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.

Step 1: Site Work

Begin by marking out the building’s location in your yard. For a structure of this size, it’s simplest to build a lightweight frame that’s the exact size of the shed, then use the frame to mark the site. 

Use 3⁄4-in.-thick pine to build your frame. Cut the sides to the exact dimensions of the floor, and use one screw in each corner to fasten the sides into a rectangle. Screw a diagonal brace between two sides of the frame to hold it square. 

Clear the building site and level obvious high spots. Place the frame in the site and adjust its position until you’re happy with the location of the shed. Drive stakes into the ground to mark each corner, stretch string between them (Photo 1) and then remove the frame.  

Find the highest corner of the site and excavate for the first foundation corner block. Plan on having 3 to 4 in. of block exposed above grade. Dig out an area several inches wider than the block. Spread 2 or 3 in. of crushed stone in the hole to form a stable base for the block. 

Now you’re ready to position the first block, aligning its edges with the layout string. Check that the block is level across its length and width (Photo 2), and adjust the crushed stone as required.  

Use a long, straight 2 x 4 and level to check the relative height of the second corner, then excavate the site for the block.  Check that the second block is level with teh first (Photo 3), and add the remaining corner blocks in the same way.
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<p>Most of the photos show as b/w negatives. Is that deliberate?</p>
Really handsome build and design
I'd love to get an idea of the cost of materials. I don't know if it would be would be worth the labor or if I could just buy one and paint it to look nice. Or could I hire you?
We built a very similar small structure for our treehouse. It's rainy here in the San Jose area in the winter, so we built it four pieces in the garage, then hoisted it into the tree on Cinco de Mayo, and bolted it together up there. <br>We used mostly recycled materials, the only structural difference being we used 2 x 3's instead of 2 x 4's, ripped from 2 x 6's. <br>A lovely little building. <br>Got any trees handy? <br>LOL.
That's beautiful - and cute!
Great tutorial, i love working outdoor.
I can't see any photo, a part from.the first 2 or 3...
Great project! Love it!

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Bio: The official instructable for Popular Mechanics magazine, reporting on the DIY world since 1902.
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