Not everyone needs a garden shed. But, if you’ve no more space on your garage wall for that new leaf rake, if you can’t find your potting trowel because it fell behind the kids’ bikes, and if your car has that forlorn, neglected look since the brand-new snowthrower moved in last fall, it’s time to face the undeniable truth—your outdoor tools need a home of their own.
The design of your garden shed can take any form, from a simple lean-to to a large free-standing building. Ours occupies a modest 6 x 6 x 8-ft. area - enough for a variety of tools, but not so large that it dominates a backyard landscape. The straightforward design is easy to expand—up to about 8 x 12 ft.—to suit your storage needs. Before you begin work, contact your local building codes office and find out about necessary permits or other requirements for this type of building.
Our shed uses standard framing techniques and materials. It’s sheathed with 1⁄2-in. C/D plywood and sided with 1 x 6 tongue-and-groove cedar boards. The exterior trim is rough-sawn cedar.
In most cases, a shed of this size will not require an elaborate foundation—it’s fine to simply rest the structure on four corner blocks that sit on the ground. Some excavation is inevitable to provide a level and firm base, but there's really no need to dig below the frost line. If the building settles unevenly, simply jack up a low corner and place cedar shims between the corner block and floor framing. We used 71⁄2 x 12 x 16-in. solid concrete blocks at the corners.
To bring light into our shed, we installed 24 x 32-in barn-sash windows. If you can't find these stocked by a local supplier, something similar can usually be ordered.
This project was originally published in the January 2001 issue of Popular Mechanics
. You can find more great projects at Popular Mechanics DIY Central