A-FRAME COOP/RUN WEEK 3

This weekends project was to get the floor in the coop. I had planned to get these materials for the weekend:

The third weekend materials list:

  • 4 – 2″ x 4″ x 8′   … @ $3/each   … $12.00
  • 16 – 6′ fence pickets … @ $1.55/each … $24.80
  • TOTAL $36.80

But after doing some thinking and calculating at Lowe’s I ended up with this:

  • 4 – 2″ x 4″ x 8′   … @ $3/each   … $12.00
  • 2 – 1/2″ x 4′ x 8′ pieces of plywood … @ $17.07/each … $34.14
  • TOTAL $46.14

But during the construction we ended up needing:

  • 6 – 2″ x 4″ x 8′   … @ $3/each   … $18.00
  • 2 – 1/2″ 4′ x 8′ pieces of plywood … @ $17.07/each … $34.14
  • Box 1″ wood screws … $10
  • TOTAL $62.14

Week Three Coop Build

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The reason for the switch was I needed to cover a floor that was going to be 6′ x 8′. It would be much easier to do it with the plywood and the cost is actually not much more. It would cost $8.50 for every 2 feet of coverage with the plywood and about $6.20 for the same coverage in the fence boards. The additional cost seemed reasonable considering it would be much easier to use than the fence boards. I also got an additional two feet of board I could use for the doors at each end of the coop.

Since I find handing the 4×8 boards difficult, I tend to shy away from them. I also cannot get anything 4 foot wide into my SUV. But I thought this would be the better and easier option, so I made the last minute change and got the plywood. I had Lowe’s cut the plywood in half so I had four 2′ x 8′ sections that easily loaded into the vehicle with the seats down. They were much easier for me to handle as well.

Lowe’s will cut lumber for you and my understanding is they do two cuts for free. I will be purchasing another sheet to make my nest boxes and ramp.. and I will  have them make all the cuts and pay for anything beyond what they will do for free. Having Lowe’s do the cuts also guarantees I have straight cuts. That way when I get home I just need to assemble my nest box.

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After getting the yard mowed it was time to start on the coop. The first thing I had to determine was where on the A-Frame was 6 foot across. I used a 6′ fence board I had here and some clamps to find the place where it was six feet across from outside of the frame boards to outside. You can always use these boards on projects, so if you don’t have one, I recommend buying one with this weeks materials as they are about $1.55/each. You can also use one of your eight footers with a mark at the six foot length as well. I found it difficult to use a tape measure and the use of a board made finding where you are six feet in width much easier.

Once I got the board in place I put a level to it, tapped a little with a hammer to make slight adjustments to the board being clamped to the frame until it was where I wanted it. Then I used a sharpie to make my marks.

I now had to pause and rethink some things. I had intended to put the fence boards across and have two 8′ boards under them to support them running lengthwise. They would be attached to boards run across the ends. Now I had the plywood that was eight feet long so it had to run lengthwise instead of crosswise. I now needed a way to support them cross ways from the sides, so I ran the boards along the side instead of the ends.

But running the boards along the side presented some issues. I had intended for the outside end boards to be a lip of sorts and had planned on the support boards being along the bottom edge of the end boards where I could anchor them with several screws. The A-Frame boards run at an angle, and so the boards I ran along the side also were at an angle in relation to the ground. This made my limited building skills unable to cut the bottom supports so they were angled and could fit up against the side boards where I could have anchored them with 3″ screws from the outside and into the board ends. I chose to add them under the side boards.

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I ended up using the clamps to hold the eight foot boards in place on the underside and marked where the edge of the coop would be, then took them down and cut them. I put them back up with the clamps then put three 3″ screws on each end from the bottom up.

When I put the plywood pieces up on the supports this is what I ended up with. There was some overlap. Since I had planned for the plywood to run to the outside edge of the frame, I had to get the jigsaw out and notch the corners some. I am not square.. and so I had to figure out what corners to notch so the boards would line up along their ends as well as lay flat. It took a little bit of time and trimming but we finally got the boards to lay edge to edge and the ends also in line with each other.

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This is where we ended up. I put some smaller screws down through the plywood and into the support boards below. I figured the tin would cover those ends and we were good.

Next I took one of the ten footers I had bought previously and put them up on the ends with  clamps. I marked with a Sharpie the angle that would cover the edge of the side 2×4’s “`along the sides. I will be adding more of these boards to the sides to support tin roof panels. Since the tin will sit on top of the side boards, I need boards on the ends to run out to where the 2×4’s will sit. That will prevent gaps under the roof that would allow access into the coop. I then cut the boards and put them back into place with the clamps. Made sure we would cover a 2×4 then screwed into place.

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After I got the end pieces up I took the last two foot section of plywood and set it up on the 2×4 and clamped it into place. I am visual and I had to put the board up to get an idea of what I wanted to do for the end door. I ended up moving the edge corner of the plywood to the outside edge of the A-Frame and clamped. Then I marked where the plywood touched the same area on the other side. Took the board down, used a T-Square to mark my line then cut. I put the board that will now be my door back up and clamped it into place. I now had to figure out how to hinge the door and put up a top board to support the hinges.

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I took the end of the ten foot 2×4 board that has already been cut at an angle and put it above the now cut plywood. I had to make sure to allow for the height of a 2×4 on each end. So I moved the board left until it extended the width of a board and clamped it. If you look at the above photo you can see the board does stick out further than the frame on both sides. I put a level on it to make sure we were keeping level. Then I took the sharpie and a piece of board and marked the right side. We took the board down and made our cut then put it back up and clamped in place with the door under it.

Before we attached it permanently with screws we had to figure out the hinging of the door. I wanted the door to be inside a frame and will be adding side pieces. I also wanted the door to be flush with the top and bottom boards. I probably could have put the hinges on the outside of that top board but decided I could put them on the underside of the top board for a little cleaner look.

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I measured across the board to determine its width and decided where I wanted to put the hinges. I took down the top board and measured in an equal distance from both sides and made a mark. Then I used a square to make the mark the width of the board. I also added the arrow to mark the front because I can get a bit sidetracked and get things on backwards. I then aligned the center hole with the line and added the center screws. I used a longer screw than what came with the hinges to get more teeth into the wood. Then we added the remaining screws.

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The hinges are installed so that the plywood will be flush with the edge of the 2×4. I also had to make sure the hinge would rotate enough for the coop door to rotate to at least horizontal. As I stated I am visual.. so I made sure the hing would have the range of motion I wanted before screwing it into place. The photo to the left shows position with door hanging closed. The hinge will rotate all the way around and past the 9 o’clock position in the photo that would be the open horizontal position of the door.

Once I got the hinges on I put the board back up and clamped it into place. Then I put the center screws of the hinge into the plywood and checked for the top board being level. I also had to make sure there was a slight gap at the bottom between the door and bottom board so that it would close easily. With the top board clamped I used a hammer to gently tap it up to get it exactly where I wanted it. I did some test open and closes to make sure nothing caused issues with the opening and closing of the door. Once I was happy with it I screwed the top board into place.

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The next thing we did was add the side pieces. I did not get enough boards to do this with my shopping trip and used an older eight footer I had on hand. This is the reason for one of the additional 2″ x 4″ x 8′ on this weeks shopping trip. With the door closed, I measured the distance from the top board to the bottom board. I cut them and then put them up. These need to match the angle of the coop and allow for a boards width past the frame as we did on the top board. Clamped in place I put a piece of board on the back along the frame then used Sharpie to mark the angle to cut. This is where the metal roof will sit and I do not want any gaps .. so I am making sure these boards run out to where the tin will sit. We then cut the edges off and put the boards in place.

Again we used the clamps to put the boards where we wanted them. I opened and closed the door a number of times to make sure the door would open and close easily. Once the sides were where wanted they were screwed into place.

Because I live in Texas I can have a more open coop than others further North can. The sides and the top on this end around the door will be covered with half inch hardware cloth and left open for the most part. Those here in the South probably do not need to do anything to cover these areas. I however, will make covers for these areas so we can shut the coop up when the weather gets bad if needed. Those further up North will need to have the ability to close the coop up some and definitely have covers for these areas, but you want to make sure you still have good ventilation or you can cause respiratory issues in your birds.

This is as far as the materials will take you. I had some hardware cloth laying around and decided to try and get a bit further with the coop.

Pressing On

I try to make sure the coop and run are as predator proof as possible. The run I want to keep out dogs, coons, possums, foxes and protect from hawks and the wire I will use will handle that. But the coop I want a little tighter. I don’t want snakes and I want anything that does find a way to breach the run has no way to get into the coop. So I have chosen to use the hardware cloth on the coop rather than chicken wire. It is a more expensive option but I feel the cost is worth the piece of mind.

After consideration I decided I wanted to apply the wire to the back side so the front had a cleaner look. I had some scrap hardware cloth laying around and was able to get one side in place. When I applied the hardware cloth in my first run, I used screws and washers to anchor it. I was told that staples could easily be pulled out by a determined predator and the screw/washer was the most secure way to anchor it. But inside the coop I just wanted something to hold the wire in place. Because I would be adding boards to sandwich it in between and did not feel it could then be breached, I used a staple gun to hold the wire in place and used wire cutters to trim it up.

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Since the door frame boards are only screwed and anchored at the top, I decided to add a board to the back as well. It would sandwich the wire as well as give me something solid to screw into for support. For the boards in the coop I found I needed something to put the back vertical boards on as well as something to anchor the plywood to. I had this piece of 2×4 left after framing the door and used it as my base. I will have to add pieces on each side to run this board to the ends. Would have been better to have an eight foot board and cut it so it ran from edge to edge. This is the second additional board I have added to the shopping list in case you want to add this board when working on this weekends construction.

I used 1″ screws I had on hand from previous projects and from the bottom I screwed the plywood to this 2×4. I did not purchase these screws because I have them on hand, but have added the cost of them to the materials list as they are needed. It was then easy enough to lift the plywood some then screw from the outside of the bottom board and into the 2×4 with some 3″ screws. I will be getting more 2×4’s in the future and will be lining the entire inside of the coop floor .. more on that in a bit. But this piece at least let me figure out how we will do the back side.

After I got the wire in place I then took a piece of scrap board and marked the edge at an angle so it would fit up under the frame. When the door closes it does not quite butt up to this inside board. I have not decided if I want to add some foam strip insulation or something like half round trim. Need to get further along and think about that some more. See the above photo with the door open to see the back board sticking out some on the side.

I had made a protected grass area in the run of my first coop and run with a frame of 2″ x 6″ boards. I covered the frame with half inch hardware cloth, threw in bird and grass seed and allowed it to grow through the hardware cloth on the top to provide some greens for the chickens. Because I did not have any center braces, the weight of the chickens tore it up. I removed the frame from the pen and removed the 8′ of hardware cloth. I have the lumber to make another box frame, but the wire was torn to the point I cannot reuse it and I will have to get more wire to complete this project. So I decided to use that eight foot piece over the top of the coop. There will be tin put over the outside edge to protect the coop from rain, but the center area I am leaving open for ventilation and wanted to use the hardware cloth over the top instead of chicken wire for the before mentioned reason., security. The hardware cloth is tougher than chicken wire and the small openings will keep snakes out of the coop.

I put the bent up wire up and over the top and got up on the coop floor with the intent of getting it anchored to the top boards and the excess trimmed. When I got up on the floor and moved to the end of the coop I had a breaking revelation .. literally.

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The floor seemed a bit unsteady and as I was contemplating how to make it more secure I heard a loud crack and was promptly dumped on the ground with all my screws and stuff I had on the coop floor. I dusted myself off and took a look at what happened. The one piece of plywood had snapped at the first brace. My weight had put enough downward pressure on the support boards that the screws stripped through the wood and the bottom support gave way and the board snapped. It took a little bit to get the support back into place and everything where it was. I then had to pause a bit and think about beefing up the support. I may have to get in the coop to clean or work on it and needed the floor to be able to support me. I needed to fix this issue before moving forward because it will only be more difficult to fix if I do not address the issue now.

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In the above photo you can see there is not much other than the screws supporting those bottom supports. On hindsight it would have been better to put those supports on the TOP of the side boards and run the side boards on the inside rather than outside of the frame. You would have to account for that height when determining where to run the side boards so along the top of the supports it is at the six foot width. You would also have to cut those boards so they do not interfere with being able to put the tin roofing material on. I would also have more bottom supports.

To fix our current issue we will get two more 8 foot boards to run along the side and under the support boards to give them something solid to rest on. I will also add a center support as that seems like a wide area to be unsupported. We will also add two boards on each end running on the inside and cut flush with  the frame edge to support the ends better. When we get the additional support into place we will add screws drilled down from the plywood into the supports to anchor the plywood to the supports.

In addition we are going to add 2×4’s all along the inside along the floor. I will be able to drill up from the bottom of the plywood up and into the 2×4’s as well as from the outside boards into these inside boards. I expect this to add some additional support as well as close off the inner corner. I do have some spaces around this edge open to the outside and had planned on using boards around the inside to cover them. I will use PDZ as a coop flooring so will need to have any areas where the PDZ might fall through covered. I will put a water proofer and protectant on the plywood and these side boards as well so do not expect the crack in the plywood to cause any issues. We are considering adding an additional board where the crack is to support it as well.

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What a long day and temps in the upper 90’s as well to work in. I have been looking forward to the temps getting down into the 80’s and it seems like it is forecast for the coming week, and when the week gets here, we are still in the 90’s. I am trying to do a little at a time over the course of several weeks to not kill myself getting this done. But the heat is making days like today a lot longer then needed. In total I spent 6 hours working on the coop though some of that time was not actual working but thinking about the best way to proceed with some of the changes I made and problems we had. We also did a little extra because of the wire I had on hand. I am still going to add the entire time to the total because some of what I did today would have to be done in the future.

Going Forward

In the next few weeks I have a couple days off as I have some time off to burn up before the end of the year. I will running some errands tomorrow as I have to get the car inspected, get tags and this year I need to get a new drivers license. While I am out I also plan on picking up the tin for the roof and it looks like the additional boards we need to make the coop a bit sturdier. Once we get the coop done we will be adding the wire to the outside.

We got the 2″ x 4″ x 4′ wire when it was on sale at Tractor Supply. I knew I would be needing it for the run so got it when the price was good. It is a good ideal to know what you need, know the regular price and to watch for when things go on sale. I may not need it immediately and may have to do without something when I purchase it, but it will be saving me money in the long run.

I also have to get chicken wire. Though I will use the hardware cloth on the coop, I feel I can use the chicken wire along the top section of the run. We will use the field fence wire along the bottom where I would be concerned about dogs and foxes. I will also use this wire to make the 2 foot skirt that will come out from the coop and run on the ground to prevent digging into the coop. The chicken wire should be fine on the top to protect from the hawks. The unaccounted for concern in all this is raccoons. I do think the top in chicken wire will be OK. The coons are nocturnal and the chickens should be secured in their coop and not something a raccoon can easily access. I also have some plans to use fence boards to offer a bit of additional protection.

Next weeks project is to reinforce the coop floor, add the door and trim to the other end of the coop and get the hardware cloth attached to the top of the coop. See ya next weekend

 

Running Total

COST: $201.64

TIME:  10.75 Hours

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