Shedstory: part 1

So we’re building a shed.

K. wasn’t working this week so we got a jump on this project in order to have it done before the snow falls.  Also, once you get married you have to build a shed together; it’s in the bylaws. It’s going to be a shed we can keep our bikes and garden stuff in so they aren’t stuck all the way over in EL-2 behind a plywood door you have to remove with a screwdriver and clogging up the back entrance to the building, respectively.  Plus it’s practice.  You know, planning and framing and putting in windows and all that good stuff.  Yes, our shed is going to have windows.


First we had to sink eight concrete blocks into the ground. I’d always wondered how the ancients (or anybody, really) laid out buildings to be level and evenly proportioned. Answer: a lot of times they used string and math. We mostly used a tape measure and a level taped to a 2×4.


Then it was time to frame the floor that would rest on top of the blocks. First we measured and marked where the studs would have to go using the magical speed square, the praises of which I’d heard sung by many friends (this shows you the crowd I run with now.) I don’t think the ancients had speed squares, which sucks, except on second thought they were not framing walls the way we do now.


The ancients also most certainly did not have the mighty power of the chopsaw on their side. You know a tool is powerful when, while using it, you realize that the saw would have absolutely no problem removing any part of your body that crosses the path of its blade. It’s got all kinds of cool adjustable stuff and is really well designed in a way that is totally hard to figure out at the same time. Germans!


We laid out the end thingies (technical term) and then nailed all the joists into place. This took a little longer than it would have if we had an air nailer at our disposal. Yep! This entire shed is built with nails that were painstakingly hammered in by hand.

We were talking about how we look back with wonder at wooden structures built without any metal at all, and how in the future people will most likely look back and say “Wow! People used to live in things built out of wooden strips stuck together with little metal pins” from the comfort of their laser-carved space caves or whatever we’ve managed to come up with by the time The Future is upon us.


And that was the progress of Day 1. Sidebar: check out the label on the pressure-treated lumber we were using:


Ooh, it’s “less” corrosive! Pressure treated wood is a little scary and full of crazy chemicals but it does pretty well resisting water and rot.

The next day we added a plastic vapor barrier to further protect the chemical-laden bottom portion of the shed:


…and nailed some plywood on top to form a floor. Also pressure treated, since we’ll be tracking mud in and out of there on the regular. Hooray, the floor is done!


Apparently when a contractor builds his/her own shed there are two ways to go: either say “this is something I’m slapping together in my spare time, screw craftsmanship” or say “this is something I’m going to have to live with, I’m going to try and make it nice.” We are attempting to make a nice shed.


We got to frame the walls on top of the floor, which is a lot easier than framing on the uneven ground.

Working with K. on this project has been very cool because the last time we did this kind of stuff was when we were fixing the building and basically learning as we went. Since then he’s been working with a contractor and learning all kinds of legit skills, and it’s been awesome to be able to siphon off some of that new knowledge and skill.


So we raised the first wall and realized that our shed was going to be objectively huge. While still in the figuring stage K. ran a tape measure up and we decided that yeah, full height would be fine, forgetting that the shed roof was going to be built up on top of that and basically our shed is turning out to be a big scary monster shed. It’s going to be covered in Old Ironsides-style metal sheeting the guys found on Craigslist (see chopsaw picture) and will probably get around to painting? but in the meantime, our shed is going to look mean.


Here I am, helping. We technically should have framed the side walls first but on the bright side I had a nice basic one to learn on before doing things like windows and doors. Note the wrist brace: back in effect! In retrospect carrying around a bunch of lumber and hammering a bunch of nails doesn’t do great things for tendonitis, a fact I should have already gleaned from friends who do these things on the regular (the same ones who talk about speed squares.) There’s like a Women Who Do Things With Wrist Problems club…


Then it got dark. We have a long and proud tradition of doing backyard projects in the dark though, and this did not phase us. Wall 3: totally framed!

This was the point the enormity of our shed became concrete:


We framed the last wall in place. Usually you nail on OSB/plywood before raising the walls, but whatever. This whole thing made me feel a lot more like a real barnraiser, I’ll tell you that much.


Overhead vantage creepy shot illustrating the progress reached by the end of Day 2, taken from the kitchen where I was preparing salmon braised in tomato chili jam. The salmon was a wedding present caught and brought by this guy and the jam was made by my Fancy & Delicious counterpart, T. Braising is my fallback: it’s pretty hard to screw up, or at least I’ve had good luck with the method.


After an 11 hour day building the biggest baddest shed on the block, we were all so tired and burned out that K. and I took a trip over to Fast Stop and brought back a bag of candy and cookies. The guy at the counter was like, “Snack night?” Yeah, pretty much. Here’s a family portrait featuring the seasonal Christmas Tree-shaped snack cakes from the same people who do Zebra Cakes (my trash food choice) that come out every year around this time. I tore into that thing like Grant took Richmond.


Stay tuned for the part where we make a roof, light a fire, and order a pizza! All to come in Part 2 of ???

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