Cheap&Dirty: Build a firewood shed for under $80!
Project: firewood shed / Duration: 2.5 days / Cost: approx. $80.00
It’s been unusually cold this winter, so there’s nothing like a warm fire to snuggle up to when the weather starts to rockin’ and the witch of winter comes a knockin’. But how do you keep your stash of firewood from succumbing to the weather? Wood doesn’t really need to be sheltered, just ask any tree, so you could just pile it on the ground and fugetaboutit. This solution works, but not as well as it should. On the other hand, if you’re like me, you never pass up an opportunity to organize every aspect of your life, and that includes your firewood. Is that a mental disorder?
A firewood shed is an excellent way to organize your wood storage system, keep the wood dry, and beautify your homestead. The problem is that raw wood for building projects is expensive, so what’s the solution?
Free wood, that’s what.
Wooden pallets are an excellent resource for low-cost/no-cost wood. About fifty percent of the shelter pictured above is comprised of free wood. It is about 25 square feet with a maximum height of 6 feet. The available storage space of the shed is about 135 cubic feet… slightly more than enough for a cord of wood. Lets look at how I put it together.
First, find some free wooden pallets, and I do mean free. There must be a billion of these things floating around, so you should never have to pay for one. Check Craig’s List, your local newspaper, or just prowl out back of your local chain retail store, but don’t forget to ask for permission to take any you find just “lying around.”
My goal was to build a shed that would accommodate one full cord of wood. I wanted the floor of the shed to be 4′x8′ ( 4 feet by 8 feet), so I used the two largest pallets I could find. One problem with pallets is that it’s tough finding ones that are just the right size, so my floor wound up being closer to 3.5 feet by 7 feet. No problem. I drilled holes between the adjoining sides of both pallets and bolted them together, with 3 or 4 bolts.
These two pallets go on top of the floor frame. See Step 2 in Figure 1. It’s important to assemble the floor pallets first so that you’ll know what size to build the floor frame. If the frame will come in contact with the ground, you’ll want to use treated 2″x4″s. I had to pay for this lumber since I didn’t have any scrap wood lying around that would work. The pallets need to sit on top of the frame, so make sure to cut the two shorter cross pieces to the correct length.
I assembled the frame components with several 2.5 inch screws. I drilled holes first before inserting the screws. I prefer to use a corded drill to make the holes and a cordless driver to drive the screws.
With the pallet floor on top of the frame, I drove a few screws here and there through the pallets to connect them to the frame.
Next I gathered the four corner posts as shown in Step 3. These are 4″x4″6′ treated posts. I left the front posts close to their 6 foot height and cut a 20 degree angle — with a mitre saw — at the top to accommodate a slanted roof. I cut the same 20 degree angle at the top of the rear posts, but I cut the height of the rear posts to about 5 feet. Again, I didn’t have any scrap lying around, so I had to buy this lumber as well.
The posts were then attached to the outside corners of the floor frame with heavy screws. See Figure 2 for a detail of one of the corner posts.
The top and bottoms of the rails for this shed are made from scrap wood, 1 inch thick and about 3 inches wide. The vertical rails are recycled wood from pallets. Pulling pallets apart to salvage the wood is hard work and often results in destroying much of the wood, so I use a reciprocating saw to cut right through the nails yielding much more usable wood.
The last step was to put the roof on. I connected the tops of the posts with a frame made of untreated 2″x4″s, then slapped a 4′x8′ piece of three-quarter inch plywood on top of the whole thing. I finished off the roof with asphalt shingles (see Figure 4). The angle of the roof should be more then sufficient for shedding snow and rain.
Even though I’ve used the first person descriptor “I” throughout this post, this was a two person job. My wife was critical to the success of the project while building the floor and the roof. This was especially true regarding the installation of the corner posts. We had to set the frame/floor pallet construction on top of some cinder blocks — stacked two high — while I crawled underneath to tighten the screws. It was great to have someone up top to keep the posts square against the corners of the frame. These types of jobs are almost always easier with an extra pair of hands.
One improvement I hope to add is a retractable weighted tarp or canvas cloth that I can hang across the open face of the shed at times when the snow and rain blows in sideways. When it’s not needed, I can simply roll the tarp up where it fastens at the top front of the shed.
Finally, don’t obsess about getting this perfect. A cord of wood can weigh several thousand pounds, so the base needs to be sturdy to handle the load. Beyond that, it’s just a wood shed, so don’t stress. In fact, this is a good starter project for bigger building projects later on.
I may have finally found a use for soy oil. I’ve heard that vegetable oil makes a pretty good wood preservative, so I’m going to buy some cheap vegetable oil (corn or soy) and give it a try.