- Tape Measure
- Bevel Gauge (there’s tons of cuts that are just a touch off of 90 degrees)
- Circular Saw
- Jig Saw
- Miter Saw (or hand miter box)
Optional tools include table saw, and pneumatic nail guns (specifically a brad or finish nail gun is a huge time saver)
Let’s gets started with a quick list of materials. First a warning, this list is not necessarily complete. You may find you need one or two additional 2x2 for example or maybe even a half a sheet of additional plywood. The reason being you may either make a mistake, or perhaps your scrap pieces won’t be quite enough. With that said keep all of your scraps until you are completely done with the coop, you never know. The only reason I don’t give you a 100% complete materials list is that I’d hate you have you stuck with leftover pieces you just won’t need. It’s worth mentioning that this coop is not the most efficient in terms of its use of materials. Because of all the weird angles you will find lots of scraps are not reusable. Also unlike a straight and plum structure it’s very hard to get the dimensions worked out so that things like the roofing panels can be 48”on the nose with a correct overhang on the gable ends. The curve pretty much makes that impossible.
For the Coop you will need:
1- Sheet of ½ OSB (oriented strand board)
5- Sheets of 3/8” exterior grade plywood
1- 8’ Pressure Treated 4x4
2- 8’ Pressure Treated 2x4’s
1- 8’ 2x4 for the ridge framing.
pine 2x2’s 8’ long (tip buy 2x3’s and rip them in half on a table saw to save 50%)20-
40- 1x3x8’ cedar boards (tip buy 1x6 cedar fence boards and rip them in half on a table saw)
3 packs of cedar (under-coarse) shingles. These are usually right next to the actual cedar shakes, but are considerably cheaper. They won’t have the same lifespan of an actual cedar shake, but they’ll last plenty long enough and it’s a chicken coop not a structure housing your priceless collection of antique Russian dolls.
Enough tar paper to cover the roof, the top of the nest box, and windows/shutters. You won’t need any where a whole roll, but they don’t sell partials.
Fasteners- Screws, finish nails, and staples. You’ll need a variety of screws of different lengths the most commonly used one will be the 1” drywall or deck screw.
Hinges- two 2” utility hinges for each opening window/Shutter, two for the pop door, two more for the nest box, and two strap type hinges for the people door.
Enough hardware cloth (½”x ½” holes) to cover two 14” x 14” openings.
Some small diameter rope (clothes line works great) and a small pulley that matches the size of your rope.
If you're going to paint this thing I'll offer you a quick tip, paint EVERYTHING before you start. It's heaps easier that way.
Ok so let’s get cracking. First thing we need to do is break down one of the sheets of 3/8’s plywood. There’s a bunch of ways of doing this, I think this is the easiest. Put the whole sheet down on the floor, and place a few scraps of wood underneath and to each side of the intended cut. Set your circular saw to a depth just a touch more than the 3/8’s panel and cut it. In this case we’re going to cut the panel in half leaving us with two sheets 4’x4’.
Measure up from the bottom left corner of the panel 4” and draw a line from that point at an angle to the right hand corner. Cut the panel with your circular saw along this line (remember to adjust the depth of your saw). This will be the new “bottom” of the panel. The two remaining screws will keep the panels together and oriented correctly.
Measure up 32” from the bottom edge of the panel and make a mark. Then draw the gable from this mark to the middle of the panel (24 inches in), and cut along these lines.
When you are done you should have two panels that look like this.
Now take one panel and flip it over so it “leans” the other way taking care to line the peaks and the bottom edges up. Since the peaks have to line up in order to frame the roof you’ll see that the bottom corners don’t line up. In fact they’re off by about 8”. So next up we have to cut the bottom panel out. A word of caution, if you’ve built a few things this is going to feel/look really wrong.
Start with a full sheet of OSB.
Measure over 8” from the upper right hand corner, and draw a line down to the lower right hand corner. Measure across the bottom edge of the panel from lower right hand corner and make a mark at 48 1/8”. Measure across the top edge of the panel from the upper right hand corner, and make a mark at 56 1/8” draw a line between these two marks. Now fire up your circular saw once again and cut on the angled lines you just drew. When you’re done it should look something like this.
Feels wrong doesn’t it?
Frame around the perimeter of this bottom panel with 2x2’s and screws, it should look like this when you are done. Take the time to insure your end cuts are mitered as closely as you can.
The next thing to do is put the legs on the base, yes it’s going to make roofing a little harder, but that pales in comparison to trying to figure these legs out as a separate base and put it together later…trust me. Run some screws through the 2x2’s and through the OSB into the top of each leg. One of the few times during this project you’re going to need to use 2 ½” screws. Don’t cheap out here.
Finish the base out by screwing the pressure treated 2x4’s around the bottom perimeter of the legs. Get your lengths for these by measuring the outside dimensions of the posts right where they meet the base panel as you may have to tweak the 4x4’s a little bit to get them in shape.
Now in order to hang the panels you’re either going to need some extra hands, or cheat a little bit. I tend to work alone more often than not so I cheat and here’s how. Take a couple of scraps of your plywood and screw it to the legs of the base like this. Notice how the top straight edge is lined up on the bottom of the 2x2.
The next step is to hang the first of the gable ends. Set it on top of the scraps and attach it to the 2x2’s with some screws along the bottom edge. Make sure the ends of this panel is centered on the base ie if it’s a little shorter make the gap similar, if you measured accurately earlier you should be pretty close. Also while you have easy access to this panel, take some time and drive a couple screws from the inside out right at and level with the top of the bottom panel somewhere towards the middle of the coop. This will help you locate where the bottom of your door will be later. Remove the screws, and re-install them from the outside in and leave them there for now, leave them sticking out just a touch is a good reminder NOT to install trim on the bottom of this panel later.
When you attach the second gable end, spin it so that it leans the opposite direction of the first panel.
Using the scraps again get set up for your side panel in much the same way. You can cut this to length based on measurements taken by measuring the outside to outside dimension at the bottom of the structure (don’t take it the from top as the gables will likely be splayed out a good deal still). Cut the side panel a little bit taller than you need it to end up being because this isn’t going to be a straight cut and you’ll need to mark and cut it as you go. So set your side panel up using the scraps, and send a couple screws into the base. In this case I just used a half a sheet.
Pull the gable ends out so they are more or less flush with the side panel, and make a mark on the side panel where the gable end meets it.
Remove the panel, draw a line between these two marks and cut it off. Then secure it back on the coop base for the final time. You’ll need to do the exact same procedure on the other side, do them one at a time to make sure you don’t have anything slightly different between the sides.
Now it’s time to start framing this thing up. Cut a 2x2 and secure it in the corner where the gable end and side panel meet.
Same thing with the other corner, and the top of the side panel.
Ok, basic structure is done. Sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor for a minute.
Take your remaining 2x4 (non pressure treated) cut it into two pieces to length based on inside to inside dimensions between the gable panels do this at the top of the side panel (again because the gables are still going to be splayed out a bit. Find the exact center of one of these 2x4’s and make a mark 1 ½ inches up from one edge, and drive a finish nail partly in on this mark.
Now let’s talk about the batten and its uses. I’m also a boat builder and this is a critical piece of equipment if you want to make smooth curves. Basically it’s a thin (3/16” or so) flexible strip of wood, I like poplar because it’s generally knot free and bends nicely. Set the batten on the 2x4 and pull it to the corner secure it with another finish nail. Same drill at the other end.
Draw a line where the batten and the 2x4 meet, and cut this out with your circular saw. Yes I just said to cut a curve with a circular saw, it’s doable. If you aren’t comfortable with this then I suggest using a jig saw. When you’re done you should have a piece that looks like this.
Use this piece as template to mark the other ridge member, and cut it out to match. Secure them both to the gable ends with screws through the gable panel into the end of the ridge member (use at least two screws per end to keep them from rotating). Please note how the top edge of the ridge member is parallel with the top edge of the gable panel.
The last piece of roof framing is to block out the gable panels, these don’t need to be cut on a miter or anything. Secure them with some screws.
Since this roof has a considerable amount of distortion you’re going to need to laminate the roof panels out of two layers of 3/8’s plywood, because there’s no way you’re going to get ¾” plywood to make this bend. Since this thing is larger than a 4’x4’ panel would be, you can either use a larger panel, or do the Scottish thing like me and piece it together with some smaller panels. Attach the panels to the coop, keeping the top edge lined up with the ridge peak, and letting it overhang on the other three sides. You will need to put a small piece under the two panels where they meet and screw them to this in order to keep things tidy, and lined up. Do the laminations for each side separately (more on why later)
Using glue LOTS of glue, attach the second layer of 3/8’s plywood to the first. Later after the glue has dried you will come back and remove the screws. Again only worry about keeping the ridge side of the panels aligned, let everything else run wild.
When you go to put the second roof deck on you’ll find that due to the curvature it’s tough to get a good clean joint at the ridge, you’ll need to cut both of these sheets with a slight curve to match the curvature of the roof line. So attach the panel letting it run past the ridge a little bit, and mark the curve with a pencil laid on the first roof panel, cut this out and re-attach it. Otherwise the procedure for the lamination is the same as the first side.
Once the glue is dried and the screws have been removed from the roof, it’s time to cut the roof panels to shape. Along the gable ends I like to leave about a 1 ½” of overhang, on the eave end of the roof I like about 3 ½” of over hang. The best way to mark both of these is to measure off the sides of the coop underneath the roof panel. Make a mark at both ends of the intended cut, and drive a screw up through the panel. You can then use these screws to align and mark for your cut using a straight edge on the top side of the panel. Cut along these lines with your circular saw.
Time to start churching this thing up. Grab three pieces of your cedar trim and mock up the gable end trim. So that’s two pieces laid down on the roof deck, and clamped into position.
And another piece clamped vertically like this, make sure you keep the top edge well aligned with the top of the two pieces on the roof deck.
Measure between the bottom of the roof deck, and the bottom of the vertical piece. This will give us the dimension for the eave trim. In this case about 1 ¼”
Rip a piece of your cedar stock to this dimension and using finish nails (or a brad nailer) and glue, attach these to the eave edge of both roof panels. Rip a couple extra pieces of this to use later on your nest box roof, while you’re at it.
Onward towards the roofing… Cover both sides of the roof with tar paper, securing it with staples. Keep it lined up with the eave end of the roof panels, and “let it in” along the roof line with some well placed cuts so that it overlaps at the ridge, and lays flat. Let the paper run over the gable ends by a couple inches.
Pull the paper over the edge of the gable ends, secure it with some staples and cut it off flush with the bottom of the roof panel. Then cover the other side in the same manner.
The purpose of this gable trim is two fold. First it hides any gaps that might form between the shakes, and the roof panels, secondly it gives us something to attach the gable trim board to. It’s made up of a woven layer of cedar trim. Lay two pieces of trim on the roof one on either side and mark one for the angle by using the other as a straight edge.
Miter cut the ends of four pieces and start attaching them. Using a scrap piece to get your first piece set exactly on the ridge. Once you have it where you like it, clamp it down, and mark it for length on the eave end, cut it off and attach with screws through the roof deck from bottom up.
Add a piece to each side one at a time following this method, attaching the top piece with glue and screws to the second. As each layer goes on the weave will become apparent.
Using your bevel gauge get the angle of the corner trim. Please note that both pieces of corner trim at this corner will use the same angle, one will be across the wide face, and the other across the narrow one. Use your bevel gauge on EVERY corner, this thing is funky after all.
Continue adding trim working your way up the gable end. First do the piece that attaches to the gable panel, then the piece that attaches to the trim boards attached to the roof panels. The piece of trim that attaches to the roof trim pieces should get glued and nailed. Trim out all the sides except the gable end you intend to put your door in. Remember the one you marked with screws? DON’T put trim on the bottom of this panel, every thing else go to town. Once this is all trimmed out take some time to caulk everything you can.
Roofing time. Lay down and nail off a starter course of shakes. You’ll have to cut and fit these carefully between the roof trim boards. Once the starter course is down you’ll need another course of shingles directly on top of this first course making sure none of the gaps between the courses line up. Make sure that all your nails are ABOVE your projected reveal (in this case 6”)
Once that’s done it’s time to get to business. I like to use a 6” reveal, you may want to play with this until you find something that works for you visually. Basically measure up six inches and nail that bugger down. You’ll only get a couple courses down before you’ll have to start cutting them to length. Do your best to cut them as close to the ridge line as possible. Also as you get closer and closer to the top of the roof you’ll find you have to “bend” the shingles more and more by cutting the sides at an angle.
Once you get to the point where the shingles are only 4-5” long lay another piece of tar paper down along the ridge line for insurance purposes. Let it run quite a way down the roof, but staple it as close to the peak of the roof as you can we’ll trim it later.
Measure down from the ridge line about 3 ½” and make a mark, these next two courses are going to fall right about there. Just like the trim boards we added to the gable ends of the roof, we’re going to weave these to create a water tight peak. The best way to get this angle is use two pieces of scrap and using one as a straight edge mark one for angle. Because of the distortion of the roof panel I’d strongly encourage you to take two measurements though. One at the gable end of the roof, and a second one right in the middle of the ridge. You’ll notice they don’t match. To deal with this, split the difference between the two when you set up for your cuts it’ll be close enough. Working on one side of the roof at a time lay a course, again you’ll have to cut angles on shingle edges to bend around this curve, take your time. With this first peak course use glue where the miter meets the shingle above, and secure them down with some finish nails through the tar paper into the last course of shakes.
This is what it’ll look like when you’re done with the weaving. When you put the last (top) course on use lots of glue and nail it down as well.
Hey remember how I told you waaaaaay back in the almost beginning to drive some screws into one of the gable ends? Back them out a little bit, and using a straightedge on top of them draw line across the bottom of the gable panel. Pretty smart huh?
Using the corner trim as a guide fence cut out one of the sides. Please note we’re going to be re-using this panel, so you’ll have to man up and plunge cut this thing.
On the other side you’ll have to cut the panel out much much closer to the trim, or even flush with the trim in order to get clearance for the hinges. Make the top cut about 28” up from the bottom cut, what ever you do make sure there’s a little clearance between the top of the door and the trim running from the corner trim to the peak. Once you have the panel out run you’ll need to cut ½” off of every side for additional clearance with the hole you just made. Now frame up the back side with 2x2’s. You’ll want to miter these and use lots of screws as this door will be under a fair amount of stress. Cut one piece of trim and attach it to the hinge side of your door panel. And attach your hinges. I usually add a small block of trim, and an additional piece of 2x2 under the two holes that have nothing but air under them. Your hinges may or may not require additional support.
Mount the door to the coop, and finish trimming it out with cedar, this way you can pay attention, and mind your gaps so they all stay nice and consistent. After all even though this this is funky, we don't want it looking like you built it with your feet.
Now at this point you can either attach a ready made latch or in keeping with the theme you can make your own. I prefer to make my own latches because unlike just about everything in the hardware store mine aren’t super particular about alignment. In a nutshell my latch is a “two step” latch in that you have to perform at least two separate movements to open it. Here’s the latch in its locked state. “A” is the lock, “B” is the latch, and “C” is simply a block that’s been secured to the door with glue and finish nails.
To open the latch you first have to swing the “lock” out of the way.
Then you can open the latch. Both the lock and the latch are secured with screws and washers on both sides, don’t over tighten the screws, they both need to be able to rotate.
The last little detail for the door is to machine up a little piece of trim cover the bottom of the coop underneath the door. If you’re trim is wider you may not have to contend with this. Just attach it with glue and some brads.
Nest boxes are next up on our agenda. Draw a line 2 ½” up from the bottom trim board all the way across the panel. Draw another one at 8 ½”, and a third 22 ½” up. Make a mark in the middle of both of the upper horizontal lines, and draw a vertical line between them using a scrap piece of 2x2 centered on this center line mark off two more lines running vertically such that you have a “web” 1 ½” wide centered on the panel. From the outside edges of this web measure out 14”on both horizontal lines and make a mark, draw a line between these marks. When you’re done you should have something that looks like this.
Grab some 2x2’s and frame out the opening like this. Note that the bottom of the lower 2x2 is even with the line at 2 ½”, and that the vertical framing members run just past the top of the opening.
Grab a scrap of your remaining OSB and cut it to the length of the frame and 16” deep. Attach it to the frame with some screws from below.
Frame up the bottom panel with 2x2’s
You’ll need two pieces of 3/8” plywood cut to 20” by 16”. The 16” side obviously is the bottom of the side panel, so measure down from the top right hand corner 4” and make a diagonal line to the top left hand corner. Cut this wedge shape off. If you’re smart you’ll screw these two pieces together before you make your cut so they’ll match.
Attach each of these side panels like so, and frame them out. Take the time to cut the corner 2x2 at the same angle as the slop of the side panel, or hold it down a 1/8” or so.
You’ll need a front panel next. Get your side to side dimension by measuring the outside of each of the side panels (do this at the bottom). Obviously your top to bottom dimension is going to be about 16” but measure it to be sure. Then attach it to the nest box and you guessed it frame it out.
Trim out the nest box with cedar starting with the vertical pieces. You’ll have to rip an angle on the piece on the top of the front of the nest box in order to have a nice tight fitting lid.
Laminate up a couple of pieces of 3/8” plywood into a panel that’s a couple inches wider than the nest box, and a good 5-6”’s longer than the roof line. Wrap the sides and the bottom of this panel with some of that roof eave trim you ripped earlier using glue and finish nails.
Roof the nest box roof panel just like you did the coop. This time however cap off the top with a piece of trim board secure it with glue and screws that will make it all the way into the plywood panel. Keep them down from the top edge a little way so they don’t get cut in the next step.
Once the glue is dried cut the top of this panel off at an angle so that it fits flush to the panel.
Cut another piece of cedar so that it will fit between the two pieces of corner trim just above the nest box. Rip one edge off at 45 degrees or so. This is the piece your nest box hinges will attach to. Because of the angle on this piece water will drip off instead of rolling back underneath where it can get between the nest box roof panel and the side panel. Attach this piece of trim about a 1/8” or so above the roof panel.
Lets get cracking on some windows and the pop door (chicken door) I used to go to great lengths to build windows with glass and they looked great, but the thing is that they need to be opened at least a little bit almost all the time anyway. Never mind for a good deal of the year when the temperatures are above freezing leaving them opened even more is a good idea because ventilation is the absolute key to keeping your coop dried out and your birds healthy. No they don’t need heat they have the finest insulation known to man…feathers. So if they’re going to be opened most of the time the glass becomes redundant. Grab either some 3/4” plywood, or laminate up some of your remaining 3/8’s and cut three panels (2 windows one pop door) out that are 14” square. Cut some small strips of cedar trim and finish off the edges secure them with glue and brads or finish nails.
Once the glue is all dried up, cover the panels with tar paper and cover them with shingles, Let them run long off of the top, and one of the sides
Then just take your saw and cut off the shingles flush with the two sides you carried over the edge of.
Cut a piece of cedar trim at 14” and secure it to the top of the panel with some screws.
Cut another piece of trim at 14” and secure it to the top of the panel (glues and brads or finish nails). This is necessary in order to make sure that you have enough mass out past the hinge to let gravity pull it down into a closed position. Small top hanging doors are a pain to get right and this is the best way I’ve found yet.
Mount the hinges to the top piece of trim, and to another piece which will mount to the side of the coop. Then attach the whole thing to the side of the coop. I suggest you mount it close to a corner and on part of the side that due to the twist of the coop is bowing out slightly not in. Mount one window on the big people door and two on opposite diagonal corners, one of the corner ones will function as the pop door. I like to put a block behind the mounting screws inside the coop made from a small piece of 2x2, this will likely require some help, as it’s hard to do by yourself.
The same procedure is used to cut all the openings. Hold the panel down to the side of the coop and trace around it’s outer perimeter. Then trace a line about 1” inside these lines. Don’t worry about the top cut we’re going to cheat on that one.
Start with the top cut. Either prop the panel up, hold it yourself, or have someone hold it up for you. Use the bottom of the panel as a fence for your jig saw. Cut just to the two inside lines.
Then cut out the two inside lines running vertically, and make the bottom cut. Take some hardware cloth (please NEVER chicken wire it’s not that strong) and secure it with a metric ton of staples on the inside of the coop. If you live in an environment with a lot of aggressive predators like raccoons, you will want to secure the hardware cloth with some strips of wood on top and screws through the strips, and cloth into the side of the coop.
At this point you can either buy some latches and holder opener thingamajiggies, or you can build your own.
For the latches you’re going to need to laminate up three pieces of scrap trim with glue and finish nails. Cut into a small 2-3” square and mount it to the side of the coop right under your windows. If you are super paranoid about security you can build one for your pop door too. To this block attach a small piece of trim with a screw and two washers one underneath the screw head, and one between the screw head and the 2-3” block.
For the holder opener thingamajiggy. Cut some small pieces of cedar trim the same thickness as the trim you finished out the door and window panels with, and after pre-drilling everything secure one to the side of each of your windows. You can do the same thing with the pop door if you like but if you are going to have a fenced run area and you want to be able to open the pop door from outside the run skip this.
For opening and closing the pop door I’m a fan of rope pulls because it means I don’t have to go into the run all the time. The first thing you’ll need is some sort of a bearing type surface so that the pull rope doesn’t cut into and through the side of your coop over time. I like to use small pieces of UHMW plastic just swipe the plastic cutting board from the kitchen and cut a couple inches off of one side, no one will ever notice. Cut it into two rectangles about 3” long and pre-drill some holes for mounting screws.
Mount one directly over the center of the pop door, and the other one on the outside of the opposite wall of the coop. Drill a hole through both the UHMW, and the side of the coop just a touch larger than your rope. Tie a loop in your rope and attach it to the top of the pop door with either an eye screw, or a screw and a washer.
Because we’re going to be pulling this rope through the coop perpendicular to the ridge line we want to get it up and out of the way. So attach a small pulley to one of the ridge framing members and thread the rope through it.
Drill a hole through the other piece of UHMW and the coop and thread it through. The next thing to do is either to attach a store bought cleat…or make one. Your call. To make one take two small 2” x 4” pieces of trim and laminate them together, once the glue is dry, cut it like so, and pre-drill a couple screw holes.
Mount this with the smaller of the two faces against the side of the coop with some screws.
Tie a big knot in the end of the rope so it can’t possibly get pulled out of the coop. To open the pop door you simply pull the rope until it’s open and then tie it off by jamming it around the cleat.
To get the chickens in and out of the coop you’ll need to build a ladder. Cut two pieces of cedar trim 12” long and rip them at a 45 degree angle. Then by ripping the 90 degree side, bring them down so that the two of them nested together equal the same width as a piece of trim.
One of these gets mounted to the side of the coop directly underneath the pop door with the short face against the coop.
Cut three more pieces of trim at 12”, leave one with 90 degree end cuts, but cut two of them at an angle and then knock the end off at 90 degrees until the previously mentioned cleat fits like this on the end. Secure it with glue and brads or finish nails.
Finish off the “deck” but adding the other 12” piece to the other side. Let the glue dry on this piece before moving on.
Using a scrap and a clamp set the deck on the cleat on the coop and level it off. Cut two pieces of trim at about 36” and miter the one end so it sits flush at ground level. Secure these two pieces to the deck with glue, and brads or nails. The last thing to do is then to cover the ladder and the deck with small pieces of trim cut down to about ¾” wide. There is a good reason for all the angles in these rungs, it helps stabilize the ladder by using triangles, and plus it looks cool. Attach them with glue and nails, letting them run long over the edges of both the deck and ladder. Once the glue is dried, cut the rungs off flush with the outside edges of the deck and ladder with a handsaw. You no longer need the clamp and scrap either so consider this done.
The last real component is the litter dam. The purpose of the litter dam is to keep the litter from getting piled up in front of the people door such that when you open the door it falls out all the time. Take a scrap of 3/8”s plywood about 48” long and about 6” wide. Then cut the bottom corners off with a miter like this. You’ll probably need to knock a little off of one side at the top as well to deal with the twist of the coop. When you’re done it needs to fit nicely inside the two sides of the coop just inside the corner framing behind the people door.
Add a small block of 2x2 just inside the corner 2x2, leave enough gap for both the litter dam and a tiny amount of extra for good measure. Keep the 2x2 block up off the floor by about ½” this will make it easier when the time comes to clean your coop.
The final piece to the litter dam is to add a 2x2 to the top edge on the side facing the people door. This piece needs to fit inside the framing of the door, you’ll have to play with the dimensions a bit in order to take into account the swing of the door.
You're done! Grab yourself a tasty and refreshing cocktail.