Greengate Ranch Remodel
Remodeling a Daylight Ranch in Oregon

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Garden Shed #10 - Rafters and Siding

We got quite a bit of the shed completed today. The Oregon weather was perfect for working outside. Here are photos of the current progress...

I finished off the rafters, including the collar ties as shown below. I made these from the last bit of usable wood from the old shed. These serve both to strengthen the roof structure, and provide a good location for hanging bikes, etc. They are 9' above the floor, so there will still be plenty of head room with stuff hanging down.

I used the rafter ties from the old shed on the new rafters - they worked very well. They are easy to locate and drop the rafters into.

Here is a photo of the outside. The lower OSB part will be covered with the lap siding, and the top will end up looking like board and batten. This is 8" on-center T-1-11. I will cover over the groves with battens. This cost about 2/3 of a sheet with no groves in it (not sure why).

The corner pieces are 1" cedar and all other trim, including the cross-piece shown here are 3/4" pine.

Here is the end of the shed with a window. The cross trim also serves as the base trim of the window.

Finally, here is the side with the small door and window - nothing is trimmed out yet.

The next steps are to trim out the rest of the doors, windows and horizontals. After that I will start to apply the battens, then the lower lap siding.

Garden Shed #9 - Ridge Board and Rafters

I spent last evening putting the ridge board together, getting it place and making sure it was plumb & level.

I need a 17' long 2x4, which I could not find at Home Depot. I am sure if I went to a lumber yard - wait one day and "what are you doing here?" service - I could have bought a 20' one. Instead, I decided to glue an screw 10' 1x4's together. HD sells these for under $3 apiece, which is a very good price.

I simply overlapped them by 5', used wood glue and put in screws about every 6".

After trimming the thing to 17', I put the hardware on while it was still on the ground. To make mounting easy, I put the connector plates shown on first. After that, I attaced the hardware for the rafters. I am just using fence rail hardware here, which will be fine - the rafter push up against the ridge board. Once in place, I will nail through the ridge board into each one with two 16d nails.

I put the connectors every two feet on both sides of the board.

Once assembled, putting the ridge board in place was fairly easy. I just lifted it up and set it on the support studs.

Here is a close-up picture of the connection. I could have toe-nailed it, but I think it would have split out. Once fixed, I put the end rafters on. I plumbed the support stud and screwed the rafters in place.

Here is a picture of the end rafters in place. You can finally get the feel for the size and shape of the shed.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Garden Shed #8 - Wall Framing

I finished the wall framing this morning.

This photo shows the first wall up, which I did last night after work. Summer evenings in Oregon are great to be outside in until about 10 pm.

I framed up the walls on the deck, squared them up, put on the bottom sheeting, then tipped them up into place.

Here is a picture of the wall framed with the small door and two windows. I put a small header over the door, but not over the windows. The rafters are going to be placed directly above the studs, so you don't need the extra support. Also, the header over the door is only 2x4 - I am going to glue and nail a piece of OSB to the back side of it and the top plate, effectively making a box-beam. This will carry the rafter load with no problems.

The walls are tipped up in place and temporarily secured with diagonal 2x4's. Don't skip this step and just nail the plate. If you do, the wall can come down on top of you.

Finally, the end walls were put in. This photo shows the large door for the lawn tractor. I am going to use sliding barn door hardware for this one.

Next up is to put in the ridge-board and frame the rafters. I am leaving the top siding off until this is done to allow for better access.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Garden Shed #7 - Resources

Here are some of the free / online resources I found for building the garden shed. I will continue to update this post as I collect and review them. These are resources that I truly found helpful, and I have no commercial connection to them.

Ideas and Photo Sets

At the top of the list: Here is a blog dedicated to garden sheds. It's very nicely done with a number of inspirational photos. My favorite is the water wheel shed.

There are over 10K pictures on - search for garden shed. It takes a while, but you can see just about any kind you would imagine. There are also a lot of good photos of storage and interior setups. is a commercial site, but the photos are really nice. These are definately high-end and classy buildings.


Here are a few articles from Fine Homebuilding (my favorite magazine):

  • A Firm Foundation for a Backyard Shed - showing some good methods for building the shed foundation

  • Shortcuts to a Shed - this article shows some good cost-savings techniques

  • Greenhouses and Potting Sheds - this is not a "how to" article, but has good photos

  • Popular Mechanics has a good on-line article with lots of detail on contructions techniques. I really like the cut-away diagram showing all the main points of shed construction:

    Click on the image below for a good set of detailed shed plans by Southern Pine in their DIY section.

    For you hardcore green builders, here is a site that shows in fine detail show to build a large shed out of pallets. I am not quite to the point of using pallets to build things, but I admire the design and technique shown here.

    Tuesday, July 22, 2008

    Garden Shed #6 - Finishing off the Deck

    I was able to get the shed deck complete this evening. The photo shows the joists before putting the plywood down.

    These joists are made from the materials of the old shed: foundation 4x4's, some of the 6' studs, and all of the 2x4 rafters. Based on the span requirements (see previous posts), I decided to double up all the joists.

    Most of the joists are on 2' centers, except as shown in the lower corner. This is where the lawn tractor will be parked, so I put them on 16" centers for extra support.

    The photo above shows the joists being shimmed with pieces of asphalt shingle. I have noticed that pressure treated wood tends to be a bit larger that KD studs. I did this to bring everything up to the same height for the plywood.

    Here is the deck with the floor installed. One of the nice things about a 12x16 shed is that the materials fit nicely with a minimum of cutting and waste.

    The next step is to frame and raise the walls.

    Monday, July 21, 2008

    Garden Shed #5 - New Building Starts

    I was able to get the new shed foundation in place this weekend. Below is a set of photos showing the process.

    I have never used pier blocks before, but everything worked out OK. In the past, I have always nailed the metal supports to the posts & beams and then poured concrete. The method here is very similar, you just need to make sure the bottom of the holes are level and the right height. After doing it, I think I still would have preferred the old way, but these are the materials I harvested from the old shed.

    Here is the first beam - 16' feet long - set into place with four pier blocks. This is the highest ground area, so I made the holes as deep as the blocks.

    A tip: I over-dug the holes by 1" to 2", then I poured dry concrete mix into the hole to get the bottom to the right height. This makes it easy to get it flat and level. Also, the powdery texture of the dry mix allowed me to move the block around a bit by tapping them gently with a small sledge hammer. Once in place, I tamped dirt around them. Once everything is set, I just spray the block with a hose and they are set solid.

    Here is the second beam, which was leveled and squared to the first. I needed to buy new 16' long beams, but I will also be able to use the 6' ones from the old shed. They form the joist on the outer edge as shown, plus those that will be under where the lawn tractor will sit. I figure 4x4's on 16" centers are not going to sag with a 6 ft' span, even with a couple hundred pound mower sitting on them most of the time.

    As I moved down the slope, I needed to add small post pieces under the beams. I toe-nailed them in, then completed attaching them with a 7" gutter screw and polyurethane glue. I spread the glue all over the surface of the post ends to seal them from water. I don't expect water to get in there, but its a very simple and cheap precaution.

    The picture below shows the third (and last) beam in place, along with joists on the ends and in the center. This set-up allowed me to do the final squaring and leveling of the foundation. I used the asphalt shingles shown to make final adjustments up to level. When in doubt, I set posts & piers about 1/8" short, so I can shim them to get right on to level. The shingle never compresses, and it's used to level full size houses.

    I like to take my time with this step and ideally come back the following day to verify everything is correct. The more level and square it is, the easier the rest of the construction will go, and the better it will look.

    Here I have added the rim joist so I can easily add the rest of the cross-joists. This will get covered up by the cedar siding and a drip-edge. The cross-joists are cut from the studs and rafters of the old shed.

    Once the joist are down, I will put 3/4 plywood down as the deck and start framing the walls.

    Friday, July 18, 2008

    Garden Shed #4 - Deconstruction Almost Complete

    My son and I pretty much took the rest of the shed down today. As you can see in the picture, we are down to the piers and joists. The wood that is piled around still has the nails in it that we need to pull.

    Here are all the materials that we have been able to clean up and reclaim so far. The shed looks like it came from a kit, where almost all the 2x4's are 6' long. I won't be able to use these for the studs, as they are going to be longer, but they can be used for joists and plates.

    Now that I have access to the foundation parts, I can start building the new shed while my son continues to salvage materials.

    Chess Tables

    Here is a picture of a chess table I built. The design is very simple - made of pine, heavier mass, and slightly tapered legs.

    The chess board on top is flat black paint, which was applied before finishing the piece with Polycrylic. The drawer holds the chess pieces.

    This table has more of an arts-and-crafts feel, being it is made of cherry and has a simple design. I built this for a school auction.

    The chessboard top is made of tiles that kids from the school created (my DW owned this part of the project).

    Thursday, July 17, 2008

    Bookshelves with Inlaid Slate

    I built a set of two bookshelves a while ago, and I am getting around to posting the pictures. They are what I would call "Northwest Rustic" style, with wood and slate combined.

    Here is one of the sets put in place...

    These pictures are from our previous house. Right now the bookshelves are in our living room, but will eventually move out - we are doing that area in French Country / Cottage style. These look a bit too "mountain lodge" for the room. They will likely end up in the theater room.

    Sunday, July 13, 2008

    Home Theater #20 - Follow-up on the Sheetrock Screen

    We have had the sheetrock theater screen in place for about and 3 weeks, and we are very happy with the results.

    You get good contrast, but the picture is not too dark. Overall, the Behr Silver Screen paint (flat) seems to be just about the right color. If I were going to change anything, I may make it just a bit lighter - but at this point I am not changing anything.

    I would take a picture of a movie playing, but I can seem to get a good image with my camera in the dark room.

    Saturday, July 12, 2008

    Garden Shed #3 - Span Table Calculator

    I found a great online tool for calculating deck spans on the American Wood Council website. As you can see from the image below, you can enter all the relevent specs and get the maximum span. Click on the image to go to the tool.

    This tool is great in the case of deconstructing and reusing lumber: You are in the position of having materials that drive the design process, instead of the normal situation where design leads to material selection.

    In my case, I want to use the 2x4 studs in the current shed walls and rafters as the floor joists. They are too short to be used as those on the new shed. Also, I want to keep the shed as close to the ground as possible, since its already on a slope. The 2x4's will go across a series of beams (see last shed post).

    The wood I have is stamped stud-grade Douglas fir, and the calculator gives a 6 ft max span for 12-inch centers. I am going 24 inches and doubling up, but it's the same structure (this is a shed, so I am not getting too precise).

    Based on this, I am going to need to put a center beam in the floor, giving a 5 ft span - well within limits.

    To get rid of the center beam (and posts and cost), I would need to go to 2x6 #2 lumber on 16 inch spacing. This may end up being a better option if I make the shed 11x18 or 10x20 instead of 12x16. I would prefer 12x16, but I have to fit it in between the required property set-back and a plum tree I want to keep in place. If I go that route, I will likely reuse the lumber for rafters. That will be this week's challenge.

    Monday, July 07, 2008

    Home Theater #19 - Speaker Mounts

    I wanted to buy inexpensive speaker mounts that would attach to a single-gang electrical box. It seems natural to me that you would want to run a speaker wire out of a low voltage box and mount the speaker right there - no deal.

    Since I couldn't find anything, I fabricated my own...

    I started out with some high-impact plastic speaker mounts. I bought these from AV Axis through Amazon. Four of these cost $20, including shipping - or $5 apiece.

    The interesting thing is that I found a very wide array of pricing on these. For the same thing, I found prices ranging from $5 to $35.

    The next step was to mount these on to a single-gang wall plate. The plate shown here is an exterior stainless steel cover, costing about $1. I spray painted it black to match the mount.

    I drilled two 1/4" holes in the plate and attached the speaker mount with the supplied bolts. I also drilled a 3/16" hole for the speaker wire to come out.

    Here is a picture of the speaker mounted and attached to the wall. These are the side speakers for a Dolby 5.1 or 7.1 set up.

    Here are the rear mounts, which are in the back corners of the room for Dolby 7.1. They will point inward at about 40 degrees. I have left the speakers off to show the assembly and where the wire comes out of the plate.

    At the end of it all: Nice looking, sturdy mounts for $6 a piece.

    Saturday, July 05, 2008

    Garden Shed #2 - Decostruction and Reuse

    While I am working away inside the house, my 13 year-old son is making progress on the garden shed "move and improve" project.

    The photo below shows the shed with two sides of ship lap siding removed. We are going to reuse it on the new shed, along with some board-and-batten to make it more interesting.

    One of the common sense aspects of green building is reusing things, so you don't have to pay for them again. The lap siding is cedar, and really very high quality. My son is prying each piece off and then removing the nails. He seems to be getting about 90% yield out of this process. For the pieces that do break, I will likely cut them to a random single width, and put them on the eves.

    Here are flat and side views of a piece.

    To buy this new would be at least $2.50 a square foot. I estimate we will get about 220 sq. ft. out of this, or about $600 in material. I am paying my son about $100 to pull it off and clean it up - which is a great deal for both of us.

    Notice in the pictures that the floor is 1x4 plank, not plywood. Some of these will become the battens, trim and shelving structure. The wall studs will be doubled-up and used as floor joists, since the walls will be taller on the new shed.

    Here is the plan that allows doubled-up 2x4 as joists. They will sit on top of PT 4x6 beams (horizontal ones). Normal span tables don't list using 2x4's for joists, so I am taking the allowable 2x6 span and assuming pairs of 2x4 will provide at least the same support. There are no permits required for this garden shed, but I want to make sure it's well built either way.

    The only pieces of the shed that will be discarded are the cedar roof singles. They are in pretty poor shape, with the lot of moss. I will save a could boxes of the clean ones for shims. We are also going to bigger windows, so these will probably be donated to the PDX Rebuilding Center.

    Painting Built-in Bookshelves

    We finally painted the built-in bookshelves I installed in the basement. Here is a picture of one of the smaller units that flanks the theater room...

    Since we had quite a bit to paint (total of 14 x 7 feet), I decided to buy a paint sprayer to complete the job. We are going to be working on the outside of the house next year, plus the new garden shed, so a sprayer is in order.

    After doing some research - and getting a great deal at Costco, I decided to buy the Wagner Paint Crew Plus painter.

    The best online price for this is about $230. Costco had it on sale for $210, plus a $50 in-store rebate, so I picked it up for $160. I was originally planning on going with a low-end Graco model for $300, but at this price I figured it was worth a try. I bought the original paint crew unit for $150 about 3 years ago. It worked OK, but failed after about 6 months. The reviews of the Plus model indicate the reliability is much improved.

    Bottom line: It sprayed paint well. I had it turned down to the minimum flow rate, and it produced a nice smooth finish. I did have to back roll a few spots where too much pain hit the front of the bookcase while I was spraying the back - any unit will do this. Also, it was pretty easy to clean - took about 15 minutes. Some of the reviews complained about the complexity of cleaning up, but I am not sure what they expect - if you shoot paint through something, its going to be a bit messy.

    Here is the larger shelf unit:

    And here is a close-up of the painted beadboard in the back of the shelves:

    We still need to texture the surrounding walls (hopefully tomorrow), before trimming these out. I plan on letting these sit for at least three days to give the paint a chance to cure before putting any books in them.
    See my article library on eHow...