Building a Woodshed
Written by Chris
After having a contractor friend and his Amish friends help build the new Rumford fireplace with a crane, I knew I had to have a dry place for my firewood. The first year we used the fireplace we always had smokey fires due to wet wood. We built the fireplace for heat and cooking in order to recreate an 17th century colonial experience. Our property is mostly wooded and provides more than enough wood for a fireplace, bonfires, and wood stove.
I decided to build a woodshed large enough to hold 4-5 cords of wood which would last through winter if we had to burn constantly. The woodshed would be divided into 2 bays each holding 2.5 cords of wood; so, I could load one half the of woodshed to dry for a year and burn the other half in the current winter. I located the woodshed next to the bonfire deck for easy access as well as providing a clean area to access the woodshed. The bonfire deck sits directly on 6 inches of packed gravel. Around here, it is called 411 which has 1/4 inch gravel with stone dust so it compacts tightly, but can still drain. I extended the gravel pad away from the bonfire deck about 10 feet and ran it just longer than the length of the bonfire deck at about 18 feet. The wood shed would be 8 feet by 16 feet allowing for woodshed to easily sit on the pad without the gravel running out from under it. The roof of the woodshed would run from it highest point in the front to the back with a 1 foot slope. The extra gravel in the back would stop the dripping rain water from digging a trench in the ground. The height of the woodshed in the back is 5 feet and 6 feet in the front. Large enough to get into easily, but still able to maintain a low profile.
Laying the gravel pad was fairly straight forward. We cleared the leaves, brush and small saplings out of the work area. I removed the small stumps from the saplings with a pick ax. We moved, by wheel barrow, the gravel from where the dump truck put it, on the gravel paths we have, to the build site. I did not worry about how level the ground was beneath the gravel as it would be covered and filled in. I tamped the gravel in place and made sure it was level with the bonfire deck pad. I did not use a level, but just eyed the whole site to make sure it was level. Within an inch is good enough for a woodshed. I brought 6 concrete slabs left over from another building project to set the vertical posts on. Each slab was 8 inches by 16 inches by 2 inches thick.
The vertical posts were 6 by 6 treated beams. I erected the frame using the bent method where the frame was divided into 3 bents or cross sections. I connected the vertical posts in each bent at the top with a horizontal 2 by 8 on the outside of the building. They were bolted in place with 2 bolts on each end. Each bent also has 2 horizontal 2 by 4 boards connecting the vertical posts on the outside and on the inside which will allow a gap the width of the post for air to circulate allowing the wood to dry faster. The outside 2 by 4 boards allow the vertical siding to be nailed. The inside 2 by 4 boards have vertical boards attached to stop the end of each firewood pile. Many of the 2 by 4 boards came from a crate used to pack an entryway door. I tried to reuse as much material as possible. I did have to buy the 6 by 6 beams new; so, I got treated lumber to lessen the chance of rot.
The roof was the next piece of work to tackle. I ordered 4 sheets of metal ribbed roofing in a brown color to blend in with the surrounding and match the natural color of the siding. I got roof screws, side trim, and end trim to match. I used 2 by 4 boards set on hangers to support the roof. Each 2 by 4 board needed to be cut to an angle to fit nicely into the hanger and allow screws to be inserted from the side of the board. I set the hangers to make sure the top of the 2 by 4 boards were level with the front and back of the woodshed frame. I laid the metal roofing on top of the framework and screwed the front and back of the metal sheet first to hold it in place. I then marked a chalk line on the metal roof where the support 2 by 4 ran beneath; so, I could easily see where to screw. I overlapped each sheet by 1 rib. After the metal roof sheets were in place I added trim all the way around the structure so water would not drip into the woodshed.
In order to keep project costs low, I looked for an old barn where I could reuse the siding. Nelle’s parents had an old corn crib which was dilapidated, but still had some usable siding. The corn crib was about 150 years old. We were able to get enough siding to finish the woodshed. Most of the wood was oak and beech. We also retrieved many old hand made square nails and hinges. The nails would be handy for small indoor project where the strength of the nail is not crucial. The hinges could be used on many other projects I have in mind such as the timber frame barn.
I started on the siding by taking the widest boards and placing them on the front of the woodshed to cover the vertical posts. The majority of the front is left open for easy access and to let air circulate to help dry the wood. I put the best boards (the ones that I could fit the tightest together) on the West and South sides where the worst of the weather would come from. Because the boards were random widths, I did not need to cut any lengthwise to complete the side as I just found a combination that would fit when I had about 3 – 4 boards left on a side.
On the back of the woodshed, I decide to put 2 of the old hinges to work with a window about 2 feet square; so, I could use the woodshed as a deer blind. I framed the window with left over 2 by 4 boards and cut the window from the old corn crib siding. I nailed the hinges with 2 nails per hole to make sure the hinge did not slip over the nails. I also found a nice hand made latch to use as a closure for the window.
I decided to leave the woodshed unpainted so it will blend into the surroundings and look old just like the corn crib while still having the benefits of a new frame. After loading it with wood, I have been able to have a lot less smoke in my fires. The new barn cat also uses it for a place to hide from the weather and presumably will keep the mice out.