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PE Mechanical Engineer
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
This project is small potatoes compared to the stuff I've seen in this thread, but it was my first "major" improvement project that involved framing and carpentry, and I am very proud of the product.

I have a 10' by 20' shed with an attic crawl. The original construction was done well, but some ignoramus decided that some storage in the attic would be useful. Good idea, but the implementation was lacking. They hacked through the ceiling, cutting the 2x6 joists, and slapped some random scraps of plywood and particle board up on top of the rafters. They took the hacked out paneling and formed a door out of it, something that you had to climb up a ladder and hold it up to undo three brass latches. The cuts were no where near square. They just drilled a row of holes in order to get a handsaw through and went to town cutting.

When I went to open the hatch and it fell off the hinges and knocked me off the ladder, I said "screw it, I can do better than this.". And so it began.
 

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PE Mechanical Engineer
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Step 1, I pulled the door apart and recovered as much of the shiplap paneling as I could. It's cheap pine, unfinished, but it had aged to a nice brown and so I tried to recycle what I could.

Next, get some safe workable decking up on the intact joists while the hatch opening was large and available. The hatch is roughly centered on the 20' dimension of the shed, toward one wall, so there were two 8' by 8' areas to either end where the joists were intact. 2 by 6 joists, mostly 16" on center, and insulated.

The plywood/particle board that was up there was nailed in with one or two small finish nails per sheet, so no structural tie in. There were 2 by 6s screwed down the center of the attic to serve as cross-bracing for the rafters. I got four sheets of 19/32", screwed down half of the deck to brace the joists, then removed the 2 by 6 and screwed down the rest. 1-5/8" construction screws every 12 inches. The deck surface area is exactly 8' wide, but I had to cut the sheets in half in order to get them through the hatch.
 

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PE Mechanical Engineer
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
OK, framing. I put the last sheets of plywood for decking up into the attic while the hatch opening was available. The cut joists were headed (sort of) by 2 by 8 boards. Nothing square at all. I took the 2 by 6s I recovered from the attic and screwed those across the cut joists overlapping the intact joists to support that section of the floor while I was doing the framing. It just had to support the weight of the paneling while I was framing the hatch opening.

Referencing the near wall for distance, I measured out for a 25" wide opening replacing the one 2x8 on the near wall with a single 2x6, but with joist hangars tied to the sistered joists on either side. I trimmed those joists square and installed that 2x6. On the other side, the joists were cut well out of square (they were out of line by as much as 2 inches, see picture). Going 28" inches off the good side, I could cut those off square and install a double 2x6 with hangers, also tied to the sistered joists on either end. Nice stiff strong structure! I screwed down the remaining plywood decking, which made things even more stiff and strong.
 

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PE Mechanical Engineer
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
It was all downhill from there. I then purchased a wide Warner 25" by 54" pneumatic attic ladder. I had to put a short header across the 25" opening to get the length right. Wrestling the frame into position was a hoot as there isn't enough frame accessible to support the door temporarily and open it to screw it in like they show in the installation instructions and video. Had to force it open by hand (kinda like opening the jaws of an alligator), had it bite down on my arm, swore a couple of times, finally got it opened, tied the brace open, and then dropped the frame into position. Shimmed and screwed it in, cut the ladder to length, beautiful.

Then I just had to get the shiplap paneling back up. There was not enough intact paneling to replace it all, so I had to get a couple replacement boards. I'm hoping that a few hot summers will get it all seasoned together again. I trimmed it up with some extra trim boards that a previous owner left in the attic for me.

I was able to clear out the lower level of the shed and put a lot of stuff out of the way into the attic, and now have a lot of good useable space. We do a lot of gardening and want to set up some potting tables along the windows on the sunny side for starting seeds. It's a nice useable space now. Victory!
 

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PE Mechanical Engineer
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks. A couple of buddies of mine bought me a miter saw for Christmas for helping them around their houses last year. Having good tools definitely makes things go smoothly.

There was a lot of badly done work on this shed and the house when I first bought it, and it is really satisfying to put it into good order. There is a lot left to do, but I get more confident that I can actually do it.
 
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