Introduction: Summer Holidays for Chicken (using Poor Man's Fibreglass)

About: I like building things mainly from wood or metal. Especially if they look complicated to make, then I like to think about how to make it. And I love it when the result looks good.

Our pet chicken has not left our back yard in the past 9 years. Since it is now summer holidays season, I thought that I would make a nice shelter for her that looks like a tent, to give some additional variation in her life. Our chicken is never locked up so she can walk and sit where she likes in our back yard. We have a large chicken coop, but our chicken likes to sit somewhere where she can see us, so she often sits next to one of the windows of our house. When I put the new shelter there, she can use it to hide from the rain and still see us.

In this project I used poor man's fibreglass. I read about it on the internet and wanted to try this technique on a small scale project like this tent.


I used left over pieces of wood to make this project.

For the poor man's fibreglass I used old bed sheets, wood glue and some left over paint.

Step 1: Make the Floor

I used parts of an old pallet to make the floor under the tent. When I put the 6 pieces of pallet wood next to eachother it gave me a surface of 80x85 cm and I like that size.

Since the wood hade been laying around a long time, part of the wood was quite dirty. Since we have water all around our back yard, I used a wet brush to clean the wood. Some ducks immediately came to see what I was doing. It was a sunny day and the wood did not get soaking wet, so it dried quickly again.

I used a hammer and some nails to join the pieces together and after that I painted it green to make it look a bit like grass.

I keep the floor a separate piece, so the tent can just be lifted off and the floor can be cleaned when that is needed.

Step 2: Measure the Pieces

On the first photo you see the 5 pieces that I cut to make the tent. I wrote the dimensions on each piece, so it kind of serves like a drawing.

I collected several pieces of scrap wood and marked where I had to cut them. On side of the roof is made from a few smaller pieces that I glues together, because I did not have enough large pieces of wood.

Step 3: Cut to the Right Size

I used a small circular saw to make the straight cuts and I used a jig saw to cut the curves. It is an easy design so cutting the wood did not take much time.

In this project I used the small workbench that I made a few months ago:

Traveler Workbench With Adjustable Feet and Cerused Oak Legs : 30 Steps (with Pictures) - Instructables

Step 4: Bevel on Sides (optional)

The two pieces of plywood that I used for the sides of the tent already had a 45 degree bevel. It is not really needed to add this bevel. I just used it, because it was already present at the left over pieces that I used.

Step 5: Cutting Slats

I had to join several pieces of plywood. It would not be a strong joint, when I just screwed one piece of plywood into the side of the other piece of plywood, so I decided to use some small slats to reinforce the corners.

Again I used left-over pieces of wood. I just placed a slat on the back side of the tent and marked where I had to cut it. Then I continued with the next piece until I had a total of 8 pieces, which was wat I needed to join all the corners together.

Step 6: Gluing the Slats to the Plywood

I added wood glue to the slats, used my finger to spread the glue over the entire side of the slat and then placed the slat on the plywood. I added some clamps and let it sit for about half an hour.

I first did the backside of the tent and then repeated the same process on the front side of the tent.

Step 7: Adding Screws

Although wood glue is quite strong already, I like to add some screws for additional strength. So when the glue had set, I flipped the backside of the tent so that the plywood was on top and the slats underneath.

Then I drilled holes, but just through the plywood and not into the wood of the slat. I added a small piece of tape on the drill bit to indicate how deep I had to drill the hole. The diameter of the hole is the same as the outer diameter of the screws. Then I used a special drill bit to taper the top part of the hole that I drilled, to create some space for the head of the screw. And after that I added the screws.

In the meantime our chicken was watching what I was doing. I really enjoy having her around when I am doing something in the back yard. Sometimes she is in the way, but usually it is just nice to have an animal around.

Step 8: Assembly

The assembly process was quite easy. I drilled some holes for the screws in the sides and in the roof, added some glue and then I screwed the pieces together.

I made sure the screws went into the slats that were behind the plywood.

Step 9: Additional Slat on the Top

Since the top of the roof had a V-shape and would collect water, I decided to add a slat to the top of the roof. I used a knife to round off the sides of this slat and then glued it in place.

Step 10: Test

This is how far I was at the end of the day. I placed the tent on the floor and kindly asked the chicken if she liked it.

She was mainly interested in the grain that I dropped in the tent, but at least she did go inside :-)

Step 11: Poor Man's Fibreglass

I read on the internet about poor man's fibreglass. The idea is that you glue fabric to wood and after that paint the fabric. The paint will be reinforced by the fibers of the fabric and therefore it should form a waterproof layer.

The process that I followed is:

Add wood glue on the surface of the wood and make sure the wood is completely covered with wood glue. Then use an old piece of bed sheet and place that on the wood. Make sure to go around the edges with the bed sheets, so the sides of the wood are covered too. Then use scissors to remove the access fabric. Let the glue set for at least one day.

Some lessons that I learned:

  • Don't do this outside on a windy day. The fabric will then already get in contact with the glue when you do not yet want that.
  • Make sure you have plenty of wood glue. I used about half of this large bottle for this project.
  • I used my hand to spread the wood glue, but the result is that my hands were dirty and wood glue also ended up at the outside of the fabric. I think it will work better to use a brush or roller to spread the glue.
  • I do recommend to try a small scale project first before trying a large project. It is not difficult, but it is good to get a feel for it first.

Step 12: Paint

I did not add any fabric to the inside as that should not get wet from the rain.

I painted the inside white and waited a day before I painted the outside blue.

On the internet I read that some people used 5 coats of paint on the poor man's fiberglass. It seems a bit overdone to me, so I only used 2 coats of paint for this project. I will monitor how well it works and maybe I will add one or more additional coats of paint later.

Step 13: Flying to the Summer Holiday Location

Our chicken very often sits outside of the window of our kitchen, especially when we are there around dinner time. After dinner one of us goes outside with some treat for her and when she sees the door being opened, she flies there. But with some imagination you could see it as if she is flying to her summer holiday location.

If you want to know how I made the concrete chicken, you can check this Instructable:

Several Methods to Use Cement to Make Concrete Chickens : 13 Steps (with Pictures) - Instructables

Step 14: Enjoy

It is easy to move the tent around, so for the next few days it will be in this location.

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