Sunday, 12 October 2014

Shed Shed Shed!!

So, during the filming of the final of Shed of the Year, Max, Will and I were sitting in the SOTY Winnebago feeling pretty shed happy and fueled with caffeine, we thought it would be a brilliant idea to build our own shed for the Festival of Thrift later on that year.  Sadly Will couldn't make the date, but Max and I quickly realised it would be a hilarious way to put our shed chat into practice. 

Shed of the Year Filming

We obviously wanted to do something super thrifty so after several bonkers ideas that sadly wouldn't work due to several things - mainly gravity, we came up with a plan.  With an architect and a industrial designer - what could possibly go wrong?!

I wanted to build something that didn't resemble the scavenged materials or objects that it was made from, so Max came up with the concept of using old paint tins to create artichoke feathered tile cladding and I got a little carried away about making structural glulam beams from scraps of pallet wood.  With a little skepticism from Max, we went on our merry way.

The shed had to be very low cost and also expandable so someone could take the concept and either build it exactly or use it the basic design and make it their own, tailored to their garden or space.

As a starting point I was looking at an interlacing A frame.  I wanted some of the shed to open up and transform the space.  It is also a great structure as the basis of a modular design.

Initial Shed Sketches

I generally sketch out ideas which then take some sort of shape which then informs what materials to use.  Then the detailing of those materials and how it could be built brings the whole design together and it starts to take form.  I love wood, and I love slatted wood even more.  So that's what I used.

 Building up the design

Finalising the model

With the design drawn up and modeled - I was happy that it was in the realms of physical possibility to build by three people over two days so then I started to worry about creating pallet wood glulam beams.  Max said it probably wouldn't work,  and I started to think he was possibly right.

Strangely pallets sell online at anything from £1 to £6 each.  However with a bit of running around and explaining we weren't going to make pallet tables and sell them for hundreds of pounds, we managed to score a load of them from a logistics company.

Collecting the Pallets

In theory, the idea of making these composite beams is that the pallet itself doesn't have to be in good nick because the structural strength is formed over the finished glulam beam as a whole, rather than the individual slat strength.  So we stripped the pallets using some of my favorite tools - a shagging great big crowbar and a hammer. 
I then laid out the slats of wood to create beams.  For the general joists I used two slats side by side and for the structural joists I used three to create the A frame.
Glulam Construction

From my drawings,  I knew that these joists would all have to be around 3 meters long so I started gluing my beams together to that length.  I used a waterproof wood glue that was creep resistant. I didn't know what that meant,  but I liked the sound of it.  I intended to just glue and clamp the timbers, but it was quite tricky as the pallet wood was different widths and I kind of ran out of clamps too so I ended up screwing the timbers together as well as clamping which worked really well. I left my trial beam to go off over night and went home and dreamt of shed.
IT WORKED! The beam was super strong and I tentatively jumped up and down on it before I set to and made the other twenty.  Now, it took a while yes.  Finding, breaking and sorting pallet wood is labour intensive as is making the beams but with screws and a bit of sunshine and a lot of coffee we were making a three meter strong structural beam in about 10-15 minutes. 

  Testing the first beam

The good thing about clamping the wood is that although ideally its best to the the nails out,  its not essential.  As long as you hammer them down in line with the grain of the wood, they get squashed into the wood and stay there.  Although you would have to use a chop saw that can cope with nails when you cut everything to size later on.
I decided it would be a good idea given our short weekend at Thrift Fest to make one module of my shed.  I based each module on a standard sheet of stirling board/osb.  They can be sourced pretty cheaply new or free from used hoardings if you get lucky, either way they are a perfect way to both build the flooring and give some lateral stability in your little timber frame shed. 

I could go on about the design and building of the shed in some more detail, but I am aware already this post is already pretty tedious.  Overall I think we built a practical modular shed that two people could construct relatively easily over a long spring weekend.  

 The Shed Build

The tiles worked well too.  It was great cutting them up messing around with them and to create different cladding designs and the kids at Festival of Thrift loved getting involved.  Obviously if you used metal tins, it would be a little more difficult and potentially deadly, but the resulting shingles would have a beautiful silver glow with the remnants of old paint and varnish stains that would make each tile unique and gorgeous. 

When we were building, we realised that you needed a fair old whack of empty paint tins to complete the shed.  The fabulous people at Cuprinol gave us a load of their empty plastic tins, but it got me thinking that actually you could use any material really - especially large empty drinks bottles and that would be great inter dispersed with solid tiles to give natural light in the shed. 
I'm working on creating these shed plans so that everyone can have a starting point to build their own shed and take my concept and make it their own.  That's what I like about sheds, its the most democratic form of architecture and I love it.

 Prototype Type "A" Shed Design Drawings