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Shanty Building 101

In the beginning

I don't claim to be an expert on shanty building. Actually this my first attempt at building one. After a few weeks use I will post a review on what I liked and what I would change.

I have been ice fishing for about 25 years now. Just in the last two years I have started to use a portable shanty. It's a very handy piece of equipment, but I find that on the lake I fish the most, I always set up in the same spot. So instead of dragging my portable back and forth on this lake all season, I decided that I would build one. 

The general rule of shanty building is that you build two of them. You build the first one, figure out what you did wrong, sell it and build the second one correctly. Well, I'm not one to follow rules, so I am attempting to do it correctly the first time. 

I decided that I was going to build a "lightweight" 2 person shanty. Well, that did not last long. It has now blossomed into the biggest 4 person shanty that will fit into the back of my truck. I was thinking that "I can still make this light weight". The term "light weight" is used very loosely here. In this context it is defined as somewhat less then the "Queen Mary". As I started carrying the supplies, It became painfully clear that this was not going to be a "lightweight" anything. So....I have determined that this will be the lightest, 4 person shanty that I can make with the supplies that I have, and still have it be structurally sound. It sounded good to me anyway.

A Man With a Plan

All good things start with a good plan. I tend to do things in my head. Most times this works out well, sometimes.....well we don't need to go into that.

One day at work...I should say boring day at work. I sat down and sketched out a plan for my new home away from home. With tape measure in hand, I made a few measurements and came up with this plan. (It looks better in me).

Note: Click on thumbnails to see a larger copies of the pictures.

Putting Plans into Action

I just finished nearly 6 years of remodeling to my home. Well....not really finished, I don't think I'll ever be finished, but that is another story. So, I have these piles of lumber scattered around. I figured that I should use them for something, so why not a shanty. These are probably not the exact components that I would use if I were actually buying materials to build a shanty, but you will get the general idea. If I think that another material should be used, I will let you know when I get to those parts.

On a cold overcast rainy afternoon in October, after I finish covering my boat for the winter, I decide to get started on this project. The first thing I did is cut the skids. Then I cut the joist and the cross bracing  for the floor. After all of the parts are cut, I assemble the floor frame. For fasteners I use 3" drywall screws. I prefer screws over nails for holding power and ease of removal if I need to make a modification. I used 2x6 material for the skids and 2x2's for the joists. I used 2x2's because the plan that I made had all of the joist that were load baring 12" on center. That coupled with the fact that I was using 3/4" plywood, allowed me to use the smaller material.  5/8" plywood may have worked as well, but I used what I had on hand. Here is a pic of the completed floor frame.


After the floor framing is completed, it's time to add the decking material. As stated above I used 3/4" plywood for this. I marked and cut the holes before fastening the deck material to the frame with 1 5/8" drywall screws. Notice that when I marked the holes I left approximately 3/4" of the joist exposed so that the hole cover would have a place to rest on. 

With the decking on, it is now safe to turn the assembly over and add the runners to the skids. For runner material I used 1/2" conduit that I had left over from the remodeling. It's a good idea to add some type of running materials to the skids to prolong their life and allow for easier moving of the shanty.

I first flattened the end of the conduit and drilled a hole just large enough to allow a screw to pass through it. I then attached the conduit to the tip of the skid with a 3" drywall screw. With conduit now attached I placed my foot against the tip of the conduit to help hold it, and bent the conduit around the skid. To attach the runner, I drilled holes through both sides of the runner, about 12" apart,  with a drill bit just large enough to allow the body of the screw to pass. The with a drill bit just larger then the head of the screw, I drilled just the top side of the holes in the runner. This allows for the screw head to be concealed inside of the runner, but still gives it good holding power. After the runner is secured to the skid, I bent the tail section over the back end of the skid. I then cut off all but 4" of the conduit, flattened the 4" section and secured it to following edge of the skid. 

After the runners are installed the assembly can be turned over. The framing for the walls can be started. I made all of the walls with 2x2's and secured them with 3" drywall nails. I left 14"x26" openings for the windows to allow me to install 1'x2' windows. I also left 24"x72" opening for the door. All the walls were assembled on the ground and lifted into place.

Next comes the roof. I installed a 2"x4" ridge pole with a 6" overhang on both sides. I cut rafters out of 2"x2" and placed them 16" on center. 

Now it's time for the siding. I used 1/4" OSB for siding material. If I were buying the material I would have used either plywood or metal roofing material. Metal roofing material would be the lightest of the two choices. I'm also going to be finishing the inside of the shanty. Some people don't do this, be it for cost or weight. I will also be insulating the walls of the shanty with some fiberglass insulation I had left over. If I were buying insulation for this project I would use the 1" rigid foam type. 

When you start putting on the siding, do the inside first. This is for a couple of reasons. First is because it's very hard, if not impossible, to fit an 8' sheet of anything through a 2' wide door in the middle of the shanty. If you do the inside (long sides) first you can just slide the pieces between the studs on the short sides. The second reason to do the inside first it for light. If you do the outside first, most of your light is blocked when you do the inside. I used 1 1/4" drywall screws to attach the siding.

Here is a pic of the siding going on with the insulation.


Here is a pic of the siding and insulation after completion.

The window frames are made out of 2"x2"'s with a channel cut for the lenses. Leave yourself some extra room (depth) to play with, when culling the channels. 

Windows are in. The windows on the short ends are fixed, and the 4 on the long ends are operable. The roof framing is complete and the insulation is in. The next step is putting on the roofing material.

Metal roofing was added, using roofing screws with gasket. I had about 2" extra roofing on one end, and I bent it over and screwed it to the rafters. I did this to help stop the wind from getting under the metal and ripping it off during transport. A ridge cap was also added.

Well, my batteries in my camera died in the process of building the door. Basically, I made a box out of 2x2's and put 1/4" plywood on both sides, adding insulation in between. Here is a pic of the door and door stops after installation.

I also installed window stops on the inside of the shanty and added felt weather stripping to help keep the wind out.

Next was to build a bench on both ends to sit on. Here is the frame.

And here is the completed bench.

I made the bench high enough to slide a 6 gallon bucket under. I also drilled a hole in the floor under both benches for the anchor ropes.

I attached the locking hardware to the doors and windows, and I guess I'm finished for this year. The next thing to do is get it on the ice. 

Next year I will be painting it and possibly adding wheels and a trailer hitch to make it more mobile. I'll make sure to post any good and bad points I see as the season goes on.

Be safe and tight lines.




Hello Folks. It's fall of 2003 and I've made some changes to the shanty. The biggest problem I had last year was loading the shanty onto the trailer. Weight was definitely an issue. So this year I have removed all of the OSB (I'm sure glad I used screws) and I replaced it with 1/4" luan on the out side and 1/8" on the inside. I also replaced the plywood on the door with luan. The shanty is more then 200 lbs lighter and much easier to handle. I also calked all the seems and painted the outside walls.

Next I added some shelves. I ripped 2x4's into 3 pieces and used that for the supports. I used 1/4" luan for the shelf material. The end shelves are 18" deep, and the small shelf running lengthwise is 14" deep. I added a center support for the long shelf and attached it to a rafter. I also added coat hooks in each corner.

I then put the seat material back on. This time I used 5/8" plywood instead of the 3/4" I used before. I did this to decrease the weight. Once the seats were in I added a rod holder for each hole.

With the seats in, I then added a small table to cook on / eat on / etc. The table is 14"x36" and is made out of 3/4" plywood. Hinged at two points and with a removable brace to hold it in position.

Now, I wanted to add some work space to the outside. I made a table with a cutting board on it, to use for cleaning fish and cooking. I used hooks, eyebolts, and cables to secure the table to the shanty. I also added  hooks and eye bolts to three different sides of the shanty so the table can be moved get out of the wind.

That about does if for the shanty. My next project will be modifying a jet sled to hold all of my gear. I hope to have that done by Dec 2003.


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