Laser cut shed

I’m thinking about making a laser cut shed. Why? Because I’m a maker that’s why. Also it will be useful. This summer as a chicken coop. Next year as a solar ebike charging station. I figure I can make a 5’ x 8’ x 6.5’ tall shed out of about two 4’ x 8’ x 1/4" sheets of plywood. This drawing shows the basic idea:


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I’ve made a prototype intersection out of 1/4" thick plywood. Works well. Very stiff and strong. On one piece I tried incorporating holes that 1"square hardware cloth can be clipped into. One issue is that the plywood is stretching the cutting limits of the laser cutter, and the holes get burned on the edges. Hanno suggested spraying water on the plywood and that seemed to help a little. Another approach would be to cut thinner plywood.

@ChrisW suggested using full-size arches cut on a CNC. I’ve come up with several reasons not to do this. One obvious reason is that we don’t have a CNC :smile:. Another is that if I decide to sell this online, it would be easier to ship. I calculate that a 5’ x 8’ shed made out of 1/4" plywood would fit into a 2’ x 2’ x 2’ box. It would also be incredibly lightweight for its size. Another reason is that this design is more modular; someone could conceivably double the size of their shed by attaching a second kit. A more subtle reason this design works well is that the spars of wood are effectively “double-butted”. As with double-butted bicycle tubing, this means that they are stronger near the joint where it is most important. A long span of wood would be weak all along its length. Lastly, this design allows what product designers call “affordances” to be built into the spars, such as the chicken wire clips in my prototype. Other possibilities include magnets to hold a tarp on top, clips to hold a door on the side, tabs to hold shingles on the roof, and even gear teeth that mesh with the bottom of a solar panel to help point it at the sun.