install the second top plate on each long wall, but cut 3 1/2 inches from each end.
We used T-111 vertical plywood siding on the shed. Set the first piece flush with the top plate, and nail it about every 6 inches along the edges and every 10 inches elsewhere, with 8d nails. Install the remaining sheets in a like fashion. Tip the wall up, plumb it and have a helper secure it with braces. Nail through the sole plate with 16d nails and through the siding into the band joist and sill. Then, build the opposite long wall.
On the window wall, space the studs from a center stud to suit the window openings. Plan the short, cripple studs that are above and below the openings to fall on 16-inch centers.
Use 2-by-4 stock and ½-inch plywood to build the window headers. Unlike the door opening, each window opening requires a horizontal 2-by-4 that's supported by cripple studs.
After nailing together the king, jack and cripple studs for the window wall, secure them to the plates and add the headers. Install the siding, but leave the second top plate off each end wall until they're up.
Our vinyl windows came with nailing flanges. Cut the window openings with the siding in place. Position the windows so they're square with the wall, and nail through the flanges with roofing nails.
Then, raise the end walls and nail them at the corners. Nail a top plate onto each end wall so it overlaps the lower top plate on the long walls.