Welcome back to Farbulous Creations! I’m Ron and today I’m going to show you how I built this tiny firewood shed into a very awkward corner of our backyard fence!
This project has been on both the hubby’s honey-do-list and my personal to-do list for a few years now, almost as long as we’ve lived here. We have this awkward area on the side of our house that’s fenced in along with our backyard, but because of how close our houses are to neighbors here in Minneapolis, we initially didn’t think there was much to do with the space other than mulch it. Thankfully, the hubby decided otherwise, and has planted a ton of beautiful perennials, creating not only a pollinator’s dream space, but also a super cute walking path with chilton stepping stones. While it doesn’t exactly “need” to lead to anything, it always felt a bit weird to me that it just ended at the fence.
Thankfully, another problem we were trying to solve was looking for a solution that overlapped the “walking path doesn’t lead anywhere” problem. That was finding somewhere to store firewood so we could have as many backyard fires in our firepit as we wanted without breaking the bank. Firewood from our local in-the-city gas station costs about $8-9 a bundle, and if you’re out there for a longer fire, we found that it’s pretty easy to go through 2 bundles of wood. Not wanting a single bonfire to cost that much every time we wanted to have a fire and drinks with neighbors and friends, we knew we’d need to buy some firewood in bulk, but that required having a place to store it. The garage was clearly off-limits, as I’d converted it into my all-season shop – thus, the idea for the fireshed at the end of the walking path was born.
Before I start this project, let me first say that I had no written plans for this shed; just a loose notion of what I wanted to do floating around in my head. I’m very much a planner, but unless your day job is engineering or architecture, it’s much faster to just get started building, measuring as you go, trying to think as many steps ahead as you can to avoid problems. So, that’s what I tried my best to do, and hopefully explains some of the silly decisions I made early on or any rework I had to do towards the beginning of the project.
The first step was establishing the depth of the shed. The width would obviously be determined by the space between the fence and our house, but the depth could have been up to around 4 feet if I let it, but I didn’t want it to be too deep of a shed considering this wasn’t intended to be a shed you go into, but rather one where you reach for what you need from outside the door. As such, I limited the depth to about 3 feet, which felt good for my longer arms.
For the front two legs of the shed, I used these metal mailbox post stakes. I didn’t want to pour any concrete footings for this, as that seemed overkill and wasn’t really necessary for the amount of weight this thing would hold. I just needed something that could hold a 4×4 post vertical.
For the left post, I secured it to the lower rail of the fence panel by using my right angle drill attachment. I’ll take this opportunity to clarify that yes, I did mean it when I said that I “built this shed INTO my fence” when I introduced it earlier. Since it’s such a small space, I figured it didn’t make sense to lose even more available width by insetting the left wall to be separate from the fence. Plus it would save on lumber for those walls if I could put the existing portion of fence to double duty. It may seem like a weird approach, but I can make up reasons to justify this decision all day. When it comes time to replace the fence in the future, we’ll figure it out.
For the front floor rail, I had started putting it behind where the post would be when I was like, wait, it probably makes more sense to put that in front of the post. I did my best to continue this rail height around the perimeter of the shed base, but the back wall’s bottom rail was about half an inch lower, so I had to cut a small strip to rest on that ledge in order to bring the height to the same as the rest of the perimeter. With that done, the base was level in both dimensions, and I could start measuring the spacing for the floor joists.
I decided to do 12 inches on center spacing, rather than 16, just to give a little more support since this would be holding a decent amount of weight once full. I hung the floor joists with some galvanized 2×4 fence rail hangers, basically acting like a lower-duty version of a traditional joist hanger. The wood here, you may notice, doesn’t look new, exactly – and that’s because with lumber prices still being a bit high, I figured I’d “recycle” various off-cuts and boards I had lying around the shop before buying more, which I still had to do.
After the floor joists were in, I decided to put some pea gravel down on the ground under the shed to help with drainage, control weeds that might try to grow underneath, etc. Despite it being such a small footprint, it took four full bags.
Next, I could start laying the floor boards. A majority of the wood for this project, with obvious exceptions, is standard big-box store treated cedar fence boards. The reason being is they’re incredibly affordable at something near $2.50 per board, at least when I bought the supplies for this project. So they’re a great option for the floors and walls, just needing to be cut down to size. The first floor board needed to be notched on the corners in order to fit around the 4×4 posts at the back of the fence.
The next ones were straight forward, just cutting to size and securing with deck screws. But as I got about halfway through, I realized that without my mailbox posts all the way down into the ground, my base was occasionally losing “level” as I applied weight to it. As such, before finishing the base floorboards, I decided to give it better footing by using a few pre-cast cement post footers, strategically placed in the center of the floor with a short length of 4×4, attached to my floor joists with some lag bolts. Then I could finish doing the floor boards, but I saved doing the front-most one until later, for whatever reason.
Finally it was time to attach the left-most 4×4 to the fence for stability. I leveled it with a fence post leveler, then clamped it to the fence itself so I could go around to the other side and screw the horizontal rails to this upright.
I had used some shims to help stabilize the posts while I secured them to the post stakes, and now that the post was secured to the fence rails, I could trim those flush. On the right post, however, I didn’t have the opportunity to secure it to the fence like I did on the left side and I didn’t want to attach it to the house at all, so I needed to start working on the upper framing in order to secure the right post. I thought about using this type of semi-complex right-angle strong tie for the upper beam, but soon realized that with the roof angled towards the front of the shed, all of the “joists” that would connect with the back of the fence would be at some sort of angle, and that angle wasn’t going to be 90 degrees, so this would only work in one direction, so it was best to just use the same 2×4 hanger tie that I had used for the floor joists. I had a few returns to make by the time this project was done.
With one of those installed on both 4x4s, I could cut a 2×4 to size and install it overhead. And that’s where the premier blooper of this project happened. See, I had gotten really used to stepping up onto the platform by this point in the project without really having to worry about ducking for anything. I think you know where this is going…
Ever hurt yourself so bad you need to take a deep breath to work past it? Yeah…
I’m just glad that I hadn’t installed a 2×4 in the direction of my collision at that point, which at the very least allowed the structure to absorb some of the impact, rather than reflect it right back at my head.
Where were we? Right! Well one dimension alone doesn’t a stable post make, so I also cut horizontal cross-members and installed them between the back right fence post and the front right post, using a spare board to hold the front post in place while I secured the horizontal cross-members in place. You’ll see me using some 90 degree metal connecting braces between the floor and the bottom rail, but I ultimately replaced these with the same 2×4 joist hanger brackets I used elsewhere in the project. Those things are super versatile.
After the horizontal members were in place, I could install fence pickets for this wall. Being it was the side closest to the house, I could only drive screws from the inside of the wall, requiring me to clamp the boards in place while driving the screws. By the end of the wall there wasn’t room for a clamp, but luckily I could hold it in place from the side with my hand.
Next I moved onto the back of the shed, securing a 2×4 to the top of the fence, just below where the dog ear cuts were on the pickets, again using my brackets. I would eventually cut those top pieces off the pickets, flush with this board.
It was around this time that I needed to identify the angle that the shed’s roof would sit at so I could make myself a template for cutting the roof rafter pieces. I had roughly eyeballed an angle earlier when establishing the height of the front wall of the shed, but now with both the front and back 2x4s in place, I could identify what that angle actually was to create the birdsmouth cut. I had never done rafters or roofing before, so this was a bit of trial and error for me too. If you’re unfamiliar, the “birdsmouth cut” is the 90 degree cut that allows these boards to rest securely on the top plate of the outer wall.
I watched a number of beginners roofing videos to get the idea, and found that most roofs have a predictable pitch, measured in 12ths – i.e. a 12/12ths roof would be 12 inches of run for every 12 inches of rise and would yield a 45 degree roof angle, if I’m not mistaken, but that’s also pretty steep. A more common pitch is closer to 9/12ths, which is about 37 degrees. Based on my measurements, mine was only going to be about 3.5 degrees in pitch, which is less than 1/12th, and would not be recommended for a house or something like that, but I figured it’d be fine for a shed, especially since I intended on installing a metal roof which water will have no problem running off of. I could have made the pitch higher, but I wanted to keep the back wall of the shed contained to the height of the fence and wanted to optimize for internal storage – the steeper my roof would have been, the shorter the front wall would have been and the less height I’d have to work with inside when it comes to storage.
Before installing the roof rafters, however, I figured I should take care of those pesky gaps in the fence so I had head room to work with while doing it. I could have done full boards to overlap the gaps, but decided half boards would do the job and even if it was ugly, it would be fine, only visible on the inside of the fence. So I cut a handful of full boards down the middle, then cut them to the height between the rails, securing them each with a few screws. This was pretty tedious, but like most tedious things, manageable.
Around this same time I also installed the final front boards of the flooring, leaving a decent overhang on the front board. I think my overhang was close to 3 inches, but eventually I had to trim this back to an inch or so, because the board cupped after installing the door and caused it so the door stuck when opening it.
After that I could install two-by material on the floor of the front wall which I would use to later install the fence pickets. I just used a 2×2 here, as it didn’t need to be the width of a traditional 2×4 framed wall, I just needed some meat to screw the boards into. I again used, wait for it, that’s right, 2×4 fence brackets as an additional means of supporting this wood. Even though it was screwed directly down into the floor of the shed, I liked that this helped me ensure that the 2×2 was the correct distance back from the front of the 4x4s, such that the fence pickets that lined the front wall once installed would be flush with the 4×4 posts themselves.
Next up was beginning to install said fence pickets. I measured one to size, made a mark on the back just above my header, then cut the board to size. Before attaching it though, I decided I’d sand down the front surface of all of these “display” boards so that they would accept the stain I planned to use better.
As I was installing these, I realized the likelihood of the wall being evenly divisible by the width of these fence pickets was pretty small, and I’d likely have to cut one or more down to fit. I decided if that was the case, I’d rather have the two outside pieces cut equally, rather than having the left one full size and the right one really small. As such, I removed the first board I had installed and began working from the middle instead.
That meant I’d be doing the door first. I figured three fence pickets made a good width for a door, and began laying out framing to envision what it might look like. After I was happy with that, I used two scrap pieces to temporarily hold the door pickets together so that I could center the whole thing on the front face and take measurements of the space around the door.
With the door clamped in place, I installed another few fence brackets to support the 2×4 that would help frame the door opening before installing that 2×4, wide end out, unlike traditional framing. It was around this time that I realized that it might just be simpler to build the door in place, or at least mostly in place, rather than transcribing random measurements and potentially getting something wrong.
What this meant was that while the door was clamped in place, I installed additional door support framing on the back of the door, starting with 1×2 boards along the top and bottom of the door, just above and below the two-by material that framed the top and bottom of the door. I used my carpenter’s pencil to leave a small gap between these boards and the framing boards so that there wouldn’t be any collisions with expansion and contraction.
After the horizontal pieces were in, I could install vertical ones on each side, again leaving a gap so that there wouldn’t be any collisions when the door opened and closed. For my diagonal piece, I screwed up the angles and since I didn’t have another length of 1 by 4 on hand, I figured I could just trim the corners and have it look silly like this from the inside. Unfortunately, being my first time building a gate-style paneled door, I didn’t realize how important the diagonal piece with the correct angles was to the door staying level and to prevent sagging. The door began sagging on me near the end of the project, so I did eventually fix this, but bear with me for now.
Before taking the door down to cut it to height, I installed the fence picket that would sit next to the door, using a metal shim as a spacer to make sure there was even spacing around the door on top and bottom. Next I could take the whole door down and cut straight across using a marker line I had made while it was clamped in place. But that first line only brought me down to the height of the shed face; the door would need to be 4-5 inches shorter so as to not collide with the roof overhang. Because of where my saw needed to sit to make that cut, though, it wouldn’t have had enough support on the right side of the saw to stay level, so I secured a scrap board to allow the saw to rest level while making this cut. I also made marks on these pieces before I began cutting, as I intended on using them above the door, as they were perfectly matched offcuts.
With that, I could flip the door over and start adding some decorative detailing. I had some leftover cedar boards from my grape trellis project a few years ago, and it was some nicer and thicker material than the pickets so it was the perfect material for the job. You may notice my tiki torch-like candles – it was an especially mosquito-y part of the summer when I was working on this so once 8 o’clock or so struck, the mosquitos all punched in and were on the job. The fire hazards were my way of extending my available working hours a bit later into the evening.
Once I got the frame of the decorative trim done, I decided to move on, as I wasn’t sure what pattern I wanted to do – a simple horizontal piece in the middle; one long diagonal; two opposing diagonals, etc. I figured I could decide later, and starting to hang it up with hinges might give me a better idea.
I’m just using standard gate hinges from Home Depot for this. I believe these were the 6 inch size, as they make them in multiple sizes depending on the size of your project. 4 inch would have been too small and looked weird and 8 inch would have been too big, so these were in the goldilocks zone.
I ultimately did decide to just do a simple design for the door with a basic horizontal piece in the middle. This gave the middle hinge material to rest on and dig into, and since it was such a small door, didn’t over-complicate it visually.
Once the door and hinges were installed, I used those offcut door pieces from earlier and installed them above the door. Then I could finish adding the full-size pickets on the sides of the door to finish out the front wall. Thankfully the outermost boards only needed an inch or so cut off so it wasn’t super apparent that they’re different sizes than the inner boards.
After that, the walls were entirely done which meant it was time to turn my attention to the roof. I double checked my spacing of the rafters, making sure they were square to the fence brackets I had installed on the back wall. Then it was time to finally commit to the height of my 4×4 posts, which I’m sure you noticed have been 8 feet tall this whole time. I used a board on top of my roof rafters to transfer a line to each of the posts, then using the same angle as the rafters on my circular saw, cut the posts to size, making them level with the roof deck. The post closest to the house was too close to cut with my circular saw, though, as the angle I needed would have needed to be cut from the house side, and even if that wasn’t the case, I’d worry about accidentally nicking the siding by having the blade cut too deep. To play it safe, I instead used my pull saw, which gave me a lot more control without risking damaging the house.
With those cut, I secured my rafters in place. I hadn’t secured them prior to now because I used the same 12 inches on-center spacing I had used on the floor, and that made it a little tight for me to work.
By the way, that whole bit about not wanting to risk cutting the house with the circular saw? Yeah well I decided I needed to risk it after all, to get the house-side fence pickets cut to the right angle. I couldn’t make the full cut, but this got most of the material. I just made sure the blade was set no deeper than the thickness of the pickets. Because of this awkward corner, the handsaw didn’t work well either so I had to use my oscillating multitool to finish it off. I repeated this on the non-house side of the shed as well. Then, I didn’t do a good job of getting it on camera, but I also installed a rafter on each side wall against the fence pickets in order to provide a full outer perimeter frame for the roofing to be secured to. I didn’t record it, but I also installed some horizontal pieces between the rafters to have more material to attach the roof to.
Before adding the roofing though, I finished off the front of the roof overhang, installing a board on both the bottom and front faces of my rafters.
Next up, drip edge! Like I said earlier, I don’t know much about roofing, but one thing Tom Silva from This Old House has hammered into my head is the importance of a drip edge. When water runs off a house, the surface tension properties of water can allow it to crawl back up the side of the house if there isn’t an adequate gap between the surface the water is running down from and the siding. Drip edge, installed about a finger’s width away from the siding allows rainwater to do just that. So before installing the roof sheet metal, I installed black drip edge on the top of each wall with roofing nails, cutting it to size with a pair of sheet metal snips.
Finally, the crown jewel… or just the crown, I guess… the roof itself. I decided the roof for the shed would be sheet metal, 1) because it’s relatively easy and cheap, and 2) so I didn’t have to test my first-timer roofing prowess on a structure intended to keep our firewood dry. Also, if my shed had any unintended slope towards the house, now or in the future, the ribs on the sheet metal would still guide the water down the front, rather than it running off towards the house.
I didn’t have any experience cutting sheet metal, nor much experience using an angle grinder, so I took it really slow, using a metal cutting blade I had picked up. The cut was pretty rough, but I sanded it a bit with a sanding wheel. I had determined ahead of time that I would need two pieces of the roofing to achieve the correct width, with some overlap of course.
Now I wanted this roof to be black to match the drip edge, but my local Home Depot only sold this in green, so I figured it’d be pretty easy to paint.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t so easy. I was slow, thorough, and did multiple coats, using up about 2 full rattle cans per roof section, and it was still splotchy as heck. Not to be deterred though, I bought a pint can of black enamel paint, which based on the smell, I’m pretty sure is the same stuff that’s in the can. I applied the enamel with a foam brush, but apparently didn’t record myself doing so. But that did the trick and I got much better results. I’ll save the spray paint for smaller projects.
Once they were painted and non-splotchy, I could do a test fit on the roof, securing it in place to mark final measurements on the overhanging piece. With it marked, I cut them down off camera, and brought them back for final installation. I’m using this foam insulation at both ends of the roof, meant specifically for metal roofing like this, as it closes up those large gaps where the ribs are open on the ends.
For screws, I’m using self-tapping sheet metal screws with a pre-installed rubber washer on it. I could only find them in zinc coated finish, but I wanted them to be black to match the roof and blend in, so I screwed a bunch of them into a block before spray-painting the tips.
After securing the roof panels into each joist, this project, at long-last, was done. A majority of the project was done in a week, working on it nearly every day after work. But then a few complications with the roof – cutting, paint issues, etc. – stretched it out to about a month in total, but still not bad. I also stained it with some cedartone deck stain in that time, giving it a beautiful, finished look that won’t gray like the fence has.
And there she is! A perfect little “destination” at the end of the hubby’s side garden, rather than the dead-end we had before. After the roof was on, I promptly bought a truckload of firewood from a local guy off Marketplace for a fraction of what we would have paid at the gas station for the same amount. The shed fit a truckload of wood just fine, with some room left to spare, which was perfect, because I also installed a small shelf in there after the fact to give the hubby a place to store some small garden tools, since I took over most of the garage and all. And I’m happy to report, we’ve enjoyed many a fire with friends and neighbors since.
So I would love to offer plans for something like this, but it really doesn’t make sense to do that as 1) this was custom-built for our unique
situation, and 2) I just winged it with no real plan going in.
Now I wouldn’t recommend winging a larger project, but if you have a smaller project like this one, hopefully watching me wing my project is enough to let you know how you might wing your own project. If so, I sure would appreciate if you gave this video a like! And if you want to see more random yard and woodworking projects like this from me in the future, be sure to subscribe to my channel. Thank you so much for watching! And until next time, cheers!