How to turn salvaged wood into a rustic backyard shed.
When Calgarians Liz Cooper and Brian Turnock were among the winners of House & Home's Style Search — for their striking transformation of a '50s bungalow into a Victorian-style two-storey using architectural salvage — we knew they were a pair to watch. Now the couple has put more salvage to good use, reclaiming a neighbour's old cedar decking to build a rustic garden shed (ed's note: sorry, we don't have a photo of the actual shed). With its design "inspired" by old-time outhouses, the shed makes the couple's backyard seem well removed from its city setting. And the informal style means this is an easy project for a novice woodworker — mistakes, cracks, crevices and other imperfections only add to the shed's rustic charm.
What it Cost
This shed cost just $35 to make because most of the materials were left over from other projects, but we've included these estimates for making the project with new materials:
Cedar decking $438
Cedar post $20
Screws, nails, hinges $20
Roofing material $20
Roofing glue (optional) $8
Materials and Tools
- Tape measure
- Circular saw or hand saw
- 300' of 2" x 6" cedar decking
- One 4" x 4" post (at least 48" in length) for the base support
- 2 pieces 25" x 33" plywood (any thickness) to make roof sheathing
- 36"-wide rolled mineral roofing (or any other roofing material, including shingles or galvanized-steel sheeting)
- Electric drill
- 200 2-1/2" deck screws
- Carpenter's square
- 2 large (3" w. x 6" l.) gate hinges for door
- 50 1-1/2" nails for roofing
- 2 small door hinges for storage shelf
- Rake head for door pull
- Leftover stain or paint
This is a simple design, with six separately assembled pieces making up a whole shed. The six pieces consist of two sides, a back, a door, a roof and a floor. There is also an interior storage space with a hinged storage shelf. We used salvaged decking in our project, so the shed took on a rustic look, but new decking could be used. If you're using new materials and like an aged look, do not apply any wood sealer.
Step 1: Cut lumber
Use a tape measure and circular saw to cut wood to specified lengths.
For Sides, Back, Door, Floor:
From 2" x 6" cedar decking, cut:
- 18 pieces to 84" each (6 pieces for each side, 6 pieces for back)
- 6 pieces to 78" each (for door; one piece will be cut in half for doorjambs)
- 9 pieces to 30" each (3 crossbars each for both sides and back)
- 2 pieces to 27-1/8" each (top and bottom horizontal crossbars on door)
- 1 piece to 52" (diagonal crossbar on the door front)
- 2 pieces to 10" each (hinge-mount pieces)
For Floor, Hinged Storage Shelf:
From 2" x 6" cedar decking, cut:
- 6 pieces to 33" each (for floor)
- 2 pieces to 33" each (for floor crossbars)
- 4 pieces to 32" each (for hinged shelf)
- 6 pieces to 14" each (for vertical shelf support)
- 2 pieces to 24" each (for crosspieces for vertical shelf support)
From 2" x 6" cedar decking, cut:
- 4 pieces to 24" each (for front and back roof rafters; these pieces are square cut, and joined with a diamond-shaped piece)
- 3 pieces to 33" each (for three perpendicular crosspieces)
For Gable Ends of Roof:
From 2" x 6" cedar decking, cut:
- 2 pieces to 33" each
- 2 pieces to 33" in length, but angle ends so pieces measure 16" in length along one side
- 2 pieces to 16" in length, but angle ends to measure 6" in length along one side
For Support Posts:
- Cut 4 pieces of 4" x 4" post to approximately 12" each. Shape one end of each post into a point to be driven into the ground for supports.
Step 2: Assemble side, back and floor
To make one side wall, butt 6 pieces of the 2" x 6" together (planing isn't necessary, since cracks and spaces between pieces will add to the rustic look) so you have one assembled piece that measures 33" w. x 84" h. x 2" d. Lay one 30" crosspiece across the top, flush with the tops of the 6 pieces. Drill 12 evenly spaced holes through the crossbar (should work out to 2 holes in each 2" x 6" piece). Using the deck screws, screw the crossbar in place from the inner side of the wall. When crossbars are mounted, there will be a 1-1/2" space at each end for sides and back to overlap. Measure 1-1/2" up from bottom edge of 6 pieces, and draw a straight line across. Place bottom crosspiece so that it sits along this line; the 1-1/2" space is where floor will fit into sides and back. Screw crosspiece to bottom of side wall, following directions as above. Next, measure distance between top and bottom crossbars, determine centre, mark with a line, and affix third crossbar in centre, following steps above. Assemble the second side and back in the same way. To assemble floor, follow directions as above, but make your crossbars sit flush with both ends of your floor pieces.
Step 3: Make door and doorjambs
Cut one 2" x 6" door piece in half lengthwise so that you have two pieces that measure 2" x 3" x 78". These will be your doorjambs. To make door, lay out the five remaining 78" x 2" x 6" pieces, butting them against each other lengthwise. Measure down 6" from the top and measure 6" up from the bottom and mark with pencil. These will be the positions for the horizontal crossbars. Affix crossbars with screws as in Step 2. To affix the diagonal crossbar, hold 52" length of 2" x 6" diagonally across the door, with top at left and bottom at right. Mark a line with pencil across top and at bottom where diagonal crosspiece will need to be cut in order to fit neatly within your two horizontal crossbars. Cut the diagonal crosspiece on these lines. Using two screws in each plank, similar to technique in Step 2, screw into place from inside of door to outside.
Step 4: Anchor posts in ground
Measure the square area where shed will sit, and mark each corner on the ground. Dig four 11"-deep holes to bury each post (this will make sinking the posts easier). Drive a 4" x 4" post into each hole, leaving approximately 1" left above ground, with outside corner of each post sitting flush with outside corner of where shed will sit. Use a level to determine that the four posts sit flush with each other. This will provide four level corner supports so that the shed won't sag or tip over time.
Step 5: Assemble body of shed
Using 2 screws, one each at right side top and bottom crosspieces, join your right side and back. Use a carpenter’s square to ensure right angles. Repeat with left side, again using only 2 screws, one each at left side top and bottom. Place the floor so that it sits on the four corner supports, with floor crosspieces running from front to back. Move the 3-sided structure onto the floor. With bottom crossbars of structure sitting on floor, drill diagonally downward through crossbars and into floor. Screw sides and back structure to floor, using 2 screws for each piece of 2" x 6" (a total of 36 screws).
Step 6: Make design in door
Before mounting door, hand-draw a moon-shaped design (or other shape, as desired) on the front. Using the drill, make a hole large enough in which to fit a jigsaw blade. Using the jigsaw, cut the design into the door. There's no need for precision; flaws will add character and rusticity.
Step 7: Attach doorjambs and door
Stand doorjamb pieces against front edge of side walls. Drill 2 holes at top and 2 holes at bottom, running from side walls through into doorjambs. Screw both doorjambs into place. With door sitting in place, mark where you will attach hinge-mount pieces (they will be flush with door crosspieces). Drill holes, and using 4 screws each, screw in place. Attach hinges to door, then attach hinges to hinge-mount pieces.
Step 8: Make roof and gables
Cut two identical angular diamond shapes out of cedar scraps. These sit at front and back where roof rafters meet, so that rafters need not be mitred, but instead sit square against each "diamond." This also provides some detail at the front and back peaks of the roof. Each piece should measure 6" on the longest 2 sides where the rafters will attach. With 2 front rafter pieces sitting at desired angle, place decorative diamond piece on top and screw all three pieces together to make front rafters. Repeat process to make back rafters. Attach front and back rafters together using three 33" perpendicular pieces, screwing through rafters into ends of side perpendicular pieces, and through diamonds for centre perpendicular piece. Nail plywood sheathing in place and cover with two pieces of rolled roofing material cut to size of roof. Nail into place, with nails evenly spaced every 5 inches along edges. Cut another piece of rolled roofing to approximately 8" wide, and fit over peak with 4" each side. Nail in place every 5 inches. Attach front and back gable pieces (they should form a triangular shape) by fitting up inside the front and back of roof structure. Screw into place from back to front through gables into rafters. Place roof on structure and screw to main body of shed.
Step 9: Make hinged storage shelf
Using 3 pieces of 2" x 6", and following instructions in Step 2, make shelf. Use scrap cedar as crosspieces on underside of shelf. At 14" up from floor, attach a crosspiece to back wall, on which to hinge shelf. This can be made with scrap cedar. Hinge shelf to back crosspiece. With shelf lifted, make vertical shelf support, following instructions in Step 2. Mark where it needs to sit in order that it meets the shelf at a right angle. Screw vertical shelf support in place from outer sides of shed, into ends of crosspieces.
Step 10: Add details
The head of an old rake missing its handle is simply bolted into the door from behind. A piece of scrap cedar was used for the latch. Drill a hole into the middle of a rectangular piece of wood using a drill bit one size larger than the size of nail you are going to use. This will allow the latch to rotate when nailed in place. If desired, shelving can be added by cutting pieces of 2" x 6" to 33" in length, 5 pieces per shelf, and setting them in shed, side by side, supported on the crossbars. If desired, use stain or paint to darken any visible ends of freshly cut wood.
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