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For me, heating with firewood is more about feeling self-sufficient than it is about lowering my utility bills. I also like cutting and splitting logs. It’s good exercise and the source of my wife’s wry nickname for me, the Saturday Lumberjack. But storing and keeping the wood dry is a hassle. Tarps can trap moisture, promote rot, and be difficult to remove after a snowfall. And stacking the wood inside is a poor choice, unless you enjoy the company of insects and mice.
The solution is a simple shed. I designed the one you see above, which involves basic post-and-beam carpentry, to create an attractive storage unit for more than a cord. It keeps the wood from getting soggy and leaves the critters out in the cold, just where the Saturday Lumberjack likes them to be.
💡 The perfect wood shed keeps rain off the stack yet allows plenty of cross ventilation for the wood to season. PM’s shed does both and provides access from the front and back.
These Tools Will Help
Plans and Materials
Build the Side Panels
Crosscut the cedar slats and side supports to the lengths shown in the plans. Of the two supports on each side, the top one is shorter than the bottom one. This provides clearance to affix the beam.
Next, notch the posts to receive the beam. Using a circular saw, make a shoulder cut and a series of cuts parallel to the shoulder, then remove the scored wood with a wide chisel . Smooth the notch’s face with a rasp.
To assemble the walls, place the cross supports on a flat surface, bore pilot holes, and attach the cross supports to the posts . Then place the slats in position, apply a glob of construction adhesive, and screw the slats to the supports .
Set the Footings and Raise the Walls
It’s important to accurately place the footings, or piers—it makes the build quicker and easier by preventing constant remeasuring and adjustment. We set the four corner piers in rough position and brought them into alignment with a string line .
Then we used a tape measure to check the diagonals of this rectangle and to position the fifth and sixth piers relative to the perimeter. Using a string level, we adjusted the height of the piers . Next, we placed the plastic end caps on the bottom of the posts and raised each wall on its piers. We plumbed the walls and braced them diagonally to a stake driven into the ground .
Add Joists, Beams, and Posts
Measure the distance between the walls, then crosscut the long joists and bolt them to the posts. Do the same with the beams.
Measure the height from the center piers to their respective beams to determine the position of the shoulder cut on the center posts. Notch the two center posts, set them on their piers, plumb them, and bolt them into position .
Crosscut the remaining joists and fasten them, as noted in the diagram, with joist hangers, joist hanger nails, 16d common nails, or 3½-inch deck screws. Crosscut the floor pieces and screw them to the long and short joists. Make yourself a small jig from scrap lumber to speed accurate spacing between each piece of flooring. Even better, make two. Place one at the front and another at the rear of each deck piece. Fasten the deck pieces with the jig in place. Lift the jigs out, position the next piece of decking, and repeat.
Add the Rafters
To begin, make a pattern rafter from the best 2 x 4 on hand. Mark the angled plumb cuts at the top and bottom of the rafter and the position of the bird’s-mouth cuts (the notch where the rafter meets the beams). Clamp the rafter on top of the beams, check that the lines drawn are accurate, and adjust the lines as needed. Cut the rafters to length.
Place the rafter on sawhorses and clamp it firmly in place. Make the vertical cut with a circular saw, use a chisel to notch the horizontal cut where the rafter rests on the beam, then turn the rafter back upright and finish the shallow horizontal notch with a chisel.
What Makes Good Wood?
Wood’s BTU content and density are linked. Hardwoods that are dense have more wood fiber per unit volume and thus a higher Btu content than species that are lighter. So you get more Btus for your buck if you buy (or cut) a cord of wood with a high percentage of dense hardwoods—oak, birch, hickory, locust, osage orange, or even prunings from an apple orchard, for example—rather than lighter species such as basswood or poplar. The tradeoff: Dense hardwoods are tough to cut and split.
Test-fit the pattern rafter and adjust its notches. When it fits accurately all along the beams, use it to mark and cut the remaining rafters. First, cut all the rafters to length. Then clamp together all the rafter stock, including the pattern rafter, edge up. Mark and cut all of the notches to match the pattern rafter. Use a chisel to finish each notch .
Mark the position of the rafters along the beams at 16-inch centers and carefully nail them in place . We even went so far as to set each nailhead to firmly pinch the rafter down against the beam. We nailed the front fascia in place and moved on to the skip sheathing for the roofing. Note that two pieces of sheathing are nailed on at the peak and at the base. The rest are spaced evenly between them.
Install the Roof and Add Firewood
After crosscutting the steel roof panels, we fastened them to the skip sheathing using self-tapping screws with a rubber gasket under the head . We drove the screws with an 18-volt drill and a socket wrench attachment, but we’d advise using a more sturdy nut driver because penetrating the roofing requires a fair amount of force. Finally, we screwed the diagonal braces to the posts.
The last part was the most fun—stacking a nice, neat pile of freshly split firewood in our new shed.