It seems that my posts are down to about one a month lately. I’ve been working each day on my chicken coop project, but some days I can only put in a couple of hours as work and family keep me quite busy. So, what does a month of my spare time yield? Well, read on.
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
I ended the last post in this series with the roof finished water-tight, so I could now work below without regard to the weather. At least now I can work with both feet on the ground.
To get started, I installed sheets of 7/16″ oriented strand board (OSB) to the wall studs. I attached them with ring shank nails, fired from my framing nailer. The OSB sheets covered the openings for the nesting boxes and windows, but that wasn’t a problem. I used a panel pilot router bit to plunge through the OSB and follow the framing lumber. This quickly cut out the openings.
I cut some smaller pieces to cover the area above, below, and beside the door opening. I then cut angled pieces of OSB and filled in the openings in the eves.
To install and flash the windows, I used a product called Vycor. It is a very, very sticky roll of tape about 6-inches wide. When pressed down with a pressure roller, it seals up well. I’m not worried about any water getting into this building.
I mentioned in a earlier post that I priced out Tyvek wrap and it was going to cost more than the OSB that it covers. I was going to just use tar-paper to save some money. My Dad told me that he thought there was some leftover Tyvek that he had given me from when his shed was built. I had a good look around, and sure enough, I found some. It was just enough to wrap the whole hen-house. Thanks Dad!
Once the building was wrapped with Tyvek, I installed the trim boards. For these I bought 5/4″ x 3″ and 5/4″ x 4″ pre-primed fascia boards. screwing a 3″ and 4″ board together in an “L” shape makes a corner board that appears evenly sized. If the boards were the same width, one part of the “L” would look longer than the other. I used the same pre-primed fascia to trim around the windows.
The local hardware store where I have bought all my materials gave me a good deal on an exterior out-swing door that had been sitting in their inventory. Out-swing exterior doors aren’t that common as the hinge pins are on the outside. This could be a security issue on a house, but not on this coop, I think. I could have used and interior door and installed it backwards, but those doors aren’t designed to be exposed to the elements, and would likely rot or warp in no time. Having the door swing outwards will be important as deep wood shavings / litter on the floor of the hen-house would stop the door from swinging inwards. With an out-swing door, I can install a ledger board on the inside of the bottom of the door frame, and this will prevent the wood shaving falling out of the door when it is opened.
I had a couple of days when it rained way too much to be able to work outside. I used this time to run all the wiring for the building. You may remember from the first post in this series, that I ran an underground power supply to the building before I poured the foundation. I tied into this and ran wires for lights and electrical outlets. I bought three FEIT LED shop lights from Costco for $35 each and I’m really impressed with how much light they put out. One light is in the hen-house and two are in the chicken run.
I will eventually hang the waterer and feeder from one of the roof trusses in the outdoor chicken run. To ensure that the water doesn’t freeze during the coldest parts of winter, I will need a heated waterer, and this in turn will need electricity. I installed a receptacle on the intended truss.
On other rainy days, I worked on cutting and fitting some insulation.
When the weather cleared up, I got busy installing the siding. I chose Hardie Plank siding for the project. I love this stuff. It is made out of a mixture of cellulose fiber and cement and pressed to look like wooden clapboards. Whats not to like? It can’t rot and is surprisingly cheap. This is the same siding that I put on my barn and that is on my house. It comes pre-primed and takes paint beautifully.
There are few important tricks to hanging this siding. First, get a pair of hanging guides. These clamp onto a lower plank and hold the upper plank in place while you nail it. This makes sure that your reveal is always constant. Pay special attention with a spirit level when you install the first plank, and then work your way up the building using the guides. I wouldn’t even attempt installing this type of siding without these guides. The ones I use are made by Pacific Tool and you can find them on Amazon. The plastic ones are cheaper, and are plenty strong enough for the home user. If I installed this stuff for a living, I’d probably buy the metal ones.
Next, don’t cut the siding with a saw. It’s cement, and it eats saw blades! Plus, it makes clouds of nasty cement dust that you really don’t want to breathe. Instead, score the planks with a speed square and utility knife, and then simply snap it. I also use a pair of nail pincers that I bought in England. I use the pincers to nip away any uneven parts along the snap line and to put a very small back bevel on the planks. My pincers look like this:
To cut the angle where the cement planks intersect with the underside of the roof, I used a sliding bevel set to 40° to match the 10/12 pitch.
The siding really wasn’t needed on the 4th wall of the hen-house, but it would look odd if different from the rest of the building.
Interior walls usually are sheathed in drywall or gypsum board. Since chickens love to scratch, I don’t plan on using drywall. Instead, I lined the interior walls with more sheets of OSB. This was also a cheap option, as the sheets only cost about $6.
As I did when I sheathed the outside of the walls, I attached the OSB and then cut out the window and nesting box openings with a panel pilot bit in the router.
It was around this time that the chicks arrived. I placed an order with the Murray McMurray hatchery. I ordered two female birds of each of the following 8 breeds:
- Buff Orpington
- Speckled Sussex
- Cuckoo Maran
- Rhode Island Red
- Red Star
- Plymouth Barred Rock
The post office called me at about 6am one morning and said that the birds had arrived. I went to pick them up and get them quickly into the brooder that I had set up for them.
Back to the building.
About 8 years ago, when I finished the garage on my house, I had a ton of baseboard moulding left over. It has sat under some cabinets in the garage all this time and whenever I clean up my shop it gets in the way. I have often thought of chopping it up and feeding it to the wood stove, but never have. I thought that now might be a good time to use it up. I know that it is baseboard moulding and not window trim, but I doubt that the chickens will mind.
Here’s what the windows looked like after I had added the trim:
I bought a 5 gallon bucket of Kilz 2 primer and started to paint the walls. Painting OSB is not fun as it takes a lot of paint, and you really have to work it in with the brush to get it into all the nooks and crannies in the surface. It was worth it though as it really brightens up the inside of the hen-house.
The room really got lighter when I painted the underside of the roof, but man this took forever.
Back to the chickens:
The brooder box that I had set up for the chickens was originally placed in our living room. This was fine for the first week as tiny chicks are no trouble. However, after a week the little critters were very active and scratching around in their wood shavings like crazy. The dust was simply getting too much.
The wife said, “Put them in the garage.”
“I don’t have a garage, it’s a workshop”, I replied.
You can imagine the response. I haven’t been using the workshop for a few months as all my efforts have gone into the building project. In short, the shop was a disaster. My workbench, table saw, and just about every other available surface was piled with the tools and “stuff” brought back into the shop from the coop project. I took a day off from building and thoroughly cleaned up the work shop.
I’m happy that I’m finally getting to using my Ambidextrous Grizz-ubo Bench, but this is not what I had in mind.
Before the chickens can be moved out to the new coop building, there are a few things that I have to get done. I need to build the roosts and the pull-out poop pit that goes underneath. I have to make doors that will cover the openings for the poop pit and nesting boxes (although the boxes themselves can wait). And, I have some linoleum that I need to glue down to the floor. Then I’ll need to add the wire to the chicken run walls. The wire is not as time sensitive, as I can confine the chickens to the hen-house for a short while.
I’m feeling the pressure to get this done, and I’m seriously afraid that the birds will be ready for the coop before I’m finished. Anyone have a tool for stretching a day into a few hours longer?
Hopefully, I’ll post again before another month has gone by, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.
– Jonathan White