Design & DIY

Nesting boxes for your gear

coop image

In a vintage hen-nesting box, the front lips kept straw in place. At the cottage, in this cross between storage bins and a shelf unit, they’ll corral caps, bug spray, and flashlights.

1] Crosscut 1x pine stock (its nominal thickness is 1″; actual thickness is 3/4″) for top, bottom, sides, and dividers. Rip dividers and shelf stock to width. Using a dado blade in your table saw, cut dados in sides and dividers (9 3/16″ in from each end). In top and bottom, cut dados (12 3/8″ in from each end) and end rabbets. These grooves should be 3/16″ deep and wide enough to provide a snug fit.

2] Using a rabbeting bit and a router table, plow 5/16″-wide, 3/8″-deep rabbets on the sides, bottom, and top to fit the back. The side rabbets run full length; top and bottom, they stop 3/8″ from each end. For stopped rabbets, make a plunge cut at each end, leaving 3/8″ of wood, then rout the waste between. Square up the ends with a chisel.

3] Assemble top, bottom, sides, and dividers without glue. Square the assembly and clamp. Check the distances between shelf dados and cut shelves to length.

4] Disassemble. Lightly sand interior surfaces and remove dust. Putting the shelves aside, apply glue to mating surfaces and reassemble. Clamp, clean any glue squeeze-out, and allow to set. Reinforce joints with angled 2″ finishing nails. Glue shelves in place, flush in front with sides and dividers.

5] Make 12 triangles, plus a few extra. I used a router with a pattern-cutting bit. First, cut a triangle template from plywood or MDF and sand the edges. Cut 1×4 stock into rectangles long enough for the finished parts. With the template, trace two triangles per block. Cut triangles out roughly, leaving a little waste outside the pencil lines. Screw the template to each triangle, keeping the screws away from the edges. Set your router bit so the bearing rides along the edge of your pattern, and trim the triangles.

6] Clamp ledger boards across front, aligned with shelf tops. I attached triangles with glue, a few brads, and two dowels. Pocket-hole screws (with plugs) or biscuits will also work. Test fit, apply glue, tack brads into tips of triangles, and clamp. Sand.

7] Rip a bevel on one edge of each lip, using a spare triangle to set the angle of your table saw. Then, square the saw blade and rip the board to match the triangle’s short leg. Cut to length. Attach with glue and two 3 8×2″ screws (with plugs) in each triangle.

8] Cut tongue-and-groove panelling for the back, leaving about !/16″ of space all around for seasonal movement. Nail 1″ brads around the edges and into the shelves. Don’t jam the boards so tightly together that they can’t expand in summer.

9] Patch any holes with wood filler, then sand to 150 grit and remove dust. I finished the coop with milk paint (Barn Red from Old Fashioned Milk Paint), scuffed with a fine finishing pad, and topped with paste wax.


Cutting List
1x Pine boards

  • Sides (2) 9 1/4″ x  28 7/8″
  • Dividers (2) 8 15/16″ x  28 7/8″
  • Shelves (6) 8 15/16″ x 12″
  • Top (1)9 1/4″ x  37 7/8″
  • Bottom (1) 9 1/4″ x  37 7/8″
  • Triangles (12)3″ (at widest) x 8 1/4″
  • Lips (3) 3 17/64″ (a twidest) x  37 7/8″

15/16″-thick pine tongue-and-groove planks

  • 1 bundle (enough to cover back; about 37″ x 29″)