A gambrel shed for my back yard, or maybe it's a shop . . . hmmmm.

  • Advertise with us
Project by ic3ss posted 10-23-2010 08:10 PM 5923 views 7 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve always wanted to have a shed in the back yard ever since we bought our house some eleven years ago. This last summer I decided I could not wait any longer and prioritized it higher on the list of stuff to get done. I started with an image in my mind of what I wanted it to look like: a gambrel roof, 12’ x 14’, red. With this image in mind, I wrote up a bill of materials in Excel complete with the current prices of all the pieces of lumber I would need. My wife would just laugh at me when I would sit at my computer looking off into space, counting board quantities for each dimension I would need, figuring out how to solve framing problems I knew I would encounter, and making sure I was accounting for every bit of materials I could think of to make my starting cost estimation as accurate as I could.

I worked on the materials list for over two weeks, with cost comparison between Lowes and Home Depot, (They’re the same for lumber almost always). Once I was satisfied that it was complete enough to start work, I then had to wait for the weather to clear. In Oregon, we call it waiting for the real summer to start. This year it rained almost all of June, so I didn’t buy wood until the last week of June. My daughter helped me at the store, loading and pushing the carts, (we ended up with seven), rented the delivery truck and took it home. It was a full day just getting everything to the house, and I gave myself an overexertion injury to both of my wrists in handling the wood. I’m still trying to get my right hand back to normal as of this writing, it sucks getting old.

I went out on the porch during the planning stage with some sidewalk chalk and drew out the roof profile, and figured out my truss angles and the lengths of it’s pieces. With this, I made up a truss jig held together by 1/2” plywood gussets, (I would use thinner stock for the actual trusses), and nailed guides to both sides of the 2×4s at each end to keep everything aligned. Then I would cut all pieces to length at 22 1/2° at each end, lay them into the truss jig and nail the gussets at each joint and voilla! A truss is born.

Once the rain stopped, I set about placing foundation block. I put four rows, each with four blocks. My yard has a slight incline, so flattening that was an all day thing, but once it was done enough, I squared the footprint and started excavating where each block would be, eventually making each block on the same plane level. Once I got into a routine, it went pretty fast. I still ended up with of a bit on a slope, so I put down a second course of block to allow for setteling because the lowest point of the shed was almost on the ground. Then I put down four 4×4 pressure treated posts, laying them across the blocks to be used for skids, and the base for the floor joists. By this time, my daughter was involved nailing the joists with the handy palm nailer that I just bought. This ended up getting much more use than I ever thought it would, and it was fun to use.

I bought two windows from a guy on eBay, including shipping I paid about $90 for both. Not bad considering the only windows I could find were double pane and insulated and all that stuff at $100 for one window. This was the only cheap shed window I could find, and none in my area. The first three walls went up pretty easy, and I was careful to overlap both courses of header boards at the corners. This was one of a thousand framing details that ran around in my mind the whole time, and for the most part I didn’t miss much considering that I didn’t write or draw out any plans at all. It was all in my head from beginning to end with the exception of the materials list. Not bad for a guy that can’t remember what he had for breakfast.

The gable end above the header was the only real hard part of the process. My wife and I built it up on the floor, put the siding on and cut the roof profile using my router and a flush cut bit, and then got on two ladders and stood it up. It was just small and light enough to manage, but any bigger or heavier and I would have just called some friends to help with it, but we did ok. I nailed a brace on it and called it a day. The other gable end would be done a little differently. I had to build that wall, the last wall, in place instead of on the floor then standing it up. It had the door opening so it would be very weak until set in place. It was just easier to build it in place.

The roofing materials were another matter. The trusses went up easy before we did the last wall, and the sheathing was no problem, but I swear, I now know why roofing is done by younger guys. Anyway, I got the roof done, and by that time my wife had two coats of brick red paint on the walls, so after the roof edges were all trimmed off, we set about painting and nailing up white furring strips for the trim. And once the door was hung, I really had time to stand back and look at it with the kind of satisfaction that can only come from completing a project that took a lot of time, and challenged your skills in planning and problem solving.

This shed project took 5 weeks from beginning to end, working only on my weekends. Right now it’s being used as a shed, but the possibility of it serving as a shop is never far from my mind. I put in a loft that covers about half of the 14’ length, and with the bottoms of the 2×6 joists being 6’10” from the floor it still has tons of height above the loft floor for storage. The next thing I need to do is build a bench inside, and then maybe bring power to it, and then lighting, and then , . . .

This was the first time I had ever done any framing, at all. I’d never taken on a project like this before. I don’t know, maybe I just thought “it’s just a shed, I’ll just nail some 2×4’s together and throw some plywood on and call it good”. But once I started giving some thought about all the small steps that would be needed, the more I put into coming up with real solutions. This was totally enjoyable from beginning to end, and I still give myself that little pat on the back in my mind whenever I go in the back yard and see it there.

I like my shed. Thanks for reading.


-- "I am endeavoring, ma'am, to construct a mnemonic memory circuit using stone knives and bear skins."

13 comments so far

View canadianchips's profile


2602 posts in 3023 days

#1 posted 10-23-2010 08:57 PM

Looks like a real nice place for an old guy to play (you mentioned old first)
You will be wishing you built that 10 years ago after you play in it for awhile.

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3330 days

#2 posted 10-23-2010 09:14 PM

hey wayne..great story and it brings back a lot of memories..i moved from alaska to alabama to build a new home and shop for myself and my family…it happened a lot like yours did..i had never done anything like it and was going to come hook or crook…i built my shop first…20×30…pretty much the way you did, except i bought engineered trusses…i had an electrician do the lighting and power needs.. and from there it was my baby, after that i started on my home..the only thing i didnt do on it was the plumbing…i really dislike plumbing…..but from there i did it all…...its a small home , but we love it and its where we have been now for 10 years…i have pictures in my projects and you can see my shop where that us suppose to be…if you want to check it out..just look under grizzman…im glad you had a great time doing this build and it was fun reading of your experience…you did a great job , ive always liked the gambrel roof and your looks great…thanks for posting this project…grizzman

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View Napoleon's profile


788 posts in 2835 days

#3 posted 10-23-2010 09:40 PM

Wery nice shop. Congratulations ic3ss :)

-- Boatbuilder&blacksmith

View HalDougherty's profile


1820 posts in 3263 days

#4 posted 10-24-2010 12:06 AM

I really like the picture where you are getting the foundation level before you build the shed… I just spent the last two days under a 14’ X 15’ shed I had moved from my house to my shop. The idiot who moved it did it before I was ready and just dropped it in the field. At least he put it down on two 4X4’s. I wanted to kill him the entire time I was jacking up the building, shoveling out under the beams and adjusting blocks, then doing it again! Oh, it’s on a slight hill too.

-- Hal, Tennessee

View Abbott's profile


2570 posts in 3330 days

#5 posted 10-24-2010 12:09 AM

That is very nice.

-- Ohh mann...pancakes and boobies...I'll bet that's what Heaven is like! ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3330 days

#6 posted 10-24-2010 12:15 AM

im sorry i dont live closer hal , i would help you out…i would at least hold the shovel while you wiped the sweat off of ya…lol….couldn’t resist that one…some folks just dont think..or sometimes dont care…but yea..good thing he did put in onto a few 4×4’s…well this shed here will make a great shop some day…i think it was wonderful your daughter could help…have a great experience with her dad…ive got a grand daughter coming into the world..if i live long enough i hope she might want to work with grand pa in the shop…i would really love that…grizz

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View Splinterman's profile


23074 posts in 3388 days

#7 posted 10-24-2010 03:47 AM

Hey Wayne,
Cool design and great finish…nice job.

View a1Jim's profile


117120 posts in 3603 days

#8 posted 10-24-2010 04:20 AM

This came out well nice job,

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18290 posts in 3702 days

#9 posted 10-24-2010 08:05 AM

I liike it! Great job. Looks just like mine, except for the color :-)) Welcome to LJ!!

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Bluepine38's profile


3379 posts in 3111 days

#10 posted 10-24-2010 04:34 PM

Great shed, and having the daughter and wife working with you made it a great family project, can not get
much better than that. That loft could come in real handy for letting some wood age for a year or so while
you are waiting for it to tell you what to build with it, and you might even get some more family help with
that part. Whether it is used as a shop or a shed, I hope you enjoy it for many years.

As ever, Gus the 71 year young laborer, trying to become a carpenters apprentice.

-- As ever, Gus-the 79 yr young apprentice carpenter

View Condor1's profile


64 posts in 3004 days

#11 posted 10-25-2010 08:07 PM

Nice shop! It’s great to have the kids help and build memories of their time at home.

-- There are times when a mistake is remembered as your best work.

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3699 days

#12 posted 01-05-2011 04:55 PM

Nice looking shed.

View Shed4Home's profile


6 posts in 475 days

#13 posted 03-04-2017 07:03 PM

That is a great looking shed. Always a great looking shed with red paint.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics