Introduction: A New Hobby/Woodwork/Project Shed

About: I am a Marine Engineer in the RNZN (45 years done in various navies) and am looking forward to retirement!!! so I can do more messing about with tools

I finally decided it was time to "bite the bullet" and build myself a dedicated hobby shed as I was struggling to find a decent space to work in as the garage had 2 cars, a motorcycle, a ride on mower, 4 freezers and assorted other Crud, and the garden/pool shed was full of garden equipment and the pool filtration and underfloor heating paraphenalia.

It is a major project and I am using (somewhat modified) plans from The Family Handyman Craftsmans Shed which I found here

If you can't access that use Google and keywords Family Handyman Craftsman shed plans

To be honest, I think that this project was cursed! Quite a bit of blood was spilt and enough sweat to drown a camel, fortunately no tears were shed.

I have included some graphic, cautionary tales, photographs!!

The majority of the construction was done on my own (although I did have a bit of assistance with some of the heavy lifting) usually my wife helps but she had both hips replaced 2 weeks before I started and I thought it was a bit mean to make her mix concrete!!

This was built over several weekends so the "days" aren't all consecutive (although the first 10 were!) --even I'm not THAT crazy!

To save money the whole thing was built of construction timber (H3.2) and rather than buy all the expensive smaller pieces I just bought 4x2, 6x2, 6x1, 8x1 and 12x1 and ripped all the other sizes from those

Total cost about NZ$4500 but that includes concrete, wood, electrics, panels, windows, roofing iron, stones for the columns and tiles for the "patio" I am also probably going to put on guttering and a couple of extra tanks for garden water

Step 1: Finding a Space to Put It!

You would think that with 4 acres of garden I would easily find a decent location, however a few things need to be taken into consideration.

1. It needs to be relatively close to the house -- I mean who wants to walk in the rain to their mancave??

2. It needs to have power -- I have a healthy amount of power tools so I want to be able to use them.

3. It needs to be big enough (I am modifying the plans slighly to give a larger shed and a smaller porch)

4. It needs to be pretty!!! This from wifey as if it's an eyesore I will come home one day to find a pile of smoking ashes.

All things considered there was really only one possible location -- and that was going to require some serious graft.

Step 2: The Shed Area

As you can see the location already has 2 x 1 tonne IBC (International Bulk Containers) collecting water from the "Pool" shed which I use for my Veggie plots (we are on tank water from the house roof as we are very rural (25km to nearest shop) and so I need to collect as much as I can).

These containers will need to be relocated, as you also see there is a fair bit of sandy soil that is going to need to be dug out.

There is very limited access to this area as I have (foolishly) planted and paved around with lots of immovable obstructions!!. So I can't get a digger in (not even a mini one) so this will all be done mandraulically!.

Step 3: Day 1 Prep the Area


1. Move all the bricks

2. Shutter and concrete a 1m x 2m base

3. Let it dry (a bit)

4. Move tanks (I did this the following day)

I will eventually re-run the guttering/spouting

and rest!!!

The base is only about 3 inches deep as its main aim is just to keep the tanks level

Step 4: Day 2 Dig,dig,dig


1. Dig out the area for the base, this was done with just the basics, ie:- a spade, garden fork and wheelbarrow. Approx 6 cubic meters of earth was removed (it felt like more)

All the earth was banked behind as I was going to put solar power on the bank, however we have reconsidered that at present and will be going for a roof installation.

2. Put in shuttering.

And Rest!!

Step 5: Day 3 the Base

Lay concrete base.

Ha easy!

38 barrows of concrete mixed in my mixer and carted about 40 meters then levelled.


Approx 1.5 - 2 cubic meters of concrete to give me an 18ft x 12ft base 4 inches deep.

I'm not too worried about perfect flatness/ mirror finish as the shed will have a floating floor, I prefer a wood floor to concrete for comfort. I have also put in a couple of post anchors and some bolts for the shed.

And Rest!!!!!!!

Step 6: Day 4 and 5 Start Building (The First Thing to Make Are the Roof Trusses)

The plan recommends building these first (on the base while you have a flat area) I built them in my garage as it was blazing hot and the more shade the better, also this will give a couple of days for the concrete base to cure. I'm not going to detail all the measurements as they can (mostly) be followed from the Family Handyman plans, however there are a couple of areas that are a bit "wooly"

There are two different types of roof truss, 13 of one type (yes 13!!!) and 2 end trusses that are slightly different as they will have windows.

First I cut all the gussets on my table saw ( these are used to join all the 4x2 and 4x6 pieces)

I then cut 15 x 10ft long pieces of 4x6 for the bases and trimmed the ends at 45 degrees on my compound mitre saw

I also cut the 102.5 inch long roof rafters (30 off) with a 45 degree cut on each end and the supports (28 off) with a 22.5 degree cut at each end.

Step 7: Day 4 and 5 Continued - Nail It All Together

Nail together using the gussets and construction glue on both sides

Use the first one as a pattern for the rest to ensure consistency in size and mark front on each (just in case my measurements are a bit off)

To be honest I should have rented a nail gun for this as it was pretty hard work nailing them all

Lather, Rinse, Repeat for all the rest of the trusses!!!

Now a word of warning for all our viewers

I use power tools a lot and know how dangerous they can be and that you need to be careful ---- BUT----------------OUCH, I caught the tip of my finger on the Mitre Saw blade because I got complacent, it didn't hurt much but bled a lot, fortunately blood is a very good wood preservative!! (I did this while building the second truss and built 6 more before the wife banned me from power tools for the day -- although, truth be told it was hot and the rugby was on. so I was happy to stop for the day)

Step 8: Day 4 and 5 Continued - All the Trusses Done and Stacked

By about truss 5 I was suicidal, and 10 was homicidal, so all 15 done, am now going to check in to an institution!

Stacked them all flat on the driveway and covered with plastic, each weighs about 50kg at a guess.

They will have to be manouevered across a couple of flower beds once the shed sides are up.

Step 9: Day 6 Build and Erect the Sides

So I cut all the wood for the two long sides ( I deviated from the plans a bit and made mine 12 feet long rather than 10 feet as I want a bigger workspace).

I assembled on the flat foundation , which turned out to be wise as they are very heavy. (Over 100ft of 4x2 in each one)

The side nearest the existing shed doesn't have a window and will have all the storage cupboards, shadow boards etc.

I bought some secondhand windows from TradeMe as it seemed easier that building them, the big one was $61 and the smaller one $6!!

I then built the second frame on top of the first to ensure same dimensions and "dry fitted" the window,

I had to remove the window before I stood the frames up and propped them as it was too heavy for me to lift (had no assistant!)

Once propped at the sides I made the far end (with smaller window) this is bolted down at the bottom.

Finally I fitted the two sides ( a bit of brute force and ignorance went a long way here) and nailed it all together.

I squared everything up (measured diagonals) and put it the front top brace to firm it all up.

It was about 25 degrees C and by then I had had enough for the day, and the pool and beer were beckoning

Step 10: Day 7 Make the Front and Start Exterior Panels

So constructed the front framing using the doors as a pattern and panelled the front with 1/2 inch ply so I can attach the hangers for the porch frame, then covered the whole kit-n-kaboodle with building paper and panelled out.

I used 9mm "shadowclad" ply (looks like planks) 10 of 8ft x 4ft sheets, also decided this was the ideal time to fit the windows, one at the back needed a bit of love, the side one fitted fairly easily (I took the 2 opening windows out to make it more manageable) but was still bloody heavy.

The original plans had the whole thing clad in cedar, but that is a ridiculous price here, so I settled for the ply.

Because I had only done 7 hours I decided to stain it too while everything was accessible --big mistake --took 3 hours!!!

The dog was very helpful!

Step 11: Day 8 : Start Constructing the Porch/patio Deck and Fit Doors

The toprail was supposed to be doubled up 6x2's but I ran out so had to construct one side out of 3 4x2's. All sit on 4x4 uprights, deck area is approx 6 feet by 10 feet.

At this point I decided to fit the doors, and frame them in, this took a bit of fettling to get them level and clear to open, I will take them off again later to strip them back to bare wood on the outside.

All the door framing was ripped down from 4x2's and tacked into position, I will probably leave this "blond" for contrast with the dark stain on the main walls.

Step 12: Day 9 : Start Putting the Roof On

First lifted all the roof trusses up onto the walls, they are heavy and cumbersome, and did I mention heavy!!

Fortunately I had a helper to aid in lifting them up there (we had a guest visiting, I sincerely doubt that he'll come back :-) ) Imagine doing a military obstacle course while carrying an unstable, large, heavy wooden triangle, ---then do it 15 times.

I then decided that I would put up a truss to see how it interfered with the view from the house, however they didn't stay up well on their own so ------------ 7 hours later they were all up and trued, I really should know which battles to pick at my age!!

Just in case I haven't mentioned it ---they were heavy!!!

I then had to go out and buy some ridge capping, so I stopped for the day

Step 13: Day 10 Putting Up the Roofing Iron

So a couple of safety tips here:-

1. Always wear gloves when handling roofing iron, the edges are very sharp.

2. If you are falling off the roof, the sharp edge of the roofing iron is not the best thing to grab if you have ignored rule 1.

Anyway 4 stitches later (and with a delay of a day or two) the roofing iron was on, and the nice lady at the surgery let me put the stitches in myself so I'm up to date with my suturing for first aid!!

On the plus side I needed to get some stuff from the shops anyway, so not a wasted journey to the surgery.

All the roofing iron was secured to the purlins using 2inch roofing screws which have a rubber grommet under them to seal.

The iron gets very hot in the sun and it is quite a stretch to get the screws on so long sleeves, gloves and long trousers needed to prevent burns, so naturally I wore shorts and a T-shirt!

Step 14: Day 11 - Start to Finish

So it is time to start the finishing bits.

1. First I fitted the "upstairs" window again bought off trade me ($20 for 2), this gives access to "upstairs" to store my ladder, project wood, stuff I only use occasionally etc.

2. Then I panelled out the front bit with ply

3. Put on the outside trims around the gable end (they are all 6" x 1")

4. Made the shingles, I couldn't find any ready made so I cut up the offcuts of "shadowclad to make my own - I hate shingles with a passion now - they are a pain to fit but look nice

5. Bit of woodstain and the jobs a good 'un.

Just need to varnish the "blond wood".

This whole exercise was repeated on the other end!

Step 15: Day 12 the Start of the Columns

I had to extend the concrete base as I had left it as a simple rectangle during main construction, to simplify the pour and shuttering.

I then built frames for the columns, these were modified from the plans as I thought them very over engineered and I could save a bit of wood (we're on a budget here people!!)

The columns were panelled out with ply and will later have chicken wire stapled to them.

Took the rest of the day off as we were going out (to see The Eagles in concert -- thanks for asking!)

Step 16: Day 13 the Interior

Due to inclement weather, I decided to progress the interior

I used cheap ply for the floor from discarded packing cases from my wifes work. They were gladly donated as they have to pay for disposal otherwise.

I fitted some old kitchen units that I bought off TradeMe for $113 a pretty good fit, I only had to trim 100mm off of the back of the right hand unit to get a snug fit from side to side. I have panelled behind them (same cheap ply) just need some more ply in order tocomplete the rest of the walls.

I also drilled the frames and pulled through all the electrics for lights and power, a friend, who is a qualified electrician is wiring the thing up for me.

I am leaving the sink in the kitchen unit as I will mount my wood lathe above it and can use it as a "sump" for all the woodchips (I will put a bin under) for ease of collection- I can then use the chips as bedding for my chooks

Step 17: Day 14 - Columns Panelled Out and Trim Started

So I cut and mitred some 8x2 for the bottom "shelf" and some 4x2 mitred at the top, I the cut the tapered boards for the vertical columns to fit and inserted a plethora of nails from just about every conceivable angle, whole lot needs a good sand (so off to buy a belt sander tomorrow, hey, I love tools and the wife lets me have whatever I want as long as I make her stuff!!)

I do need to do a bit of fettling as the levels although accurate by spirit level and measurement don't quite look right by eye due to a slight twist in the upright post, I prefer it to look right rather than be perfectly dimensionally accurate, I'm sure other I'bles peeps know what I mean.

I then trimmed the overhanging purlins and cut the first of the eave pieces and fixed up, this is very heavy as it is machine gauged 8x2, but got it there with a bit of brute force and ignorance.

Also have to take my jigsaw back to the shop tomorrow as a bit has fallen out and it hasn't cut the recesses in the eave as accurately as I would like.

Step 18: Day 15 Slap a Bit of Stain On, Pebble the Columns and Patio Ceiling

So after sanding the columns, I stained them and then affixed the chicken wire to the lower square part. Then I mixed up some mortar and rendered the bottom part of the column and stuck flat pebbles to it to give a stone column appearance and pointed them. Will repeat on the other column.

I also panelled the inside of the "patio roof" with tongue and groove. and put in the soffits at bottom of the front and side beams, and attached the second Eave piece (plus the 2 at the other end of the shed)

Step 19: Day 16 Another Rainy Day So More Inside Work

Put the rest of the cupboards up and put finishing boards of 3mm MDF on top of the ugly cheap plywood, am trying to go for a panelled effect by putting 2x1/2 over the joins (I am ripping this from 2x4s with my tablesaw (the tablesaw doesn't like it too much though))

Also wired in the sockets and lights -- just need to test them all before I hook up the mains

Step 20: Day 17 Upstairs Storage Area

There is a lot of useful storage space in the roof. So I have fitted a loft ladder for access, and am panelling the floor out (I am awaiting the next delivery of cheap packing cases for this)

I will also eventually panel the inside surface of the roof to tidy it all up just to give the spiders a few less places to nest.

I have also bought some old pine cupboard doors ($1 from TradeMe) - yes just a dollar, which I will hinge so the side bits can become handy little stowages (which I intend to label so I can find stuff! (yeah, like that will ever happen!!)) Just need to work out a convenient way to do it.

Step 21: Day 18 Decorational Bits

So I made 6 of these decorative overhangs (3 for each end) and screwwed them into place under the eaves, they serve no real purpose, they are just to mimic the loading spars on a barn and add a bit of interest, quite frankly they were a pain in the a#$e to make and fit but give a nicer finish

Step 22: To Do -- the Patio

Found some rather nice mosaic tiles (again on TradeMe) at $12 a pop and at this point thought "oh well sod the budget" and chiselled the required banknotes ($660) out of my wallet for a Patio Floor.

Originally I was going to use wooden decking but I see 2 advantages here

1. I never have to paint or repair these.

2. This area is an ideal place to chill with beer so make it nice.

I will lay the tiles on a mortar bed (after a bit of careful measurement and some shuttering to get a nice even surface) and grout them in using "pavelock" sand and cement mix.

Photos to follw on this bit!

Step 23: So What Else Is Left to Do?

Well I will fit some guttering/spouting and install another couple of IBC's to catch the rain at the back (this will involve a bit more digging so will wait a couple of weeks as I need a rest)

I will also bring some of the cupboardry from the garage so I can store the majority of my tools away

I will have to finish "upstairs" once I get some more ply and I may put a second layer on the floor for added strength.

Once that is done I will have to experiment a bit for best layout/most practical storage.

Then I can start my next project!!! YAYYYYYYYYYY

This took longer than I was expecting and I would recommend that if you decide to build something like this then you have at least 2 people --- some of the stages were made much more difficult by doing it alone, especially the roof.

I will update with more pictures when the interior is completed

Thanks for reading

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