Shed comes in handy
By Steve Huffman
I have a friend, Billy Ray Smith, who lives in Mayodan, a small municipality north of Greensboro where I bought my first house.
(Unrelated note: Billy Ray eventually became Mayodan’s mayor, winning a hotly-contested race and proving that members of our esteemed electorate do indeed occasionally get it right.)
When Billy Ray and I were young, skinny and cocky, he bought a rock house there in Mayodan. It’s a cool place.
Not long after moving in, he called me.
“I want to show you something I found over the garage,” Billy Ray said.
So we climbed the pull-down stairs. There in the cramped room above the garage was the frame of a canoe that someone had started building, decades ago, apparently.
In the middle of it all was a 1950s magazine ó Popular Mechanics, if my memory serves me correctly ó that included plans for the canoe’s construction. The frame was put together, but the canoe wasn’t finished.
“I wonder why they quit?” I asked.
Billy Ray told me to look around.
“How would you get it out of here?” he asked.
Billy Ray was right. The canoe couldn’t possibly have fit down the pull-down stairway. Short of removing the garage’s roof and plucking the canoe from the confines, it was there to stay.
This tidbit of wisdom apparently dawned upon the aspiring canoe builders one day when they were a pretty good distance into the project.
I tell you this as an introduction to my story about the service shed (that’s the book’s name, I refer to it as a “garbage can shed”) I recently built. I put it together in my garage.
Upon completion of this momentous task, I gave the shed a mighty tug in hopes of dragging it the 30 or so feet outside to where I park my garbage cans.
The shed wouldn’t budge, not one iota. It wasn’t just heavy, it was very heavy.
I wondered if that meant that from here to eternity my shed would remain parked inside the garage, a reminder to anyone who visited 50 years from now of the previous owner’s stupidity. It was a scary thought.
Fortunately, Joseph Cataldo is my next-door neighbor and father to a couple of healthy sons ó Anthony and Dante. So, being the considerate kind of guy I am ó one who doesn’t want to exclude his neighbors from fun ó I recruited Joseph and his boys (and several strangers who happened to be within shouting distance) to help me move the shed.
It took a fair amount of tugging and it wasn’t necessarily pretty, but the shed now sits exactly where I’d planned.
I’m proud of the finished product.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve reached the stage where I care very little about sitting and watching TV. With the exception of “Jeopardy!” or a decent football or basketball game, there is little on TV that interests me.
(You’re right: The babes on Howie Mandel’s “Deal or No Deal” might make a flip of the TV switch worthwhile. You’ve got me there.)
Instead of watching TV, I love to build. I stumbled upon the plans to the service shed in a Black & Decker book, “The Complete Guide to Contemporary Sheds,” that I found in that wonderful building that is the headquarters of the Rowan County Public Library.
I’ve tried to follow plans for other building projects that wound up being ó how should I put this ó not as clear as they should have been. Profanity and tossed tools have on more than one occasion been the end result.
But Black & Decker apparently does a good job of reviewing its plans. The instructions for the service shed were flawless and easy to follow.
They start with simple directions on how to frame and build a floor, then advance to walls, a ceiling and doors. I built the shed using tools no more complex than a circular saw.
As I tell people when describing my building skills: “I ain’t no carpenter. If I can do it, anyone can do it.”
The shed can be built to one of two finishes. The easier of the two is an open shed used primarily for storing firewood and the like.
The more complex design is for the garbage can shed, which I built. It comes with doors and gapped side walls. It holds two garbage cans and has a third compartment for storage of work tools and the like. A shelf is installed there.
I modified the plans slightly. The plans called to roof the shed with cedar shingles. I decided to use asphalt shingles for two reasons ó I had the better part of a bundle left over from a previous project and I saw no point in using cedar shingles after pricing them.
It strikes me as a waste of money to spend that much on shingles for a garbage can shed.
(There are those, I realize, who might argue it’s a waste of time and money to build a shed for one’s garbage cans in the first place. For those who feel that way, kindly keep your opinions to yourselves.)
The other variation I made when building my shed concerned its doors. Plans called for plywood doors, but my experience has been that plywood tends to warp and doesn’t hold up well. Instead, I used 1-by-6 boards, the likes of which were already used for the walls.
I spent about $150 on materials for my shed, but it would have cost more if I’d had to buy the shingles, plus screws and nails that I already had.
I think the shed would be a nice addition to a house in ritzy neighborhood where garbage cans have to be hidden. Because of the aforementioned weight problems, I’d suggest building the shed on site, unless, of course, a flatbed truck and forklift are available to help with the move.
I had a lot of fun building it.
And it kept me from worrying about the hotties on “Deal or No Deal.”