The poultry palace

Poultry palace

Does the economy have
your wallet on life support?  Are your feathered friends
outgrowing their old home and new “store bought” coops too
expensive?  Well, this could be your ticket to poultry
paradise.  It’s a great way to save money and have some fun
woodworking.  Besides, your birds will be happy and safe, and we
all know happy birds lay plenty of eggs.

If you have the time and
some tools…I’ve got the rough plans and I’ll be happy to share them
with you.  This project gets at least a 3 hammer rating. 
Some woodworking experience is required.  (Note: I built this from
a photograph I saw and had no plans to speak of at all.)

First- Take inventory of
your tools.  You will need:

  • Claw hammer
  • 16 and 8 penny nails
  • 3 inch deck screws
  • Electric drill.  I prefer battery powered.
  • Chop saw (aka miter saw).  If you don’t have one, use a
    miter box and crosscut hand saw.
  • Wire.  Your call: chicken wire or hardware cloth.
  • Small fence staples
  • Pliers
  • Gloves
  • Safety glasses.  Wear them.
  • A circular saw.  Optional but helpful.
  • Common builder’s square.  Optional but helpful.
  • 3 ft. level
  • Wire cutters

Second- Materials you’ll need:

  • (4) 4×4 in. pressure treated lumber, 8 ft. in length
  • 2 bags of Portland cement with gravel
  • Plywood
  • Roofing materials.  I used pvc roofing sheets; they’re
  • Hinges
  • Handles
  • 16 galvanized metal sheeting for a droppings tray

Note: If you have access to an air-compresser and pneumatic tools, it
will go a lot faster.  Don’t get in a rush though.  I built
this by myself and it took me almost two and a half weeks in good
weather, but I goof off and take lots of breaks, so…

Framing a chicken coop
Measure in an X pattern to get it
squared up.

Let’s get
started…  This is probably one of the most important aspects of
the project and will affect the entire job if you don’t get it
right.  When you select a site and size of coop, it has to be
squared up. 
It doesn’t matter if it’s 4 ft. by 4 ft. or 4 ft. by 6 ft. or what, you
must make a diagonal measurement using a tape measure or even
string.  The distance across has to be the same when you measure
both directions.

See figure above and
look at the black arrow.  That distance has to be the same between
the other two posts as well.  If not, then nothing will be square
and you have to do a lot more work.  It may look a little out of
whack and not suit you.  So be sure it’s squared up.  Trust
me on this one.

Note: Make it easy on
yourself.  Lay down a piece of pre-cut plywood to the dimensions
you want and use a post hole digger just off of each corner… 
This should square it up pretty close.  Within a quarter of an
inch is fine.

Twenty four inch deep
holes is plenty.  Square it up and then add your Portland
Cement.  Just pour it in dry.  The ground in Florida is
plenty moist.  It will set up and give you time to check for
vertical plumb with your level.  Let it set up overnight.  If
you live in a drier area, then add some water to it and pack it in with
the butt of your shovel.

Next Step.  After
the pressure treated 4x4s have set up overnight, it will be time to
check to be sure they are the same height.  No surprise, they
usually aren’t.  You can use a string and a line level. A line
level is about one dollar and sold at Home Depot.  I use a clear
piece of hose and fill it with water.  Loop it into a “U” shape
and presto…  It will be level.  Make a mark and square it,
then cut with saw.  Now all posts will be squared up, level, and
within the vertical bubble.

I spent a lot of time on
this because it’s important to your project.  Get this part in
shape and you’ll avoid problems in the future.

Now you’re ready for
this part.  It’s kind of self explanatory.  This is where you
get to use the miter box or chop saw.  Be extremely careful. 
Chop saws take off fingers too.  It’s also a good time to wear the
Safety Glasses I mentioned earlier.

Roofing the chicken coop

I prefer to use the
drill or pneumatic nail gun here to avoid cracking the concrete at the
base.  Stong hammer blows may damage or weaken the concrete.

Chicken coop walls

Okay, let’s frame in the
doors and windows.  I like to 45 the corners of doors and windows.
It gives them that professional look.  Just set your miter saw to
45 degrees and have at it.  This makes for good looking corners
and joints.  I prefer to join these pieces with wood glue, clamps,
and 3 inch deck screws and let set overnight.  (Notice, just below
the coop frame, I’ve started a glide out for the scat tray.)

For me, this was about
the start of day three.  Did I mention I like to take
breaks?  The rooster was so curious about what I was doing I had
to be careful not to step on him.

You guessed it… 
It’s roof time.  I used 1x12s for the part over the coop, then
just pvc sheeting for the run.  They free range during the day.
Noth’ens too good for my girls.

Exterior nest box

Mov’en right along
now…  Next is the nesting box. Once you decide where the windows
will go and cut out for them, you’re on your way.  Here’s where
the pneumatic nail gun comes in real handy.  It’s a big time
saver.  Note: The nesting box support beams (2x4s) were installed
as one of the original tie beams that joined the 4x4s we squared up.

Chicken coop nest box

We’re getting all framed
in now.  Notice the hinges and handle.  The top to the
nesting box is 3/4 inch birch plywood.  I used this because I had
it.  5/8 will work just as well.  Birch is pretty
pricy.  You should be at the one week mark right about now. 
I think I was on another break at this point.  I’m big on breaks.

Chicken coop

Good news.  You’re
almost there.  Now it comes down to the little stuff.  Here
you can get as fancy or as simple as you wish.  I prefer simple
and functional.

Coop door latch

Sliding entrance door w/
handle.  Notice the frame under the coop that holds the slide out

Note: All wood that
comes in contact with the ground must be PT wood (pressure
treated).  If you live in the South, you live near termites. 
It’s always termite and mosquito season here in Florida with our 11
months of summer and 4 weeks of bad weather.  Makes me want to
take a break just talk’en about it.  Where’s my ice tea?

Final Lap…  Here
we come.  Once you’ve framed in, and gotten it all wired in and
stapled, you can add awning bibs to windows, fancy handles and various
trim work.

Chicken coop and run

This coop is 6 ft. 4
inches tall and 9 feet wide.  Front to back measures 48 inches or
4 ft.  I even added lattice at the bottom.  I like that
effect.  The lattice is in this next


Quality chicken coop

This was sealed with
boiled linseed oil.  I hope this has been helpful and inspired the
spirt of wood-working in you.  Take care of our egg-laying
friends, and remember…they’re important too.

Dave Bovee is a retired wood shop
teacher who builds chicken coops for the fun of it.  He’s a
regular contributor to Airboating
and will be sharing his wood-working prowess with our
readers for a couple of weeks.

time: The Eazy Breezy chicken coop.  It’s just as functional and
one fourth the cost and time.

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