The Shed


The Shed is basically a free-standing set piece constructed as a “maker space”. I was given a floor plan from the Education Department and asked to design a space that evoked the feel of a workshop. Originally, we were going to simply put some workbenches, etc., in a recently available space, but then we decided to go all out and build a simulated work shop.

The Shed is the result.

I decided to build a raised floor, walls, and at least part of a faux tin roof. I had only three weeks’ access to the area in which The Shed was to go, so obviously there was no way to build the structure in its entirety in that time. Rather, I built the entire structure in sections which were stored in the hallway outside the shop. Each section had a number that corresponded to a bit of the drawing. When the space became available, the components were taken up the freight elevator, across the first floor to another elevator, and from there to the third floor. Once there, they were assembled like a giant puzzle and the floor was built in situ. The elevators are small, so I was limited to pieces no longer than eight feet and no wider than six feet.

I built The Shed on raised flooring for two reasons: it created the “clomp clomp” sound one gets when walking in an actual, old-timey shed, and it allowed us to run information cables, etc., under the floor to the walls and work stations.

Traditional framing methods were worked out centuries ago, and I had no intentions of reinventing that particular wheel. But since The Shed is not a conventional structure, a few minor problems had to be solved.

For instance, since there is no complete roof on The Shed, I had to find a way to make the walls strong without the ability to join them to other structural members at the bottom and top. But there was one advantage over an ordinary structure: corners are naturally strong. Since the shed is an octagon, there were literally twice as many corners as would be present in a rectangular room. I wanted these corners to be very rigid, so the top and bottom plates are formed from double thicknesses of 3/4 plywood.

As you can see, I made the corner pieces 3 1/4 inches so that I could use a 1/4 inch strip cut from a 2×4 to hide the laminated edges of the plywood.

There were long stretches of wall that were not well supported by the rigidity of the corners. Since we intended to use wainscoting anyway, I decided to take advantage of the opportunity and hide some metal braces in the walls. These are 1/4 inch plate steel that are hidden between the studs and go under the floors. These added very well to the rigidity of the walls.

The corner pieces for the roof were complicated (at least by non-professional-framer standards). Here is a picture of one of the corner pieces before staining.

Here is picture of the mock-up in the shop. I used this to work out the colors for The Shed. I used a simple gray wash for the siding to give it a weathered look. The 2x4s are stained with a mixture of brown paint and water. I chose green for the wainscoting and red for the outside trim as an homage to This Old House.

I spent a fair amount of time on the workbenches because I felt they were important to the way The Shed looked. Click the link below to get a better look.

Work Benches