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:
- Chicken Coop Project – Part 1
- Chicken Coop Project – Part 2
- Chicken Coop Project – Part 3
- Chicken Coop Project – Part 4
- Chicken Coop Project – Part 5
- Chicken Coop Project – Part 6
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.
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.
The layout alone took a couple of hours. 40 mortises!!!
I used a 5/8″ router bit to get started.
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.
Then started the job of cleaning up the mortises with a chisel. I cut all the tenons on the table saw.
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.
Since this is going outdoors, I used Titebond III glue.
I let the doors dry overnight before timing the tenons and horns.
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.
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.
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 applied painters spackle to all the knot holes and defects and sanded the doors ready for paint. Here’s the doors before paint.
I primed with Kilz and top coated with left over exterior house paint.
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 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.
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.
Hardware cloth was installed all the way around the 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.
The header in this case serves no structural purpose and is really only there to give me something to attach the hardware cloth to.
Alright…. Doors done!
Now, I need a platform and ramp for the hens to get from the hen-house to the run and back.
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.
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.
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.
The hooks on the back of the ramp will drop into the latches on the front of the platform.
Back to painting.
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.
I had some scraps of linoleum left over from the hen-house floor and I glued these 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.
I put some paving bricks under the legs of the platform and under bottom of the ramp.
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.
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.
– Jonathan White