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Five storage solutions: add space and get organized!


1 Garden closet


2 Garden cubby


3 Under-bed rollout


4 Entry organizer


5 Drawer dividers


5 smart storage projects



Garden closet

If you don't have room in your yard for a large, freestanding shed, you can still create plenty of space for garden tools with a shed attached to the back or side of the house. If you're an experienced builder, you can build this shed in a couple of weekends. Ours cost about $400, but you could save about $75 by using treated lumber, pine, and asphalt shingles instead of cedar.

Frame the walls and roof

Nail together the side walls, then square them with the plywood side panels. Overhang the panels 3/8 in. at the front--this will hide the gap at the corner when you hang the doors.

Join the two sides with the top and bottom plates and rim joists. The sides, top and bottom are all mirror images of each other except for the top front rim joist, which is set down 1/2 in. from the top so it stops the doors (Photo 1). Use screws to fasten the framework together except in the front where fasteners will be visible--use 2-1/2-in. casing nails there.


Screw the 4x4 footings to the bottom plates, then nail on the plywood base. Cut and screw together the two pairs of rafters, then nail on the fascia and ridge boards. Nail on the roof sheathing and the soffit, butting the corners together (Photo 2). Screw on the collar ties at the points shown in Figure A, then screw on the front and rear nailers. Nail the roof trim on, staple on a layer of roofing felt, then shingle the roof. If you use cedar shingles, fasten them with narrow crown staples or siding nails. Leave 1/8-in. to 1/4-in. gaps between cedar shingles for expansion, and nail a strip of aluminum flashing across the ridge under the cap shingles.

Tip the shed upright, then set the roof on, aligning the front collar tie with the front rim joist and centering it side to side (Photo 3). Nail the cedar trim to the sides, aligning the 1x3s on the sides with the overhanging edge of plywood along the front edge. Glue and screw on the back and front siding panels to join the roof and base together. Use the back panel to square the structure and make it rigid.

Nail on the front trim piece, aligning it with the horizontal side battens. Attach flashing and felt to the front panel, then cover it with cedar shakes (Photo 4).

Hang the doors

Finally, construct the doors (see Figure A detail), cut the hinge mortises (see below) and hang the doors. Leave a 1/8-in. gap between the doors and trim along the top. Paint or stain if desired, then set the shed against the house on several inches of gravel. Add or take away gravel under the footings until the shed is tight against the siding and the gap above the doors is even. Screw the shed to the studs in the wall to keep it from tipping. Drill two 1/2-in. holes for the screws through the plywood near the rim joists, then loosely fasten the shed to the wall with 2-1/2-in. screws and large fender washers so the shed can move up and down when the ground freezes and thaws.

How to mortise a hinge

Mark the hinge locations on the doorjamb, then on the door, less 1/8 in. for clearance at the top of the door. Separate the hinge leaves, then align the edge of the leaf with the edge of the door or jamb. Predrill and fasten the leaf, then cut along all three edges with a razor knife to about the same depth as the hinge leaf (Photo 1).

Remove the hinge and make a series of angled cuts to establish the depth of the mortise (Photo 2). Turn the chisel over and clean out the chips using light hammer taps.

Holding the chisel with the beveled front edge against the wood, chip out the 1/4-in. sections. Check the fit of the hinge leaf and chisel out additional wood until the leaf sits flush.

If the hinges don't fit back together perfectly when you hang the door, tap the leaves up or down (gently) with a hammer.


Cutting List


A      4      1-1/2" x 3-1/2" x 32" rafters

B      3      1-1/2" x 3-1/2" x 20" fascia and

C      4      3/4" x 2-1/2" x 27" nailers (pine)

D      2      3/4" x 2-1/2" x 18-1/2" nailers

E      1      1/2" x 23" x 31-7/8" right roof

F      1      1/2" x 23" x 32-1/4" left roof

G      2      1/2" x 20" x 28" soffit

H      2      1-1/2" x 3-1/2" x 38-3/8" collar

J      2      3/4" x 1-1/2" x 18" front nailers

K      2      3/4" x 1-1/2" x 23" rear nailers

L      4      1-1/2" x 3-1/2" x 64" studs

M      4      1-1/2" x 3-1/2" x 36" top and
              bottom plates

N      4      1-1/2" x 3-1/2" x 29" rim joists

P      10     1-1/2" x 3-1/2" x 13-1/2" shelves

Q      2      3/8" x 16-7/8" x 64" side panels

R      1      3/8" x 36-5/8" x 79-1/4" back

S      1      3/8" x 36" x 19-1/2" front panel

T      1      17-5/16" x 60-1/8" left door

U      1      18-5/16" x 60-1/8" right door

V      2      3-1/2" x 3-1/2" x 19-1/2" footings

W      1      13-3/8" x 35-7/8" plywood base

X      2      3/4" x 1-1/2" x 23" roof trim

Y      2      3/4" x 1-1/2" x 33-1/8" roof trim

Z      2      3/4" x 2-1/2" x 64" side battens

Al     2      3/4" x 3-1/2" x 64" rear side

131    4      3/4" x 3-1/2" x 11-1/8" horizontal
              side battens

C1     1      3/4" x 3-1/2" x 38-3/8" front trim

D1     2      3/4" x 1-1/2" x 60-1/8" door edge

E1     2      3/4" x 3-1/2" x 60-1/8" door edge

F1     6      3/4" x 3-1/2" x 14-1/8" horizontal
              door trim

G1     4      3/4" x 3-1/2" x 28-3/8" (long
              edge to long edge) diagonal
              door trim

Materials List

ITEM                                              QTY.

3/8" x 4' x 8' rough-sawn exterior plywood           3

1/2" x 4' x 8' BC grade plywood                      1

1x2 x 8' pine                                        1

1x2 x 8' cedar                                       3

1x3 x 8' pine                                        2

1x3 x 8' cedar                                       2

1x4 x 8' cedar                                       7

Cedar shakes                                  1 bundle

2x4 x 8' cedar                                      11

4x4 x 4' pressure treated                            1

2-1/2" exterior screws                          2 lbs.

1-5/8" exterior screws                           1 lb.

2-1/2" galv. finish nails                        1 lb.

1-1/2" galv. finish nails                        1 lb.

1" narrow crown staples
(for cedar shingles)                             1 lb.

30-lb. felt                                     1 roll

10" x 10' roll aluminum flashing                1 roll

2-1/2" x 2-1/2" rust-resistant hinges           3 prs.

Magnetic catches                                 1 pr.

Handles                                          1 pr.

Note: We used rough-sawn cedar boards--which usually (but not
always!) measure 7/8 in. thick--for the trim. If you substitute
pine, which measures 3/4 in., subtract 1/8 in. from each door



Garden cubby

Keep tools and supplies right next to your garden with this small storage house. It only takes a few hours to build, and costs $35 if you use pine or $70 for the rough-sawn cedar we used.

Cut flat, dry 1x12s to the lengths in the Cutting List. Nail and glue the sides, base and back together, then attach the rafters and gables.

Fasten the shorter roof panel on one side, leaving 7/8-in. overhangs in the front and back. Caulk the top edge, then nail the long panel on.

Cut the hinge mortises into the door and side (see p. 33) and hang the door. Stain or paint the wood inside and out to seal it. Use green branches for the handle, nailing them in place.


Materials List

ITEM                              QTY.

1x12 x 8' cedar or pine             2

4x4 x 8' post                       1

2" x 2" mortise hinges            1 pr.

Magnetic catch                      1

1-1/2" galvanized finish nails    1 lb.

Cutting List


A      1      11" x 15-3/4" door

B      2      9-1/2" x 15-7/8" sides

C      1      11-1/4" x 8" bottom

D      1      11-1/4" x 15-7/8" back

E      2      12-3/4" x 6-1/2" gables

F      1      11-1/4" x 12-3/4" long roof panel

G      1      11-1/4" x 12" short roof panel

H      2      11-1/4" x 2-1/2" rafters

Note: All dimensions are for 3/4"-thick wood.



Under-bed rollout

Some of the most useful and underutilized storage space in the bedroom is right under the bed, but you can take advantage of it with this durable rollout chest, made from a single sheet of plywood for $60. Plastic versions are also available for as little as $20, but wood looks better, lasts longer and lets you custom-size your rollout.

Measure the distance between the floor and the bottom of the bed. Subtract 1/2 in. for clearance under the bed and 1/2 in. (on bare wood) to 1 in. (on thick carpet) for casters. Subtract another 1/2 in. for the hinged top to arrive at the maximum height for the storage box sides.

Mark all the pieces on a sheet of plywood and cut them with a table saw or a circular saw. Fasten 3/4-in. square nailers to the edges of the base with glue and finish nails or screws (1/2-in. plywood is too thin to nail into on edge). Attach the sides to the base, adding square nailers at the corners. Fasten the caster supports to the sides, then nail the outer side pieces to the caster supports.

Attach the front and back. Add the filler strips on top of the caster supports and the last nailer along the top edge of the back. Finally, nail on the fixed top, set the hinged top against it and screw on the hinges. Attach the hinges using 1/2-in. screws so they don't stick through the top.

Materials List

ITEM                               QTY.

AC-grade 4' x 8' x 1/2" plywood     1

3' x 3/4" x 3/4" square dowels      6

2x6 x 2' pine                       1

2" fixed caster wheels              4

1-1/2" hinges                       4

1" and 1-1/2" brad nails

Note: All materials and dimensions are for a 7-1/2-in.-tall
under-bed space. If you have more or less space, adjust
these measurements.

Cutting List


A       1     42" x 30-1/2" top

B       2     42" x 6" front and back

C       4     33" x 6" sides

D       1     42" x 4" fixed top

E       1     37" x 33" base

F       2     33" x 3/4" x 3/4" side nailers

G       3     35-1/2" x 3/4" x 3/4" front and back nailers

H       4     4-3/4" x 3/4" x 3/4" corner nailers

J       2     33" x 1-1/2" filler strips

K       4     3-5/8" x 1-1/2" x 5-1/2" caster supports

Note: All 1/2" plywood, except where specified.



Entry organizer

Need a home for all the coats, toys, books, shoes and other stuff that accumulates next to your entry door? Adjustable shelves and hooks make this open locker the perfect catchall. Construction is simple--just cut the pieces to length and nail them together. Our total cost was $300, but you can build it for $200 if you substitute plywood for the 16-in.-wide laminated pine panels we used.

First, sand the plywood back and both sides of the pine panels with 120- or 150-grit sandpaper. Check the ends of the panels to make sure they're square, and measure the widths to make sure they're all the same (two of ours varied slightly and had to be ripped to match). If you want to paint the plywood back and pine panel sides and shelves different colors, as we did, paint or stain all the pieces separately before putting the locker together.

Cut all the panels and shelves to the lengths in the Cutting List on p. 41. Glue and nail the top, bottom and center nailers to the sides, nailing from inside with 1-1/4-in. brad nails so the nails are hidden. Set the sides upright on a large worktable or flat area of the floor, then nail the top, bottom and center fixed shelves to the nailers. Keep the best edges of the sides facing up. Check to be sure all the edges are aligned to each other in the front as you assemble the locker.

After the shelves are nailed into place, square the locker by measuring diagonally from corner to corner, first from one side and then the other, and then pushing the corners in or out until the measurements are equal. Set the two center dividers into place, square them against the front edge, and then nail them through the top and bottom fixed shelves, using four nails at each end.

Turn the locker over so the back is facing up. Measure the location of the center dividers and shelves from the sides, then mark these locations on the back of the plywood. Set the plywood on the back of the locker with the best side facing down. Predrill and screw the plywood down at one corner, then align the rest of the framework to the plywood as you screw it down to the sides. Finally, screw the plywood to the center dividers and shelves. Use four screws for each divider and shelf and eight for each side.

Turn the locker over again and glue and nail the back shelf supports to the plywood, tight up against each shelf. Fasten the nailers to the plywood with 1-1/4-in. nails, but drive them at about a 15-degree angle so they don't stick through the back of the plywood. You may also need to lower the air pressure on your compressor.

Nail the front trim to the front edge of the shelves and to the sides, then glue and nail the front support under the bottom shelf, into the back of the 1x4 base.

Finally, attach the shelf standards and hooks. You can make one cubby all shelves or leave the shelves out entirely and just make space for hanging coats. Locate and mark the wall studs, then move the locker into position. For a permanent installation, remove the baseboard and recur it around the locker. Shim the base of the locker, if necessary, then screw the locker to the studs just above the center shelf to prevent it from ever tipping forward.

For more ways to organize your house, search "cabinets," "shelf" and "storage."


Drawer dividers

Here's a fast, inexpensive way to organize a messy drawer.


Cut standard dentil molding the width and length of your drawer, aligning the dentil slots on opposite sides. Glue or brad-nail the strips into place--one strip for dividers up to 2 in., two strips for larger dividers. For dividers, use oak or pine mull strip (sometimes called lattice) or rip 1/4-in. plywood.

Dentil molding and l/4-in.-thick mull strip are available at most home centers and lumberyards for roughly $1 per foot each (the system we made cost $30). Sand the mull strip smooth with fine sandpaper, then wipe off all the dust. The wood can be left unfinished, or finished before it's installed in the drawer.



Art Direction * BECKY PFLUGER

Photography * BILL ZUEHLKE

Technical Art * MARIO FERRO
Materials List

ITEM                                     QTY.

16" x 3/4" x 8' laminated pine panel      6

4' x 8' x 1/2" finish-grade plywood       1

1x2 x 8' pine                             3

1x3 x 10' clear pine                      1

1x4 x 6' clear pine                       1

Shelf standards (5' or 6')                12

1-1/4" screws                           1 lb.

1-1/4" brad nails                       1 lb.

Cutting List


A       2     3/4" x 16" x 7' sides

B       3     3/4" x 16" x 46-1/2" fixed shelves

C       1     48" x 84" x 1/2" plywood back

D       2     3/4" x 16" x 65-1/4" center dividers

E       1     3/4" x 3-1/2" x 48" front trim

F       2     3/4" x 2-1/2" x 48" front trim

G       6     3/4" x 16" x 14-1/2" shelves

H       3     3/4" x 1-1/2" x 45" supports

J       6     3/4" x 1-1/2" x 16" nailers

K       2     3/4" x 1-1/2" x 14-1/4" shelf supports

L       1     3/4" x 1-1/2" x 15" center shelf support
COPYRIGHT 2008 Home Service Publications, Inc.
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Article Details
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Author:Smith, Eric
Publication:The Family Handyman
Article Type:Cover story
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2008
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