When you are going to build a shed, keep in mind that what you’re doing is building an entire small building. That will require all the skills, knowledge and most of the framing tools you’d need to build a house.
We said “most of the tools” because you don’t really need all the power tools you would need to build a house. Most sheds are small enough that you won’t have the volume to require the extra cost. For instance, a shed roof is usually small enough to install shingles with a regular hammer, unless you really feel the need for a roofing nail gun.
That being said, there are some framing tools that are essential in building a shed. If there are expensive tools that you will need that you may have no other use for, you might look into renting those tools for this job rather than purchasing them. It’s a good way to save money.
We’ll go over some of the framing tools you’ll need to build your shed. We’ll also point out which power tools may be optional. Some power tools may not be necessary if your shed will be small but would be very useful if you’re building a big one.
Essential Hand Framing Tools Needed to Build a Shed
Hammer – Even if you’re using a power hammer for framing and the like, it’s very handy to have a hand hammer to pull out crooked nails or pound down a nail that’s peeking out a bit.
Tape Measure – The longer the better. Don’t forget a pencil.
Level – This should be at least four feet long. You’ll need it at several steps in your building.
Speed Square – This will come in very handy to make sure your walls are square, for instance.
Extension Ladder – If you have a helper, having two ladders won’t hurt.
Essential Power Framing Tools Needed to Build a Shed
Circular Saw – With all the wood you’ll need to cut, from framing to roof sheathing to rafters, you definitely don’t want to saw it all with a handsaw.
Electric Drill – This is the kind of tool that you really should have in a battery-powered model. Many electric drills can also be used to drive screws with various heads and so can do double duty.
Air Compressor – If you plan to use any pneumatic tools, you’ll need an air compressor. They come in many sizes producing different air pressure powers. If you’re not sure what kind you need, your pneumatic tools’ instructions should tell you what air power is required or you can ask for advice from your supplier. Describe your tools and he can tell you what size compressor you’ll need.
Framing Nailer – This tool is considered essential by many sources. You can nail all your framing by hand, but with a larger shed, you’ll wear out before long using a hand hammer, and it will take longer.
Remember that you’ll be framing not only walls but your shed floor and either rafters or roof trusses. It would be a good idea to practice with it if you’ve never used one before. It does have a kick and you do need to take care to get the nail aimed so that it goes in straight. Most framing nailers are powered by an air compressor, but there are some models that run on compressed air canisters.
About Framing Nailers
If you’re not familiar with framing nailers, this will be important to learn about. If you’ve never used one, it would be a good idea to practice a bit on scrap wood to get used to the kick and how it operates. Single-fire trigger nailers require pressing the nail tip against the wood, then pulling the trigger.
Bump-fire trigger nailers require just the opposite. You hold down the trigger, then bump the nail tip into the wood, which causes the nailer to fire. The single-fire trigger variety is considered easier for a beginner to handle.
There are two ways to use the nailer: through nailing and toe-nailing. Through nailing is putting the nail squarely perpendicular to the wood. Toe-nailing is done at an angle when there is too tight a space to drive the nails in squarely. Nailers usually sink the nail head into the wood a bit, and this depth is adjustable.
Framing nailers come in different degree configurations with some being better to operate in tight spaces than others. Each type uses different nail clips or coils, with different capacities before having to reload. For instance, most 21-degree nail clips hold only 60 nails, while a 28-degree nailer uses a clip that holds almost twice as many.
Keep in mind that the more nails to the clip, the heavier the nailer will be. Your supplier can recommend the best model for you and your shed. If you’re not experienced with a nailer, be sure to let him know.
Safety glasses are strongly recommended when using a framing nailer, as the nails can be held together with plastic that the nailer ejects at high speed. Since they are also loud, hearing protection would be a good idea.
What Type of Ladder is Needed When Building a Shed?
You can use the step ladder that most people have around a home. This is the type that folds out into an A-frame. However, they usually don’t give you enough height to get up onto the roof of your shed, although it would be a good idea to keep yours around. It can help when you have someone holding a wall frame in place while installing temporary bracing to keep it straight while you nail it in.
There are some more industrial models that reach much higher than the average home step ladder with a reach of up to 14 feet.
An extension ladder is what most people use for a job like this. You can adjust its height, but it must be leaned up against something at the upper end. One good thing about extension ladders is that it only needs one base for the feet instead of two.
You may think that your ground is flat around your shed construction but placing a ladder so that it remains firm and steady will reveal all the slight lumps and dips still around. You need to take care to have the bottom legs stand away from the building far enough to make a stable base. The closer it is to standing straight up, the less stable it will be when you’re on it.
A multipurpose ladder can do double duty. It can act as an extension ladder or be adjusted in an A-frame shape, giving you a good base to use scaffolding if you have two of them or one with a step ladder. Scaffolding is actually a good idea when building a shed. It will enable you to cover more space when fastening siding, for instance, cutting down on the number of times you have to go up and down a ladder. Your legs will thank you for it later.
One good thing about ladders is that you can rent them from any tool rental place. This can allow you to make use of scaffolding, then just return the extra ladders when your job is finished. Some of the ladder types, such as the multipurpose and articulated varieties, can be really expensive to purchase, so unless you will make good use of them later, it’s much less expensive to rent them.
Do I Need Safety Glasses and Safety Work Boots?
Anyone working on your shed project should have safety glasses. Sawing planks means sawdust flying around that can get into your eye. You’ll also be working with nails and screws that can also fly up into your face.
Safety work boots are a really good idea as well. They will give you a good gripping surface when you’re working on a ladder or on your shed roof. They’ll protect your feet when you step on that nail you lost a few minutes ago and from anything that might fall on them. Stuff happens.
If you’re using power tools, you’ll probably want some kind of ear protection as well. You know how loud a power saw can scream. All the percussion from hammering can give you a headache as well.
Can I Rent the Framing Tools?
You certainly can rent some of the power framing tools. The aforementioned framing nailer is one you might consider. You can also rent the air compressor to power it. You can also rent other tools that you will only need for this project, such as a circular saw. You can save money by renting almost any tool that you will only need for the shed build. There’s no need to spend a couple of hundred dollars buying a tool that will just end up on a shelf most of the time.
Optional Framing Tools to Make Shed Building Easier
There are some tools that, while not absolutely essential, can certainly make your framing job go more quickly and easily.
Framing Hammer – Many of these have a waffle head which keeps the hammer’s head from slipping off a nail. Framing hammers also feature straight claws that make removing a bent nail easier.
Miter Saw – Miter saws help you make angled cuts. If you’re planning on framing roof trusses, a miter saw will be a great aid to make sure all your cuts on the bracing are uniform.
Sawhorses – These will be a good base for sawing and cutting and especially come in handy if you’re building roof trusses. They can also provide a base for scaffolding. They are easy for you to make yourself as well.
Supplies You’ll Need or Want
Nails – The usual size used in framing with a regular hammer are 16d nails, or 16 penny nails. They are usually 3-1/2 inches long. Galvanized nails provide corrosion resistance. There are two basic types of these nails: common nails and sinker nails. Common nails have smooth heads and are usually 0.162 inches in diameter.
Sinker nails are a bit thinner, but they are the usual choice for framing. Sinker nails have a textured head that keeps the hammer from slipping off. They also usually have an epoxy or vinyl coating that makes driving them into the wood much easier than the common nails. You also may need some shorter nails for temporary bracing to hold up your frame while nailing it in place and to provide extra support from wind gusts before you get your siding on.
Screws – Some prefer to use screws rather than nails for framing. If you do, you might want to consider pre-drilling holes for them to prevent splitting your lumber. You may also prefer to use screws on any fastening hardware, such as joist hangars or roof ties. Not sure how to attach plywood? Check out my article Do I Use Nails or Screws for Attaching Plywood?
Chalk Line – This will help you keep things straight and will be a big boon to steps such as installing your siding and roofing.
Pencils – You’ll need these to mark off measurements on your wood before cutting. Start with a few, as they are easy to misplace or lose.
Tool Belt – This will ensure that your hand tools are always where you need them to be. A nail apron is great if you’re using a manual hammer or need a place for screws.
Magnetic Bracelet – These help hold nails and screws while you’re getting your pieces in place. They can be very handy.
Helper – Having a buddy or two to help you raise the framing or hold one end of a board steady as you fasten the other end is a big help. You really will need them to raise roof trusses, as they are heavy. If you have a handy buddy, he can be sawing while you’re nailing. Even an inexperienced helper can hand up tools or materials while you’re on a ladder or scaffolding.
Water or Soft Drinks – Having a cooler near the building site full of ice and water bottles or non-caffeinated soda for you and your helpers is a necessity. You can get dehydrated while you work, and by the time real symptoms show up, you may be in bad shape. Be sure to keep yourself well hydrated while working. Save the beer for your celebration after you’re finished.
Framing is a very big and important step in constructing your shed. Once you get the wall frames up, and especially after you have your roof rafters or trusses in place, you can stand back and really be proud of yourself. Go ahead, take some photos. It will also be helpful to have some plans for your shed, check out my article How Do I Choose the Best Shed Plans? (Paid and Free) for tips on choosing shed plans.