Intro: Modifying a Horizontal Storage Shed
We recently purchased a snow blower and needed a place to store it. Since we already had a plastic storage shed that was storing stuff we no longer used, it seamed to be the perfect place to store the blower. The added plus was it could be moved near the driveway allowing for easier access. While the shed was a near perfect fit, having the shed doors on the long side made it difficult to get the snow blower in and out.
The idea behind this project was to modify the shed so it could be open from the side as oppose to the front. For $20 or so we were able to avoid the cost of an entire new shed. The end result is the shed has two doors, one on the front and a second made from the side panel.
For this Instructable we are working with a Rubbermaid Large Horizontal Storage Shed (or its equivalent). This Instructable likely will also work with it's smaller equivalent. This project can be completed in an hour or two with only two people.
Photos: 1&2) The shed, unmodified, and completely assembled with the doors and lid open.
Step 1: Planning & Safety
- It is recommended that two people work in completing this project. This project involves one person working in the completely assembled shed. As such there is a possibility that the lid could close on the person working and trap them in. If the lid of the shed fall down and the door tab clicks in place it may be difficult for the person inside to open the lid. To open the lid the user pushes back on the tab while lifting the lid. While this is easy to do from the outside, it is not feasible if trapped in the inside. Two people are recommended in this step. At minimum one person should be by the shed at all times to render assistance if someone gets trapped inside.
- Having two people working on this project also makes it easier to access tools and supplies as well as screw/tighten nuts & bolts.
- At the end of the next step the two front doors will be one. However the door will be tied to both sides of the shed. The end result is a box with a lid. Since there will be one person on the inside of the shed at this point it is important to be ready to start with the next step or with a ladder or both. Again it is important to have a second person at the ready in case something goes wrong.
- Since a few power tools are used in this Instructable, proper safety precautions should be exercised. Always be familiar with the operation of any and all power tools used. Read your owners manual. Always wear safety glasses and ear protection when using power tools.
- Mending Plates (6"x 3/4"; qty.6)
- Machine Screws/Bolts (1/4" x 3"; qty. 6)*
- Nuts (1/4"; qty. 6)
*For best results replace 2 machine screws with a slightly longer version, such as 3 1/4" or 3 1/2" long machine screws.
- For this project you will need a drill/driver with drill bit corresponding to your hardware.
- In addition you will need to be able to cut the plastic. We used a rotary tool (Dremel) with a cutting wheel and a grinding attachment and a reciprocating/saber saw (Sawzall).
- Necessary wrenches and/or screwdrivers to fasten your hardware.
- Long Screwdriver or pry bar to help remove the door from the hinge pin.
- Permanent marker
As with most projects, it is best to get your tools and hardware first before beginning. A clean spacious area to work is necessary. During this project you may find it easier to disassemble the shed and reassemble it. Having space to lay/lean parts of the shed against is helpful. Finally it is best to be familiar with the assembly and disassembly of the shed. Rubbermaid has many of their assembly instructions online, including instructions for the Large Horizontal Storage Shed.
Photo: 6" x 3/4" Mending Plate Used
Step 2: Reenforce the Door
The next step involves cutting the hinges on one of the door panels. This would leave one panel completely detached from the shed and likely a pain to deal with every time the shed is opened. This step is focused on ensuring the door panel stays part of the shed and not serve as a weak point.
This step transforms the two doors into one that hinges on one side. You still retain the ability to open the shed from the front with this now one large door; however, you gain the ability to also open the shed via the side panel which becomes a second door.
Before Proceeding please read and understand the safety points mentioned in the previous step.
Start with the shed completely assembled. If you are starting with a new shed this would be the time to assemble it according to the manufacturers instructions. Since someone will be working inside the shed for this step it is best to have an empty shed. With the shed assembled and empty one person should get inside with the lid open. This is a team operation with the person on the inside drilling holes and the person on the outside inserting the machine screws. This also makes fastening/tightening the hardware easier as one person can work the head while the other works the bolt.
It is easiest to work with both doors in their properly closed position. This also helps ensure proper alignment of holes and mending plates. The placement of the mending plates depends on the size of your mending plates and the location of the groves in the door. see photo. For best result reenforce the door in three spots: The top, bottom, and somewhere in between. Because of the design of the doors, the top and bottom reenforcement points are very close to the top and bottom of the door. The middle point was closer to the top.
Reenforcing the Doors:
For each reenforcement point do the following:
First, on the inside, mark the locations of the holes for the mending plates with a pencil or marker. The inside works best as this avoids ribs inside the door and is much more flat. Marking the holes is best done by putting the plate against the door and marking trough the hole. On the plates we used, there were four holes; however, only two are needed. The outside two (i.e. the ones closes to the edge) work best. The next step is drilling, so if you do not like the marks or locations you going to use, now is the time to change them.
Two, using a drill bit that matches the hardware, drill one of the holes all the ways trough.
Three, feed the machine screw trough one of the mending plates (in the appropriate hole) and trough the hole in the door from the outside. Insert a second mending plate over the machine screw and finish with a nut. Keep the nut loose but attached. see photo.
Four, from the inside, line the partially attached mending plate with the mark previously made. Drill the second hold trough the mending plate. This method ensures that the second hole is perfectly aligned.
Five, Feed the second machine bolt from the outside, trough the outside mending plate, the hole in the door, and the inside mending plate. Finish with a nut.
Finally, tighten both machine screws. Do not over tighten as it is possible to crush the door in the process.
Repeat this process with the other two reenforcement points. Note: the top reenforcement point may require a slightly longer machine screw to get trough both mending plates and the door with enough left to get a nut on.
Photos: 1) Inside of the shed with the doors close. 2) Midway through the reenforcing process (through part three). 3) Completion of the reenforcement process (midpoint). 4) Outside of the door once done/view of the seam between the two doors. 5) Door reenforced and opened.
Step 3: Open the Door
Once the door is reenforced, you now want to separate the door from the side panel. One, this makes it easier for the person inside to get out without resorting to using a ladder or milk crate. Two, this will make the next step easier.
Keep in mind that one side panel has the lid support rod. It is best to work with the opposite side. This allows you to still use the lid support rod with the modifications and gives you the greatest versatility. There are two possible methods to getting the door open. By using some force to separate the door from the side panel or by cutting the hinge pin.
It is easy enough to separate the door from the side panel with brute force. A long screwdriver and some pressure is enough to do the trick. Insert the screwdriver where the hinge pin is located. (See photo) This is the horizontal gap where the side panel and door overlap. Use the screwdriver as a lever to separate the door from the side panel. This method proved easy enough in practice. A little patience and trial and error go a long way here.
By Cutting the Pin:
In the next step you will be making a number of cuts to ensure the side panel open and closes smoothly. While we did not have to resort to this method, there should be enough play to allow you to cut the pin now. In this case be careful not to cause additional damage.
Photos: 1) Shed with door and lid open. 2) Side panel with the door removed showing the hinge pin.
Step 4: Adjusting the Clearance
Once the door is free from the side panel there are a number of cuts/modifications so the side panel opens and closes freely. Many of these cuts can be made with the shed assembled; however, disassembling the shed first may make them easier. On the floor are four cuts/grinds that can only be done when the shed is disassembled.
1) The Hinge Pin
If you have not cut this in the last step, this is now the time to do it. You want to cut the pin off as flush as possible. The reciprocating saw worked well here.
2) The Bottom Pivot Point
On the bottom of the door is a small bump that rest in a corresponding indentation in the floor to keep the door from slipping. Since the door no longer hinges here, this bump can be removed to allow free movement. The reciprocating saw worked well here. Cut flush.
3) The Floor Stop
On the floor of the shed where the door hinged is a a stop/bump. While you do not need to cut this for the side panel to act as a door it does cause the side to stick. Removal allows the side to open and close freely. The reciprocating saw worked here. The photo here shows more cut that is necessary for this step.
4) The Floor Locking Tabs
The floor connects with the side panel via a rail with four protruding tabs. see photos. To allow the door open and close these tabs need to be cut flush with the rail so the tabs are no longer holding the side panel to the floor. See photos. In this case a picture speaks a thousand words. Utilize them to help your understanding. These cuts are best achieved with the shed disassembled. Make the cut by using a rotary cutting tool (Dremel) with a cutting wheel to trim the tabs down. Switch to a grinding attachment if necessary to get things flush. Repeat on all four tabs.
Photos: 1) Side panel with door removed/visual of the hinge pin. 2) Bottom of door where bottom pivot (removed) would be. 3) Floor where the door panels pivot. 4) Photo of the door stop removed. 5) Side panel showing where the panel meets the floor. 6) Side view of the floor before any cuts are made. 7&8) View of the floor with the tabs removed.
Step 5: Final Product
At this point everything necessary to convert the shed has been done. You now have a shed that can be open both from the front and the side. The latter being perfect for longer items that can be difficult to kitty corner in via the front, such as lawn mowers and snow blowers.
The only additional consideration would be adding a latch and lock to keep the side panel from being open by thieves. While the locking tab works to keep the front lock, the side panel/door is no longer locked with the rest. The top of the side panel does rest inside the lid which should provide some protection. However, there is enough flex in the lid to get around this, plus with time our lid has warped a little (in our case the lid retained some water that wouldn't want to drain easily). A latch with a lock that ties the side panel turn door to the front door would be recommended if you want to lock the shed. This step is not necessary if you are not worried about locking the shed secure.
Hopefully this was helpful to you. Please leave any thoughts or suggestions below. Enjoy.