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Making a DIY Foldaway / Pop-Up Motorcycle Shed
I have no woodworking skills at all. None. When I went to school in Ye Olden Days, girls did cookery and needlework, and boys did woodwork and metalwork.
But when I realised my motorbike was starting to go rusty, I knew I needed to come up with a better shelter than the flimsy cover I’d been using until then. So I embarked on my first ever woodworking project*.
This post won’t be a step-by-step tutorial on how to design and make a bike shed, because I am a complete novice and was making it up as I went along, so it’s probably not a good idea if anyone does the same as I did! But if – like me – you have no idea where to start with a project like this then it might give some clues how to get going.
Why a DIY Foldaway / Pop-Up Motorcycle Shed? (Why Not Just Buy a Ready-Made One, Like Everybody Else?)
I made it like this because the bike was going to be stored down the side of my house, where there is only a narrow path. So if I bought a ready-made shed then it would permanently block the side door of the house, and sometimes I need to get things in and out of that door. There are also two windows on that side of the house, so I needed a shed that wouldn’t block them, either.
Therefore I wanted a collapsible structure that could be temporarily flattened against the wall if I needed access to the side door of the house, and was also tailored to avoid blocking the windows.
Why didn’t I get a professional to make it?
- Because custom jobs are more expensive, and I wasn’t earning enough money to justify paying for a project like that.
- Because I wanted to have a go at woodwork. I was nearly 50 years old and had never made anything out of wood, so it was time to do something about it.
Designing the Bike Shed
The first thing to do was measure the motorcycle (a Bullit Hunt, if you were wondering what that thing is in the photo. I bought it from a local company who makes bikes up from imported kits.)
Then I measured the side wall of the house, and the positions of the windows on that wall.
After that I transferred the measurements onto some pieces of squared paper and made a little folding model out of them.
At this point I had proved to myself that the bike should fit inside the shed with a little bit of room to spare, and that the shed should fit under both windows without blocking them, and that it should also be able to fold flat-ish.
Then because I didn’t want to waste a load of time and wood, I made myself a little scale model out of MDF, by using my laser cutter. (OK, this option isn’t available to everybody, but as long as you have a junior hacksaw and thin pieces of wood, that should give the same effect.)
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At this point I’d already realised that it would probably be best to put any hinges on the inside of the bike shed, because that way it would be much harder for anyone to break into it. I didn’t like the idea of spending hours creating this thing and then somebody coming along one dark night and just unscrewing a couple of hinges to come and steal my bike.
Preparing to Make the Collapsible Shed
First I (or rather, my husband) bashed down the old brick bin shelters that were attached to the house.
Then I measured everything again – the bike, the wall, the scale models – just to make sure that I wasn’t doing something stupid like mixing inches with centimetres.
Then I bought some wood battens and got out my under-used and over-heavy drill, and got to work trying to make a back frame. I had to check out lots of videos on YouTube to find out how to fix wooden battens to brick walls. Here are a couple of the ones I found useful:
- How to fix wood to a masonry wall
- How to make a DIY shed
- How to make a trash can shelter (special thanks to April Wilkerson for making it look easy and fun to do woodwork projects – this was the video that tipped me over the edge into actually giving it a go myself!)
So I got going with attaching some wood battens to the brick wall. But then the 8mm drill bit got stuck in the drill. Really really stuck.
I tried WD40 to loosen it, but that made no difference. I tried to grip the drill with a non-slip grippy thing in one hand, and to pull/twist the drill bit using pliers. I bought a big heavy vice to hold the drill, so I could use both hands to pull/twist the drill bit. I bought a ‘workmate’ type workbench to hold the drill. Nothing worked.
So then I bought another drill (and another 8mm drill bit). Is this what woodworking is supposed to be like? I know my dad always says that DIY projects are “Start a job, make a job” projects, and end up with a great big comical chain of disasters that you have to then fix in order to get the first job done, but (1) I thought he was exaggerating, and (2) I thought it was just him.
Then the first time I used the new drill it started smoking and it smelled of burning plastic. So I took it back to the shop to replace it.
Then when I got home and opened the box of the replacement drill there was no key for the chuck, so I couldn’t use it. I had to go back to the shop and ask if I could have the key from the old one.
Eventually I ended up with a back frame for the shed, with a perfectly horizontal batten (as proven by the middle bubble on my spirit level – woohooo!)
Here are some of the stages involved in making it:
The whole thing took about a month to complete (I had to pause when it snowed and rained), and I finished it just in time to lock my bike away while I went on holiday. There are still some bits left to do – like putting a couple of layers of wood treatment on it and finding something properly waterproof to go on the roof section – but at least the bike is secured and out of the rain.
Because this is the first time I’ve made anything like this, I have probably made it all wrong – but at least I’ve had a go at it, and I’m happy with the results so far. But if you can spot any glaring errors in construction or have got some advice for the next one I make (or advice on how to remove a drill bit from a drill!) then please let me know via the comments section or the contact us page or via twitter.
*I’ve assembled Ikea furniture before, but that doesn’t count.