Introduction: How to Build an Outhouse From Pallets
Like many people, my house has a shortage of bathrooms. Specifically, we have 1 bathroom for 12 people! W over half the population being male in the house & wanting to be kind to the gentler sex, the little boys are often told to go outside. Sadly, this has resulted in damage to some plants from excess ammonia. So, I decided to make my next project an Outhouse.
This fits perfect in my rustic style. As we discussed it today, "rustic" is another word for "redneck hillbilly". Think "Snuffy Smith". I didn't take any pictures of the construction process itself, but I think I can describe it well enough from the completed pics that are throughout this 'Ible.
I'll give the dimensions that I used, but if you use a different pallet or vary the design, you're dimensions will change also.
Step 1: Floor / Base
I chose to use a pallet as the base of my outhouse similar to the 2 doghouses I had already built. The pallet in question was 48" long x 31" wide.
I used my reciprocating saw to cut the board off the top except for the 2 end boards. Once off, I slid them to one end & renailed them back on side by side. Add more boards across the top to fill it all in. This is to reduce the number of rip cuts to one at most rather than between each preplaced board.
Step 2: Walls / Roof Support
I had a few 6' long pallets that I disassembled to use four 6' 2x4s. Turn the floor pallet on its side & nail 3 framing nails into the base of each 2x4 on the outside of the pallet. This rests the 2x4s on the ground & when stood back upright. Since I had numerous 40" slats, I spaced my 2x4 supports 40" apart leaving me w an 8" "porch" on the front of the outhouse. 40"x31" is plenty of space inside.
Once all four 2x4s are in place, take another short stud to get your roof angle. If u check this before you nail them, u can use your table or miter saw. In place like this, I used my circular saw. Angle for the roof was roughly 10* from front to back.
The short stud the u got your roof angle w can now be marked, cut (@ an angle), & screwed into place to continue the roof line from from to back.
Repeat on the other side.
Last, screw two 31" boards vertically between to remaining openings at the top in the front & back.
Step 3: Framing the Seat
I had an empty bucket acquired free. I then bought a wooden toilet seat. Rough measurements on both gave a height of 20" & depth of 20".
Cut two 2x4s @ 20". These run vertically on the outside of the pallet from the bottom of the pallet up. Placed 20" from the very back of the pallet. Again, 3 framing nails in the bottom of each board.
Mark level height on rear wall studs.
Next, cut two 2x4s @ 17" and two @ 31". Place one 31" board side up on the front edge of the two vertical boards. Place second 31" board side up on the back edge of the rear wall studs at the height of the level mark.
17" studs should fit between the two 31" boards on either side. (You just made a box.)
Step 4: Back Wall
Some of these steps are interchangeable. I put the back wall on next, but u might choose to delay that & continue w the seat (next step). Your call. I got a little tired for all the measuring & fitting of the frame so I took a rest w some mindless cutting & nailing.
Since the pallet is 31" & the studs are on the outside of the pallet, my back wall measured 34" from outside to outside. Board width varied. I used ~12 boards to reach from pallet to roof line. Thank God for my nail gun!
Step 5: Seat Cover
It's easier to install the seat cover if there aren't any side walls so this should occur before them.
The distance between the stud is (again) 31".
If this is for adults or heavier people, the cross support is 19.5" across the top of the frame. The 1/2" less is to allow space for the hinge at the back under the lid.
If this is just for looks or only for little people, then the first board gets laid down in the back & nailed in place. The cross support is the distance from the back board just nailed in to the inside of the frame (~15").
The lid is several boards laid next to each other & secured perpendicular w the cross support. I made my lid 31" wide to fit completely between the rear wall studs. The depth should be just a little more than the frame (20.5 - 21") to give a lip to lift the top with. Space the cross supports wide enough to allow the hole to fit between them.
Install the hinges & make sure it lifts & closes properly. I put my hinges at the cross supports.
Step 6: Install Toilet Seat
Set the wood toilet seat centered on the lid & bring the front lip of the seat itself to the front edge of the lid.
Mark the traditional mounting points as well as the hole in the seat. Angle the pencil back a little to ensure the hole in the lid is large enough.
Remove the seat from the cover & cut the seat hole. I used a 1/2" hole bit to make a pilot hole just inside the mark. I then used a jigsaw to cut the seat hole across the multiple boards.
After the hole is cut, return the seat to the cover & line up the mounting holes. I used a self-drilling wood screw w a washer to secure the traditional mounting points, but I didn't want the seat itself to raise, just the lid. So I used longer screws through the seat into the cover at 4 points to ensure full securement.
Step 7: Side Walls
As mentioned previously, the walls were planned @ 40" wide to allow the use of 40" long boards. I didn't have enough to cover it completely, but it minimized the cuts & scrap I needed to make of 42" & 44" boards.
Again, I started from the bottom & proceeded upward. I made sure the front edge was flush & let the back edge fall where it may. It's NOT even, but it's all good. I only needed one angle cut at the very top to match the roofline on one side w no angle cuts needed on the other.
Step 8: Roof
For the roof I went simple. I don't like shingles, but I didn't have tar paper or asphalt roll or tin either. That can all be added later. Instead, I merely nailed in several 48" slats across the top. The overhang is bigger in the front (~5") than the back (~2"), but even @ 1.5" on either side. There's a gap in the roof between the slats at places. Obviously it's not waterproof, but it looks cool.
Step 9: Door Construction
My front opening was 68" tall & 31" wide. Doors usually have a gap at the bottom & traditional outhouse doors aren't always full height so I shrunk mine to 67" as a target. My longest slats are only 48" long, so I had a 19" gap problem.
I started with what I had. I lined up six 48" boards on my workbench & it came to 32" wide. Close enough. Two 32" boards placed perpendicular ~6" from the near end & half way up & secured seemed like a good start. Six more boards cut to 19" & secured w a 3rd 32" cross board ~6" from its end made another good piece. The "last step" was to butt them together w a 4th 32" board straddling as a tie.
Sadly, this was not strong enough. So I placed a 48" board raw in the corner & angled it down as a Z-brace. Not good enough. Another 48" board at the opposite (marked & cut @ 20*) completed the X-brace. The short section cutout of the 2nd board was secured under the board to complete securement.
I intended to put the long boards at the bottom, but I forgot that the wife asked for a "moon window" in the door. So I drew a crescent moon freehand in the longboards (which was now going to be the top) & did the same pilot hole / jigsaw technique as the toilet seat.
I wasn't convinced that nail gun nails would hold the door together properly so I went through & screwed each place on the door where the wood overlapped.
Step 10: Mounting the Door
I bought three 4" door hinges. I set the door against the frame w the X-brace out so I can have a smooth surface to mount the hinges to. A slat on the floor kept the door up while I worked the position left & right, back & forth. Finally where I wanted it, I marked on the frame where the 4 cross braces were.
Plan was for top, middle & bottom, but the 4 braces meant one was going to be skipped. The angle & variance of the lower "tacked on" portion meant that it was less secure & had less overlap of the frame than the top braces so I just installed the hinges on the top 3 braces: 4 screws in the frame & 4 screws in the door each. Awesome!
Step 11: Door Handle & Misc
The door handle is simplicity itself. A rope w 2 knots ~12" long & 2 nails!
Drill a hole in the door a few inches from the edge @ waist high. It needs to be larger than the rope (obviously), but it needs to be smaller than a knot tied in one end. Feed the rope through the hole. Tie a knot in the other end.
Now we need to hammer in 2 nails. First nail is on the inside of the frame facing in parallel to the wall. The second nail is on the outside of the frame directly opposite the first nail & also tight to the wall.
The idea is for the rope to go past the nail & the knot to get stuck.
A short 2x4 block & a piece of semicircle cut from the seat hole mounted high on the wall makes a good shelf for toilet paper.
A bucket under the seat filled w kitty litter, & it's done! Put it in place. Level it. Dump the bucket as needed & enjoy.
Step 12: Other Ideas
Other ideas for this shed is a garden / potting shed or a writer's isolation spot. Line walls w shelves & cover in clear PVC roofing to be a greenhouse. The choice & possibilities are yours.