And the Walls Rise

As quick as things might seem in these blog posts, this project stretched out over weeks. Late summer is the rainy season in south Louisiana, so between that and the overbearing heat and humidity, working in long stretches just wasn’t do-able. Additionally, I work full-time during the week, so I just had the evenings and some weekends for the project. I’ve seen videos where a pair of fellows assemble a shed in a day – and good on them! But I just couldn’t manage it. It’s totally fine for a huge project to take a while, especially if you’re working alone.

One more thing before we get farther:  shout out to my dad for gifting me a nice pair of sawhorses. During my visit in May, we searched the web together for good quality sawhorses to replace the rickety folding table I’d been using for sawing stuff (horribly unsafe). These Dewalt ones have folding legs and are lightweight. They’ve been excellent for this project.

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Onto the shed!

The existing structure’s frame was built out of 2×3 studs, so I did the same. It is absolutely crucial to lay out your frame before assembly. I did so and realized that two of my measurements were off. If I’d assembled it like that, it would’ve been a mess and taken me twice as long to take everything apart and reassemble.

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A lot of shed builds will go ahead and nail on the paneling here. It’s easy because everything’s laying down. But since the majority of my wall was going to be polycarbonate panels (and I wasn’t yet sure about how to join/overlap the polycarbonate and the composite sheets that would form the other part of the wall), I left it as just the frame. Another benefit of doing this is, if you’re working alone, a frame is lighter to lift than a frame and a bunch of heavy plywood.

I used a few quick screws to secure each of the frames to the floor before going back and adding half a dozen decking nails. I also used screws to connect the frames to each other and to the original shed’s frame.

The original doors were on the front of the shed. However, with the greenhouse, that wasn’t going to work. Therefore, the doors rotated around to the side. It’s a liiiittle tight with the chicken coop, but it works fine.

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Measure like 400 times before committing to a door frame.

Once this side frame was secure, I went back and cut out the piece that stretches across the bottom of the doorway to create a smooth threshold. That’ll prevent me from tripping all over the place, but more importantly, taking wheeled things like my mower will be easier to take in and out of the shed over a smooth threshold.

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Happy little handsaw at work!

Alright, folks, that’s it for now. Next time, we’re gonna raise the roof! (and the crowd goes wild)

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< Step 1: The Shed: from the Bottom Up

The Shed: from the Bottom Up

Although there was a minor planning/execution screw up at the beginning of the Shed Expansion, the rest of the original shed remained mostly in place.

Before any structure was added onto the shed, the front had to come off. I had vague  schemes of re-purposing the lumber and paneling from the front, but I knew the doors definitely needed to be saved and reused on the final building. Therefore, they were the first thing to come off.

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Like a happy, screaming mouth.

The door was held on by a pair of long piano hinges that spanned the height of the doorway. There was also a metal strip along the bottom of the doorway to protect the wood. I unfastened a few dozen half-inch screws, which all ended up getting thrown away due to rust. Throughout this project, I’ve tried to save and reuse as much material as possible, but in instances like this, it just wasn’t feasible.

As you’ll see in progress photos a bit, the rest of the front will come down and leave a huge gaping hole. This was not a delicate process. Initially, I tried to delicately pry away the nails with the claw end of my hammer, but that wasn’t doing much. I resorted to whacking the crap out of the panels and 2x3s until they shook loose.

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The ladies dancing on the fallen body of the front.

After the existing shed was ready, the next step was to lay the “foundation” for the new addition. The original structure sits on a skid foundation, so I decided to continue that. A skid foundation is basically posts – usually 4x4s – laying across concrete blocks. Then, on top of the posts, you lay your floor frame (aka the subfloor). Skid foundations tend to work best with small- to medium-structures sitting on relatively flat ground.

Because concrete blocks are a pain in the ‘tocks to level, I procrastinated on that part and set about building the frame for my floor. Although the original shed uses 2x4s, most of the guidance I read leaned more towards 2x6s. I probably would’ve been alright with the 2x4s, but better sturdy than sorry.

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The spacing between my joists varied from 12 to 20 inches because I was trying to make sure the plywood flooring seams would land on a joist. I secured everything together with 3-inch ring shank decking nails. I normally overbuild and used monstrous screws, so I was worried about the lasting power of nails. However, after having a few go in wonky and being unable to pry them out, I’m convinced the frame is very solid. (particularly when the plywood is secured to the top) Yay!

Then I couldn’t avoid setting the dang blocks. In order for the addition to sit level, I had to account for the extra height of the 2x6s (since the old shed’s floor frame uses 2x4s). I dug and redug holes for the blocks and added or removed buckets of pea gravel until they sat as even as possible. Then the 4x4s went on top, stretching across 10 feet across blocks.

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I ended up used about 5bags of pea gravel for the 6 blocks. The new addition will be 6-feet deep, so the poles are evenly spaced to support that. Now here comes the frame!

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I should get tiny hardhats for the ladies, since they’re always supervising my work.

With everything in place, I screw the new floor frame onto the original frame. Here, you can also see the front of the shed has been ripped off. I was also slow to put the roof sheet back on that I removed during my false start.

Before the moving on, make sure everything’s nice and square! If not, a few whacks of the hammer should help adjust things.

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The frame is secured to the skids through a technique known as “toenailing,” in which you drive a nail a little steeper than 45 degrees into 2 pieces of wood. This project was the first time I tried to toenail anything, so it took some practice to get the technique. It helps to start by driving the nail straight into the wood and then angling it downwards.

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The last thing I worked on that day was installing the plywood floor.

I was working with 4’x8′ sheets of 3/4″ severe weather plywood. Side note:  get someone to help you carry these sheets. I was able to sort of drag them across the yard, but one ended up falling on my leg and gave me a nasty bruise.

Anyways, in my plan, I figured out how to puzzle-piece these together. The first sheet went on whole, then I laid the next sheet right beside it, put a few nails in to hold it down, and cut off the excess. That excess formed the final piece of the floor. I used subfloor adhesive as well as those 3-inch decking nails to hold everything together.

Well, guys and gals, that was it for the day. If I can make a suggestion, don’t take on a huge, labor-intensive, outdoor project like this in June and July in a subtropical climate. I was so happy to have some spotty shade from the old oak tree, but the heat still knocked me on my butt everyday. Take care of yourself.

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Step 2: And the Walls Rise >