Easy DIY Garden Shed Plans

Anyone can build a small, simple and sensational shed!
By Steve Maxwell
April/May 2011
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Customize your garden shed to be a decorative focal point of your yard or garden. 
PHOTO: FOTOLIA
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Almost all of us need a little place to store outdoor stuff — garden tools, recycling bins, the lawn mower, bicycles or other outdoor gear — and building a shed is one of the best ways to create additional storage space. Our garden shed plans are simple and require only basic carpentry skills.

A garden shed can be strictly functional, but it can also be a decorative focal point around which you design your garden or yard. These plans will help you build a basic shed, but don’t stop there! To customize your shed, you could create a combination toolshed and greenhouse, put a martin house on top, or use part of the shed for a chicken coop or rabbit hutch. If you’re feeling even more adventurous, you could create a living roof of moss or succulent plants.

Build the Floor

The best spot for a shed is level, well-drained ground close to where you work in your garden or yard. The location doesn’t need to be perfectly flat; the foundation design shown in the plans allows for adjustments to make the floor level. Small sheds require only a top-of-soil foundation, even in locations with freezing winter temperatures. Precast concrete deck blocks work perfectly for this.

To eliminate the need for any kind of floor beams, you’ll need a deck block at each corner, with two more blocks equally spaced along the 8-foot sides and one in the center of each 6-foot side. If you expect to store particularly heavy items, consider installing three deck blocks between each corner on the 8-foot walls, instead of two.

Deck blocks include a central pocket sized to fit the standard 4-by-4 vertical posts that typically hold up a deck. In the case of this shed, pressure-treated 4-by-4s function in a similar way, but in short lengths — just enough to compensate for any variation in the shape of the ground (see the plans).

Start by setting deck blocks on the ground, positioned as shown in the plans. While the area doesn’t have to be perfectly level, you should make the ground roughly level where each block will rest. Temporarily place some straight 2-by-6 lumber on edge in the top grooves of the blocks to orient the blocks in a straight line. Arrange two rows of four blocks parallel to each other to form both long walls, then measure diagonally across the outside corners to determine how square the arrangement is. If the two long walls are parallel, and diagonal measurements taken across corners are equal, then each corner is guaranteed to be 90 degrees. Finish up by placing one deck block in the middle of each 6-foot wall after you have aligned and squared the 8-foot walls.

Remove the 2-by-6 lumber guides, then put a 12-inch length of 4-by-4 lumber into each deck block, positioned vertically in the central recess. These 4-by-4s will be slightly too long right now, but that’s exactly what you want.

The 2-by-6s that form the outer perimeter of the floor frame rest on the outside top edge of the deck blocks, tight to the outer faces of the 4-by-4 posts. Use a 4-foot level and an 8-foot 2-by-6 to determine the highest deck block in the group, then use this as your starting point for installing the floor frame. Use a single galvanized 3 1⁄2-inch deck screw to lock the 2-by-6 to the 4-by-4 on the highest deck block, then raise the other end of the 2-by-6 so it’s level before locking the other end of the 2-by-6 to its 4-by-4. The 2-by-6 won’t rest on all the blocks, but should rest on at least one. Continue working all around the floor frame in this manner until all perimeter 2-by-6s are in the same level plane. Trim all excess 4-by-4s flush with the top of the 2-by-6s using a chain saw or reciprocating saw, then add 2-by-6 floor joists running between the two 8-foot walls. Make sure each joist fits tightly within the outer edges of the floor frame, and then fasten the joists to the side of the 4-by-4s with screws.

Complete the floor frame by driving three 3 1⁄2-inch deck screws per joint, then custom-cut spacers out of 1 1⁄2-inch-thick construction lumber to fill the gap between the underside of the 2-by-6s and the top of the deck blocks. You can’t rely on screws alone to hold up the floor frame in the long term. Finish up by installing a pressure-treated, five-eighths-inch-thick plywood subfloor on top of the floor frame, secured with 2 1⁄2-inch deck screws driven every 6 to 8 inches.

Frame the Walls

This shed’s walls are built in the same way that the walls of most full-size homes are built. The plans show how 2-by-4 top plates and bottom plates extend horizontally around the perimeter of the building, with vertical studs defining wall surfaces. Notice that the two short walls fit inside the two longer ones, fastened together at the corners with 3 1⁄2-inch deck screws and overlapping top plates.

To build the framing for each wall, begin by temporarily screwing a 2-by-4 top plate and 2-by-4 bottom plate together face to face, then set this pair on its edge on the plywood floor. Next, mark the position of the wall studs on the edges of both of these 2-by-4s, spacing the center of each stud 24 inches apart. The plans show detailed layouts for all walls and how to frame door and window openings. The plans don’t offer measurements for these openings though, because this shed is perfect for using scrounged windows and doors, and these can be of any size. You can hinge doors directly onto the rough frame of the shed, but attaching windows will work a little differently.

A salvaged wooden sash can be fixed permanently into the shed frame, but beware: Fixed windows such as these attract and trap flies, making a buzzing, dirty mess. I suggest using another type of window. If you do, you’ll need to create a rough window frame opening large enough to accommodate the entire window unit, with an extra half-inch clearance on the sides, top and bottom for adjustment.

Separate the 2-by-4 plates, space them about 8 feet apart on the floor, and nail 92 1⁄2-inch-long studs between them.

Immediately after you’ve built one long wall, get some help to tilt it upright, then use 4-inch deck screws to fasten the bottom wall plate to the floor, positioning the screws so they sink into the edge of the 2-by-6 floor frame. Assemble and raise the other walls, adjust them so they’re plumb in the corners and fasten them with deck screws. Add a second layer of wall plates on top of the first, overlapping across the corners. Complete the walls by covering the frame with sheathing.

Exterior-grade plywood siding is an easy, inexpensive choice. It includes vertical grooves for decoration and accepts any kind of paint or stain. Regardless of what you use, don’t wrestle with the complication of cutting window openings before adding sheathing. Instead, apply sheathing to the walls from the outside, covering them completely, then cut the window and door openings afterward, following the framed openings from inside using a chain saw or reciprocating saw.

Build the Roof

The simplest way to make a roof frame for a small shed is to use steel connector plates made especially for the job. Using this hardware eliminates the need for fancy cuts on the rafters and will create a strong roof. Cut the 2-by-4 rafters at 30-degree angles (see the plans), then bring them together on top of the building using steel plates (peak brackets) and screws.

With the rafters in place, cut two triangular pieces of wall sheathing to close in the gable ends, fastening them both to the top of the wall and the faces of the outermost rafters with nails.

Notice how the roof frame sits on top of the walls and that there are spaces between the rafters. If you leave these open, birds, bugs and rodents will get into your shed. The best time to fill spaces between rafters is now, before the roof sheathing goes on. Cut 2-by-6 blocking to fit within each space. If you have access to a table saw, use it to angle the top sides of the blocks to match the roof slope. Fasten the blocks to the top plate with screws.

Even a small shed looks best with a roof overhang on the triangular front and back ends of the building. So, before you cover the roof with half-inch plywood, extend the roof frame by attaching three rafter supports to each end rafter with screws, then fasten the overhanging rafters to those supports.

It’s much easier to safely handle rafters, roof sheathing and shingles when you’re standing firmly on a scaffold than when you’re balancing on a ladder. Set up the scaffolding inside the shed for roof construction, then move it out next to the eaves as a shingling platform.

DIY sheds offer great value, great durability, and the opportunity to exercise your creativity. Build one yourself, and you’ll wonder why anyone would ever do it differently.


Garden Shed Materials List

14 rafters, 1 1/2 x 3 1/2” x 521⁄2”
12 rafter supports, 1 1/2” x 2 1/2” x 8 1/2”
8 rafter blocking boards, 1 1/2” x 5 1/2” x 22 1/2”*
10 deck blocks, precast concrete, for 4-by-4 posts
As needed floor posts, 3 1/2” x 3 1/2” x 12”*
As needed floor frame spacers, 1 1/2” x 3 1/2” x length*
2 long floor edge boards, pressure-treated, 1 1/2” x 5 1/2” x 96”
4 floor joists, pressure-treated, 1 1/2” x 5 1/2” x 69”
11⁄2 sheets pressure-treated floor decking, 5/8” x 48” x 96”
18 wall studs, 1 1/2” x 3 1/2” x 92 1/2”
6 long bottom/top plates, 1 1/2” x 3 1/2” x 96”**
6 short bottom/top plates, 1 1/2” x 3 1/2” x 65”**
1 door lintel, 3 1/2” x width as needed x length as needed
2 window studs, 1 1/2” x 3 1/2” x length as needed
2 top/bottom window frames, 1 1/2” x 3 1/2” x length as needed
6 or 7 sheets*** wall sheathing (plywood or OSB), 7/16” to 1/2” x 48” x 96”
4 1/2sheets roof sheathing (plywood or OSB), 7/16” to 1/2” x 48” x 96”
Metal rafter hardware 

Note: All materials should be construction-grade lumber unless otherwise noted. Dimensions are actual — for example, 1 1/2 inches x 3 1/2 inches are the actual dimensions of a 2-by-4.

*Cut to length as needed
**Cut upper top plates to overlap corners
***Depending on the size of door and window you select 


Great Garden Shed Showoff: Win a $500 Certificate for Tools of Your Choice!

If you have a shed that’s a beautiful focal point on your property, MOTHER EARTH NEWS invites you to enter our Great Garden Shed Showoff. Any small structure used to store garden tools and equipment or house livestock is eligible. We will choose grand-prize winners in two categories:

1. Most decorative and/or colorful

2. Best use of repurposed materials and/or most versatile

The winner in each category will receive a $500 gift certificate from Lee Valley Tools, which has a great selection of tools and hardware for woodworkers and gardeners. They offer many innovative hand tools that are difficult to find elsewhere. To enter, send a photo and at least 50 words describing your shed to Letters@MotherEarthNews.com by Nov. 1, 2011.


Contributing Editor Steve Maxwell has been helping people renovate, build and maintain their homes for more than two decades. “Canada’s Handiest Man” is an award-winning home improvement authority and woodworking expert. Contact him by visiting his website and the blog, Maxwell’s House. You also can follow him on Twitter, like him on Facebook and find him on . 


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Post a comment below.

 

swelsh014
9/12/2014 6:12:42 PM
I helped my friend build a shed this weekend. We did pretty well until we got to the roof. Eventually, we had to get some help from people who knew how to put a roof together. After much assistance, the roof is on and the shed is completed. http://www.kplamarco.com/services/roofing/

John
9/3/2014 7:38:08 AM
I just finished my shed using premade plans. Turned out great, now I just need to paint it. Found some cool plans on the web. Check it will help you as well: http://www.woodengardenshedplans.com/

Aaliyah
7/3/2014 7:00:47 AM
Garden sheds are a great use of any empty space that you have. Like http://www.frankssheds.com, garden sheds also need to be taken care of regularly. You should always plan and build your garden sheds. Use prebuilt roof trusses while building roof of your garden shed. Prebuilt roof trusses save you about half a day work.

Luke Johnson
4/10/2014 2:47:58 PM
I would love to have a small shed like the one in the picture, but I don't have any small enclosed part of my yard that could house it. I was thinking I would go with something a little bit wider and taller to accommodate the extra space behind my house. http://www.tri-steel.net.au/?page_id=557

ZacSpade
4/6/2014 4:49:15 PM
I agree building the floor first is very important. Where i live you can just building it on a concrete slab, but if your having trouble, try my site http://zacsgarden.com/Garden-Shed-Plans

PeterRT
3/7/2014 5:21:06 AM
Lots of sound, practical advice on building a successful garden shed there - please check out this post about http://www.homediy.co/storage-shed-plans/ on my blog.

1/9/2014 3:30:58 PM
How do you feel about prefabricated sheds? I am not much of a handyman so I doubt I would be able to take on a project of this magnitude. I was able to find a pretty nice prefab one online that even comes http://www.fairdinkumsheds.com.au/shedsafe-0. What do you guys think?

1/9/2014 3:30:15 PM
How do you feel about prefabricated sheds? I am not much of a handyman so I doubt I would be able to take on a project of this magnitude. I was able to find a pretty nice prefab one online that even comes http://www.fairdinkumsheds.com.au/shedsafe-0. What do you guys think?

RichinSC
11/20/2013 10:49:44 AM
Great post! So often a shed looks like a "shed" and not very attractive to the surrounding environment. Great job and also appreciate the materials list. Thanks for sharing, RichinSC http://wonderfulhome.net

diylyn
10/20/2013 11:00:20 AM
One of the best projects I ever did build a 16x10 workshop/kennel. The problem I had was my yard tended to get waterlogged so I lifted the base by laying railway sleepers and built it on top of these. You are so right by the way , you need some good plans. I hope I can post a link here? Obviously remove if not allowed, but the site I recommend is http://shedbuildplan.com. There are some great plans and ideas there.

cclark56
10/1/2013 10:31:49 AM
This is just about the best plans I've seen on the net. I used to build sheds on site for a small company in Indiana. But if you're wanting to build something a little bigger or maybe a window or loft, check out this site, it's very detailed, I built my shed with it this summer before the kids went back to school. http://bit.ly/1bqmOy7

Gina BISAILLON
3/20/2013 4:00:17 PM
What a coincidence! I just added an article about garden sheds to my website this week (am I allowed to give the URL? Its: my-green-home-project.com/shed-kits.html) and I included these plans with a link back to you. If I weren't 71 years old, I would certainly build that shed from scratch because your directions are impeccable. Thank you for all you do. -GinaB

Dean
3/20/2013 3:33:08 PM
actually I think if you doubled the floor sheeting and staggered the join and used some construction adhesive it would not sag. So three sheets of 5/8" would be a easy fix. Otherwise a usable design.

Dean
3/20/2013 3:17:54 PM
Not enough floor support for 72 in width 5/8 in ply floor will sag.

Bill Phillips
1/21/2013 11:12:00 PM
I appreciate the materials list. Getting the right supplies seems to always be the toughest part for me when building DIY Shed.

BETH MORTENSON
4/18/2012 4:28:02 PM
Where do we find the winners of the Great Garden Shed Showoff? The contest submission deadline was 11/1/11.








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