Chicken Coop Project – Part 8

I’ve had this post written and sitting in my drafts folder for over a month now.  I wanted to wait to post it until I finished the window screens which I did today, so I’ve added that part to the end of this post.  I could have done the screens a couple of months ago but got side-tracked.  Last year, after a long search, I bought my dream car but couldn’t do anything with it as I was busy trying to finish the chicken coop.  The last two months have been all about in-depth car detailing and polishing.  That’s why my blog has gone quiet of late.  I haven’t posted anything about it here as this is supposed to be about woodworking.  I know it’s my blog, but I started it for a reason, and my chicken coop project has already sidetracked the blog enough.  At least the coop is made (mostly) of wood and documenting the build isn’t too far of base.  I felt I’d be better off saving this space for when I get back to some tool restoration and woodworking.

This post should be the last in my chicken coop series.  The chicks are now fully grown and eggs are dropping fast and furiously.  At the time I first wrote this, they weren’t laying yet and I was feeling the stress of needing to get this done quickly.

When I framed the walls of the coop, I left openings for the nesting boxes, and in a later post, I made doors to cover the openings.  My design for the nesting boxes is to have an outer box that attaches to the walls of the coop and an inner box that pulls out on full extension drawer slides.  This will make it easier to clean out the nesting boxes and to collect the eggs.

To make the boxes, I bought a sheet of 3/4″ Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF).  I had forgotten just how heavy this stuff is.  I think it is nearly 100 lbs. for a 4×8 sheet.  I cut the pieces for the outer boxes and rabbeted them at the table saw.

Using 3/4" MDF to make the nesting boxes.

Using 3/4″ MDF to make the nesting boxes.

I used the stacked dado head to rabbet one edge.

I used the stacked dado head to rabbet one edge.

Here's how the corners went together.

Here’s how the corners went together.

MDF is good stuff, but splits easily when you screw into the ends or edges.  This is preventable by pre-drilling and counter sinking.

I used a countersink drill bit to stop the MDF from splitting.

I used a countersink drill bit to stop the MDF from splitting.

I used TiteBond III on all the joints and assembled the boxes.  I then filled all the counter sink holes with painter’s spackle.

Once the outer boxes were assembled, I added a face frame.

Once the outer boxes were assembled, I added a face frame.

Time to move on to the pull-out inner boxes.

I cut out all the pieces that will make the inner boxes.

I cut out all the pieces that will make the inner boxes.

It took a little time to perfect the set-up, but I cut a rabbet/dado joint for the rear of the boxes.  I notched the side and center pieces to accept the front, and then rabbeted everything to accept a 5mm plywood drawer bottom.

Then I cut all the joinery to assemble the boxes and a 5 millimeter dado for the plywood bottom.

Then I cut all the joinery to assemble the boxes and a 5 millimeter dado for the plywood bottom.

The inner boxes were glued and screwed together.

I broke all the hard edges with a 1/4" round-over bit in the palm router, then primed everything.

I broke all the hard edges with a 1/4″ round-over bit in the palm router, then primed everything.

I top coated everything and then installed the drawer slides.

I top coated everything and then installed the drawer slides.

The back side of the box.

The back side of the box.

Here's how the boxes will open from the outside.

Here’s how the boxes will open from the outside.

These boxes are rather heavy.  I removed the inner boxes from the assembly and then lugged everything out to the coop.  I inserted the outer boxes into the openings that were built into the coop. Once I was satisfied with the alignment, I screwed through the MDF boxes and into the framing of the coop.

I slid the boxes into their openings from the inside.

I slid the boxes into their openings from the inside.

With the outer boxes screwed into the openings, I installed the inner boxes.

With the outer boxes screwed into the openings, I installed the inner boxes.

The boxes slide out for easier cleaning and egg retrieval.

The boxes slide out for easier cleaning and egg retrieval.

Here’s how it looks inside.

As seen from the inside.

As seen from the inside.

With the doors shut they get a little darker.

With the doors shut they get a little darker.

The nesting box doors.

The nesting box doors.

The last part of the chicken coop build is to make screens for the windows.  Having the windows wide open is great for ventilation and really helps to prevent respiratory problems with the birds.  The problem is that it also serves as a place for the birds to get out or for predators to get in.  When I special ordered the windows, I got all the cheapest options I could.  I also specified no window screens as the fabric screens aren’t going to keep a determined critter out.  I decided to make my own out of wood and hardware cloth.

The wood I used was a stick left over from my workbench build project.  It is air dried douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii).  At the band-saw, I ripped four strips and then gang fed them through the planer to clean them up.  They ended up at about 7/8″ x 1-1/4″.

I cut four strips that ended up at about 7/8" x 1 1/8".

I cut four strips that ended up at about 7/8″ x 1-1/4″.

This was lumber left over from my workbench build.

This was lumber left over from my workbench build.

I cut the pieces to length.

Using a stop block and my cross cut sled to cut the parts to length.

Using a stop block and my cross cut sled to cut the parts to length.

All the parts cut and ready for pocket holes.

All the parts cut and ready for pocket holes.

I very briefly thought about a single dovetail joint at the end of each piece.  I quickly realized that I was out of my mind and got out my pocket hole jig.

A pocket hole jig made for quick simple joinery.

A pocket hole jig made for quick simple joinery.

Clamping the parts to the benchtop for assembly.

Clamping the parts to the benchtop for assembly.

This went pretty quickly.

Four frames screwed together.

Four frames screwed together.

Flushing up the joints on my combination sander.

Flushing up the joints on my combination sander.

I even resisted the urge to fill the pocket holes with spackle.  I just want this done.

All the joints flushed up.

All the joints flushed up.

I then took a piece of 120 grit paper and eased all the edges by hand.

Might as well drill and countersink the screw holes for installation now.

Might as well drill and countersink the screw holes for installation now.

Drilled at an angle to make later installation easier.

Drilled at an angle to make later installation easier.

A coat of white paint and hung to dry.

A coat of white paint and hung to dry.

I cut the hardware cloth to size with some tin snips and used my narrow crown air stapler to attach it to the wooden frames.

Stapling on the hardware cloth.

Stapling on the hardware cloth.

Here's where they're going.

Here’s where they’re going.

Three screws (top, bottom, and right) hold the screen in place.

Three screws (top, bottom, and right) hold the screen in place.

That should make the coop escape and predator proof.

That should make the coop escape and predator proof.

 

Well.. that’s it.  I’m done!  The coop still needs a coat of paint, but I’m going to wait for summer to do that.

If you’re interested, you can read the earlier posts in this series here:

Thanks for sticking with me while I diverted my woodworking blog for the better part of a year.  I’ll get back to “proper” woodworking again 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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15 Responses to Chicken Coop Project – Part 8

  1. Sweet job on the coop. It’s understandable that your egg production is so high. Post something on the car too. Before I got into woodworking I was a bit of gearhead (about 50 years ago) too.

  2. Gavin says:

    There is absolutely no reason for you think you are out of your mind when reassessing construction techniques. After completing some tasks I take a step back and think , well.. that was a course in education and I will be damned if I do it that way again. By the way, for the nesting boxes hens seem to love the shavings from a hand plane down this way. Looks sweet

    • Jonathan says:

      Hello Gavin,

      Thanks for the tip about using plane shavings. That sounds like a great idea. For now I’m using straw but I’ll be sure to save my next shavings to try them out.

      I tend to over-do everything and was really thinking about joining the frames together with dovetails. Even though the dovetail practice would have been fun, I had to stop myself. It would have turned a one day project into two or three, and my honey-do list seems to be growing faster than I can cross things off. 🙂

      All the best,

      Jonathan

  3. paul6000000 says:

    Yeah, don’t tease and the not post car photos. After seeing the way you built a workbench and a chicken coop, I’ve got to see what you do with car detailing.

  4. Those had better be some appreciative egg-laying-like-a-mo-fo damned chickens, is all I got to say. Great job of documenting the build, Jonathan. Pretty impressive and motivational.

    • Jonathan says:

      Thanks Ethan,

      It started out slow, but the rate of eggs and the size has been steadily increasing. I’m getting about a dozen eggs a day already. I have 15 large breed hens and one small breed rooster. The rooster has been getting the crap kicked out him by the hens and I’ve had to separate them. I’ll have to find him a new home as the wife and kids threatened revolt when I suggested eating him.

      Take care,

      Jonathan

  5. Those fluffy chicks are better be dropping eggs fast and furiously, you went all out for them 🙂
    Nice job Jonathan and I agreed with the others car pics please 🙂

    Bob, eyeing that bottle of Belgium beer, I wonder if we have that here?

    • Jonathan says:

      Hey Bob,

      I bought a case in Costco. It came as part of a 4 beer variety pack. Costco doesn’t list their beers online, but I found this on the brewery’s website.

      http://www.newbelgium.com/beer/1554

      Not bad. One of the others in the variety pack “Ranger IPA” from the same brewery was very good.

      It’s good to hear from you. I hope all is well.

      I’ll see what I can do about some car pics.

      Jonathan

  6. jenesaisquoiwoodworking says:

    Jonathan the Magnificent

    Well done my brother, you did a superb job all round. You must be relieved that the project is finished though. Now it is over to those chickens to keep their end of the bargain.

    Being in the privileged position of having seen some of the evidence depicting your vehicle detailing skills, I can certainly echo what everyone else is calling for. Please post some of those photos, you will be the envy of every Bench Blog reader.

    Have a wonderful day my friend.
    Gerhard

    • Jonathan says:

      Gerhard,

      I must admit your comment gave me quite the chuckle. I think that you must have been typing while enjoying a few of those South African Castle Lagers, no?

      Stay tuned for the car pics. Any sign of that pesky package yet?

      Jonathan
      The Bench Blog – Which used to be about woodworking, but now evidently is about chickens and cars. 🙂

  7. jenesaisquoiwoodworking says:

    Jonathan

    If you have ever tasted Castle Lager you would know that it is impossible to enjoy. It is most probably one of the worst beers ever made. When you come to visit Africa, we will be drinking eminently better stuff.

    Unfortunately, I was not in the process of consuming such beverages at the time of writing the comment. In fact I was in the midst of quite depressing, yet run of the mill psychiatric assessments/psychotherapy and tried to cheer myself up more than anything else.

    Have a wonderful weekend, mate.
    Gerhard

  8. Susan says:

    Beautiful job! Can you tell me what kind of sand you used in the run?

I'd love to hear your thoughts, comments, or questions.