View Full Version : Telephone Pole Shed

02-04-2016, 08:16 PM
I just joined the site and thought I would post. Seeing how my favorite thing to do is build/improve things.. this seemed fitting.
Disclaimer: my intentions is to NOT toot my own horn with this thread. I struggle with coming up with an initial thought. Therefore i typically take someone else's idea and improve/modify it. That is my objective here: Provide an idea/thought for someone so they too can execute.

My objective is to build a 20'x26' shed to store fuels and other equipment along with my truck (Chevy, of course:cool:). Seeing how I could obtain the poles for free I thought this would save me some money. For what I got, it saved me a ton. To just build a shed, it's not worth the effort. However they were free and... if its worth doing, its worth over doing.

NOTE: Most Coop electric companies allow customers (sometimes non-customers) to take used telephone poles. That is how i obtained mine.

Stay tuned for pictures as i just set the poles this past weekend and will post pictures once i take them. I also had a hard time with the thought so i drew it up in visio (yes this is dumb but its all i have access to). I will post the drawings once i finish them.

02-04-2016, 09:50 PM
Cool knot picture away I love building projects. It's hard to get used poles around here , And if you find them you have to buy them. They make good board lumber also . TK

02-05-2016, 08:10 AM
I'm planning on getting a few poles from my work soon and building a shed to put preps in, and a small one to stack firewood in. Firewood is abundant here, and if I look around, usually find a tree down in our creek bottom after most thunderstorms

02-17-2016, 10:18 PM
Sorry for the long delay. I have got the bottom row (2x8s) and the next row up (2x6s) done. Havent spent much time on it since. However, here it is so far. The dirt in the middle is because the pad isnt level. Also, the poles have not been cut to height and the ridge beam will run parallel with the opening and thus the reason for the taller pole. Average pole diameter: 8"

I'm going to be putting up three more rows of boards, hopefully 2x8s if i can get a hold of some cheaper ones, and then i'll end with a header board. The header will be 2x8. Overkill, yes, but i am also spanning an average of 8' between poles.

Having priced it out, i'm considering using all techshield OSB. Its the 7/16" OSB with a radiant barrier. It's only $100 to do the entire building (roof and walls) and since i will be storing fuel, i figured keeping heat out isnt a bad thing. Also, i'm curious as to its EMP-resistance if it is all tied together somehow. Call me crazy but i'm only wondering, not claiming.

So far i have roughly $300 invested:
$35 in quikcrete
$200 in lumber (2x8x10 treated, 2x6x10 SYP)
$65 in Spax 4" HCR hex head lag bolts (i'll probably get railed for using 'fancy' lag bolts but I'm impressed with 'em. They are hex head with built in washer. No effort to drive them in with an Impact driver. plus, i found them for around $0.43/bolt online. Thats half the price HD wants for them)


02-18-2016, 08:37 AM
Looks good. I will give you a couple suggestions from past experiences but don't be afraid to ignore them. I would put the top header on soon before you stiffen the sides or they may be hard to pull into square at the top. Also if the sides are to stiff it maybe hard to rack. But if you backfield and cemented your poles already your not going to rack it anyways..
What style roof your putting on and how far apart your putting your rafters would determine if I would use 7/16 osb. At any rate if you can get that much osb for a 100 bucks I would buy it and use it someplace.
Timber lock makes good lag bolts They drive easy with an impact and they don't come out but I pre drill my holes first but their about a buck a piece.
Looks like you will have a good strong building when your finished for little money good job. TK

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02-25-2016, 09:36 PM
Hard to square round poles. None of them are ever straight. What I do is build the headers, and square the building by the ends of the headers if that makes sense.

02-29-2016, 11:00 PM
TK, thanks for the advice. The Spax do not require pre-drilling (so they say) and i've only had about 5 splits out of the 150 i've drilled in so far. Just for clarification, though, the radiant barrier will cost $100 MORE than just standard OSB sheeting. Its not $100 total. That would be awesome! Regardless, $100 more just to get the radiant barrier is going to be hard to pass up. I'll be putting on a hip roof with roughly a 6/12 pitch. Currently i am planning on using 2x8s on 16" center. However, i am seriously considering using metal 26 gauge for the roof and, if so, i will likely go with 24" center. Regardless i will still put down radiant barrier OSB 7/16" thick. The roof is where the majority of my cost will be incurred since it will take the most lumber/materials. Any suggestions for keeping it solid but reducing cost... i'm all ears. Mind you, i do live in OK where we could get 5-10" snow (worst case). My main concern is wind (we are in Tornado alley) so i will be looking at using additional hardware to strap'r down.

bnorr, you are exactly right. In the below pic, the right front pole is crazy bent at the top (relatively speaking). I'm not looking forward to putting on the top header b/c we squared the bottom/4 foot up, not the top! I did buy some cheap chisels so i can notch out if needed. that an a 4ft level should keep my walls in line. Regarding square, i'm about 4" off corner to corner. when drilling the holes we didnt have a drill bit on the auger but was using a rock bit. It has a flat head and it walked. We did our best but even measuring before setting the posts didnt work out. Too much rock proved to be difficult in getting it square. Hole depth varied from 5' to 1.5' simply because of rock (mind you, the back is the deepest b/c its back filled and i could control the cleanliness of the soil).

Below is a picture of the progress i made this past weekend (i'm a one-man show right now and sit behind a keyboard for a living). Them 20' ers spared me 2 lag bolts each but i think they make the walls more solid too and didnt run much more for the same $/ft. Lumber for this past weekend ran me $215 but i still have about 7 10' 2x8s left. I also ran out of my lags and purchased more tacking on $87 for 200 more lags.
For those wondering, I only used 2x6x on the second row b/c i didnt feel like purchasing 2x8s from the orange depot. It looks funny but i aint re-doing it since that is actually my level line. The first row didnt come out as level so those 2x6s will give me the benchmark i need for my headers.

03-01-2016, 08:45 AM
We don't have to many tornado's here. But we do get snow and wind. When I use metal roofing I put my rafters and in this case trusses on 2' centers then my stringers or purlins or nailer's what ever you call them in your area on 2 foot centers witch stiffens the whole roof structure.

I then put a vapor barrier on the purlins then screw the steel down. I never have had trouble with wind damage or snow. If snow weight concerns you. You can always go with a steeper pitch roof. Tornado's ? What can you do to save any structure from a direct hit from a tornado. But up pressure from wind will cause problems. That's why I always finish with some type of soffit and fascia. I don't sheet a roof with wood unless it's a house or I am using shingles or I want to see the wood from underneath like my pavilion.
That saves a lot of money. I use ruff cut 2x4 witch are actually 2" x 4" and spike them down with 20 penny's. We all build differently and I know different parts of the US building styles vary.
As far as pulling your poles into square to put your top header on I would use some chains and a come along. You can pull them end to end or side to side you may even be able to pull your diagonals into square but get some help with that. Your structure looks good so far . I know what its like to build alone . You can bust your ass all day and it don't look like you got anything done . But eventually it will come together. TK

03-01-2016, 10:55 PM
tk, thanks for the pics and the info. I still want a radiant barrier for the roof BUT i'll need to look into the roll out stuff instead of using OSB with it on it. Maybe i can save some money there. Good point on the sheeting. Having grown up in a mobile home i know that above ground structures are just targets when it comes to tornadoes. I will be building soffet vents to help combat pressure and hopefully the additional hardware will help hold the roof on. It wont make it 'proof' but it should help increase its resistance. Despite the trees the wind can still move in these parts.

I'm laughing here looking at your concrete and nice rough cut lap siding. Heck, my pad isnt even level! hahah

the rough cut 2x4s interest me. I noticed the darker looking wood on your pavilion. It looks like the oak 2x4s my dad has. Surely thats not oak b/c driving nails in them outside of using compressed air would suck (at least in my experience). Regardless the wood type, were you able to get them cheaper? If so, what type of place would i need to look for regarding rough cut?

03-02-2016, 08:50 AM
Living near an Amish community I have plenty of saw mills to choose from. They all mostly saw pine and hemlock . I have to drive a little further to mills that saw hard wood. In the pictures your looking at white pine 2 by's and hemlock siding and sheeting. All this lumber is air dried on stickers only, so the boards on top of the stack and the longer they sit the darker they get.
Rough cut is just that . It's cut to actual size meaning a 2 x 6 is 2 inches thick and 6 inches wide its not planed and it's air dried and you pick it up at the mill. You by it by the board foot so if the sawed wood buyers are paying 58 cents a board foot that's what you pay. When you by lumber at the store your paying for planning, drying ,trucking and the original 58 cents a board foot so now its $1.25 a board foot for the same 2 by.
But using air dried wood has its disadvantages also. If you use the wood while its still wet it may twist or split or shrink as it dries. After you use it a while you can tell just by the weight if it is dry enough to use. I have hammered green sheeting boards on a roof fresh off the mill that water flew out of it as I drove nails and not had a problem . I also have had studs in walls twist like a pretzel that caused problems. You will learn after using it a while to look for wind shook lumber or bad grain and loose knots. But I still prefer it over standing at a lumber store picking threw 30 boards to get 10 good ones or worse yet having them deliver a load to the site and having to take more bad boards back to them than I used. But professional contractors don't have the time or space to air dry a whole jobs worth of lumber as I do so store bought lumber is what they have to use.

That picture of the slab is my shop . It is just that . I compacted, tamped the dirt dug in my drains leveled with 1 b gravel and poured 6 inches of concrete. I then bolted my walls down to it. Other than the cost of concrete I find it easier than pole building type construction but like I said a lot more money. It all depends what the building is being used for that determines if I want a pole building or regular construction.
I should add I am pretty ignorant as to what other states have as far as timber and saw mills . Having moved 4 times in my life and the furtherest being 7 miles from the house I was raised in I can only tell you what we have here and what I have always used and what has worked with me.

03-04-2016, 08:30 PM
The purpose of mine is a starter shed. Store fuel and the sorts in a non-conditioned space. I'm just making it big enough to put my pickup in when the storms roll through (i dont currently have the garage space for the vehicles i own). For what i'm using it for i should have went all metal but i dont have all-metal $. Plus my land isnt suitable right now for a concrete slab. Too much prep work.
I do understand what you mean by green boards. I bought some lumber from a yard here and it was heavy. As i was sinking in the lag water was spitting out all around. However, its doug-fir and from what i've read it doesnt warp as bad as SYP. Hopefully getting it put into place will keep it from doing that. Besides, it was the 20 foot'rs that were the worst and those suckers are locked down.

Since you're still talking to me :P I want to run something else by you. In the interest of having overhead space i am not going to build typical trusses inside. Instead i'll probably put a flat cross beam on the rafters about 3 feet down. My front 4 posts (wall of the door) are only in the ground about 1.5-2'. I'm thinking that i might want to brace them. My plan to do that is to cut a 2x8 and string it between (looking at the most recent photo i posted) poles 3 and 6 from the left. 6 is my threshold pole for the door and 3 is the second pole back on the left side of the bldg. I would do this on the other side. I was thinking of cutting it tight and then using joist hangers to hold it in place. It wouldn't really be in my way plus it would tie things together.
I'm pretty sure you'll say this is overkill but lets find out :cool:. If i have extra lumber then i'll do it regardless.

03-04-2016, 08:52 PM
Nobody ever says they wish had a slower horse and nobody ever says they wish they had underbuilt something.


03-05-2016, 08:13 AM
I'm with Tex . You cant over build it . Sounds like it would work to me.

03-05-2016, 12:33 PM
looks good. keep up the good work.

03-08-2016, 09:42 PM
anything worth doing is worth overdoing. I'm getting close to putting the last row of boards up for the wall. The last row will essentially be my rest for the chainsaw to trim all poles except the middle back. However, i'll likely be burning my brush piles this weekend instead of working on the building due to all of the rain. It has been dry but we got 1" just today. More is expected. Ill get more photos when i can.

04-17-2016, 02:22 PM
So the last photos posted were essentially all i could do until i got some help. Below is what some good help will do for you. NOTE: there are pictures after each paragraph.

We were able to put up the last row of boards. This was the height that I cut the telephone poles too. Its roughly 9.5 feet inside. However, i chose to go with 8 foot exterior walls to avoid having to rip/cut my siding. Once this was put on we cut the poles, added 4x4's to the inside and then put a 2x8 top plate over both, the top plate being flush with the outside. The purpose of the 4x4 was a last minute upgrade. We should have notched them in but didnt think about it and went the joist hanger route. (At $3/hanger, we should have notched)


We also built the header for the opening. Since I knew a ton of weight was going to be put on this header i beefed it up. I used a double 2x12 LVL beams notched into the poles. We notched it for structural but also to get the last row up on the outside. On top of that, as you can see, is the top plate. Then, instead of a 6x6 which i planned initially, i took that $20 board back and just used a piece of telephone pole to sit on top and support the ridge beam. Only needed about 3.5' anyway.



Finally, and i know someone is going to balk at this, we put the ridge beam up. The place where i bought it had their engineer figure out what i should use. I was planning to use a double 2x12 LVL beam. However, after explaining that i wouldn't have any joists they said i needed either a triple 2x18 LVL or a double 2x24 LVL. Not wanting to prove them right I took the advice and went with a double 2x24. Yes, i do think it is overkill after 1) having seen it in person and 2) having put it up. However, its a little late for that. We ended up notching the ridge beam in 18". This was fun work with a chainsaw. Side note: wear goggles and a mask when cutting telephone poles. I wear saftey glasses but goggles were needed and the dust being slightly carcinogenic.. as mask is never a bad idea.
FYI - ridge beam was put in place using a boom on a skid steer. We used guide rope to put it up but were fortunate that only minimal shimming was required to get it level and vertical. Also, the plywood you see down was for a scissor lift. My family member is letting me borrow it and it has also been a blessing to have. Not sure how else one could work at 14' up without it. A tall ladder wouldnt be fun with a 16' 2x8.

The 2x24 LVL ran me $11.42/ft and i had 60'
The 2x12 LVL ran me 5.42/ft and i had 28' (garage header, 2x 14 ft'ers)
Then i bought 60 2x8x16 for rafters.
I had the 4x4s so no cost there. All in all i spent about $2k this time but am not finished using the materials i've bought.


05-23-2016, 08:51 PM
Sorry for the delay but i've been busy. However, its raining so i thought i would catch up on here...

I've since gotten all of the rafters put up, the roof decked and metal put down. Being that the building was out of square the rafters were fun since i was bird-mouthing each one. After making a template for each side and using it to measure by it actually went pretty quickly. My overhang on the sides was cut to 30" and the gable ends is 24".
I bought my decking from HD. I ended up buying the techshield radiant barrier plywood. It is only 7/16" but my rafters are on 16" centers. Being that the roof was not square at all we found that the easiest way to put down the deck was to line the first sheet with a rafter in the middle. We ended up having to trim all four sides of the roof (both N and S sides, 8 total cuts) but it made quick work for laying down the deck once the first row was down.
When i bought my metal I saw they had radiant barrier underlayment. If i had known this i would have went with that and 3/4" decking instead of 7/16". Regardless, I would recommend radiant barrier.

For the gable end eaves we notched in 2x4 runners perpendicular to the rafters. We did 7 total spaced about 1.5' apart for each gable end rafter. This provides ample support for the eaves. We also put in studs directly underneath them for extra support. Putting up the gable end rafters was easy. I took an 8' 2x4 and pushed it up under the other rafters and then tacked it in place, leaving a tail sticking out on the gable ends. this allows me to directly set the 2x8 rafter while i work on getting the runners in place. To notch in the 2x4s we first measure where they needed to be then took a circular saw and cut the outside lines. Then we cut every half inch with the circular saw. NOTE: the depth of the saw was set to a 2x4. Once we had 6-7 cuts we took a chisel and stuck in one of the cuts on the ends. pulling back sheared the blocks of wood and left a fairly clean notch. We then touched them up with the chisels. It goes pretty quick unless you hit a knot.

Below are pictures.You'll notice that there is protecto-wrap on the ridge beam. It started swelling and warping when it had its end exposed to rain and the sun. The one on the north side did not do this. Its standard window tape and i would recommend it for anyone that will leave their Laminated beams upright and exposed for any length of time. The tape is rated for exposure up to 90 days so that should buy you some time.


05-23-2016, 10:42 PM
That should last a long time !! Good Job!!!