Timelapse movie of building a shed

Building the Shed from RH on Vimeo.

Ryan Haskell says:
I'm trying to install the maker ethos in my kids. When the need came up for a garden shed, rather than buy a pre-built big-box store job or have a contractor come in, I enlisted the help of my 3 and 5 year-olds (and some backyard chickens) to build one from scratch. 32 lbs of screws and 4 weekends later, we had a nice 160 square foot shed. I documented the effort using a homemade arduino-controlled dolly platform to capture 15,500+ digital photos with my DSLR, assembled here into a 9 minute timelapse video.
My favorite part of this video is watching his adorable kids crawl and run around.


  1. Love this!  It shows just how random little kids are.

    Also, he now has the skills to make one bad ass play house for his kids!

  2. I think the real story here is RH’s “homemade arduino-controlled dolly platform.” I require more information.

  3. “I’m trying to install the maker ethos in my kids.”

    Replace “the maker ethos” with “my particular faith” or “my views on other races” or “my financial ambitions” or any other thing, and I think you can see why this is a terrible idea.

    Children are ends in themselves, not receptacles for the propagation of your ideas and personality into the future.

    This guy needs to just do his “maker thing” or whatever it is, and involve his children for the sake of having them around and enjoying their company. His children need to feel loved, not feel like they need to adopt Dad’s “maker ethos.” Incidentally, especially not if this ethos is a fad for Dad. What about that, huh? Kid cottons on that dad really likes this stuff and tries to please, only to have the rug yanked out from under him when dad gets bored with a hammer.

    Just because it’s not Roman Catholicism doesn’t mean you’re not guilting your children and treating them instrumentally. and plenty of perfectly wonderful people can’t even change a battery.

    1. “This guy needs to just do his “maker thing” or whatever it is, and involve his children for the sake of having them around and enjoying their company.” 

      That seems to be what he’s doing. Me thinks you took an offhand comment in his post and turned it into a philosophical argument.

    2. Would you still be so sour if you knew that he probably meant “instill?” Doesn’t make a load of difference to me, but I’m guessing we’re not seeing eye-to-eye anyways.

    3. I guess that I should hate my mother for indoctrinating me into the cult of how to do my own laundry and iron a shirt.

    4. Whoa, lighten up there, feller. Even I wouldn’t criticize a dad for sharing time with his kids making a little harmless shack – and I’m rather, uh…cynical and abrasive.

    5. You can be loving to your kids, do things that you love with your kids, as well as select activities that you think might benefit your kids in the future. They are not mutually exclusive.

      Wether you like it or not, kids will be repositories for your ideas and personality, not to mention your bad genes. Most of us parents expend copious effort doing our best not to pass the bad  traits down but inevitably some get through.

    6. Doesn’t it seem a little “off” to you to try to rationalize an activity as productive and interesting as this shed-building experience as something more sinister than a simple play/learning opportunity?

      Also, those “perfectly wonderful people who can’t change a battery” would surely remain just as perfectly wonderful should someone teach them a simple useful skill such as “how to change a battery.”

    7. There is some merit to what Mike is saying – he’s only taking issue witht he word “install”. My dad was/is rabid about golf and thought it would be a good way for us to spend time together – making me love what he loves. And we can agree that golf is a benign and joyful-to-some activity, not religious indoctrine. Long story short though, I hate golf. And 20yrs after the fact, just this past weekend I got the sense from him that he has no concept of my quitting golf in HS because of un-interest. He believes my uninterest is the product of bad coaching. Upon learning this I wanted to tell him that I had a very good HS coach because he was able to infer that I didn’t want to be there and so foucsed on kids that did. But I’ll save that argument for a rainy day or heated game of Monopoly. Anyhoo – what I’m saying is, Mike has a point about kids vs parental interests. Do things with your kids, but avoid “install”.

    8.  I’m sorry, but there is a HUGE difference between teaching your kids to believe that an imaginary friend created the universe and teaching them how to use a power tool.  A lot of kids don’t get the opportunity to do stuff like this because so many just go buy a pre-made shed at this point.

      I agree that there are some things you have to let your kids figure out for themselves in life, but even if he forced them to help him with the shed it’s not a bad thing to occasionally make your kids help with projects around the house or do chores.  Part of growing up is learning that sometimes you have to help even if you’re not interested.

      These kids are likely going to grow up being better adults just for having been a part of this, whether they were forced into it or not.

  4. Timely post. Sheds were a topic of discussion at the dinner party last night. A friend lamented that after all the time, energy, and money that he spent building a backyard shed, he could have just gone to Lowes and bought a kit for less money that he could have installed in less time. We all agreed that when that is the case, it’s a clear example of how messed up and unsustainable our economy is. It just shouldn’t be so easy or cheap to avoid doing something yourself.

    About kids “helping”: it took me a while as a parent of young children to understand that it’s not really about helping me the way another adult would. If they can just be occupied in the same area as I am while I am working; maybe hand me one tool or stir the bowl a couple times, and not be whining, that’s a successful work session.

    One last comment: “160 square foot shed” damn! in my city, any shed over 120  requires a permit.

    1. I’m don’t think it’s messed up and unsustainable that someone can mass produce thousands of identical parts more efficiently and cheaply than a single person can by starting with off-the-shelf lumber and hardware. Putting the kit together is still doing something yourself, it’s just a time and money saver. It’s just the next step from buying pre-milled lumber and sheet goods instead of cutting your own trees, etc.

      1. True, I get your point about economy of scale. I even think that’s a reasonable criticism of the Maker movement. It’s just that I think a lot of corners are cut in order to bring even something like a $2500 shed to market. The messed up and unsustainable part is that extraction companies are now operating on such huge scales that they have mostly put smaller regional companies out of business. The way I wish it worked was that you could either buy the materials yourself from a local mill – in some places you still can – or you could pay an actual carpenter who would build you a better looking, longer lasting, and, yes, more expensive shed. But you would be putting money directly back into your community, or one not very far away, instead of into Weyerhauser. At some point economy-of-scale only explains part of the reason that things can be so cheap. After that you start getting into lax environmental regulations, artificially manipulated economies, labor rights, etc.

    2. That may be so, but there is no better education than building something yourself.  For example, I wanted a screen porch with bent knee bracing and a walkout second floor deck, and I wanted it built out of PT lumber so it’ll never rot.  I don’t see any of those for sale in the Home Depot parking lot.

    3.  You can always buy something for less than you can build it yourself.  It’s mostly because the mass-produced thing doesn’t give a tinker’s damn about being usable in seven years or having any kind of contextual elements to match anything around it.  

      Building a custom *anything* to actually be exactly what you want it to be is going to be more expensive than compromising with a disposable something that meets most of your needs that you’ll probably replace before the end of the decade for one reason or another.

  5. Next time I replace the vertical tongue and groove siding on my barn, I’m going to paint the tongues and grooves before I even cut the lumber.  You can see in the video how you have to hand-paint the grooves before switching to a roller or sprayer, and even with a sprayer you can’t really get everything painted, because in the winter when the temperature drops below paintability the wood shrinks due to moisture loss, and long narrow unpainted slivers of tongue peep out in every groove.  Very annoying to see the first winter after you spend a few years restoring a historic building…

  6. How did you know how to build this right in the first place?  It can be pretty expensive for most people to practice with pricey lumber.

    1. I didn’t know jack diddley squat when I built for the first time.  I jumped in and probably, honestly, only wasted about $20 worth of stuff.  Any mis-cuts were still good for something else later on.  Most common problem: cutting something too short.  But short cuts are usually useful as even shorter cuts later.

      1. Did you have detailed plans or just learn some basic rules and methods?  Things like how closely to space beams and such can be very specific.

        1. I bought some books and a few issues of Fine Homebuilding.  I drew plans a few times, but they were sketches not blueprints… and then I just started.  

          It’s a 12×12 two-story timber-framed studio.  The only real construction experience I’d had previous to that was helping my landlord put a new roof on a house I was renting, in 1996.  That sure was a pain in the neck.  

          Otherwise, I simply had an intense desire to build, and an admiration for beautiful structures.  I scored some beautiful arch-topped windows from a building that was being torn down nearby and I designed around those.  Did the permit, so it was legal. So then I bought some chisels and a chainsaw mill, hewed a few trees from my land and started in.  Then I bought finished lumber and metal roofing for the rest of it. It’s turned out nice.

          1.  Do you have any pics online?  I’m a fan of timber framing… more difficult than balloon or platform construction, but it makes a fundamentally stronger structure (and more beautiful, in my eyes).

    2.  It’s western platform construction.  Very simple set of rules, and it results in a strong building despite being made of weak individual components.  A good book or a week spent trolling the Internet will teach you nearly everything you need to know – except how to not cut your self with the saw or nail yourself with the nailgun.  First time out you probably want an experienced friend and a medkit.

      1.  I think you meant “trawling” the internet.
        Trawling is more in the sense of cruising around picking stuff up.
        Trolling is more like what I’m doing with this comment.

    1. I think the roof will be plenty strong considering its small span and the number of trusses he used. I do agree, that since he seemed to be going for what I would consider to be an overbuilt shed, some of his roof structure choices are inconsistent.  Also, he could have just as easily staggered the floor boards without adding cost.

      Having said that, I fully support this dude. He did what we wanted, to the best of his ability. He also created something that will serve him well for a long time – even if he has to replace the sheathing after the first roof leak.

      1. Yeah, I probably would have used tyvek or bituthene under the shingles.  Otherwise, this thing will be fine in snow.

      2. RH here.  You can’t see it in the video (a lot was cut out in the interest of short attention spans!) but I did add some collar ties to the roof structure after the OSB went on.  I wasn’t sure about how the lofts were going to go together at the time the trusses went up, hence the wait.  I also opted for no underlayment due to the steep pitch.

  7. My favourite part is the jazz version of Oasis’ ‘Wonderwall’. I love this video, it’s wonderful. My dad did projects like this with me as a kid and now not only does it mean I can put IKEA flat packs together myself (important for any lady student) but i appreciate how nice it is to work hard and make things for yourself (even if the thing is the aforementioned IKEA flat pack – there’s only so much I can do on a student budget!)

  8. Could somebody please build a Baba Yaga garden shed in classic Russian fairytale style, preferable with hydraulic chicken legs.   I’m fairly certain that I can promise that we’ll feature it.

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