It’s a universal cottage problem. All manner of accoutrements make their way to the lakeside: pool noodles, lifejackets, gas cans, bins, deck chairs, paddles, canoes, kayaks, paddle boards…you name it. And then Dad or Mom usually gets stuck with having to drag that stuff back up to the cottage at the end of the weekend. There’s gotta be some alternative, right?
A utilitarian lakeside storage outbuilding is the answer. Our version is not only attractive, it has loads of features, such as built-in canoe/kayak racks, a work bench, shelving, and more—plus an optional accessory mini deck.
Overall, this is not a super difficult build (I’d rate it a 6.75 out of 10), though there are some challenging aspects. Our build included two boat racks, but if you need more you could easily add two additional supports to your shed on the opposite wall.
Download all the project plans here.
Watch For the Love of Wood, a documentary about the resurgence of the wood culture revolution—bringing wood back into our everyday lives through the ancient craft of woodworking. For the Love of Wood premieres Saturday, August 10th, at 7:30 p.m. ET/PT on Cottage Life TV.
The Floor (Figs. 1, 6)
1. Cut all the 2x8s to length—excluding the bridging—as indicated in the diagram, and treat all end cuts before assembly.
2. Screw the inside rims together, and then layout the location of the joists. Roughly square the frame up (equal diagonals), and set patio stones or flat rocks in place for the corner posts.
3. Since there always seems to be some variation in the width of lumber, I tend to tack my joists to the rim, flush to the top (in this case, a couple of screws through the rim and into the joist ends), and then add the joist hangers themselves for a perfect fit every time.
4. Bridging is next, and the rule is to take your measurements where joist meets rim, and then to check every third joist in the middle (when layout is 16″ o.c.) to make sure you have a consistent 48″ spacing to accommodate the 4′ by 8′ plywood for the deck.
5. Now fasten the outer rims to the inner—a nail gun is convenient for this task, but good ol’ hammer and nails works too.
6. With assistance, raise the corners of the frame to level, and screw temporary legs to the outside. Cut the 4×4 posts to the length required for each corner; position, clamp, and bolt to the rims.
7. Remove the temporary legs, and screw the plywood decking to the frame. Some adjustment in square may be required, but a small floor frame is reasonably easy to twist into alignment.
8. The 4-by-12-foot mini deck is optional, but I think it’s worthwhile. Keep in mind that it should not be secured to the shed—otherwise, you’ll need a building permit—but it can share the patio slabs that the front 4x4s rest on (so you’ll only need 6 of them and not 8). We used cost-effective PT for the frame, but opted to upgrade the decking with beautiful 5/4s cedar.
The Walls (Figs. 1, 3, 5, 7)
1. Start by assembling the side walls first, either nailing or screwing the studs to the plates. Then, position the full-sized sheathing so that it rests ¾″ below the edge of the top plate and coincidently then extends down onto the rim joist. Secure the sheathing to the wall, then secure the wall to the frame by first screwing the sheathing to the rim and then the plate to the rim.
2. The front and rear walls fit inside the side ones. When framing the rear wall, make the rough opening for the window about 1½″ to 2″ bigger than the actual window chosen. The front wall must be framed to accommodate the two custom 30-by-80-inch doors. The front wall also features a double top plate (the thickness of which provides the roof slope).
3. For ease of assembly, the sheathing for the front and rear walls will have to be installed once the walls are up. To make this task easier, secure a scrap piece of wood to the rim to rest the plywood on while you position it for fastening.
The Roof (Figs. 1, 2, 4)
1. Cut the 2×6 rafters to length, keeping in mind the 1° taper at the ends, corresponding to the roof slope (Fig. 2).
2. Position and toenail all but the two outer rafters (one on each side) to the top plates. We added hurricane hangers, an upgrade, but not a bad idea with severe storms more common these days.
3. The side walls need to be clad to the top of the outermost rafters with ½″ plywood. This is the perfect time to do so, because you can easily trace the angled profile of the cut to fit in the space above the full-sized sheathing already in place.
4. From the 1×12 cedar, rip fascia to width, 7½″, and then trim to length. Nail to the rafter ends. Fasten the two remaining rafters to the front and rear fascia—¾″ in from the ends of the fascia—and then trim the fascia to length, and nail the outside fascia to these.
5. To cover the roof deck, you’ll need six sheets of plywood, cut to fit and screwed in place.
6. Secure the flashing to the deck perimeter. Cover the deck in roofing membrane.
Note: The shallow roof pitch precluded shingles, so we chose a metal roof courtesy of VicWest (frankly, I can hardly fathom why folks would not always go for metal in cottage country). The added bonus with this roof layout was that the coverage was perfect for five 12′ sheets—no cutting if you use a two rib overlap at one end. Just leave about a 1½″ overhang along the starting side, and you should be left with the same at the finish.
The Soffits and Siding (Fig. 1)
1. We wanted to keep our shed looking smart, so we used 1×12 cedar to finish the soffits as well. Start with the front; two 14s cut to length should fit perfectly in the 22½″ space. One of the rear pieces will have to be ripped to get the right fit. Likewise, two 8s will work along the sides (you will have to scab eight foot 2x4s to the end wall rafters as nailers for these soffits).
2. Prior to doing the siding, assemble and install the door jamb and nail the door trim to the jamb on the outside wall, flush to the inside of the jamb. On our build, we then ran the siding up to the door trim. I like that look.
3. An attractive lap-type cedar siding worked really well and was a breeze to install. There was a bit of a challenge with the roof slope as we had to rip it at the roof angle. Trim out the corners as you would normally, i.e., trim on top of siding.
The Boat Supports (Figs. 1, 3, 8, 10)
1. At this point, you can add on your boat supports (Fig. 10). We laid out the location for them from the inside of the shed by positioning a 2×6 offcut to mimic where the supports would come through the side wall (Fig. 3). We traced that position on the plywood sheathing and then carefully drilled holes through both the sheathing and the siding. From the outside, we then traced the 2×6 rectangle and cut it out with a jig saw. Some rasp work required. Repeat. Note that the length and number of boat supports will depend on your particular fleet.
2. As in the diagram, we then secured the supports by screwing to the two studs (using GRK screws) and then caulked the outside perimeter of the holes. Once the supports are in place, you can build the shelves inside (Fig. 8).
The Door (Figs. 1, 9)
1. If you’re building the custom doors, keep in mind that you’ll need to rout a ¾″-wide channel into the door rails and stiles to recess the 1×6 t&g. I set up my table-mounted router with the appropriate ¾″ bit and made several passes at increasing depths until I got the ½″ depth required. Not gonna say that was easy because the cuts in the stiles are blind, i.e., the dado has to stop before the ends of the stiles.
2. I used biscuit joinery and outdoor-rated glue to assemble the frames.
3. Some trimming will be required for the 1×6 panels to fit properly in the frame. Dry fit everything before assembly.
4. Use ½″ x ½″ retaining strips to hold the Plexiglas windows in place.
5. Locate and fasten the hinges to the doors, and, with help, mount the doors in the jamb assembly by screwing the hinges to the trim face.
6. Rip the door stops (½″ x 1″), and nail to the jamb. Add a doorknob. The passive door will need two barrel bolts, one at the top and one at the bottom. Mount these to the inside of the door, pull the door closed, and mark the location of the bolts by tapping them against the stop at the top and the floor at the bottom; drill a slightly bigger hole.
7. Screw a length of 2×4, ripped to the right width, to the door sill, level with the floor.
8. Screw weatherproofing strips to the bottoms of the doors, so that they just touch the sill piece.
The Window (Figs. 1, 5)
Install the window, and trim.
The Accessories (Figs. 10-15)
1. For the canoe paddle rack, drill the 9/16″ holes first, then the 11/4″ holes. Cut out the slot and round the corners. Router the top edge with a chamfer bit. Attach to a backer board and mount.
2. The kayak paddle rack and the lifejacket hangers are pretty straightforward builds. Diagrams are self-explanatory.
3. The workbench top consists of two 4′ pieces of 2×12 biscuit joined and glued together (mitre the leading corners to minimize hip-to-bench contact). Assemble the apron by gluing and nailing at the mitred corners, and then screw to the top. Add two legs by gluing and bolting to the apron. A ledger screwed to the studs provides the support at the back. Fasten the top to the ledger. Screw the legs to the floor with two L-brackets to provide a solid anchor.
What You’ll Need
Floor structure (includes optional 4 X 12 deck)
-9 @ 2×8 X 12′ PT
-14 @ 2×8 X 8′ PT
-2 @ 4×4 X 8′ PT (depending on site, may only require 1)
-14 @ 5/4s X 6 X 8′ (cedar)
-3 @ 5/8″ X 4 X 8 PT plywood
-16 @ 3/8″ X 6″ galvanized carriage bolts + washers + nuts
-16 @ 3/8 X 8″ gal. carriage bolts + washers + nuts
-16 @ 2×8 joist hangers
-1.5 lbs joist hanger nails
-3 lbs #8 X 2½″ deck screws
-2 lbs #10 X 3½″ deck screws
-6 @ 18″ X 18″ patio slabs
-1 can end cut treatment + foam applicator
-5 @ 2×4 X 12′ spf (bottom and top plates)
-46 @ 2×4 X 8′ spf (bottom and top plates and studs)
-2 @ 2×6 X 10′ (kayak/canoe storage brackets) (cedar)
-1 @ 2×8 X 8′ spf (window header)
-1 @ 2×10 X 12′ spf (door header)
-10 @ ½″ X 4 X 8 spruce sheathing
-40 @ 5/16″ X 4″ GRK RSS screws
-12 @ 2×6 X 12′ spf (rafters)
-6 @ 5/8″ X 4′ X 8′ spruce sheathing
-roll Ice and Water Shield
-6 @ 10′ colour matched drip edge/flashing for steel roof
-5 @ 36″ X 12′ sheets Vic West steel roofing
-colour matched screws
Soffits, siding, and trim
-6 @ 1×12 X 14′ (front and rear soffit and fascia, ripped as required) (cedar)
-2 @ 1×12 X 12′ (side fascia, ripped as required) (cedar)
-4 @ 1×12 X 8′ (side soffits, ripped as required) (cedar)
-siding to cover 320 sq ft (includes 10% wastage) (cedar)
-1 @ 2×6 X 14′ (stiles) (cedar)
-1 @ 2×4 X 14′ (stiles) (cedar)
-1 @ 2×4 X 8′ (rails) (cedar)
-1 @ 2×6 X 6′ (rails) (cedar)
-5 @ 1×6 X 8′ t&g (cedar)
-1 passage set (exterior lockable)
-2 heavy duty 6″ barrel bolts
-6 heavy duty black T-hinges
-24 #20 biscuits + outdoor rated wood glue
-2 @ 1/8″ X ? Plexiglas panels (once door assembled, check opening for exact measurements; subtract 1/8” to guarantee fit)
-2 brown weatherproofing strips
-½″ x ½″ retaining strips
-1 vinyl slider window—builder’s choice (alternately could use an aluminum slider)
Canoe paddle rack
-1 @ 1×4 X 4′
Kayak paddle rack
-1 @ 1×6 X 6′
-1 @ 1×3 X 6′
-off-cuts of ½″ ply
-1 @ 2×4 X 2′
-1 @ 1½″ X 6′ hardwood dowel
-1 @ ¾″ X 4 X 8 plywood (roof sheathing quality), ripped to 15½″
-7 @ 2×4 X 8′ spf
-1 @ 2×12 X 8′
-1 @ 2×4 X 14′
-8 #20 biscuits
-outdoor rated wood glue
-fasteners as required
Photography by Daniel Ehrenworth. Illustrations by Len Churchill.