How to Design & Build a Wood Shed

Written by jim wildman
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How to Design & Build a Wood Shed
Custom-built wood shed (winter shed image by Paul Coskery from

When preparing to build a shed for your yard, you need to call your local utility companies and request that they flag their underground utilities so that you will not place the shed over a utility easement. Also, call the local permit department to see if there are permits required to build the shed and if you have to follow any specific design requirements. The do-it-yourself handyman can design and build a wood shed without too much trouble.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Phone
  • Landscape paint
  • Flat-bladed shovel
  • Landscape fabric
  • Gravel
  • Shed-building materials (you can get these at your local lumber yard)
  • Mitre saw
  • Construction adhesive
  • Caulk gun
  • 1 and 1/2-inch deck screws
  • Framing square
  • Tie down straps
  • 30-pound felt paper
  • Framing stapler
  • Drill with bit
  • Roofing shingles
  • Paint

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  1. 1

    Spray the ground where the shed will be located with landscape paint. Remove the grass from within the foot print of the shed using a flat bladed shovel. Place a layer of landscape fabric over the dirt. Spread a layer of gravel over the fabric to hold it down in place. This will keep weeds from growing under the shed.

  2. 2

    Cut two 4-by-4-by-8 pressure-treated skids on the mitre saw. Cut a bevel on both ends of the post so that it can be moved later if needed. This will keep the shed from digging into the ground if you ever need to move it.

  3. 3

    Build an 8-foot-square foundation for the shed. Use nine 2-by-4-by 8-foot pressure treated studs to build the foundation. Cut seven of the studs to 7-foot, 9-inches long. Screw the foundation together using 3-inch deck screws. Attach the cut studs to the 8-foot studs at 16-inches apart. This will make a 8-foot square foundation for the shed.

  4. 4

    Place the foundation on the skids so that they are two feet in from each side. Cut four 2-by-4s to 7-foot 9-inches. Apply a layer of construction adhesive to the skids. Place one of the 2-by-4s on top of each skid. Screw it down to the skid using the 3-inch deck screws. Apply construction adhesive to the 2-by-4 and place the second 2-by-4 on top of the last one and screw it down using the deck screws. Check that the foundation is square use a framing square and a tape measure to check the corners. Put a layer of construction adhesive on the top of all the foundation boards a place 3/4-inch plywood over them. Screw the plywood down using 1 and 1/2-inch deck screws. This will provide a sturdy and square foundation.

  5. 5

    Assemble the walls of the shed on the deck. Place two 2-by-8-by-8 studs together on their sides and measure from on end 16-inches and make a mark on the boards. Use a square to make a straight line along both studs. Put a “X” to the right of the line. Repeat this for all of the studs needed for the wall. Nail the studs to the top and bottom plate with #8 common nails. Repeat this for all of the walls. Leave out the opening for the door. Place two 2-by-4’s on each side of the door, and run a 2-by-8 header over the door. Nail the siding to the walls before you stand up the walls. Stand all of the walls up and nail then down to the decking. Connect them together at the top using the top plate that will lock the walls together.

  6. 6

    Place a truss on the roof, you can build your own or by pre-built trusses from the lumber yard. Place the trusses 24-inches apart and secure them to the top plate with tie down straps. The tie down straps are pre-drilled and shaped pieces of metal that your screw or nail to the truss and the top plate. Attach OSB sheathing as the roof decking and attach it to the truss with 1 and 1/2 deck screws. Use a power screwdriver to place a screw along each truss 12-inches apart. Tack a sheet of 13.6kg felt to the OSB using a framing stapler. Place a drip edge on the bottom edge of the roof. Nail roofing shingles on the roof starting at the bottom and work your way up. Add a continuous ridge vent at the peak of the roof.

  7. 7

    Hang the door and add decorative trim to the exterior of the wood shed. Paint and your ready to put your new shed to use.

Tips and warnings

  • You can easily modify the size of the shed, work in two- or four-foot increments to save money by not wasting material. Plywood and decking come in 4-by-8-foot sheets.
  • Wear safety glasses when using power tools.

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