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Introduction and Articles List (this page)
6. Decorative Structures: Pergola • Summer House • Folding-Door Sun Lounge • Hexagonal Gazebo • Arbor
8. Children’s Buildings: Basic Folding Playhouse • General Store • Hardboard Playhouse • Dual-Purpose Playhouse • Play Barn • Fort
Have you ever thought that you couldn’t construct a building? Building a home is very complicated, with all the plumbing, drains, and electrical work. A small building, such as a storage shed, a shop, a studio, a bird house or other animal house or run, or a stable, however, are all possible without much skill or advanced equipment. This guide demonstrates how you can do all the construction work.
If you are an amateur woodworker, most of your projects probably have been smaller items of furniture, toys for the children, built-in items for the home— all of which you can handle on a bench or at least within the confines of a room or shop. A building is obviously too large to be dealt with in that way and that might make the prospect seem rather daunting. You do not need to feel this way. You certainly need space if you are to prefabricate parts before erecting on-site. You can do much of that work alongside your shop. It is certainly helpful to have your hand and power tools within reach, but if you remember to take all you need, you can do all the work in the place where you want to locate the building.
The size of your project need not be a problem. It is just as easy to cut joints on a piece of wood 15 feet long as it's on a piece 2 feet long. In fact, much of the construction of a building is simpler than making many furniture items. Do not hesitate to make any small building simply because it's bigger than anything you have ever made. I hope to show you that you are capable of making a building of any reasonable size.
You might be worried that you will not finish with a square, symmetrical building. It is a fact that your approach to marking and setting out must be different. You can use squares and rules on individual pieces of wood, but they are of little use when you need to shape a 20-foot square. Actually, the techniques for dealing with shapes of these larger sizes are simple and interesting, as you will discover in later sections of this guide. Something like the hexagonal gazebo might be a little more complicated, but even that's simple if you follow the steps given.
You might think you do not have all the tools and equipment to begin building. Have you made simple furniture? Can you make boxes, toys, household items, and other small wooden assemblies? If so, you have all the skills and most of the equipment needed. You can make other things you need—and they are not many.
Most of the actual constructional work, even if it's large, is simpler than many bench jobs, so you will need fewer tools. You will certainly make a lot of use of a hammer! If you do not have a portable saw and electricity within reach, none of the wood is likely to be so large that hand-sawing is arduous. An electric drill is useful, and you probably have one. Many small buildings have been made with just the tools that you can carry in a small box. If you read through the instructions for the building of your choice and think what tools you need for each stage, you almost certainly will discover that you have them already.
Making and erecting small buildings is a branch of woodworking different from most others, mainly because the work is less compact. Do not let that fact put you off. You need a site, and you might need to level it and pour concrete. You need to plan ahead the steps in assembly and erection. You might need help handling some of the subassemblies. All of these processes involve the woodwork you know already, but on a larger scale.
If you make one or more small buildings for your own use and this sort of woodworking appeals to you, neighbors might ask you to make buildings for them. If you wish, you could find yourself fully occupied in a custom-building small business. With individual work, you can fit a building to suit needs or a particular space or situation. You can place doors and windows where they fit best. This building will be much better than a mass-produced sectional building that must be a set design.
Making a small wooden building is a very satisfying form of carpentry. At the end of the work, your product is certainly large enough for others to see. You can look at it and say, “I made that.” Others will look at it and ask where you got such a marvelous building. Your reply will boost your ego.
Of my many woodworking activities, I have found making small buildings among the most satisfying. I built my own workshop many years ago. It still encourages me to tackle work in it to a high standard, knowing that it's not only well built, but that I planned its size, shape, and arrangement of windows and doors to make the best possible use of the situation. No factory-produced sectional building could have competed.
I hope you will find buildings described in this guide that will show you the work is within your scope. In a short time, you will have the satisfaction of looking at and using your own shed, shop, playhouse, barn, or whatever appeals to you.
Note: Unless otherwise indicated, sizes on drawings and in material lists are in inches. Widths and thicknesses quoted are nominal, but lengths are mostly a little full.
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