This is the first chicken coop I've ever made. The bottom run is about 6x6 feet square. The challenge was to not spend anything on materials except for screws, hardware cloth, hinges and latches. We just had a workshop built so I used some of the leftover pine wood (1.5" wide strips) for the framing and I used "free" wood from shipping pallets for the back wall, side panels and coop floor.
The initial sketch was this:
Get twice as many pallets as you think you will need. A lot of the boards will split or are already split when pulling them from the pallet. I got my "free" pallets from a Craigslist ad in the "free" section. You will get some great "free" exercise while pulling the planks off and whapping the nails out and reclaiming your "free" wood . Some of the wood on shipping pallets is oak. This was a great thing to discover and I used the oak on the back and front walls of the coop. Oak is also a very heavy wood so the rest of the coop was made with the other types of wood (pine, fir) found on pallets.
So here we go.
The front and back wall frames are 6' long pieces of 1.5" strips of pine left over from the workshop construction. Used a chop saw and did 60 degree angle cuts. Drilled holes and glued and pegged the frame together with pieces of dowel. Decide how high you want the floor of the coop from the ground and put a cross brace there facing the inside of the coop. Make two of these triangles. Make the floor width about 4 inches shorter than a piece of pallet wood.
I got to practice cuts with a chop saw and got to try out my router and angle grinder for the first time. Power Toooolzzz! Used 60 grit sandpaper in the angle grinder to quickly sand the pallet boards. I cut lap joints with the router to overlap the wood pieces for weather protection. I used Titebond III wood glue to join the pieces and wood screws to attach the panels to the frame. Finished with Polyurethane. The screen is 1/2" mesh hardware cloth attached with wood screws and metal washers. Staple the hardware cloth to hold it in place before using the screws and washers.
Now you will need to build two sides. I remembered to move this project into the garage before final assembly because, once built, it wasn't going to come out of the workshop doors very easily. After making the front and back panels, I'd just clamp the wood pieces to the frame, mark with a pencil and cut them to fit. The top of the side frame pieces are 60 degree angle cuts. Attach hardware cloth to the bottom part of the sides.
The floor panels in place and the nesting boxes built. The floor panels are built 3-4 boards each for break down and cleaning. They are not attached to the main frame. They just sit on top. You can take one out if you need to stand up in the middle of the coop to get to a spot you can't reach from the outside. They look like this on the bottom with 1" wood pieces from the pallets screwed to them.
Here the door has been cut from the back floor panel, framed with the 1" wood strips. And the ramp has been built. The tractor handles have been attached. Two of the wall side panels have been made. There is a gap along the top ridge of the coop for ventilation. The gap is covered with a strip of the hardware cloth. On both sides of the ridge vent there is a piece of wood attached to the frame where the wall panels slide under. The bottom of the wall panels rest on the tractor handles. The panels can be removed or slid aside on the handles.
Wall panel - Back view. Thin wood at top (left side of photo) that hooks under wood of the coop frame.
There is a piece of vinyl (left over from a house remodel) along both sides of the ridge vent for rain protection and a piece of aluminum flashing (left over from the workshop construction) over the top of the ridge vent (see first photo).
Panel in place with weather stripping where the two panels overlap.
Some details of the Renaissance coop:
Got to try out some rotary wood carving tools. There were holes already in some of the boards from the pallets so I silicon caulked blue and peach glass nuggets into the holes for a stained glass effect. Also used silicon as caulk between the wall boards to weather proof. I did not lap joint those boards.
To open and close the door from the outside.
A few notes and changes I'd make on this coop:
1. I wouldn't make an "A" frame coop as a first project unless it was half this size. The angles are difficult.
2. I would take the size of my materials into consideration when designing the coop. Hardware cloth comes in 2, 3 and 4 foot widths. The average length of a pallet board is 36 inches. The width of the boards varies, so if you want the same width boards, you'll need more pallets to pull apart.
3. I would make the run door design like this - rectangular and have it open from the bottom or from the side.
4. When looking at the photos of this coop, ignore any nails and nail holes. Pallet wood comes with this rustic decoration.
It WAS necessary to redo the front door because entering and exiting the coop was difficult. So, I redid it to this: