Building a Coop

Building a coop or cage doesn’t have to be difficult. There are a few tips to keep in mind. Most materials have a standard size. These things should dictate footprints when you are seeking simplicity.

Lumber generally comes in 8 feet lengths. 2×4 boards, plywood, osb, even insulation comes in 8 feet standards. Sheet goods come in 4 feet widths typically.

For ease and simplicity stick to the 4×8. Or an even derivative, say 4×4, 2×4, even 3×6. They’re all divisible by 2. Measuring is much easier.

The second rule is remember that modern lumber is cut and planed smooth. So that makes a 2×4 board actually smaller. Usually a 2×4 is only 1 1/2 inches thick and 3 1/2 inches wide. Most boards are like this. A 2×2 will have 1/4 inch planed off of each side so take that into consideration and plan for an actual 1 1/2 x 1 1/2. The same goes for a 2×6. It’s actually only 5 1/2 by 1 1/2.

To make a rectangle base 24 Inches wide and 36 inches long you would remember that the thickness of a 2x is 1 1/2 and double that into three inches. You would subtract three inches from your 36 inch base length to get 33 inches. When you butt joint your 24 inch 2x to your 33 inch length you will have a total of 36. Just what you wanted. Your roll of 36 inch hardware cloth will fit perfectly.

There does not have to be a great deal of difficulty when trying to build a coop. When you gather materials just remember what you have to work with and keep that in mind throughout the whole process. If you have 35 inch wire you probably won’t be able to make a 36 inch frame soon you will adjust all of your measurements to that.

I’ve had quite a few people ask me for plans for coop designs or other things that I have built. I generally come up with some idea of what it should look like. Often times we’ll try to build a concept from things like one full sheet of 4 x 8 plywood. Making something from one full sheet of plywood would mean that I’ll have to be restricted with the maximum 4 feet or 8 feet. Most often when I design something to be used from a single 4 x 8 sheet of plywood it is for simplicity either in building it or in transporting materials. Most people can put a 4 x 8 sheet of plywood on top of their car or SUV it is not difficult to transport.

Whatever your materials are that are limiting you should work around those most of the projects that I built are made from materials that I have scavenged or repurposed. Because materials are scavenged or repurposed it is often not feasible to design a complex building or cage or any other project when you’re limited by what you can build it with. For this reason I do not generally provide plans for certain things.

It is generally much cheaper to build a project from scavenged and repurposed materials. If you were going to work from a plan require certain dimensions you would have to have those certain dimensions or scale all of your measurements to fit what you do have. If you were going to scale your dimensions to make it fit you might as well look at what materials you have and build it from there anyway.

With this being said there are favorable ways to put things together. Once you begin to get a concept of how to put things together properly it will become much easier to build future projects and much faster as well. Knowing how to build a square from four pieces of wood as a platform is pretty universal whether you’re building an outhouse storage shed,a rabbit hutch, or a chicken coop.

The most important piece of advice that I could possibly give anyone wishing to build a project is think ahead of yourself. If you failed to think at least a couple steps ahead of yourself you will be disappointed. You do not always need to follow someone else’s previous design. Unless you’re going to make some extremely difficult or abstract design most things can be accomplished by simply envisioning them in your head and drawing it out on a piece of paper.

To begin with let’s assume that you want to build a rabbit hutch. You have some random 2×4’s that are six or 8 feet long and you also have half inch by 1 inch welded wire for the floor that is 36 inches wide 5 feet long. From this you would have to find some kind of siding and some type of roofing however you have what you need to build the biggest part of the hutch.

Your wire is going to be the biggest in hitting factor. With wireless 5 feet long 36 inches wide you will be able to build a hutch with that footprint. You would need to cut two pieces of 2 x 4 5 feet long and you would need two pieces of tuba for that were 33 inches long. Together these four pieces of wood screw together with a butt joint would make up your 36 inch wide and 5 feet long platform. Staple or screwed your welded wire to the top of this friend and you can begin to build a stand and body of the hutch.

You have your platform now assume you want your hutch 3 feet tall you also wanted 2 feet off the ground so that is at least 5 feet of two before that you and me so you can look through your two by fours and see if you have enough pieces to do that. If you have four boards that are 5 feet long then you can go ahead with your idea.

The next step would to be making the top part of the frame for the hutch. You would need to build a second frame that is 5 feet long and 36 inches wide. You will use the 5 feet long boards to connect the top and bottom of the hutch. You will have 2 feet roughly under the hutch and the middle will be 3 feet tall. Once you have attached a board at each corner of the two frames you can stand your hutch up and decide how to build the roof.

Perhaps you have a piece of plywood or two or three pieces of plywood. You can use these pieces of plywood to pass together a solid top. Now you can shingle your top and add a door and sides.

I do not always have a complete plan when I begin to build something. Often times I find I have made a miscalculation or I’ll find something I did not know that was available to begin with. This is part of what you have to deal with when you’re using scraps and salvaged materials to build your projects list. If you want to buy new materials then you can build a coop that rivals the best houses. However most of mine are done with a strict and tight budget.

I hope that this clarifies many of the questions I get for plans to things that I have built and posted. If I get enough questions about a certain project that I have built and I did not post dimensions I will post dimensions and cut lists however much of what I do I do on the fly.

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