I am a simple kind of guy, who, when undergoing any project —whether it be taking astrophotographs, writing a blog on theology, or planting crops for our farm market — does a lot of praying. I think cherry, apple, strawberry and grape growers can relate as we enter the critical frost season. As a Catholic, Mary and the Holy Spirit are my go-to persons for help.
As winter was ending on the calendar, I decided, since we heat our house with wood, to build a wood shed with a floor of cement.
We do have a furnace in the basement which is capable of heating with oil or wood, but heating with oil has been erased from my memory. Our house, on the east side of Lake Leelanau, has lots of glass windows, and on average I would use 10 gallons a day. Now if you figure 30 days in a month times 8 months times $4.00 a gallon for oil, that works out to a little under $10,000 a year.
I explored heat pumps and outdoor heating units, wood pellets, propane, as well as the cost of running a natural gas line through tons of roots, but came to the conclusion that wood from our own woodlots was the best choice. Not only that, but a new fireplace insert heats the upper floor nicely. Getting wood into the fireplace requires some hard work. I have chain saws, a buzz rig, two tractors, etc., but I’m what you would call a “senior” so my endurance is limited.
Anyway, after some prayer, I began to plan to build the wood shed. The first thing that had to be done was clear out an area near the house. Easier said than done. We had split about 15 face cords for this past winter, piled it all on wood pallets, and covered it with a big plastic tarp. Too many problems, what with snow, melting, refreezing, etc. See what this deteriorated to by the end of February.
For 2013-14 this temporary setup had to be replaced. A permanent structure was the thing. Clearing out the several trees, which I cut to stumps, needed big equipment. A local company with back hoe and claw was there the same day. Dealing with frozen pallets, stumps, and roots was a challenge, but it was done in an hour and a half. Laying out a 12′x21’ framework came next.
Then came digging 14 post holes. I purchased a small powered auger and began drilling down a couple of feet. I have rented diggers before, but for the money I paid for a new powered auger, why rent? I will use it again for planting 200 gallon containers of blueberries and other planting jobs.
The auger didn’t have a reverse, but I only got hung up on one root. I wanted to go down at least 24 inches, but the auger didn’t quite make it, so I purchased a two-handled post hole digger.
At the bottom of the holes I placed 6”-round cement pads and anchored treated 4x4s on top of them, packing everything with Quickcrete.
Within the week, I requested 3½ cu. yds. of cement to be delivered by a local company. The day arrived, sunny, with no rain or snow in the forecast. Three hours delayed, the cement truck came. Clouds were gathering. After the first screed, it rained. Having rescreeded, big snowflakes left polka dot impressions on the cement floor. Hey, it was only a Wood Shed.
The next steps involved drilling holes for 6” long x ½” carriage bolts to tie horizontal 2x8s and 2x6s to the 4x4s together.
In the midst of crazy weather forecasts, son Ben came up from Grand Rapids to help finish the project. We first placed 3/8” 4′x8′ plywood sheets on the framing as an underlayment for the metal roof. Ben used a nailer for this job.
Then we hoisted the 3’x12’ green metal panels up and he screwed in sheet metal screws. The roof angles at 20 degrees, so rain and snow drain and slide off.
Six hours later, we were done … and it began to rain … but only after I had parked my snowmobile under the new roof.
The next week, my wife Marlene and I added several 2x4s as bracing for future wood stacks. The shed will hold a ton of wood! It will dry well because we get wind from all directions and it will be ready for use this fall.
The final product…
We have two log splitters, one of which is in the picture. Now the real work begins … 25 cords of wood for next winter! We do have a start though. I do have to say that everything lines up … the building is solid as a rock, and all my prayers were answered … except maybe the snowflakes from heaven, but if the flakes were heaven-sent, what more could a simple man like me ask?