Overview and plan
If you don't have room in your yard for a large, freestanding shed,
you can still create plenty of space for garden tools with a shed
attached to the back or side of the house. If you're an experienced
builder, you can build this shed in a couple of weekends. Ours cost
about $400, but you could save about $75 by using treated lumber,
pine, and asphalt shingles instead of cedar.
Figure A: Garden closet details
Figure A: Garden Closet Construction Details
The shed is made
from three components—the roof, the
walls and the doors,
with edges covered
by trim boards.
Figure A, a Cutting List and a Materials List are available in PDF format in Additional Information below.
Step 1: Frame the walls
Nail together the side walls, then square them with the plywood side
panels. Overhang the panels 3/8 in. at the front—this will hide the
gap at the corner when you hang the doors.
Join the two sides with the top and bottom plates and rim joists.
The sides, top and bottom are all mirror images of each other
except for the top front rim joist, which is set down 1/2 in. from the
top so it stops the doors (Photo 1). Use screws to fasten the framework
together except in the front where fasteners will be visible—use 2-1/2-in. casing nails there.
Screw the 4x4 footings to the bottom plates, then nail
on the plywood base.
Step 2: Build the roof
Cut and screw together the two pairs
of rafters, then nail on the fascia and ridge boards. Nail on
the roof sheathing and the soffit, butting the corners
together (Photo 2). Screw on the collar ties at the points
shown in Figure A, then screw on the front and rear nailers.
Nail the roof trim on, staple on a layer of roofing felt,
then shingle the roof. If you use cedar shingles, fasten them
with narrow crown staples or siding nails. Leave 1/8-in. to
1/4-in. gaps between cedar shingles for expansion, and nail
a strip of aluminum flashing across the ridge under the cap
Step 3: Install the roof
Tip the shed upright, then set the roof on, aligning the
front collar tie with the front rim joist and centering it
side to side (Photo 3). Nail the cedar trim to the sides,
aligning the 1x3s on the sides with the overhanging edge
of plywood along the front edge. Glue and screw on the
back and front siding panels to join the roof and base
together. Use the back panel to square the structure and
make it rigid.
Back to Top
Step 4: Trim the front and hang the doors
Nail on the front trim piece, aligning it with the horizontal
side battens. Attach flashing and felt to the front
panel, then cover it with cedar shakes (Photo 4).
Finally, construct the doors (see Figure A detail), cut the
hinge mortises (see below) and hang the doors. Leave a
1/8-in. gap between the doors and trim along the top.
Paint or stain if desired, then set the shed against the
house on several inches of gravel. Add or take away gravel
under the footings until the shed is tight against the siding
and the gap above the doors is even. Screw the shed to the
studs in the wall to keep it from tipping. Drill two 1/2-in.
holes for the screws through the plywood near the rim
joists, then loosely fasten the shed to the wall with
2-1/2-in. screws and large fender washers so the shed can
move up and down when the ground freezes and thaws.
Photo 1: Mark the mortise
Photo 2: Chisel the mortise
How to Mortise a Hinge
Mark the hinge locations on the
door jamb, then on the door, less
1/8 in. for clearance at the top
of the door. Separate the hinge
leaves, then align the edge of
the leaf with the edge of the
door or jamb. Predrill and fasten
the leaf, then cut along all three
edges with a razor knife to
about the same depth as the
hinge leaf (Photo 1).
Remove the hinge and make
a series of angled cuts to establish
the depth of the mortise
Photo 2). Turn the chisel over
and clean out the chips using
light hammer taps.
Holding the chisel with the
beveled front edge against the
wood, chip out the 1/4-in. sections.
Check the fit of the hinge
leaf and chisel out additional
wood until the leaf sits flush.
If the hinges don't fit back
together perfectly when you
hang the door, tap the leaves
up or down (gently) with