Shepherd hut Build

Cabin snow janBuilding a Shepherds Hut

This is record of me building my shepherds hut. It is in reverse order chronologically therefore you will need to scroll to the bottom and work upwards.

This project came about, as always, as a challenge, but more so that I was getting a little tired of sleeping in my Toyota Emina van whilst on extensive stays in the woods. Having fitted out a 72 foot narrow boat some 12 years ago I felt this new project at only 12 x 6.6 was going to be a little easier.

December – So its been 9 months since the start but just 100 hours in construction time. Despite the cold snow seen here the hut is a snug as can be, even when the fire is just ticking over I still have to have the door open an inch or so all night. During the year following this point I spent some 30-40 nights in the hut which was a delight and a great luxury compared to the van! Well worth every penny.

If you are inspired to own such a hut but don’t feel up to making your own Tim Gatfield and I will make you one for circa £10,000 depending on spec.[hr]



Being a bald as a coot there has been a running joke at work about my blonde fringe – well I did have one once!!!
Maybe as compensation I decided that the hut needed one, complete with kiss curls – so here it is.[hr]

Hut in snowNovember

Well we didn’t expect this 4” snow fell in just 3 hours on the morning of the 4th Nov. Hut was toasty as anything so all is well.
Very magical experience!![hr]


Its the 24th and I am off to the hut for 4-5 days with forecasts of Siberian weather for the weekend – but I am not bothered because I finally got the front window, and the wood burner in a couple of weekends ago. This was on a Sunday morning with the ever brave Tim hanging over the roof to do the important stuff.
As it was a Sunday I fired her up but didn’t spend the night there so this weekend is the big test for Heat and insulation.[hr]


And look at the results!!![hr]

Lawson -02 Lawson’s Cypress

A useful tree in our woods.
Due to the very mixed planting of Cherry Wood in the 1950’s we are blessed with a number of quality Lawson’s Cypress trees which are a valuable timber crop for us, as we fell for our coppice restoration
A native of NW America, where it is known as Port Orford Cedar (though it is not a cedar) Lawson’s will grow to some 200ft high with a trunk diameter up to 7-8ft.
As you can see the tree is very straight growing, giving a useful trunk of timber once converted. The timber is light, has great strength and is rot resistant. Its straight grain makes it a favourite for arrows as well as instrument and boat building.
Below is shown some good quality Lawson’s which was felled last week and awaits the mobile timber mill which will be here for some of project week if you want to see it in operation.[hr]

  July 29th

Been in the woods since Thursday when I collected the double glazed units in Tewkesbury. I put together and stained the windows on Friday and fitted them on Sunday. The painted architrave looks well and acts as a stop for the windows and this is how it looks installed and painted green to blend in with the walls.[hr]  I used some left over flooring to make the top which is thin so keeps it light in appearance Give time I will weave wicker baskets as drawers.

The next project is windows.[hr]


I am off to the woods soon for a 9 day stretch to help on a chair making course. I hope to have the time to do some work on the hut to which end I have prepared some panels for the kitchen unit.

I made an oblong ladder frame which is covered in T&G cladding for the shelves with the end panels prepared it is just a case of assembly on site and creating a work top to go on it.[hr]

May / June

it is the Green Woodwork teaching season now so done very little on the hut, Started to paint the walls, Apple Green wash and put up some branch hanging pegs. Also laid bamboo flooring which has given it a touch of luxury.[hr]
Friday 27th April

Returned to woods and spend an hour or so getting her level and on broad blocks, as the ground is soft and we don’t want her sinking into the clay.

I am going to clad her in Lawsons Cypress boards but we haven’t even felled the trees yet and then we have to book the mobile saw mill to come and convert the trees to useable boards. So it could be sometime.

Looking a bit of a ‘blot on the landscape’ I decide to cover in green tarps to make her a little less white!!

Thats better.

With temporary steps she is serving her purpose as my home from home as I have spent 7 of the last 10 nights in her and a great job she does.

But the rain last night, all night, on a tin roof – noisy or what![hr]

Saturday 21st April

Its project week in the woods which means that there are between 10 and 20 volunteers working on various infrastructure projects. I will be building some steps up to the green house which will also give me easier access to where the hut is going. Before this however I manage a days work on the huts ceiling, which I board in T&G, not a fun job but it was done in the day. I painted it with Farrow and Ball’s Eggshell in a cream colour but washed over so that the grain still shows through. With the setting sun coming through the window the warm glow is fabulous.

Project week starts and I work on the steps up the muddy bank. The final site for the hut is a further 10 yards beyond the top step.[hr]

Tuesday 24th April is D day and time to move the hut to site. 10 strapping lads and lasses and a long rope, pushing, pulling, lifting and straining. Down hill, uphill, missing trees and dodging roots. It was all a huge effort by everybody. Thank you one and all!!

I thank Dave Cockcroft for the following 8 picture of the move:-[hr]



End of Move Pics [hr]

Here she is just after the move on a very uneven bank and after having roughly levelled her on blocks.[hr]


Friday 6th April


Easter Weekend gives me extra days to play so I head back to site with futon in the van for which a bed base needs to be made after the walls have been clad.

I have a great first sleep on Friday night – thanks to a really comfy futon made by Peter from The Futon Shop in Plymouth. It Is his ‘Ultimate Foam’ version which has reflex foam in-between the felt layers and is much more comfortable that the last futon I had on my narrow boat.

Peter can be contacted on 01752 662030 from 9am to 9pm every day or visit his website[hr]

As a test for size I make a temporary kitchen unit. I want to keep this quite narrow so as not to intrude into the space too much so have made this just 14” deep.[hr]

With all of the ceiling insulation in place, its like a big fluffy eiderdown over the whole roof, it only takes this little ceramic gas heater to keep the hut toasty warm. I will be fitting a log burner later in the year but in the meantime this little fire does the job well at less than £1 per day in gas. I retrieved the cabin trunk, from one of the woods cabins where it has been for a few years, as it will be handy for storage under the bed.[hr]

The overhanging porch has proved its worth over this wet weekend with even a heavy rain burst not entering the hut with the door fully open.

It does however need additional support at the eaves to prevent a wind gust picking it up and turning the metal over. Steven Iddles of Distinctive Ironworks in Cheltenham did a great job of forging these brackets for me with lovely leaf details and useful hooks. 01242 680453

With three night in the hut it is already serving its purpose as a home from home and very cosy it is to! I am delighted with its spaciousness and light.

Next is ceiling cladding and flooring.[hr]

Saturday 31st March

The roof sheets were delivered to work in Cheltenham on Thursday and I managed to get them in van. With the 130 lengths of cladding I collected on Friday morning it was a heavy load on the motorway on Saturday morning as I dashed for a one day roof build.

Thank goodness Ben was free and able to join me as a superb ‘roof Monkey’ this really is a two man job and one of them i.e. Not Me! needs to be young and agile and scamper about with 2 drill and a pocket full of fixings.

It was a tough day but the roof was complete and I was on my way home by 5.30.

THANKS BEN 07907 269228 if you need help with any project like this  – He is Bath, Corsham, Devon, based – highly recommended.

I managed to get a little internal cladding done ready for Easter Friday i.e. in 6 days time when I intend to clad, make the bed, insulate the roof space with tri-foil and sleep in it for the first time.[hr]

22nd March

The weather is wonderful but I am not as I put my hand into a band saw!!!
Ben has to do most of the work and we crack on. We use the bed as work bench and build a long wall lying down, the components are ready cut and they fit the dimensions of a slab and a half slab of insulation perfectly. After assembly we use polyurethane gap filling glue to every joint and cover it in breathable membrane. after 30 minutes the glue has grabbed and the wall is firm, an hour later it is solid. We stand that wall up and make the next. By the end of the day all 4 walls are made and erected.

On day 2 we built the roof, insulated the eaves and put on tarps as a temporary roof. All of this was completed by 1.30pm.

After Ben had Left- Thanks Ben I couldn’t have done it without you – I made a temporary door from the plywood left over from the base and left the hut weatherproof. Next will be the internal T&G Cladding and the tin roof should be delivered in a week or so.[hr]

18th March

Spend a few hours making the last glue/lam beam and cutting out mortices for 2×1 longitudinal rafters. Seems to fit ok in a dry run.[hr]

8th March

I unload the van and start construction. The floor of the hut is a sandwich of ply – insulation, surrounded by 50mm timber – ply. I made sure that I had cut timber of the correct dimensions so as to mitigate too much cutting of insulation  – which is not a nice job.
I next cover this in a tarpaulin as I won’t be back for 2 weeks during which time I will be getting more components prepared.

7th March
Been back to Handyman Centre this afternoon to collect material for the floor, 50mm sq rough sawn timber for the edging strip i th middle of a sandwich with 12mm exterior ply bottom and top. The filling for the sandwich is 50mm celotex/kingspan insulation which I have bought in the 1200 x 450 size to lessen the amount of cutting I will have to do. I will need 12 slabs for the floor and will fill the odd space with timber.

I have bought all 45 slabs of insulation I will need which Andrew is kindly storing for me along with a roll of breathable membrane, and enough tri-foil to insulate the ceiling of 2 huts.

All the timber is cut to my specified sizes and just fitted on my Toyota Emina, along with my camping gear and tools which I will need as I am working on site for the next 4 days.

 4th March

I collect the wood for the curved beams or rafters of the hut which will eventually be covered in bent corrugated iron sheets.

In discussion with Tim Gatfield we had decided on glue laminated beams as the easier way to bet the curve at it required radius.

The great people at SLE cladding told me that my radius was 1670mm and one of the technicians at my works, Nathan LLoyd, kindly drew it in a cad program and printed it out on A3 sheets with a centre line and overlap tic marks. After taping these together I was able to trace the shape onto a piece of old worktop I had in the garage.

You can see below that I screwed 9 blocks to the worktop to create a former and used clamps to pull the shape to fit the blocks. Each layer has polyurethane foaming/gap filling glue in between.

The first beam was a failure with it springing upon release for a variety of reasons particularly because I had not put enough screws in and I tried to pull to many strips at once.

For the second beam I bent 3 strips with screws between each block to hold the laminated together and a screw in each block to hold the shape, working from the centre outwards, then I added 2 more strips, clamped on the block and tightened the same screws through those 2, followed by the final 2 of the seven 10mm strips to get the final beam to just over 70mm, which is what I wanted.

Beams 2, 3, 4 and 5 were all much more successful and were pretty consistent in shape. I only had to repeat 1 to get my full set.

I did a final check against the drawing which showed me that although very similar in shape they were all a little flatter than the drawing, perhaps I ought to have over stretched them and let them relax?

I was a little disturbed by this but SLE cladding assured me that all was fine and they would bent to the new radius. I cannot recommend these guys highly enough for their help for what is only a few hundred pounds order for them. SLE Cladding, Shropshire,01948 666321

My timber supplier is an independent merchant in Tewkesbury Glos. They offer a great service, cut timber to size and and will source anything they dont stock. They supplied me with materials for fitting out my narrow boat, refitting my works with 10 desk units and counters and numerous projects in between
Handyman Centre
Bredon Road Tewkesbury
01684 298366
Ask for Andrew Reeve

Coincidentally Andrew’s father is also starting a shepherds hut based on a farm hay trailer.We will swap notes.[hr]

1st March 2012

The chassis is made from 40mm square steel section welded together, towards the right of this picture you can see the fixed rear axle  whilst towards the left is the plate to which the front turning axle, will be fitted.

The axle stub is made from stainless steel

The Front axle with wheels and towing hitch which is removable.
The wheels are fabricated in steel which is much cheaper than cast iron. I was quoted upto £2000 for a set of 4 cast wheels with stub axles.

With the premiss  that a shepherds hut must be on wheels and towable by a tractor or horse I initially decided to build it on an Ifor Williams trailer. With these priced at some £2500 or more I changed my mind and bought a chassis base off Paul Nightingale.

Paul Nightingale, Beechleaf Carpentry

The chassis was delivered by a good friend, Julian Bettly who runs a great courier and delivery service. Julian Bettly, DDT Services, 07774 780229.

The pictures below show the chassis arrival and the component parts.