Chicken Coop Project – Part 7

The chicken coop project is finally getting to a point where the end is in sight.  I started this in June; It was supposed to be a “summer project”.  Ha, it’s February, some summer project.  If, you’re sick of chicken coop posts, don’t worry, I’m nearly done and this post contains real woodworking.  I promise.

You can read the earlier posts in this series here:

In the last post I made the small doors for the nesting box openings and the poop pit, but now I need to turn my attention to making the large man doors for the outdoor chicken run.  I want to put one door at either end of the run.  The second one is not strictly necessary, but should be more convenient.

Since this is an outdoor project, I wanted it to be rot resistant.  I priced out cedar, but it was so much more expensive than doug fir (at least 3 times the cost), that I opted for the fir.  Instead, I will pay special attention to the paint to protect the wood.  I picked out the nicest 2x6s and 2x8s that I could find at my local lumber supplier.  I was able to find some nice stuff after a little picking through the stacks.  I ran them over the jointer and then through the planer taking light cuts and just enough to make sure they are all the same.

No. 1 construction grade 2x6s and 2x8s jointed and planed.

No. 1 construction grade 2x6s and 2x8s jointed and planed.

I decided to build the doors using through mortise and tenon joinery.  Considering the width of the pieces being joined here, using one tenon, five inches wide, is probably not a good idea.  It made more sense to use two tenons, even if it was a little more work.

I laid out the joinery using a square, a knife, and my Veritas dual wheel marking gauge.

Laying out the trough mortises.

Laying out the trough mortises.

The layout alone took a couple of hours.  40 mortises!!!

20 through mortises have to be laid out on both sides, 40 mortises.

20 through mortises have to be laid out on both sides, 40 mortises.

I used a 5/8″ router bit to get started.

My router could only go about 1-¼ inches deep, but that's enough to guide a drill bit later.

My router could only go about 1-¼ inches deep, but that’s enough to guide a drill bit later.

One side done, time to flip them over and repeat.

One side done, time to flip them over and repeat.

Once I had routed the start of the mortises on one side, I flipped the piece over and routed in from the other side.  To connect these two mortises, I used a 5/8″ WoodOwl auger bit.

A 5/8" WoodOwl Ultra Smooth auger bit in my drill.

A 5/8″ WoodOwl Ultra Smooth auger bit in my drill.

I drilled halfway through from one side.

I drilled halfway through from one side.

Then started the job of cleaning up the mortises with a chisel.  I cut all the tenons on the table saw.

I left a haunch between the twin tenons.

I left a haunch between the twin tenons.

The walls of the mortises are a little rough, but hey, they're on the inside and won't show in the end.

The walls of the mortises are a little rough, but hey, they’re on the inside and won’t show in the end.

Of course, once all the mortises were done, my new Triton plunge router arrived.  Talk about bad timing.  In any case, I test fitted all the joints before glue-up.

Test fitting the joinery.

Test fitting the joinery.

Since this is going outdoors, I used Titebond III glue.

Gluing up the first door.

Gluing up the first door.

I let the doors dry overnight before timing the tenons and horns.

Flush trimming the tenons.

Flush trimming the tenons.

Cutting off the horns.

Cutting off the horns.

Final clean up of the tenons.

Final clean up of the tenons.

A little more overkill.  I really don’t want these doors to sag over time, so I took the added step of pegging all the joints.  No draw-boring, just pegging after glue-up.

I drilled and pegged the mortise and tenon joints with a 5/8" oak dowel.

I drilled and pegged the mortise and tenon joints with a 5/8″ oak dowel.

The final piece of the door is a diagonal brace.  This is my last bit of insurance to prevent sagging.  The brace serves to capture the weight of the side of the door that is not supported by the hinges, and transfer that weight back to the hinge side.  I laid the door on top of a jointed and planed 2×4, and used a marking knife to mark the exact size. I then cut out the piece with a back saw and cleaned it up with a block plane.

I cut and test fit a diagonal brace.

I cut and test fit a diagonal brace.

The brace has no tenon and is simply a pressure fit.  Glue and gravity are all that hold it in place, although it is a very tight fit.  Since end-grain does not glue well, I first applied a heavy coat and let it soak in. I waited for this coat to dry completely and size the end-grain before adding a second coat and gluing the brace into the door.

I sized the end grain with PVA glue and let it dry.

I sized the end grain with PVA glue and let it dry.

I applied painters spackle to all the knot holes and defects and sanded the doors ready for paint.  Here’s the doors before paint.

Both doors assembled, sanded, and ready for paint.

Both doors assembled, sanded, and ready for paint.

I primed with Kilz and top coated with left over exterior house paint.

I primed and then top coated the doors.

I primed and then top coated the doors.

Next up, the hardware cloth.  Why do they call this cloth?  Beats me.  Really it is chicken wire on steroids.  It is galvanized wire welded together to leave a ½” x ½” opening.  That should be plenty small to keep even rodents from the run and the chicken feeder.  I used my narrow crown stapler to attach a piece of hardware cloth to the backside of the door.

The ½ x ½ hardware cloth was attached with a narrow crown stapler.

The ½ x ½ hardware cloth was attached with a narrow crown stapler.

The stapler has now put lots of little holes all over my carefully painted wood.  As I said earlier, I want this to be rot resistant, so I painted over the back of the wire (only where it overlays the wood) to fill the staple holes.

I painted over the staples to protect the wood.

I painted over the staples to protect the wood.

With drying paint, my son and I filled the inside of the run with sand.  It already had 3″ of gravel in the bottom and 3″ of sand was added.  Two trailers full did the job.

Filling the chicken run with sand.

Filling the chicken run with sand.

Hardware cloth was installed all the way around the run.

This should keep the predators out.

This should keep the predators out.

Hardware cloth covers the whole of the chicken run.

Hardware cloth covers the whole of the chicken run.

I hung the doors using three Stanley hinges per door. Instead of sizing the door to the header, I made and installed the door first, I added the header afterwards. Much easier this way.

Hanging the doors.

Hanging the doors.

I installed a header over the door with pocket hole screws.

I installed a header over each door with pocket hole screws.

The header in this case serves no structural purpose and is really only there to give me something to attach the hardware cloth to.

I added hardware cloth to cover the gap above the door.

I added hardware cloth to cover the gap above the door.

I installed the gate hardware.

I installed the gate hardware.

And a handle on the inside.

And a handle on the inside.

Alright…. Doors done!

Now, I need a platform and ramp for the hens to get from the hen-house to the run and back.

This is the door that the hens need to use to get from the hen-house to the run.

This is the door that the hens need to use to get from the hen-house to the run.

In all of what follows, I used nothing but scrap that was left over from earlier parts of this build.  First the platform.  I jointed and planed some doug fir and rabbeted one edge to accept ½” OSB.  I then mitered the corners and using glue and a brad nailer, put it all together.

A platform to go just outside the chicken pop door.

A platform to go just outside the chicken pop door.

I used leftover doug fir and OSB.

I used leftover doug fir and OSB.

I had one pressure treated 2×4 left over and used it to make the legs.  I rabetted the top of the legs, similar to a half lap joint, but without the corresponding lap in the back of the platform edge.  I used some small pieces of metal, cut from a Simpson hanger, some washers and screws to make two latches on the front of the platform.  This is where the ramp will attach.

Left over pressure treated 2x4 formed the legs.

Left over pressure treated 2×4 formed the legs.

For the ramp, I used two pieces of primed fascia that was left over from the trim around the windows, a piece of OSB, and bunch of cut up doug fir to make the ladder rungs. Also, plenty of glue and brad nails.

Using only scrap left over from various parts of this project, I built a ramp.

Using only scrap left over from various parts of this project, I built a ramp.

The hooks on the back of the ramp will drop into the latches on the front of the platform.

Galvanized brackets bent to form hooks.

Galvanized brackets bent to form hooks.

Back to painting.

A coat of primer.

A coat of primer.

Thank goodness for rolls of brown construction paper.  They really help me to keep paint and glue off of my nice workbench when it is being used for assembly or painting.

Followed by a top coat of exterior paint.

Followed by a top coat of exterior paint.

I had some scraps of linoleum left over from the hen-house floor and I glued these to the top of the platform.

I glued some left over linoleum to the top of the platform.

I glued some left over linoleum to the top of the platform.

I attached the platform to the side of the hen-house with small galvanized angle brackets. In the below photo, you can just see the screws on either side of the bottom of the door.

The back of the platform is attached with small angle brackets. The legs just stand on the pavers.

The back of the platform is attached with small angle brackets. The legs just stand on the pavers.

I put some paving bricks under the legs of the platform and under bottom of the ramp.

Platform and ramp installed. Ready for birds.

Platform and ramp installed. Ready for birds.

The exterior is done, except for paint which will have to wait for summer.

The exterior is done, except for paint which will have to wait for summer.

I moved the feeder and waterer outside.

I moved the feeder and waterer outside.

The girls having a drink.

The girls having a drink.

I ordered all of my chicks from Murray McMurray hatchery and they include a free rare breed chick with orders of 15 or more chicks.  All of the hens that I ordered were exactly as intended (girls), but the free chick turned out to be male.  The hatchery doesn’t tell you what breed the free one is, but after doing a little research, I’ve decided that he looks to me to be a Silver Spangled Hamburg.  My kids named him “Fizzy”.  There is a beautiful green iridescence in the black of his tail feathers.

"Fizzie" the Silver Spangled Hamburg rooster.

“Fizzy” the Silver Spangled Hamburg rooster doing his flamingo impression.

Eating some vegetable scraps and peelings.

Eating some vegetable scraps and peelings.

 

Well, all that is left now are nesting boxes and hardware cloth screens to cover the inside of the windows.  I told you the end was near.

More soon.

 

– Jonathan White

About Jonathan

I am a woodworker and hand tool restorer / collector. I buy too many tools and don't build enough - I need help!
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9 Responses to Chicken Coop Project – Part 7

  1. ronhowes says:

    Thank you very much for this post Jon. I’ve enjoyed this series immensely, though I’ve had a problem getting my head around it having grown up around chickens! It would be hard to justify the return on investment of such a project unless one realizes the tranquilizing effect these feathery creatures can have on you!

    Well done,

    Ron Howes

    • Jonathan says:

      Hello Ron,

      Thanks for your kind comments. I have decided that this coop will pay for itself in one of two ways. 1.) I collect eggs for about 250 years. or 2.) One of these birds starts laying golden eggs (I’m kind of hoping for this option). I am forced to concede that the project is rather dumb when viewed in a strictly financial sense. I have enjoyed building it though, and 9 months of hobby time has to count for something. I have no idea if the project has added any value to the property, but that is not really of concern to me as I don’t plan on selling the house. As you point out, the chickens are rather entertaining and calming to watch. Thanks again.

      All the best,

      Jonathan

  2. Greg Merritt says:

    This has been a heck of project. Chicken coop or chicken castle? A few well placed boulders and the outside run could be a zen garden. LOL
    Damn fine job on the doors, they turned out great.
    My grandparents worked a farm when they first got married. The owner of the farm gifted them the old chicken coop to be their first home. I doubt that it was as nice as yours though.

    • Jonathan says:

      Thanks Greg! I can’t imagine living in a chicken coop. I hope that they evicted all the birds first.

      I think it is time to admit I have a problem. I don’t know how to build any other way. 🙂 In hindsight, perhaps this was a silly thing to do, I don’t know… It will outlast my house though, so I suppose, I’ve left my mark!

      I hope you are well. I’ve been enjoying reading and following along with your kitchen remodeling projects.

      All the best,

      Jonathan

  3. When you started this project, because of the quality you were going for, I honestly thought ‘Chicken coop’ was a code name for your new workshop!

    Fantastic project. I couldn’t imagine going to the same lengths for my hens (although their enclosure is solid oak with M&T joinery). You have some very spoilt chickens!

    • Jonathan says:

      Hello George,

      That really would’ve been funny, wouldn’t it. If I’d been calling it “the chicken coop project” all along and in the last post reveal it to be a new workshop. Although, I don’t think the hens would like me moving in now.

      I just looked on your site and saw that you’re from Market Harborough. I was born not far from there in Northampton.

      Thanks for your kind comments. Keep in touch.

      All the best,

      Jonathan

  4. Pingback: Chicken Coop Project - Part 8 | The Bench Blog

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