I needed a modest size shelter for a dozen ducklings and had to build it on a budget. Starting with a pallet, I collected all the bits and pieces from other projects and only had to buy a few things to complete the job. Here is the step-by-step for building a simple shelter.
Start with a pallet and 1/2" plywood.
Cut the plywood to the measurements of the pallet.
Use decking screws to fasten the plywood to the pallet. I like to use the star drive heads because they do not slip and strip as easily as other types. A driver head usually comes in the box with the screws.
I spaced the screws about 6" apart.
Lay out the siding or plywood that you are using for the sides and decide which pieces will work best.
Get your tools together and find a few scraps to rest the boards on for cutting.
Check with your supervisors to see if you are doing it right
Decide how much slope you need on the roof. Because I live where there is a heavy snow load, I decided on at least a 1 in 4 slope. The base is more than 4 feet, so the front was 4 1/2 foot tall and the back was 3 foot. Start with the back and mark and cut two pieces of 2x3 to match the width. Subtract the width of the 2x3 (2 x 1 1/2" = 3") and cut the two side pieces. 2x3 was used to make the shelter lighter for moving.
I like to use a corner clamp to get the corners square and it helps to hold everything in place when you are working alone.
Cut a piece of plywood/siding to the measurements of the lumber and screw it to the frame.
Repeat the same technique for the front. Because it is taller, you might want to brace it square with a piece of scrap while you are working on it.
To make a pop door and a window, measure the inside of the frame and attach a cross piece about halfway up. Divide one side again and attach a vertical divider. The pop door is extra large to accommodate ducks.
I wanted the front panel to lie flush with the framing, so siding was cut to fit inside the frame and laid inside it, the 2x2 was laid in place and attached to the sides of the frame. Remember when you flip it over everything will be reversed.
Flip the framing over and attach the siding to the 2x2.
Repeat the process to measure for the pop door/ramp and cut scraps to prevent slipping. Make the door at least 1/4" smaller than the frame to prevent sticking if humidity swells the wood or the coop shifts a bit.
Attach 2x2 as a doorstop the same way as the front panel.
Set the pop door/ramp in place.
Attach hinges and a closure.
Make sure the hinges are oriented correctly so the pop door can open and close completely.
With the frame still flat, center the pop door and attach the hinges to the frame. The door stop will provide support while you are fastening it.
The door closure is then added. If you prefer a side swinging door, just move the hinges and closure to the sides. Carabiner clips are easy to use, especially in the winter with gloves on or if you have arthritis.
Pull the two end up into place and fasten to the base. Use the carpenter's square to make sure you have a 90 degree angle and brace the corners with scraps.
Use 2x4s for the rafters. Start by setting them in place on top of the ends and deciding how much of an overhang you want.
Mark the cuts so that the 2x4s can be notched out to rest completely on the end framing. The first line is vertical and even with the outside of the framing.
The other line is parallel with the top of the framing. Mark the front and back of the rafter and cut out the bottom portion.
The rafters should now sit on top of the end panels and fit together like puzzle pieces.
Toenail the rafters into the end panels. The screw can be started by going straight in for a short distance and then pushed up to get a good angle for biting into the wood below. Toenail from both sides.
Now it's time to add the sides. It helps to have a support to hold the siding up while you are marking for cuts and fastening. A 1x4 was used here. Notice that the siding does not go all the way to the ground to help prevent deterioration of the wood.
Remember, this was built with scraps, so 2x3 framing was added as needed to stabilize the seams.
I wanted a cleanout hatch and a way to provide additional ventilation when needed, so an opening was framed on one side with 2x3s.
The width of the opening was marked on the base.
Bring a 2x3 up to the mark and use a square to make sure it is at a 90 degree angle.
Mark the cut line where the 2x3 meets the rafter. Then toenail the framing in place.
1x4 was used to frame the hatch. Measure the opening and cut 4 pieces 1/4" less than the opening measurement. Cut 4 more pieces the opening measurement less 1/4" and less the width of 2 of the first pieces (3 1/2" + 3 1/2" + 1/4" = 7 1/4"). If the first cuts are 30" long, the second set of cuts is 22 3/4" (30 - 7 1/4 = 22 3/4)
Lay out the first layer by putting two long pieces top and bottom and filling in the sides with two shorter pieces and getting it squared up.
For security and strength, a layer of 1/2" hardware cloth and cage wire was used.
Tack the wire to the frame with small staples at the middle of each side and at the ends if needed.
The cage wire scraps were not large enough, so they were "sewed" together with wire.
The "sandwich" is completed by placing the remaining cut pieces in alternating lengths over the wire and screwing it all together.
Because I wanted a solid door for winter cold, a second frame was cut and fitted inside the first frame.
Siding was cut to size and attached to the inner frame with space left around the outside of the frame so no binding would happen. The inner panel was turned over and attached with hinges and a latch.
The door is centered in the framed opening and attached with hinges and a latch is added. Notice that the inner and outer door hinges and latches are on alternate sides so there is no interference when attaching them. This is the winter view.
And the summer view. There is a handle on the inner door and a bungee cord goes from the handle to an eye hook on the back of the coop to keep the door from flapping in the wind.
Now that the siding has stabilized the framing and rafters it is time to put the roof on. Because plastic roofing was used and predators can easily chew through it, a layer of wire was stapled over the rafters before the roof framing was attached.
Purlins (crosspieces) were cut from furring strips with an overhang on the sides and screwed to the rafters evenly spaced. They should not be more than 2 feet apart. Additional furring strips were cut to fit between the purlins to prevent snow, wind, and rain from entering from the sides.
At this time, wire was added to the top half of the front. Mine was left open all winter so all the moisture from the ducks could escape, but clear roofing plastic could be attached over the front for more warmth.
The gap between the purlins and the back end is closed with a length of furring.
Clear plastic roofing is attached with roofing screws that have a rubber gasket to prevent leaks. If there is no shade it would be better to use the gray translucent roofing or cover with a tarp in the summer. The clear roof provides a lot of light inside.
A 1x4 is attached to the front of the rafters for a neat appearance and an additional 2x4 filler sits on top of the front panel to close off predator access.
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