The Woodshed

The main part of this woodshed stores our winter logs (we don’t have central heating), but the far end is a general purpose shed for bikes and tools. In terms of the wider garden design the woodshed forms one side of  the small woodland garden area, partly shown above, framing, sheltering and making it a more intimate space. Perhaps surprisingly, this shed runs along the front boundary of our property, helping shut out the road and noise beyond.


The woodshed was constructed in Spring 2006.

I have tried different approaches to the construction of all my garden buildings – in this case using fence posts, concreted straight into the ground and fence panels to create the walls in between. This had the advantage of being relatively cheap, and blending visually with the adjacent fence.

I used 4″x4″ treated timber to create the frame-work, spaced to accept 6′ fence panels in between. The joints between posts and beams are very simple lap joints with only one exception – I used a scarf-joint to create the long rails along the front and back, ensuring they were centered above a post for support. You can just make one out if you click on the image above to enlarge it. A 45 degree chamfer on the projecting ends of the top rails provides a modest decorative lift.

The rafters are 2″x3″ timbers, notched with a bird-foot over the inside edge of the top beams. Usually the arrangement would be to rest them on the outside edge, to create an overhanging eaves. Inevitably this would lead to the edge of the roof projecting over and down (see below left). The method I adopted allowed the gutter to be fitted straight to the top beam (below right) with no overhang:

Alternative treatment details for eaves

Whilst the overhanging eaves are more elegant architecturally, on a small utility building like this my solution is perfectly acceptable, un-fussy and cheaper. The roof was tiled with cedar shingles – a fantastic, durable solution – lightweight and so easy to fix (I avoid working with wet cement wherever possible). It is often argued that cedar shingles are expensive, but they are often cheaper than bottom-of-the-range concrete roof tiles and you’re getting a premium product. OK, ply and felt would save a little, perhaps, but at what cost to the final look?



*To provide natural light in each end of the building I constructed two skylights on the south (road) side.

First an upstand was created using timber of sufficient depth to project 2″ clear of the final finish. I added a central bar to help support the glazing.

I used zinc sheet cut into sections and tacked them to the face and sides of the frame, then across the surface of the shingles to create a weatherproof flashing. Each successive row of shingles covers a section of zinc below so the final finish hides most of the flashing.

I then stuck glazing tape along the face of the frame, including down the central bar. Over this went a 2mm sheet of acetate. Finally, I carefully drilled pilot holes and screwed the acetate down with pan-head screws against rubber washers. Result: a neat and watertight finish.


Below you can see the finished article.

The fence panels are all installed. Tile batten was screwed to the posts around the edge of each panel to frame it and securely hold it in place. The ridge ’tiles’ are simply 1″x4″ oak boards joined face to edge to create an inverted V.

A ledged and braced door has been fitted to the shed-end with a button entry lock (no keys to lose!), either side of which two small fixed windows have been added to increase internal light.

The hip end has some nice details. The infill panel was cut from a fence panel oriented at 90 degrees to the wall panels so it looks more like part of the roof. Below it you can see the young Sunset apple tree being trained as an espalier.

The all important gutters and down pipes have been fitted. These are so important to the longevity of the building as they ensure rain water is diverted away from the post foundations, reducing rot.

Finally, here is a picture of the woodshed doing its job of storing our logs.

 Update 2018

The woodshed has been in constant use year in and year out for twelve years now. It has weathered nicely, but is showing a little wear in places. Considering that it has 4×4 fence posts concreted straight into the ground I had expected to see some rotting at the bases, as happened to the fence posts in other parts of the garden, however they have held up well.

I put this down to a couple of points. First, the roof and gutters minimise the amount of water getting to the posts at ground level. The ground inside the shed is bone-dry, so only the outer edges of the posts are exposed to damp soil. Secondly, the entire structure provides mutual support, like a large rigid box. Any rotting at the base of the posts has little effect on the overall integrity of the building: give it a shove and there is hardly any give.

Here is how it looks now:


The cedar shingles are supurb. They put up with everything the climate can throw at them, shrugging off torrential rain, bird droppings and autumn leaves. That said, I do keep the getters clean (at least once per year) to prevent a build up of much against them.

The weak points are the feather edged panels which in a couple of places have started to split or break down.

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