My little wood storage shed

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Project by Gary Fixler posted 09-23-2009 11:58 AM 16227 views 25 times favorited 37 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Yesterday – Monday, September 21st, 2009 – was the 1-year anniversary of when I broke ground on this project. I rent a small house on a small lot (~0.18 acres) in the ‘burbs of LA, and only about 9/30ths of it is buildable outdoor space in which I can make and store things. My garage is a long-ish 1-car affair, better than the kind that just barely fit a truck, but once you pack in a large table saw (3’ fence to right of blade), 17” drill press, 6” jointer, 18” bandsaw, 32”x53” Woodpeckers router table, a dust collector with 30gal can separator, 2 2’x8’ worktables, and a 2-door floor cabinet I built, the space is pretty well depleted. I was starting to crowd into all of my work space with piles of wood, so I needed somewhere to store it all, and I wanted that to be outside the garage, yet safe from the pounding LA sun, spider and carpenter bee/ant infestations, smoggy/sooty air that makes everything dirty in about a week or two, and brief, yet often powerful rainy season.

I did up a shed design in my 3D program (Maya – I’d use SketchUp these days) designed specifically to store lumber. It’s free-standing, of course (have to move it somehow whenever I move to a new place), up on leveled cement pads with pressure treated 4x6 spacer blocks to keep it away from the yearly downpours. It has 3 shelves for 8’ long planks and a thin 8’ long section for several full sheets of plywood, with 2 doors allowing access to both of these areas from opposite sides (no losing short pieces in the back), and 4 separate stalls, each with their own doors for 2’x4’ sheet goods (available in several materials and thicknesses as ‘handy-panels’ from my local HD), cutoffs, shorts, rods, dowels, and other miscellany. It seemed like a great idea at the time. It would go near the garage wall in the backyard here:

space where shed would be built

Of course, it ballooned up into a huge project that took me months to complete, and cost a fortune, and then I stalled on it in January and didn’t finish up the last shingles and sealing the gables with Thompson’s until about a week ago. I snuck them in under the 1-year mark, though :) I would like to point out that as usual, I didn’t do any research, and I am not a home, nor even a shed builder. I ‘invented’ pretty much everything here, so there are things I’d do very differently, like how the doors work, though they do work. In fact, they look kinda cool with the sexy black locking T-handle knobs I installed with the twin lock rods behind each. I had to search all over creation for those things, almost made some myself after awhile, but finally found what I wanted in a single mom-and-pop shop online. They’re all keyed-alike so my keyring didn’t get huge. I also picked up a tube cutter and flanger and some brass tube and made my own brass inserts for the 2×4s to keep the rods from destroying them over time.

One limiter to this project was that I built it all while I still had my ‘00 Ford Focus hatchback, so I couldn’t pick up full sheets of ply. It was all done with handy panels shoved in over my folded-down back seats. You can fit 26 2×4s, 8’ long in the back of a 2000 Ford Focus hatchback, and absolutely not one more than that. I have proven this, almost mathematically ;)

In the end, I was able to take piles of wood from the garage like this:

wood in my garage

And turn them into empty spaces like this:

empty corner where wood was in my garage

This pile:

wood boards in my garage

Also disappeared:

me in an empty garage spot once occupied by large wooden boards

I used it as an opportunity to clean up other areas:

garage floor mess

garage floor is now clean

So where did all the wood go? Well, here’s how a lot of those boards fit into the shed, still with a good amount of room left over. Note that this is a January shot of the shed, pre A-frame roof. Also note the space to the left that can hold nearly 10 sheets of 3/4” 4’x8’ plywood:

shed shelves holding wood moved from the garage

Note there’s a door on the other side for easy access to shorter things that get pushed to the back:

back door to long lumber section

As for the 4 doors, they hold the following…

2’x4’ sheets (this is now much more full, with a more random selection of materials):

1st stall with 2x4 sheet goods

small cutoff boards, with some foam insulation (overflowing with stuff these days :)

2nd stall with small boards

plank and 2x shorts, up to just over 4’ long (also severely overflowing now, especially with that alder haul):

3rd stall with board shorts

The 4th stall isn’t really done yet. It is like this currently, but with more dowels and rods squished in, and a big stack of shorts of random things packed on top. The bins there fit, and this use got them out of my house, but they’re just full of small 2×4 cutoffs. That’s just my waning hoarder’s last cries.

4th stall with bins of 2x4 scraps

I’m losing more and more the love of saving every last little scrap, so I’ll probably burn these small pieces at my next pit bbq, remove the drawers, and do what I wanted to do with these from the start, which is to put in adjustable shelving. All of the stall walls and the side walls of the stalls had tracks routed into them for adjustable shelving standards before I installed any of them into the shed proper. You can see in this earlier shot that I have the rails. I will take some ply from the first stall and cut shelves for the 4th one, freeing up room in the 1st, and allowing more efficient packing of the 4th:

4th stall with adjustable shelf standards

The shed holds a lot of wood, really, in a small space, but it’s also acting as a kind of ‘stomach.’ I don’t want to pack it completely (though I am!) so it’s actually kept me from buying wood I wanted, because I didn’t want to pack in the last spaces. I want to use the wood in there now. It sort of forces me to want to use the wood I have, instead of just piling more on top of it… or at least, that’s the story I’m sticking to ;)

I have some crazy ideas for the gables. I at first wanted to cut rectangles out and put in doors to allow storage in the ‘attic’ space. Now I’m actually considering cutting the triangular shapes out entirely and putting in long, bottom-mount, full-extension drawer rails so I can ‘pull’ the gables out to reveal something like a rail of boxes or short stacks of shelving, maybe with bins for even more insane, tucked-away, hyper space-efficient storage. It would certainly be fun and unique. Who knows if I’ll ever get to it.

Meanwhile, you’re free to look through about 630 photos in the 46 sets of the Wood Storage Shed Collection over at flickr, but it’s a lot easier to see them all in this 10-minute, fast-paced slide show. It’s a nostalgic trip for me that reminds me of how much work this darn thing was:

As a final note, when I’d all but completed this post, and was checking the links to the Flickr images in Preview mode to make sure I had them right, my mouse gesture for ‘open in background tab’ ended with a little flick to the right, which is the gesture for ‘close current tab.’ I closed the whole post. I’m happy to report that reopening the tab and choosing “Post New Project” brought the whole thing back, sans the 6 uploaded images, but it only took a minute to reupload them. Hooray LJs!

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

37 comments so far

View littlecope's profile


3152 posts in 4964 days

#1 posted 09-23-2009 01:01 PM

Great job, Gary! A place for everything and everything in its place, smart…
Are you going to get some new machinery to fill the newly created voids in your shop, or just enjoy the added elbow room for a while?

-- Mike in Concord, NH---Unpleasant tasks are simply worthy challenges to improve skills.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27248 posts in 5284 days

#2 posted 09-23-2009 01:10 PM

This is a nice addition to your shop. I agree with Mike now that you have the extra space surely you can think of some new tools to add to your shop!

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View ratchet's profile


1391 posts in 5249 days

#3 posted 09-23-2009 01:14 PM

Very innovative solution! Looks like you’ve had a lot of practice with pocket holes. I enjoyed the slideshow.

View Innovator's profile


3589 posts in 4876 days

#4 posted 09-23-2009 01:15 PM

Very nice Gary, every woodworker seems to have their lumber in any opening they can find. I am no different. Having a place like this is wonderful. Its well organized and easily accessable.

Well done

-- Whether You Think You Can or You Think You Can't, YOU ARE RIGHT!!!

View Gary Fixler's profile

Gary Fixler

1001 posts in 4844 days

#5 posted 09-23-2009 01:40 PM

Mike and Scott – actually, the shed’s been fully usable all year now. While it freed up a lot of wall space, and a few piled areas, it’s still a small shop, and the organization and organizer-building is ongoing. The two largest areas it freed up I used for a tall, free-standing cabinet I built (post about that one one of these days), and my 6” Delta Jointer. So yeah, it did give me back some space, but really it just reduced clutter and freed up the walls a lot. Thanks!

ratchet – Boy have I! I just took advantage of a deal through Rockler – driving there the last day of the sale – wherein they had Kreg pocket screws at 33% off. That was about a week ago. I picked up a box of 1000 coarse thread screws for 3/4” joinery, a box of 500 for 2x joints, and 2 boxes of 50ea. of the 2x length screws with the blue weather coating for outdoor work. I go through them fast! In fact, I just blew through all but a couple from one of those 50 packs making a simple box frame of 2×4s. It’s a shallow cube 4’ wide and tall, and 2’ deep, and there’s a rail around the middle of 2×4s as well for shelving. That’s 6 lateral pieces and 6 cross bar pieces. The 4 verticals didn’t need screws as they go to the extents of the bounding box (nothing to screw them into). That’s 12 2×4s with 2 screws per end, or 48 screws total! They go fast.

Rob – thanks!

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 4747 days

#6 posted 09-23-2009 02:14 PM

Gary, Now that’s what I call a “Custom” wood shed. Lots of flexibility to maximize the space. Well thought out and well done.

-- John @

View patron's profile


13722 posts in 4803 days

#7 posted 09-23-2009 02:24 PM

great job , gary ,
now you have room for
the last tree in L.A. ,
when you find it !
you can store it in the space you got in the shop !

after that , you are going to hit the sierra mts.
for wood !

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 5450 days

#8 posted 09-23-2009 02:24 PM

Very nice.

In the California summer it can also serve as a kiln for drying your wood!

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 5135 days

#9 posted 09-23-2009 02:27 PM

Very nice shed.

View Walnut_Weasel's profile


360 posts in 4684 days

#10 posted 09-23-2009 02:46 PM

Wow this looks great. Nice job! I am jealous…this is going on my wish list.

-- James -

View PurpLev's profile


8654 posts in 5111 days

#11 posted 09-23-2009 03:06 PM

nicely done…. perfect for the CA weather!. well organized.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5680 days

#12 posted 09-23-2009 03:31 PM

This is really a great idea. Well done, Gary!

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 4636 days

#13 posted 09-23-2009 03:47 PM

Pretty amazing.

While you can never undertake a project this big without having a list of “I probably should have…..” when you’re done … it really looks like the combination of a slow build and the amount of forethought that clearly went into this design … gave you everything you wanted … and more.

Really clever. Really nice design. Really good looking outcome.

Big thumbs-up!

-- -- Neil

View JJohnston's profile


1622 posts in 4753 days

#14 posted 09-23-2009 03:59 PM

I lived in San Jose for a while in the ‘90s, and I had forgotten about the “greasy black dust” that gets on everything. Yuck.

At first, I thought the shed was on fire, with the way the dappled light is hitting the corner in the first picture.

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

View RexMcKinnon's profile


2593 posts in 4657 days

#15 posted 09-23-2009 04:03 PM

This was added to my favorites as soon as I saw it. Perfect for my needs.

-- If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail!

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