Everyone needs a clubhouse! You can build your own backyard shelter, retreat, or clubhouse even if you have never built anything before. The clubhouse above was built in 1959 by three kids aged 8, 9 and 11, with no money or help from grownups! I know; I was the 11-year-old who took this picture. I'm sharing here what I have learned since then.
Readers of all ages are welcome to comment with their own ideas, pictures or stories.
To help you on your way, I've written a book titled "Keep Out! Build Your Own Backyard Clubhouse", which is available through bookstores or at Amazon.com . Many of the items I post here are also in the book.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Evolution of Leslie's Shed

Leslie in western Massachusetts recently shared this story:

My backyard studio started out as a chicken coop. After an unfortunate incident involving coyotes, we no longer needed the chicken coop, so it became a storage shed – mostly gardening stuff and my husband’s carpentry tools.

We built the original coop-shed with new lumber for the framing, but we used field stones for the foundation, and miscellaneous wood, roofing, windows and a door we had in our barn!

My Husband, Juano, a carpenter, helped me make sure the floor and frame were level and square, using the 3-4-5 rule*. When he was too busy to work with me, it was great to have my copy of Keep Out! as a reference so I could work on it when I wanted to. While he did a lot of the work, I felt, by using the steps in the book, I could build the frame on my own! I learned a ton from both his kind, patient explanations and from the book.

Later, I cleared out the shed and made it into a studio with more "shopping trips" from the barn for an old drafting stool, a table and some beautiful barn wood. I get Juano's advice, but I am not afraid to make mistakes, either. So thank you for the "you-can-do-it!" inspiration in Keep Out!  

The stool before rehab...

 My new crafting bench from a 2" thick piece of hardwood I varnished.

My studio so far...

The Tyvek has been the siding for a couple of years; it adds character! And, as we say in the hilltowns: if you finish your house, then it's time to move.

Our next venture: my 11-year-old daughter is making her very own cabin!  Keep Out! wasn't far from her side while she drew plans over the winter. She has already consulted her dad about building 6" thick walls, inspired by an adobe home she saw on a trip to New Mexico last fall.

*The 3-4-5 rule: On one side of a corner, measure three feet and make a mark. On the opposite side of the corner, measure four feet and make a mark. Next, measure the diagonal between the two marks. If the distance is exactly 5 feet, your corner is square! (This is based on the Pythagorean Theorem.)

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