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"A" Frame Chicken Coop
by Joe Bonnell
List of tools needed.
Introduction to construction.
It is recommended to use treated pine timber for white ant and rot resistance. Treated hardwood can be used almost as easily but it is much heavier. Do not use treated timber if this structure is to be used for parrots.
The timber for the main "A" frame struts are cut from 75mm x 38mm x 3M lengths. The next larger size, 75mm x 50mm may be easier to use but it is more expensive. The frame I built was constructed from 75mm x 50mm hardwood. Most of the timber can be cut to length for you at the store so you can transport it easier. The material list given allows a little extra length so you can trim to exact shape and size at home. The corrugated iron, Custom Orb, is bought as a standard length. The ridge capping and corner molding is cut from a flat sheet of Galvanised iron and formed at a local sheet metal shop. This gal. iron might only come in a 2.4M x 1.2M sheet and some waste may occur. It is far cheaper to buy the entire sheet and keep the off-cuts for later use. Check out the local sheet metal workshops and hardware supplies for corner flashing that can be substituted if possible. The 60 degree ridge capping will need to be cut and formed at a sheet metal shop as it is a non-standard shape.
When drilling the holes for all the screws, drill only one piece of the timber to form a snug fit for the screw to pass through. Assemble the joint, fit a screw into the hole and screw the two parts together using an electric drill with the appropriate attachment. Practice this first on some scrap pieces that will be used for the structure. If the wood that the screw is being driven into, cracks or splits, a small hole will need to be drilled into the wood to allow the screw to penetrate. This hole size is the diameter of the screw measured in the bottom of the screw threads, ie, the smallest diameter of the threaded shank and can be a little smaller than this when pine is used. Where a screw is driven into a hardwood part, a pilot hole must be drilled to allow the screw to screw into the timber. If a pilot hole is not drilled in hardwood, the end of the strut or beam etc, will split. Take care when drilling the holes, a broken drill is very difficult to remove. When drilling the holes, run the drill at high speed.
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Cut the A-frame struts to length and mark out the angles at the ends using the full size templates as a guide. Cut the angles at the ends to shape, all the cutting can be performed with a hand saw, a jig saw or with a circular saw. If using a circular saw, mark out the ends at the bottom of the frame strut on both sides . Cut along the side of the lines and stop when the blade comes to the edge of the line. Turn the wood over and cut as before. The unwanted wood will need to be cut out from the end with a hand saw and the excess trimmed with a chisel or a hand saw. Try not to undercut the corners with the circular power saw as this will seriously weaken the strut. The best saw for this job is a jig saw.
Cut the gussets that hold the 2 struts together and drill the 6 holes in each one for the screws. These holes are the same diameter as the screws. Spread the struts apart on a flat surface and check that the width measurement is 2625mm as shown in Sheet 4. A difference of plus or minus 10 mm can be tolerated as the struts will flex a bit but aim to keep to the stated dimensions. Fit an off-cut (its just a temporary spacer) from the ridge beam into the gap at the top of the frame and position the gusset as shown (Sheet 4). Screw the gusset onto the struts. Make sure the length of the top beam will allow for an off-cut to be taken from it. Complete all 6 frames to this stage. Pick one and carefully lay it flat on the ground, this will become the entrance end of the coop. Place the bottom beam in position and fasten in place. The joint is secured with wood screws obtained from your favorite hardware shop. Cut and fasten the door jambs and the noggin that supports them and fit the top beam above the doorway.
The frame at the other end is made exactly the same way. Make sure that the gusset at the top is facing the inside of the frame. Fasten the bottom beam and then screw the 2 cross struts in place as shown on Sheet 3. When the frame is finished, the outside surface of the frame will be flush all over. A flush surface is needed to screw the Custom Orb onto. Use standard roofing screws with neoprene seals to fasten the iron. Mark out the position of all the frames on the two side beams that hold the frames. Check the location of all the screw holes before commencing any drilling. Drill all the screw holes to suit the screws. Lay the side beams out where the coop will be positioned and make sure that the beams are level, one across to the other and are at the same height. You may need to dig some soil away to set these beams correctly. Position the rear frame vertically in place on the side beams and hold in position with a rope tied to the top of the frame and tied off on pegs driven in place as shown Sheet 9. Slide the 100 x 25 top beam into place and support the free end with a prop. Make sure the A-Frame strut is vertical and is square to the 2 side beams on the ground. Check that the end frame is level by placing a spirit level along the middle of the bottom beam. Screw the two side beams to the frame. To check for squareness, measure the distance the two side beams are spaced at each end to get them parallel. Measure the length of the two diagonals, ie. from one corner across to the other corner on the opposite side. Adjust the position of the side beams by sliding one or the other lengthways until both diagonals are the same length. Try and get these diagonals within 5mm, it's not hard to achieve. Position all the remaining A-Frames and screw in place. Screw the top beam to all the A-Frames. The structure will be rather unsteady but it will soon become reasonably rigid when the noggins for the iron sheets are fitted and screwed in place. Total rigidity is obtained when the iron is fastened onto the frame sides. A strip of timber can be nailed or clamped from the bottom corner at the front of the frame to the top corner at the other end or as high as you can reach to support the structure as it is being assembled. Nail this strip temporarily to each frame.
Cut and fit the noggin that holds the custom orb sheeting and screw it between the frames as shown. Measure the space between the frames to be certain of the correct length of each piece There are eight pieces needed for each side. The fitting of these pieces will greatly stiffen the structure. Check all the dimensions and the integrity of the screwed joints. You can leave making the door to the very last. It is essential that the frames be as square as possible to the base beams after they are erected and fastened and are aligned parallel to each other. This alignment and squareness will be greatly appreciated when you fit the wire mesh onto the frame. All the hard part is now completed.
DANGER, THIS NEXT OPERATION CAN CAUSE SEVERE CUTS TO THE HANDS AND BODY. WEAR SUITABLY PROTECTIVE CLOTHING AND LEATHER GLOVES BEFORE STARTING THIS PROCEDURE. YOUR PERSONAL SAFETY IS YOUR OWN RESPONSIBILITY.
Lay a 2.7 meter length of custom orb against the frame and support it so the top edge is flush with the edge of the top beam. The bottom of the sheet should be about 55 mm to 60 mm above the ground and/or hanging over the top edge of the side beam on the ground by about 45 mm. This sheet is fastened to the end bay of the framework. Screw only four screws into this sheet to hold it in position. Do the same on the opposite side. One screw is fitted in the center of the sheet at the bottom, another in the center at the top to the noggin. The remaining two screws are fitted into the noggin at the edge of the sheet next to the end frame. See drawing Sheet 9 of 11 Lay the second sheet over the remaining space and under the edge of the first sheet. The sharp edge of the second sheet should lay down along the edge of the "A" frame strut. It will be ok. If the sheet overhangs the strut but try and fit it so it is flush. Take this second sheet away and store safely.
Now lay the chosen wire mesh over the framework as shown in sheet 6. The edge of the wire will cover the edge of the strut and the iron will overlap on the timber and cover the wire and the staples that fasten it. The opposite edge of the wire should now be aligned along the centerline of the adjacent strut. The wire mesh can overlap here if needed. The spacing of the frames was determined by using wire mesh that measures 900 mm wide. This saves cutting the wire to size and is easier and safer on the fingers. Placement of the wire in this manner will give you a completed coop with no horizontal joins in the wire mesh. The wire mesh is continued over the top of the frame and down to the bottom beam on the other side as one length. There are no joins at the top of the framework. When this initial panel of wire has been fastened to both sides, the remaining custom orb is now screwed to the framework. Fasten the corrugated iron to each horizontal noggin with standard roofing screws. It helps to center punch the position of the screws on the custom orb. To drive the screws in, fit the hex head screwdriver into the electric drill, fit a screw to the magnet and position the point in the center punch mark. The screw will drill its own hole and screw into the wood. The lower edge of the iron is fastened at every second corrugation and the same at the top. The remaining sections are fastened every fourth corrugation and at the edges
The two outer edges of the custom orb sheets should be flush with the edges of the two frames as shown. Mark out all the centre lines of the noggin across both sheets with a felt pen. Center punch the corrugations where the holes are, screw a roofing screw fastener through the iron and into the noggin. See sheet 9 of 11 for details. NOTE: The screws are located at the TOP of the corrugations, NOT at the bottom in the valleys
CAUTION. Be carefull that the custom orb is not flattened or squashed by over driving the power drill. If the custom orb is deformed it will spread out wider than the frames and will need to be adjusted by backing off and/or removing the screws. If the sheets are satisfactorily positioned, screw in the remaining roofing screws. The structure will now be absolutely rigid.
Place another sheet of custom orb against the back of the end frame and support the sheet to match the height of the others. Mark out the line where the sheet will be cut on the angle using a straight edge to guide the felt pen.
DANGER, THIS NEXT OPERATION CAN CAUSE SEVERE CUTS TO THE HANDS AND BODY. WEAR SUITABLY PROTECTIVE CLOTHING, SAFETY GLASSES AND LEATHER GLOVES BEFORE STARTING THIS PROCEDURE. YOUR PERSONAL SAFETY IS YOUR OWN RESPONSIBILITY.
Cut the sheet along this line. The best way to cut this is with a circular saw fitted with a cut-off grinding disk. Lay the sheet on the ground (NOT ON CONCRETE) and cut along the line. Remove the sharp burrs carefully with a file or disk sander and fasten to the end wall. Mark out and cut the remaining panels. The sheets will need to be joggled to fit together but the cut parts will fit. The end wall can be covered using only two sheets of custom orb. Check all the walled surfaces for missing screws and add them if needed. Fit the galvanized sheet steel corner sheets to the frame. These finish off the outer corners and seal the end of the coop from the weather. They also cover the pointed ends of the end wall sheet pieces and form a covered safe edge on the corners. Cover the remaining spaces with the wire mesh and cover the front entry framework. Fit the ridge capping and all the hard work is now complete.
Make up the door, Check the dimensions of the width and height so that there is about a 4mm or 5mm space all around the frame. Cover with wire and fit the hinges. The best hinges are "Tee" hinges. The door can swing either inwards or outwards. Inwards might be better as it may offer more security when you enter the coop. Lastly, fit a latch and your done. Now go and make yourself a big glass of iced coffee and open the chocolate . All the interior fixings can now be made to your own requirements.
Our "A" frame coop is made from hardwood. It is very heavy and solid. The completed frame simply sits on the ground, there are no stumps or anchor points. It has withstood wind gusts of over 80 kph and has never moved or flexed. If you are concerned that a wind storm could overturn the structure, it can be fastened to wooden stumps sunk into the ground as needed or bolted onto a concrete slab. The custom orb can be painted to suit your locality if desired. If you erect the frame amongst trees and bush, a gum leaf green may be just the colour required to blend it into the landscape.
If you have any questions regarding the construction don't hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
May you enjoy building your "A" frame as much as I have when I built mine. I'm sure your chookies will love it.