Text Resize

  • -A
  • +A
  • Your rating: None (3 votes)

    Make a Trash Barrel Shed

    more on woodworking safety

    Tools and Materials

    This shed is easy-to-build and makes for attractive storage for your trash bins.

    This article originally appeared in Taunton's Garage Solutions (2005).

    Admit it: You can't stand the sight of your trash cans, especially as you drive up your driveway and see them alongside the garage. A necessary evil, right? No more. Now you can conceal them in an attractive, inexpensive, and easy-to-build shed that requires basic skills, tools, and materials. In a weekend, your trash cans will have a home of their own that keeps them within easy reach for their weekly trip to the curb. Open the top of the shed to fill the cans, and remove them through the front doors. The low-profile design is sized for a pair of 30-gal. molded plastic trash cans, while the exterior finishes blend with the house, making the bins all but disappear from view.

    Click here to download the PDF version.
    (Adobe Reader required)


    Photos by John Rickard, Jerry Bates and Robert J. Dolezal; Illustrations by The Taunton Press, Inc.

    How to Make

    Tools & gear

    click to enlargeNecessary objects

    Circular saw: In addition to your basic tool kit (i.e. drill, drill bits, hammer, tape measure and levels, etc.), be sure to have the following gear on hand.

    What to Buy

    click to enlargeA cool tool for precise cuts

    Table saw: A lightweight cordless version with a plywood-cutting blade is easier and safer to handle in tight spaces than a corded version.

    Build the frame

    click to enlargeA diagram of the trash barrel shed

    Compound miter saw: Rent or borrow one to make straight and beveled cuts on the siding and roof panels (see Lumber List in PDF).

    Attach the sides and doors

    click to enlargeUse a sturdy work table

    T-bevel or protractor: Rent a compound miter saw to make precise angled cuts on your lumber. This is a circular saw mounted on a steel base for cutting lumber that is less than 5 in.wide. Like all power saws, this tool requires your full attention and respect. Set your 2-by lumber against the base’s back rail, line up your pencil mark with the projected laser cut line, squeeze the trigger to start the blade, and then slowly draw it down to make the most precise straight, angle, and/or bevel cut possible.

    Fit the hinged roof

    click to enlargeCut the angles with a miter saw

    Combination square: Use one or the other for measuring and transferring angles to your cut stock.

    click to enlargeDrill pilot holes and fasten members

    Caulking gun: This adjustable tool allows you to draw straight lines on 2x4s to help guide your cuts. Also use it to check that adjacent framing members are square to each other. It usually features a handy 12-in. ruler and a straightedge for small measuring and marking tasks.

    click to enlargeAttach the side frames to the crossmembers

    2x4 Pressure-treated lumber: You’ll need one to apply tubes of adhesive to the siding panels.

    click to enlargeCut the panels with a table or circular saw

    T-111 Siding: When building outdoor projects, use pressure-treated (PT) lumber instead of standard,untreated lumber. PT lumber contains low-toxicity chemicals that protect the wood from rot and insects, especially where it contacts the ground or damp concrete. It’s a little heavier and denser than standard lumber,but lasts longer than untreated wood. You'll need eight pieces to satisfy the Lumber List in the PDF.

    click to enlargeUse deck screws to attach the siding

    Sheathing panels: Sold in 4-ft. by 8-ft. panels; try to match or complement your home’s existing exterior finishes.You’ll need three panels for the project.

    click to enlargeA saw guide makes for precise cuts

    Fasteners and adhesive: Buy one 4-ft. by 8-ft. sheet of 5⁄8-in.exterior-grade plywood for the roof lid and doors.

    click to enlargeAttach the hinges with machine screws

    Primer and paint: You’ll need small boxes of 10d common nails, 2-in.wood or deck screws, and roofing nails plus a dozen 2-in. lag screws.You’ll need a tube or two of waterproof construction adhesive, as well.

    click to enlargeAttach the hasp and pulls

    Roofing: Use an exterior-grade latex primer and paint that matches or complements the color of your home’s exterior finish.A quart of primer and a gallon of paint should be more than enough for two coats.

    click to enlargeUse wood screws to attach the panel

    Hardware: Use materials compatible with your home’s roof materials; you’ll need enough for a 4-ft. by 3-ft. surface. Get a metal drip edge, too.

    click to enlargeThe lid should sit flush to the sides of the shed

    Cut the frame members: You’ll need six 3 1⁄2-in.T-hinges, a pair of door pulls, and a latch or hasp for the doors. Buy four dozen 3⁄4-in. flat-head bolts, nuts, and washers and a dozen flat-head, 2-in.machine screws that are matched to the diameter of the hinges’ holes.Make sure all the hardware is galvanized.

    click to enlargeDrill pilot holes and fasten the hinges

    Build the side assemblies: This project will be easier to build if you use a flat and stable elevated work table made from a 4-ft. by 8-ft. sheet of 5⁄8-in. plywood attached with screws to two or three supporting sawhorses. Not only will getting materials off the ground save your knees and back,but it will also provide some clearance as you cut and fasten the framing members.Disassemble and store the work table when the project is complete.

    click to enlargeAdd finishing touches

    Join the assemblies: On a flat surface, cut all of the framing members with a circular or compound miter saw. To determine angle cuts on the vertical members and rafters, layout one side assembly, lay a rafter under it, and mark the vertical members and the rafter for the angle cuts. Use the miter saw to cut the angles, then use the cut rafter as a template to mark and cut the second rafter and the other tall vertical member of the other ide assembly to the same angles.

    Cut the siding panels: Drill pilot holes and use wood screws to fasten the horizontal and vertical members for both sides together. Screw the rafters to the vertical members to complete the side frames. If the shed’s site is unpaved, make a 2-ft. by 4-ft. pad using 8-in. by 12-in. by 16-in. concrete pavers set on flat, compacted dirt or pea gravel to serve as a stable, at-grade platform. Move the side assemblies to the site.

    Apply the siding: If you rented a power nailer, it can be used to fasten the assemblies, or you can drill pilot holes and use wood screws. Fasten the side frames to the crossmembers. Finally, install and fasten the corner braces, completing the shed frame assembly.

    Cut the door stock: Cut the T-111 siding to create two, 2-ft. by 5-ft. sides. Stand these cut panels against the side frames and mark the rafter angle along the top (narrow) edge on the panels’ back faces. Use a table or circular saw to cut each side panel along the marked angle. Measure and cut the shed’s back panel from the other sheet of T-111 siding with a table or circular saw.

    Hang the doors: Apply construction adhesive to the outside faces of one side frame assembly; position and screw a side panel in place using deck screws spaced every 8 in. Repeat the process with the other side panel. Apply adhesive to the outside back crossmembers, then position and screw the back panel to the frame.

    Add the hardware: You’ll want to be precise when you cut the doors, so use a straightedge held to the table with clamps to guide the saw as you make the cut on your pencil mark. Take it slow and steady until the blade is completely clear of the panel’s end. You’ll need to leave a 1⁄8-in. gap between the doors, so cut the door panel exactly in half using this saw guide; the 1⁄8-in. kerf (or width) of the saw blade will remove enough wood to provide the necessary gap between two equal-size doors.

    Fasten the fixed roof panel: On a flat work surface, set a T-hinge 8 in. from the top and bottom of each door, and use your pencil to mark the location of the bolt holes on the doors’ outer surface. Drill holes at the marks and secure the hinges to the door using flat-head bolts fastened with washers and nuts on the backsides of the doors. With a helper holding a door in place on the shed, align the door flush to the top of the side frame, then check that it is level, with a 1⁄8-in. clearance at the bottom. Use your pencil to mark the screw-hole locations for the other hinge flanges on the side frames, then drill pilot holes and attach the hinges with flat-head galvanized machine screws. Repeat with the other door, and check the doors’ operation; they should swing out freely.

    Fit the roof lid: Position a door pull 2 in. from the opening and 5 in. from the top of each door, so that the two pulls are level with each other; position the latching post-safety hasp across the opening. Use the screws provided with the door hardware to attach the hasp and pulls. This type of latch keeps the front doors closed and secure, but easily accessible—you’ll need to operate the hasp when you open the shed doors to remove the cans on pickup day.

    Attach the hinges: Cut and fasten the fixed roof panel to the top of the frame and rafters using wood screws every 8 in. across the length of the panel and 1 in. from its corners.

    Roof and paint: Measure and cut the roof lid so it fits flush to the finished sides of the shed frame, tight against the fixed panel, with a 1-in. overhang along the front of the frame.

    Position two T-hinges across the fixed roof panel and the roof lid, 12 in. from each side of the shed. Use your pencil to mark the location of the bolt holes, then drill pilot holes and fasten the hinges with washers and nuts concealed on the underside of the lid. Check the lid’s operation—you should be able to easily lift it up with one hand and allow it to remain in the “up” position as you put trash into the containers within the shed.

    Using a material that matches or is complementary to your home’s existing roof, attach the roofing material to the lid and fixed panel, covering the hinges but leaving a 3⁄8-in. gap where the panels join for clearance when the lid is opened and closed (a little rain may penetrate the joint, but most garbage and recycling containers are weatherproof, and the shed will shelter them from most rainfall). If you use asphalt shingles, lap the courses to hide most nail heads; cover any exposed nail heads with plastic asphalt cement. Prime and paint the doors and siding of the shed to match or complement your home; apply two to three coats to each to achieve the proper coverage and color. As an option, you can prime and paint the shed’s wooden roof instead of applying shingles or another roofing finish.