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Mark's mini shed: a convenient storage locker for yard gear--and relief for your overstuffed garage.

My wife recently complained about having no space for her garden tools. It's true--our garage was overcrowded, and the yard shed was crammed full of stuff. The solution was a mini shed on the exterior wall of the garage just for her. Now my wife is happy to have a place for all her garden tools, and when she's happy, I'm happy.

I spent about $450, but you could save $100 If you used pressure-treated trim boards instead of cedar, and three-tab shingles instead of cedar shingles and felt paper. The project took me about 20 hours to build, a few hours at a time. I wanted to build as much of this project as I could in the comfort of my shop, so I made each section an individual unit. You can build two sections like this one or stack a whole bunch of them together. Ours is filled with garden tools, but it would also work great for pet supplies, grilling accessories, toys or whatever.

Cut the box components

Start by cutting the sides (A) and backs (B) to the dimensions given in the Cutting List on p. 27. Clamp two sides together, and crosscut them to length at the same time with a circular saw. Crosscut one back at a time with your circular saw set to a 20-degree angle. This will match the angles you'll be cutting on the sides to achieve the slope of the roof. For all your cuts, make, sure the surface of the plywood with the least flaws faces inside the locker. Measure down 6 in. from the top of one of the sides and mark the slope of the roof. Again, clamp two sides together and cut them at the same time.

Rip the three shelves (C) down to size and clamp them all together before crosscutting them. Rip the bottoms (D) to size and crosscut them together as well. The only plywood pieces left to cut are the top braces (F).

Cut the cedar parts that will be installed inside the boxes. These include the door stops (L), hinge supports (M) and the door latch blocks (N). Crosscut one of the 12-ft. cedar 1x6s in half, and then rip down the door stops and the hinge supports out of one of the 6-ft. halves. Always square up the factory edges before cutting any of the boards to length.

Sand and paint the inside parts

Paint all the interior parts of this project before assembling them. Fill any voids and holes in the plywood with wood filler. I spot-sanded the really rough spots with 80-grit paper but didn't sand any of the exterior surfaces.

Only the plywood surfaces that face the inside of the storage locker need painting. Paint all but one of the 3/4-in. sides on the door stops, hinge supports and door latch blocks. The plywood that forms the roof can be painted if you wish, but it really isn't noticeable, and the top braces (F) will be completely covered by trim, so there's no need to paint them. I rolled on a product that was a combination of exterior paint and primer. I was able to get full coverage with one thick coat.

Assemble the boxes

Set the sides next to each other and mark the location of the shelves with a framing square. Then mark a guideline for the | screws on the exterior of the sides. I measured up from the bottom of the sides and marked the top line of the shelves at 22-3/4 in., 37-3/4 in. and 51-3/4. These measurements are based on some specific items I wanted to store. Make your shelves any height you wish, add more shelves, or eliminate them altogether.

Attach one of the sides to the back with 1-1/2-in. stainless or exterior-grade screws. Save time and buy self-drilling screws that don't require a predrilled hole. Space the screws about 16 in. apart. Once one of the sides is attached, transfer the shelf lines to the back with a framing square. Secure the bottom and the shelves with the same type of 1-1/2-in. screw (Photo 1). Install three screws per shelf side.

Flip the box on its side, and mark a screw guideline on the back of the back. Secure the bottom and shelves to the back with three screws in each. Flip the project on its back again and attach the other side to the back, and then finish securing the bottom and shelves.

The top braces create a solid surface to fasten the top front trim board to. Screw them to the boxes with one screw in the center of each end, and then go back and tack two more 1-1/4-in., 18-gauge brads, one above and one below the screw. Two screws would likely split the plywood.

The hinge supports add extra strength to the trim board that the hinges will be fastened to. Attach the hinge supports and the door stops by driving 1-1/2-in. screws every 16 in. through the plywood sides into the back of the cedar strips. Install the two door catch blocks with two screws driven through the back side. Space them about 6 in. down from the top and up from the bottom, on the back side of the door stop in the box that has no shelves. The door catches on the other side will be fastened to the shelves.

Build and install the base

Cedar is naturally resistant to rot, but it doesn't do so well in direct contact with the ground. That's why I decided to build the base out of pressure-treated wood and keep the cedar trim at the bottom 3/4 in. from the ground. Screw the base fronts, backs and sides (J and K) together with two 3-in. screws in each connection. Attach the boxes to the base with 2-in. exterior grade screws. Install two screws on each of the four sides of the box. Make sure all screws used with treated wood are compatible with treated lumber.

Install the trim and siding on the sides

Cut the side trim board (P) to length and install it with construction adhesive and 1-1/4-in., 18-gauge brads. The brads just hold the board in place while the adhesive dries, so you don't need more than one in each corner and one in the middle.

Create the smaller trim pieces by ripping the 12-ft. cedar (or treated) boards in half. Find the length of the two side trim boards (Q) by setting them on the side bottom trim board and marking the top angle on the back side of the board. Install them with adhesive and two brads every couple of feet. Make the side top trim board (R) by cutting one 20-degree angle and then marking the other angle in place. Install the side center trim board (S) so the top side is 42-3/4 in. off the ground.

For siding, I chose 1/4-in.-thick cedar planks often used as wainscoting (BB). Look for it at home centers near the paneling, not the lumber. If this product isn't available in your area, you could use pine paneling, vinyl siding, fiber cement panels, cedar shingles or whatever is available to you. Just make sure the siding profile is less than 3/4 in. or it will stick out past your trim boards. It just so happened that three of the cedar siding planks I bought fit in between the trim boards on the side without having to be ripped down. There was about a 3/16-in. gap on either side, which I caulked later.

Avoid a big mess by cutting all the siding planks to length and dry-fitting them before applying the adhesive. Tack them in place with 3/4-in. brads (Photo 2). Just shoot a couple of brads at the very end of the planks and a few on the edges. After they're all in, pound each plank flat with a rubber mallet or your fist and add one more brad in the center of each groove. The brads are only holding the siding in place until the adhesive sets up. Now repeat all these steps to build the other box.

Join the boxes

It's time to head outdoors. I pulled up some of my hostas and created a platform out of the same pavers I used as my edging. You could pour a small slab, tamp down some gravel or build a pressure-treated wooden platform. If you build a small platform, make sure it's level; larger patios should always slope away from the building.

Push the boxes into their permanent location and clamp the two sections together. Before fastening them, measure and cut the top plywood (E) so it's flush on all four sides. Temporarily set the top in place to see that it sits flat. Slip composite shims under one or both bases until the top is flat, the fronts are aligned and each side of the unit is relatively plumb. Secure the boxes to each other with eight 1-1/4-in. exterior grade screws, four through each side.

Trim the front

Install the two outside side trim boards (Q) first. Overlap them so they're flush with the trim boards on the sides. Keep them 3/4 in. off the ground like the trim on the sides. These trim boards will be shorter on top than the side trim to accommodate the slope of the roof. Find the length by holding a straightedge on the roof slope and measure up to that. The drip edge (AA) installed under the shingles will overlap all the top trim boards and cover any imperfections. Install the trim boards with 1-1/4-in. brads and construction adhesive.

Cut and install the front bottom trim board (U). It should be flush with the top of the plywood that makes up the bottom of the boxes. Cut and install the top trim board (V). After you cut the center trim board (W) to length, apply the adhesive. Then center it over the door stops and tack it on with just a couple of brads to hold it in place (Photo 3).

Build the doors

Start by cutting the four temporary braces (H) that will hold the door slabs in place while you install the trim. Attach the braces to the back of the door stops and hinge supports. One 1-1/4-in. screw through each side will be enough to temporarily hold the doors.

The door slabs (G) sit flush with the door stops and the hinge supports. Cut each door slab so there's at least a 1/4-in. gap around all sides. The gap can be a little bigger, but a smaller gap may cause the doors to bind. Screw the slabs into place with two screws into each temporary brace (Photo 4).

Now install the door trim with construction adhesive and 1-1/4-in. brads. Install the sides first (X), then the tops and bottoms (Y; Photo 5). Leave a 1/4-in. gap between the outside edge of the door trim and the trim on the face of the locker. Install the door center trim board (Z) so the top is 42-3/4 in. up from the ground, the same height as the center trim board on the sides.

Install the hinges before removing the doors. Cheap hinges I tend to sag, which makes the doors a real challenge to hang, so buy good ones. These sturdy strap hinges cost $8 each. Center the hinge on the top and bottom door trim. These hinge screws required predrilled holes. I held the hinges in place and marked all the hole locations with a pencil. Punch a starter hole in each spot with a nail set before predrilling the holes with a 1/8-in. bit. Mark the depth on the drill bit with a little masking tape so you don't drill too deep.

Once the hinges are installed, take out the screws that hold the slab to the temporary braces, and make sure the doors open and close without binding. Now remove the hinges, and take the doors back to your garage. Doors take a lot of abuse, so I installed additional 1-1/4-in. screws through the plywood slab into the door trim for a little extra support. I spaced them every 16 in. or so.

Install the siding the same way you did on the sides. It looks best if the first and last siding planks are close to the same size. I had to rip about 1/4 in. off the first and last pieces to make them come out even. I'm not much of a math guy, so I just snapped a bunch of pieces of siding together, centered them over the opening and marked how much to take off each side.

Install the roof

There is a difference between cedar shakes and cedar shingles. I tried using shakes on my first attempt, but they looked too gnarly on such a small surface. Fasten the top plywood with two 1-1/2-in. screws along the outside edges and middle, and four more along both the back and the front edges.

Cover the whole roof with 15-lb. felt paper. Install the first row of shingles so they overhang 1-1/2 in. past the trim on the front and sides. Drive in two 1-1/2-in. galvanized 4d nails per shingle about 3/4 in. from each edge and about 1-1/2 in. above the exposure line. Lay down a layer of felt paper about 8 in. wide and cover the whole first row almost to the bottom of the shingles. Install the second row directly over the first, staggering the seams as you go. Install another 8-in. strip of felt paper over this second row about 5-3/4 in. up from the bottom of the shingles. That's an inch higher than the exposure line. In this case, each of the four rows will have a 4-3/4-in. exposure. I used a straightedge and a pencil line to mark each row as I went (Photo 6).

Overlap the rest of the rows with felt paper in the same manner. You'll need to trim the back side of the shingles on the last two rows. It's easier to do this if you pull the locker away from the wall and mark each shingle as you go. The exposed nail heads on the last row will get sealed later on.

Install the drip edge (AA) under the shingles. Install the sides first, then the front. Secure them with construction adhesive and 1-1/4-in. brads spaced every 8 in.

Seal the exterior

Seal the exterior before you push the storage locker back up against the wall and reinstall the doors. Start with a polyurethane caulk similar to the final color of your project. Seal all the areas where the siding meets the trim. Fill any knotholes or voids in the siding and trim, and don't forget to cover the exposed nails on the shingles. Let the caulk dry overnight before applying the finish.

I coated my storage locker with a wood finish made by Sikkens, which darkened the wood just a bit. This product holds up well, but it's also really stinky. Wear a respirator and finish the doors outside. I laid it down with a roller and back-brushed it. Force a little extra sealant into the holes made by the brads. If you don't want your shingles to turn a weathered gray, cover them with sealant as well (I left mine alone). I applied one coat and will add another coat next year.

Finish it up

The profile of this storage locker is tall and thin, so secure the locker to the wall to prevent it from tipping over. Push it back into place and reinstall the shims so it's tight up against the wall and the sides are plumb. Soil can rise and fall in cold climate regions because of the freeze/thaw cycle. To give the unit a little wiggle room, drill a 3/4-in. hole through the back and secure the locker to your garage wall with two 4-in. screws and 1-1/2-in. fender washers (Photo 7), one on each side. An easy way to find the studs in the garage wall is to locate the nails in the siding.

Reinstall the doors and install the door catches. Install them where you attached the support blocks. On the other side, install one underneath the top and bottom shelves. All that's left is to trim off the shims, attach the handles and fill up your locker.


Paint all the plywood components, then assemble them with self-tapping, trim head screws. Screw one side to the back, then add the shelves and finally the other side.


Mount the boxes on their bases, then add trim and siding to the sides that will be exposed. Fasten the trim and siding with construction adhesive, plus a few brads to hold them in place while the adhesive sets.


Trim the front after the boxes are attached. Double-check that both door openings are the same size before you permanently attach the center trim board.


Screw the door slabs to temporary braces. This will let you build the doors in place for a perfect fit. Keep the screws at least 4 in. from the edge of the slab so they won't get covered up by the trim.


Nail and glue the trim to the slabs, leaving an even gap around the edges. Then screw on the hinges, remove the temporary screws in the slabs, and install the siding back in your garage.


Cover the roof with felt paper. Prevent water from leaking between the shingles by covering every row with a strip of additional felt paper.


This shallow locker can tip forward easily, so once you've applied your finish to the exterior, fasten the locker to wall studs with a couple of screws. An oversize hole and a fender washer on your screws will allow the locker to move up or down slightly with ground movement.


Time: 2 weekends

Cost: $350 to $450

Skill Level: Intermediate

Tools: Miter saw or circular saw, 18-gauge brad nailer, compressor, drill, hammer, stapler, level, caulking gun

Storage locker on steroids!

My design was inspired by this photo sent to I us by Robert Colling, a Field Editor from San Diego. He built this storage locker 10 years ago. J It's attached to the back wall of his garage, and the doors are hung with heavy-duty piano hinges that can handle hundreds of pounds. He's got quite the shovel collection, eh?

by Mark Petersen


Mark Petersen is a Contributing Editor at TFH.He spent 20 years in construction, first as a siding guy, then as a general contractor.

Materials List

ITEM                                     QTY.

4' x 8' x 3/4" sanded pine plywood        4
1x6 x 12" cedar                           6
2x6 x 8' pressure-treated lumber          2
1/4" x 4" x 8' tongue-and-groove
cedar paneling (six-pack)                 3
Bundle of cedar shingles                  1
1-1/4" exterior-grade
  trim head screws (1 DO-pack)            1
1-1/2" exterior-grade
  trim head screws (100-pack)             1
2" exterior-grade screws (1-lb. box)      1
3" exterior-grade screws (1-lb. box)      1
1-1/4" 18-gauge brads (small box)         1
3/4" brads (small box)                    1
1-1/4" 6d galvanized nails (1-lb. box)    1
Roll of 15-lb. felt paper                 1
Construction adhesive (tube)              3
Polyurethane caulking (tube)              2
Composite shims (small bundle)            1
8" decorative T-hinges                    4
Door handles                              2
Roller door catches                       4
1-1/2" fender washers                     2
4" structural screws                      2
Wood filler (small container)             1
Paint and/or exterior sealant

Cutting List

KEY                      DIMENSIONS        QTY    NAME

3/4" BC                sanded plywood:
A                     15-3/4" x 72"         4      Sides
B                     23-3/4" x 72"         2      Backs
C                     14-1/4" x 23-3/4"     3      Shelves
D                     15" x 23-3/4"         2      Bottoms
E                     17" x 52-1/8"         1      Top *
F                     2" x 23-3/4"          2      Top braces
G                     21-1/4" x 62-1/4"     2      Door slabs *
H                     5-1/4"x 23-1/2"       4      Temporary door
* Cut to fit

Pressure-treated lumber:

J                      1-1/2" x 5-1/2"      4      Base fronts and
K                     1-1/2" x 5-1/2"       4      Base sides
Cedar (or pressure-treated):

L                     3/4"x 1-1/4"          2      Door stops *
M                     3/4" x 3/4"           2      Hinge supports *
N                     3/4" x 1-1/4"          2     Door latch blocks
P                     3/4" x 5-1/2"          2     Side bottom trim
                                                   boards *
Q                     3/4" x 2-3/4"         4      Side trim boards *
R                     3/4" x 2-3/4"         2      Side top trim
                                                   boards *
S                     3/4" x 2-3/4"         2      Side center trim
                                                   boards *
T                     3/4"x 2-3/4"          2      Front side trim
                                                   boards *
U                     3/4"x 5-1/2"          1      Front bottom trim
                                                   board *
V                     3/4" x 2-3/4"         1      Front top trim
                                                   board *
W                     3/4" x 2-3/4"         1      Front center trim
                                                   board *
X                     3/4" x 2-3/4"         4      Door side trim
                                                   boards *
Y                     3/4" x 5-1/2"         4      Door top and bottom
                                                   trim boards *
Z                     3/4" x 2-3/4"         2      Door center trim
                                                   boards *
AA                    3/4"x 1-1/8"          3      Drip edge *
BB                    1/4" x 3/1/2"                Cedar planks *

* Cut to fit
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Author:Petersen, Mark
Publication:The Family Handyman
Article Type:Instructions
Date:May 1, 2014
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