Yes, we are here!

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we have been educating folks about the benefits of self-reliance for 50 years. That includes researching and sourcing the best books and products to help individuals master the skills they need in times like these and beyond. Our online store is open and we are here to answer any questions you might have. Our customer service staff is available Monday through Friday from 8a.m.-5p.m. CDT. We can be reached at 1-800-234-3368 or by email. Stay safe!

Do-it-yourself projects and plans for anyone who can swing a hammer.

Cherry Board Farmhouse Table Years in the Making

Tung Oil Table 

For 25 years, this stack of two-inch-thick boards has sat under the house waiting to become a beautiful farmhouse table. It waited and it waited. For 25 years, it waited.

We would propose the table project with incentives—for this anniversary, let’s make the table. For my birthday, let’s do it. Let’s do it later, we are too busy building the farm. The farm was born; the children were born. We’ll do it when the kids are older, because we are going to ruin the kitchen table with projects. We got a hand-me-down kitchen table. How many projects were done on the kitchen table? Incubating chickens probably shouldn’t have happened on the kitchen table. Stamping seedling tags with permanent ink probably shouldn’t have happened on the kitchen table. But they did. We knew they would. All the while, this stack of cherry boards waited.

We started to realize the cherry table project would never fit into our routine. We will never get to it, but we’d really appreciate the table. That big permanent black ink stain on the hand-me-down table is starting to bother me. Let’s make the table for our 20th anniversary. We have heard that one before.

When my husband, Phil, prepared the land to build our house, he cut down two cherry trees. He hired a guy to bring his (not very) portable sawing mill up our steep driveway in the woods to mill the cherry into boards. The hired guy said he’d never bring his mill up our driveway again. He planed the boards and drove his mill home. Phil built the house and he used the one inch cherry boards to make inside doors and a closet. He set aside these two-inch-thick boards for a cherry table. That was 25 years ago.

When has a homesteading project been waylaid too long? The kids are teenagers and the table still hasn’t made it to the top of the project list. What to do? It is time to either scratch it off the list or delegate it.

We discovered we didn’t need to delegate the entire project. We jump-started the project by taking the cherry boards to the planing mill. The nice people who run the mill re-sanded the old boards and cut and neatly glued them into a table top. They used the scrap to make table legs. With the stumbling blocks to the project lifted, we took on the final steps. Phil would attach the legs; I would finish the surface of the table. We each researched our part. It did not matter that we have never built a table. That is the adventure of it. As homesteaders, we are jacks of all trades, between the two of us. In 1995, Phil had never made a house before, so he read a book and he did that. We had never farmed before, so in 2000 we read some books and we did that. We have never made a table before, so in 2020, we googled it.

Both the leg-attaching and the wood-finishing projects required research, decisions and risks. At first, Phil chose not to make a skirt, because he learned that a skirt is not easy to make. He attached the legs on thick base boards that he attached across the table width on each end of the table. However, he is seeing that the heavy table will need a skirt, so he is adding a skirt for reinforcement, to draw in the table legs.

I chose to oil the table with tung oil and citrus solvent to create an oil finish to the table. I am drawn to the natural process of oiling and bringing out the qualities of wood. It was a forgiving process that can be repeated if the surface does not clean easily. My most useful resource for oiling the table was The Real Milk Paint Company.

By delegating part of the project, we made it happen and still have the satisfaction of this DIY project. Our hearts and time were soaked right into the grain. The ownership and passion that comes with a DIY project is still ours. The connection, the wildness, the learning and research, the memories, the risk of the table completely falling or warping… it is all part of the adventure of a DIY project.

Twenty years of farming, 20 years of marriage — it’s time for the cherry boards to become a table.

And here it is!!!


Ilene White Freedman operates House in the Woods organic CSA farm with her husband, Phil, in Frederick, Maryland. The Freedmans are 2013 MOTHER EARTH NEWS Homesteaders of the Year. Ilene blogs about making things from scratch, putting up the harvest, gardening and farm life on the farm's Facebook Page. For more about House in the Woods Farm, go to the House in the Woods website, and read all of Ilene's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Baby Goat Diapers: DIY Belly Bands for In-Home Baby Male Goats

Elastic sewn into the diaper and a prefold inserted for absorbency 

Is it kidding time for you? I’ve been seeing a lot of baby goat cuteness in my homestead groups. We have two Nigerian Dwarf does who I’d like to breed in a year or two, once our feral toddler calms down a bit. In the meantime, I’m enjoying everyone else’s goats, particularly my friend Scottie’s. She has a large herd of Nigerian Dwarf and Fainting goats, two smaller breeds of goats. The babies are the perfect snuggle size and absolutely adorable

If you breed goats, you may temporarily find yourself with what Scottie calls “house goats.” Every year they have a boatload of babies on their farm. Usually there’s at least one with a bad mom or a mom who can’t keep up feeding triplets or quads. This year she has two house goats, a male and a female.

Typically they use disposable diapers for the goats to reduce the mess and cleanup, but she was complaining that the dog belly band that they bought just didn’t fit right.

So I whipped up two belly bands for her goats and, well, if you thought baby goats were cute, you should see baby goats in cloth diapers. I cannot handle it!

Today, I’m going to walk you through how to make your own belly bands if you have a house goat or two this spring. These belly bands are for pee only with boy goats. A regular diaper does the trick for the girls and for pellets. I’m still working on an all-in-one diaper for the boys, but it’s been tough, because he outgrew my first prototype before I could get it to them.


  • polyurethane laminate fabric
  • Hook & Loop (better known as Velcro)
  • an old prefold diaper


Step 1: Cut your fabric. I had one long piece for the exterior, then two smaller pieces for each end.

Three pieces of fabric cut for belly band

Step 2: Fold over the flat edge of each short piece and sew it down. This is an optional step because PUL doesn’t fray, but it gives it a neater edge.

Sewing inside edge.

Step 3: Sew your loop to one right side of the large piece. Sew your hook to one of the short pieces.

Tip: There’s a right and wrong side to fabric. The “right” side is the pretty side. The wrong side is the back side.

Velcro to be sewn onto the diaper

Step 4: Fold over the flaps on either side of the pattern. These will function as your elastic casings. Sew them down, making sure to backstitch at the beginning and end.

In the photo below, I’ve done the left side. 

Sewing Velcro onto the wrap.

Step 5: Face each of your short pieces right sides together with the ends of the long pieces. Pin or use clips to hold them in place. Sew. Flip right sides out and top stitch. 

Tip: PUL is a bit tricky to sew as it sticks when it’s run through the sewing machine. You can make it easier by using a serger or a walking foot on a sewing machine. 

End pieces sewn onto the bellyband

Step 5: The last thing you need to do is add your elastic. I cut a short piece of elastic for each side and attach a safety pin to one end. Use the safety pin to feed the elastic through the casing, sewing down the end without the safety pin once it’s even with the end of the casing. 

Keep pulling your safety pin/elastic through the casing until you reach the other side. This is the tricky part- you need to eyeball the elastic length and pull it tight enough that it is a bit scrunchie, but not too tight. The elastic can be fairly loose in this, as you can see in the photo below. The yellow version was a bit tighter.

Elastic sewn into the diaper and a prefold inserted for absorbency

Once you get your elastic to your preferred tightness, sew it down, making sure not to hit the safety pin. Remove the safety pin.

I cut up a larger prefold into three pieces to fit inside the belly band. The prefold is what absorbs the urine. You can also use towels for absorbency or other types of linens.

Here’s a video of the process if you learn better that way!

Want to grab the pattern instead of sketching your own? Head over to It's one of the freebies I offer my email subscribers! If you have a larger breed of goat, you’ll want to sketch your own pattern (or enlarge mine) based on your goat’s measurements. Thanks and happy kidding season!

Danielle Pientka is a stay-at-home mom to three boys and a blogger at When she's not chasing children, goats, or ducks, she's gardening, reading, sewing, or brainstorming her next DIY project. She is the author of How to Sew Cloth Diapers, as well as a few other sewing books. Her husband and she developed a sewing phone app, Sew Organized, available for iOS and Android devices. Connect with Danielle on FacebookTwitterPinterestInstagram and YouTube, and read all of her Mother Earth News posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Why I Make Homemade Soap with Locally Sourced Beef Tallow

a basket of handmade natural soap 

I have been making soap for nearly 10 years now. It all started when we had a steer butchered at home. We lived on a small property (around eight acres) at the time, and we wanted to grow our own food. Butchering the steer was part of that plan and we have butchered a steer nearly every year since then. When we butcher a steer on our property we have to dispose of all the waste. This meant digging a hole by hand and a rather large hole was required to fit in the head, the legs, and all the fat scraps (we kept the hide and tanned it, but that is another story).

Using Beef Fat to Make Soap

At that time I wondered if there was some use for the fat, because it took up most of the space and seemed like it could be useful. I found out that I could use beef fat to make soap. When beef fat is refined it is called tallow. This is a wonderful ingredient for making soap, as it makes a hard long-lasting bar of soap. It is also very similar to the sebum in our skin, so soaps with an excess of tallow can be less drying than other soaps.

I was very excited when I found out that I could use the beef fat to make soap. This meant that a single beef steer could provide us with the meat we needed for the year, a hide to tan and plenty of soap for us and to gift. Making my own soap with local ingredients has been a cost saving and another skill that reduces our reliance on the outside economy.

Rendering Beef Fat

Rendering the beef fat into tallow for soapmaking is very easy and over the years I have improved my process. I now use a slow cooker to heat the fat. I put the fat thought a mincer (grinder) – but you can also just chop it into small pieces. When the fat is completely melted in the slow cooker, I pour it through a cloth to remove the meat. I then store the rendered tallow in large plastic buckets with lids, as it is stable at room temperature.

When I wanted to learn how to make soap, I found out that an acquaintance was a soap maker and I talked her into giving me a demonstration. It was much easier than I expected. I was especially nervous about using the caustic soda, but after some practice (and with all my safety gear) I became more comfortable. I started with a very simple recipe until I had more confidence to experiment.

Using Natural and Local Ingredients

I read several books and many blog posts about soap making to find a range of local, natural ingredients to use in my soap. I don’t use any synthetic fragrances, colours or preservatives found in many commercial soaps. Making my own soap allows me to control the ingredients and stick to the natural alternatives that I prefer.

A Creative Outlet

For me, soap making is also a creative outlet. I enjoy trying different ingredients to produce different colours. I have a range of different shaped moulds (including hearts, flowers, stars and kangaroos) which I use to make fun designs. With handmade soap, no two soaps are ever the same and the only limitation is your imagination.

There are many reasons why I make my own soap:

  1. Using up a waste product that also makes wonderful soap
  2. Increasing skills for self-reliance
  3. Frugal cost-savings as making my own is cheaper than buying soap
  4. Controlling the ingredients and selecting the natural products that I prefer
  5. Using local ingredients with less “miles” to reduce our footprint on the earth
  6. A creative outlet

If any of those reasons resonate with you, I encourage you to give it a try, as soap making is easier than it sounds and a great skill for anyone living on a homestead or in a rural area with access to animal fat.

Liz Beavis is a small-scale cattle farmer and soap-making beekeeper in rural Queensland, Australia. On her Eight Acres Farm, she sells beef-tallow soaps, honey and beeswax, and is the author of Our Experience with House Cows, A Beginner's Guide to Backyard Chickens and Chicken Tractors, Make Your Own Natural Soap, and the Solar Bore Pump Handbook. Connect with Liz on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


With this new comprehensive guide, herbalist Jan Berry offers everything the modern-day enthusiast needs to make incredible botanical soaps. Beginners can join in the sudsy fun with detailed tutorials and step-by-step photographs for making traditional cold-process soap and the more modern hot-process method with a slow cooker. Jan presents 50 easy, unique soap recipes with ingredients and scents inspired by the herb garden, veggie garden, farm, forest and more. Sample soap recipes you won’t want to miss are Lavender Milk Bath Bars, Sweet Honey & Shea Layers Soap, Creamy Avocado Soap, Citrus Breeze Brine Bars, Mountain Man Beard & Body Bars and Classic Cedarwood & Coconut Milk Shave Soap. Featured resources are Jan’s handy guides to common soapmaking essential oils and their properties, oil and milk infusions with healing herbs and easy decoration techniques. The book also contains Jan’s highly anticipated natural colorants gallery showcasing more than 50 soaps that span the rainbow. Soap crafters of all levels will enjoy referencing this book for years to come. Order from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Store or by calling 800-234-3368.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Making Homemade Goat's Milk Soap


There are an uncountable amount of recipes for goat milk soap all over the internet. This article is an effort to give a more simplified version of the process and to impart some of the knowledge that I have gleaned from many a tearful batch of “soap gone wrong.” But as any soap maker will tell you, there is only so far the instructions will take you until you must engage in a little trial and error. 

Soap molds

Soap Making Equipment

Listed in order of importance

  • Stainless steel or glass bowl, and stainless steel whisk, for the lye 
  • Mask and gloves to use while you are blending the lye and milk (this will protect you from the toxic fumes from the lye; but, you also should be in a well ventilated area)
  • Digital scale
  • Thermometer      
  • Stick blender
  • Soap molds (silicone, not plastic)
  • Soap knife 

Lye gets very hot and is corrosive, so you must use a stainless or glass bowl. I don’t use my lye bowl for anything but soap making. Soap ingredients must be measured carefully hence the digital scale. I started off hand-blending my soap with a whisk to save electricity. Save yourself the potential for elbow and shoulder damage and get the stick blender; they are very handy for many things.

You can make your own soap molds keeping in mind that whatever you use will have to withstand some heat, not leech metals or rust into your soap, and be pliable enough to extract the soap. Soap molds are fairly inexpensive online and will make the whole process much more enjoyable. The silicone molds are much more functional when extracting the soap; do not waste money on cheap plastic molds. A soap knife is very handy; but, I cut my soap with a kitchen knife for years. 

Goat's Milk Soap Recipe

  • 10 ounces of frozen goat milk
  • 4.2 ounces of lye (sodium hydroxide)
  • 20 ounces of olive oil
  • 7 ounces of coconut oil
  • 6 ounces of shea butter
  • 15-30 drops of essential oils

Frozen goat's milk is easier to use, because it reduces the risk of your lye getting too hot. If you are going to market your soap through a local farmer’s market be sure to read up on the guidelines for your area. For our markets my soap must have milk from our farm in it. Make sure the lye you use is “sodium hydroxide,” there are other types out there. Olive oil is the main oil because it gives the right amount of heat.

I purchase all of my oils in bulk wherever it is good quality and the least expensive. If you decide to use essential oils I recommend that you use therapeutic grade oils. They are more expensive; however, you will have a much more healthy product for your body and it is an excellent selling point for customers looking for the “real deal.” Some soap makers use all kinds of dyes and trinkets in their soap. I prefer a pure product. Ultimately what you put in your soap should be whatever gives you joy. It is easier to purchase soap; the purpose of making it yourself is that it is fun! 

Directions for Homemade Soap

1. Measure your oils and heat them until they are all melted in a saucepan. When they are around 130 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit, begin Step 2.

2. Put on your safety mask and gloves. The lye will burn your skin and will set off toxic fumes when you mix it. Measure the lye in your bowl and put the frozen goat milk in the lye. You will have to mix it until the milk is liquid and the lye is blended in. 

3. When the temperature of the oils and the lye are both around 100 to 90 degrees you can slowly pour the oil into the lye while you use the stick blender to mix. Keep pulsing the blender and hand stirring until the oils stay blended; this is called “trace.” At this point, you can add essential oils if you choose. Do not mix your batch much more because it will start to set up and will not pour in the mold effectively.  

4. Pour your soap in the mold. Let it sit for two days and remove it to cut.

5. Measure the width you want your soap. I like to cut mine one inch. Cut slow and and even. Remember that this soap is not a factory product and will look homemade  because it is. 

Curing Homemade Soap

Your soap must cure out for 6 weeks. Goat milk soap is a moist product so it will need more time to cure than other soaps. Also the lye needs time to cure for the soap to be safe to use on your skin. You will need to lay out your bars so the air can flow around them. I put mine on cardboard that I intend on recycling to get one more use out of it. Be sure to not put it on anything that has ink on it; your soap will absorb the ink.

The curing area needs to be cool, dry, and as dust free as possible. I cover my curing soaps loosely with white paper towels to keep dust off. After the 6 weeks, you can store your soap for use in a cool, dry location. If your first batch fails; keep at it!

Every soap maker has funny stories of the batch that got away. A few years ago, I made a batch of Castile soap that boiled over in a volcanic fashion in my front room. Now looking back on it, that was the cleanest floor in the whole house for weeks. Know that whatever kind of mess you make with this recipe — it will at least be a clean mess.

Holly Chiantaretto is an organic farmer and goat breeder in Kentucky where she also raises cattle, pigs, and chickens and preserves the harvests from her garden. Connect with Holly at Hallow Springs Farm and on Facebook. Read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Use the Whole Animal: 5 Uses For Non-Meat Deer Parts

In the world of deer hunting, it is common to see leftover parts of the hunt given new purpose through taxidermy and hide tanning. However, there are other surprising uses for the leftovers from processing that are commonly considered waste. If you or someone you know is interested in crafting with a recently taken deer, consider re-purposing these parts for a variety of projects.

Please note: When crafting with parts from any member of the Cervid family, including deer, elk, or moose, please note local regulations and use safety in order to help prevent the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).

Legs: Bone Needles

The deer leg itself features many different pieces you can harvest and use for crafting. The hooves can be removed, the hide cut off and tanned, tendons harvested for sinew, and the bone saved for projects as well. In particular, we favor saving the bone for creating deer leg bone needles. These sturdy, practical needles can be used in sewing the hide of the same deer it came from. Nalbinding needles can be made in the same way, and some folks can even make bone folders used for book binding or origami.

 handmade bone needles
Handmade deer leg bone needles we've made ourselves. Photo: Fala Burnette (Wolf Branch Homestead)

Fat: Tallow Candles

When processing your own deer, separating the fat from the meat is usually a part of saving that meat and may normally be discarded. Add your fat to its own container and make your own emergency candles from them. If having your deer processed elsewhere, ask the individual if they will save the fat for you. The fat must first be rendered by melting it down and straining it, and then the rendered tallow can be used to make candles by pouring it into heat-safe jars with a wick set into the jar. Steps for rendering tallow can easily be found when searching online or in print.

Tendons: Sinew

In processing a deer, a commonly favored area of meat is found in the backstrap. There lies a tendon in this area covering the backstrap, white in color that can be separated and dried for use in making sinew. For shorter pieces of sinew, the tendon running along the back of the deer's legs can also be harvested. This makes for another great use when saving up deer legs. Once thoroughly dried, you can separate the fibers gently with the rounded end of a ball peen hammer or a smooth, round stone. Sinew can be used for a variety of cordage or sewing projects.

back leg sinew
Pieces of harvested sinew/tendons from the lower leg of a deer. Photo: Fala Burnette (Wolf Branch Homestead)

Jaw: Sorghum Seed Stripper

After we grew our first batch of multicolor broomcorn sorghum, it was time to harvest the stalks to make our very own broom. The beautiful seeds littered the top of the sorghum, and I needed a way to effectively remove them without hurting my hands. I had an old piece a whitetail deer's lower left jaw with the teeth still in it, and found the jaw bone to be the easiest way to strip the seeds by hand. Holding the sorghum in one hand and the jaw bone in the other, I made a combing motion away from myself with a bit of force applied. I quickly stripped the seeds from the broomcorn in this way.

jaw bone and sorghum 
A deer jaw bone laying between two miniature Sorghum brooms. The teeth work well for stripping Sorghum seeds. Photo: Fala Burnette (Wolf Branch Homestead)

Antler: Flint Knapping

Deer antlers are commonly saved for display on the wall, or are popularly used to make knife handles. They are also seen making lamps, dresser handles, coat hangers, and even wreaths. But a lesser known use for these antlers is flintknapping, making tools such as arrowheads in a more primitive way. The thick base of the antler is used as a billet, while the tine is cut and separated from the base and used for a pressure flaker. These two tools are important in the shaping of an arrowhead, and can be sourced from your own hunt or a friend/family member that hunts. Did you save your sinew from the legs or backstrap? Use this to fasten your arrowhead tightly to the arrow shaft.

whitetail deer antlers 
Two different Whitetail antlers, perfect for a use in a wide variety of crafts. Photo: Fala Burnette (Wolf Branch Homestead)

In conclusion, I hope that during the next hunting season, if you or someone you know harvests a deer and you are interested in reducing waste while also trying out a few new crafts, that you will consider these ideas. There are so many ways to repurpose other parts of the deer, whether that be a fishing hook made from the nasal cavity bone or wind chimes made from the dried leg bones. Using your creativity and a little hard work can yield some surprising crafts made from deer!

Fala Burnette is a homesteader with her husband at Wolf Branch Homestead in Alabama. They are currently building their own log cabin and milling their own lumber, along with raising heirloom crops in the Spring and tanning furs during the Winter. Read all of Fala's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

deer-coverHunting deer is the most inexpensive, environmentally friendly way to acquire organic, grass-fed meat. Even if you’ve never held a gun before, author Jackson Landers can show you how to supplement your food supply with venison taken near your home. He addresses everything a new hunter needs to know: how to choose the correct rifle and ammunition, how to hunt effectively and safely, and what to do if something goes wrong. He includes chapters on field dressing and butchering after the kill, recipes for using the meat, and a chapter on the politics and psychology of hunting. Whether you hunt to be more self-sufficient, to eat the safest and most nutritious meat possible, to protect the environment, or to save money, this book is the perfect guide. Order from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Store or by calling 800-234-3368.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

How to Build an 8-Foot-Square Garden or Storage Shed

Rustic Wooden Shed In Snow 

When it comes to building a simple, but cost-effective outdoor shed for creating more space in your backyard, this simple plan will get the job done.

There's no need to worry — these blueprints are designed for all skill levels, even newbies. The plan will show you how to build a pitched roof that sheds water from the front and back of the structure. It also starts you off right with a solid shed foundation that provides years of durability and eliminates sagging floors over the course of time. This is exactly what you need. There's plenty of room to maneuver sizable objects through the double-opening doors, and they provide ample lighting during the day.

The shed will provide 64 square feet of floor space, which will easily store lawnmowers, bicycles, garden tools, and supplies or household seasonal items. You can even install shelving to create an organized storage system that uses less space and maximizes the overall cubic foot space.

This is an affordable storage solution that fits just about any budget, and it can be built in a few days. Additionally, you don't need to worry about buying an arsenal of power tools. This shed can be built with power and hand tools that most people already own.

Step 1: Preparing a Shed Foundation

Shed Plan Foundation Blueprint

1.1 Clear the area where you want to build the shed and layout for the foundation.

1.2 For the foundation, dig the trenches at least 1 foot wide and 1 foot deep.

1.3 Fill the trenches to ground level with concrete and let cure, or harden. Because curing times vary between brands, read the packaging for recommended curing times.

1.4 After the concrete has cured, use standard-sized bricks and lay them across the foundation.  You will need roughly 65 bricks for this step.


Step 2: Foundation Preparation

Storage Shed Blueprint Foundation

2.1 Assemble the frame using 1-1/2;-inch by 7-1/4;-inch pressure-treated lumber.

2.2 Secure the beams with 8-inch-by-5-inch wood screws.

2.3 Using a speed square or carpenter's square, check the corners to make sure they are 90 degrees.

2.4 Prepare the 9/16-inch plywood for the floor sheathing according to the drawing.

2.5 Secure the plywood with 2-inch wood screws.


Step 3: Assemble the Wall Frames

Wall Frames Strorage Shed Blueprint

3.1 Using 1-1/2;-inch by 3-1/2;-inch and 3-1/2;-inch by 3-1/2;-inch pressure-treated lumber, construct wall frames using the drawing below as a reference. Prepare studs, cross braces, bottom and top beams in necessary quantity and connect them with 2-by-3-inch and 2-by-5-inch wood screws.

3.2 Using a speed square or carpenter's square, check the corners to make sure they are 90 degrees.

3.3 Assemble the top frame using 1-1/2;-inch by 3-1/2;-inch pressure-treated lumber to fix all four frames altogether.

Strorage Shed Blueprint Wall Frames

Step 4: Assemble the Roof Frame

Strorage Shed Blueprint Roof Frames

4.1 Using 1-1/2;-inch by 5-1/2;-inch pressure-treated lumber, cut seven rafters 6 feet by 11 feet long, and cut seven rafters 3 feet 8 1/4 inches long according to the dimensions in drawing below. Cut the recesses in each beam for splicing connection with wall frames (nodes C, D).

4.2 Using 3-4;-inch-by-7-1/4;-inch pressure-treated board, cut the ridge board 8 feet long according the illustration below.

4.3 Using 1-1/2;-inch-by-3-1/2;-inch pressure-treated lumber, cut five collar ties 5 feet long and assemble the roof frame.

4.4 Using 1-1/2;-inch-by-3-1/2;-inch pressure-treated lumber, cut five left walls and five right wall

gable studs as shown in the illustration below (nodes E, F).

4.5 Connect the beams with a top frame with the help of 3-inch wood screws.

Strorage Shed Blueprint Roof Framing

Step 5: Roof Installation

Strorage Shed Blueprint Roof Installation

5.1 Cut sheets of 9/16-inch plywood for the roof sheathing using the drawing below as a guide.

Secure the plywood with 2-inch wood screws.

5.2 Using 5-1/2;-inch-by-3/4-inch and 7-inch-by-3/4;-inch pressure-treated lumber, prepare four roof fascias 8 feet long and install with 2-inch wood screws to the rafters on both sides of the roof (see nodes G, H).

5.3 Cover the plywood with building paper. Install 90-square-foot asphalt shingle roofing using an industrial stapler. Add the metal drip edge to the fascias.

Strorage Shed Blueprint Roofing

Step 6: Installing the exterior siding

Strorage Shed Blueprint Exterior Siding

6.1 Use 1/2;-inch texture plywood siding to cut the wall planes according to the drawings.

6.2 Ensure to provide an opening for the door on the front wall panel as shown in the illustration.

Planes for the side walls must be mirrored.

6.3 Secure the plywood with 2-inch galvanized nails.

Strorage Shed Blueprint Siding

Step 7: Install Wall Trims

Strorage Shed Blueprint Wall Trim

7.1 Use 2-1/2;-inch by 3/4;-inch pressure-treated lumber for the walls and door trim and fasten with 2-inch galvanized nails

Strorage Shed Blueprint Doors

Step 8: Assemble and Install Shed Doors


Shed Blueprint Install Shed Doors

8.1 Build the door frames for the shed using 1-1/2;-inch-by-3-1/2;-inch pressure-treated lumber and secure with 5-inch wood screws.

8.2 Prepare the 1/2;-inch texture plywood siding for the doors according to the drawing.

8.3 Install three 3-inch door hinges using 6-by-1-inch wood screws. Finish the installation of the door by attaching 4-inch surface bolts and 6-inch door pulls (see nodes J, K, L).

Storage Shed Blueprint Install Doors

Step 9: Shed Decoration

Shed Blueprint Exterior

Now that your shed is all done, you are ready to decorate it any way you want using your favorite paint, stain, or preservative.

Emily Heyde is a gardener and garden shed builder from Millville, N.J., who uses an ecological approach to landscaping and experiments with square-foot gardening. Find more of Emily’s writing at, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Make Your Own Multi-Herb Smudge Sticks

using a smudge stick 

Be sure to place a heat-proof vessel under your smudge stick to catch ashes. 

Smudge sticks, those little bundles of herbs wrapped in twine, emit an earthy, aromatic scent and help purify the space you inhabit. Smudging is an ancient tradition used by many cultures throughout the world.

Whether you smudge to honor those traditions or simply to establish your own ritual, there are good reasons for smudging. As a ritual, smudging can aid relaxation, relieve stress and anxiety, dispel negative emotions, enhance spirituality or meditation. And reports of some scientific studies indicate sage, the primary ingredient in smudge sticks, is a disinfectant that can clear a space of 94 percent of airborne bacteria. White sage (also known as California or bee sage) is the variety most often used in smudge sticks, but common garden sage has its own benefits and can easily be substituted. It's easy to make your own.

How to Make a Smudge Stick

1. When there is no dew, gather stems of any combination of these herbals from the yard and garden: sage (of course), lavender, yarrow, pine or other evergreen needles, rosemary, mint, basil, lemon balm, or other herbs of your choice which are readily available.

2. Lay the stems in a single layer on a clean surface and allow them to dry a bit — maybe a couple of days. You don’t want them to be crunchy, but mold will form if the plant material contains too much moisture.

3. When it’s time to make your smudge stick, cut a length of cotton twine or hemp cord four times the length of the herb stems. Collect a few stems of each kind of plant material, cutting each stem to eight to ten inches. Beginning and ending with sage, layer the various stems.

4. Gather them into a bundle, about 2 inches thick.

5. Beginning at the stem end, wrap twine in a spiral around the bundle and toward the tip. Be sure to wrap press the bundle firmly as you go and wrap tightly, since the plant material herbs will shrink as it dries. Reverse the process back toward the bottom so you have a criss-cross effect.

6. Wrap the twine around the stems a few times and tie the two ends together. Cut off excess twine. If you want a neatly trimmed stick, clip away stray sprigs. Put your finished smudge sticks in a glass jar or lay them loosely in a basket to dry for a week or two before using.

drying smudge sticks

As long as you're making e a smudge stick, you might as well make several.

How to Use Herbal Smudge Sticks

Do you know how to use a smudge, stick? It's simple. Just grab it by the stem end and hold downward at about a 45-degree angle. Light the other end and let it burn until it has a steady flame — about 20 seconds — before blowing it out, leaving the smudge stick smoking. Be sure to hold a fireproof receptacle (saucer, bowl, or the traditional abalone shell) under the stick to catch any ash or embers. Use your hand or a feather to wave the smoke around yourself or through the space you wish to cleanse, letting it waft into all the corners.

Carole Coates is a gardener and food preservationist, family archivist, essayist, poet, photographer, and modern homesteader. You can follow her Mother Earth News blog posts here. You can also find Carole at Living On the Diagonal where she shares her take on life, including modern homesteading, food preparation and preservation, and travel as well random thoughts and reflections, personal essays, poetry, and photography.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

50 Years of Money-Saving Tips!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS for 50 years and counting, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters

click me