My greenhouse is in the final throes of completion with both roof sides and three walls fully glazed. I still have opening lites to go in and some flashing to the meeting spars but it gets hot in there even with one wall yet to glaze.

The weather definitely made me late for a planned end of February completion but I did my winter best and it is what it is. On Monday morning I took 5 1/2, 8-foot 2 1/2″ by 1 1/2″ studs and made a door frame and a four-lite door and made them in about five hours working flat out top chop the two twin M&Ts to the bottom rail and 8 regular versions. Admittedly it’s only softwood but once painted and if maintained properly with a coat of paint every four years and some oil on the hinges periodically I expect it to give me a hundred years of annual use. That will make me around 170 years old so good value for £16 worth of wood.

From the time I transferred the door and frame from the garage workshop to the greenhouse, it took me 35 minutes to install the frame and hang the door with recessed hinges. This is real DIY. It goes fast when you know how and if anyone says they can do it faster with a power router, well, I don’t care. I doubt that to be true and I had a total blast. You see DIY is as much the process as the finished product. I did plane the joint lines with a jack to make up the panels and I did plane the areas that could not be reached after assembly. Taking down any uneven surfaces with said plane left me with a random orbit sander to finish off the surfaces. I cannot express the pure joy at making a door and frame using traditional joinery and installing it the same day. Was it hard work? Of course it was – I always, always work hard. I like it, hard work, I love it. It’s why my hair is still currently black on top with no dying and why I have muscles in my spit. Naah! Not really, but it is why I feel fit, strong and healthy and why I do what I do to improve and live life.

Can I explain what I feel at making such things? It’s hard to do that because a freestanding greenhouse made with your own hands and with a hand-made mortise and tenoned door expresses a thousand words. That sounds like a good quote . . . I should coin that phrase!

My friends, Your well-being is my concern. I cannot explain the chemical release in your brain in terms of endorphins but I can say that for me it beats a workout in any gym you care to name a thousand times over and that is not just because it produces muscle that can be used rather than muscle that is just weight, but because I made a door from studs. I mean, after 56 years of making in wood, I just made a door from four studs and enjoyed it immensely. Can you understand? 56 years of six-day weeks working ten hours a day on average and I am still enjoying having a blast in the saddle doing what I love most. All I did was go to Home Base, buy four studs, and then another when I remembered outside that I needed a frame too, and I made a door and door frame and I loved the living of every minute. How can this be?

Be well! Go Make!

19 Comments

  1. Paul Smith on 6 April 2021 at 9:20 pm

    That is a brilliant greenhouse you have there. My father was a keen gardener and would of loved to have had something like that. It was just potatoes, carrots and onions in the raised bed for my father and I. Was it a nailed or screwed construction?

  2. Joost on 6 April 2021 at 9:44 pm

    What a coincidence my girlfriend just asked me to make her a small greenhouse for the balcony. Yours looks great, could you please tell me what you used for the glass? Its the only thing I’m kinda hesitant about cause of potential breakage and injuries that usually follow that when it does.

    I also want to thank you for publishing all these instructional videos and blogs. As a kid I was scared away from woodworking by all the huge finger losing machines and went with the “safe” electrician route for my profession.
    During the COVID crisis all my existing hobbies disappeared cause of the lock downs, that is when I discovered your channel on youtube. You have given me a new hobby to enjoy and have awaken my interest in woodworking again. Thank you for that.

  3. Steve P on 6 April 2021 at 11:55 pm

    I love to work outdoors in the garden. Recently my wife wanted me to make some raised planters she saw online that were a couple hundred dollars each. I found a guy on craiglist that had a bunch of old pallets and cutoffs from some ceiling beams etc. He said I could have it all but only if I took it all. I ended up with a lit of junk wood but plenty to make 3 of these planters my wife wanted. I used half lap joints for the legs and nothing fancy joinery wise, but I had a blast making them. My wife thanked me for making them so I pretended like it was a sod of a chore.

  4. bytesplice on 7 April 2021 at 12:02 am

    Paul, will you be making the plans for this available?

  5. Samuel on 7 April 2021 at 2:06 am

    Endorphins plus!

  6. Alex on 7 April 2021 at 2:59 am

    I’m very curious to see how you are venting this greenhouse. It looks very doable! I love the idea of actually MAKING a greenhouse.

  7. John Morrison on 7 April 2021 at 4:53 am

    That is a glorious building. The steep roof makes it look like a “gardening chapel”. What did you use for the “glass”? 6 mm Twinwall Polycarbonate Sheets?

  8. Vidar Fagerjord Harboe on 7 April 2021 at 10:36 am

    I would LOVE to make a greenhouse myself. The lower portion being a stone wall of some sort, then “crystal palace” on top.

    But I am wondering – how well would the wood hold up? Would I need to do a lot of maintenance? Cu-impregnated wood would be an option, but i loathe working with the stuff!
    Protection from the elements would be easy, but in a greenhouse there’s heat and humidity. Not the best environment for wood?

    I don’t want to invest a lot of time building something that might only last 5-10 years. In that case, I’d rather get an aluminum contraption with glass that should outlast me if taken care of.

    But the DIY spirit is strong in me!

    • Paul Sellers on 7 April 2021 at 11:25 am

      Wooden greenhouses have lasted three centuries with just a little maintenance every five years. Comments these days seem more to add clutter sometimes by sowing seeds of doubt. I am glad I built it and will get decades of growing from it.

      • Vidar Fagerjord Harboe on 7 April 2021 at 1:47 pm

        Well, there you have it then. A little maintenance I can manage; any aluminium structure would need it too, but wood is easier to work with and gives me options no line of products can match (for any reasonable cost). Thanks for putting that concern to rest.

        As for the seeds of doubt: I asked a genuine question since I do not have much experience to lean on, except that I do know what happens over time with wood exposed to the elements – and that wood painted with exterior paint will rot if water gets to untreated wood or endgrain over time.

        You have experience and knowledge, therefore I asked. What is a given to you might not be as clear to others, so please bear with us when we do ask silly questions.

  9. Roger Karrasch on 8 April 2021 at 2:08 am

    From Orange NSW AUS -Add a small fan to extract humid air and a sola panel and hey presto a beaut drying kiln.

  10. Paulo T on 8 April 2021 at 9:16 am

    For glass I would absolutely recommend using shower enclosures doors and panels: it is literally free, if not a couple of bucks. I built our greenhouse with these and it came out great – door, walls and ceiling with tempered glass, sitting on a skeleton of ex-deck joists (treated 4×2); other than using smarts to avoid condensation running down from treated timber into the veggies bed it was an easy project.

    • KeithW on 10 April 2021 at 11:53 am

      Love that idea, might take a while to “collect” them and get ones of the same size. I guess the best route for this would be to befriend bathroom fitters / plumbers.
      I can see them working really well as dutch lights for a garden frame. Although I have known people who have constructed greenhouses from dutch lights. From memory the timber surround wasn’t painted, perhaps the wood was treated. In my youth I did make 2 greenhouses from discarded wooden conservatories. Eventually rot defeated them, as the process had already started when I got them.

  11. Peter Compton on 10 April 2021 at 11:29 pm

    Some of the things I make look like frankinstines monster but. I do love the making
    Writing from pure ignorance and hoping some one will tell me. Why is the pitch of the roof so steep? I guess I am used to seeing something more to a 45 deg angle.

    • Paul Sellers on 11 April 2021 at 3:25 am

      52-degrees is an optimal angle for allowing light through the glass. But it is more attractive with the steep pitch and it also gives a loftier, airier high that draws the hot air to the vented top so if venting is open in hot weather and the lower window are open the hot air develops a circulatory movement of air and pulls the lower, cooler air through and up and out to cool the greenhouse and prevent things from getting too hot. That’s why I designed it so.

  12. Jeff D on 12 April 2021 at 5:05 pm

    Looks like Matisse’s little chapel. Bravissimo!

  13. Paul White on 13 April 2021 at 9:59 am

    Nice greenhouse. On my allotment I inherited an aluminium greenhouse that needed some repair, a job I didn’t enjoy at all!
    Will you be adopting a ‘No Dig’ approach when growing your fruit & veg?

    • Paul Sellers on 13 April 2021 at 10:39 am

      No, no, no. Only because I love to dig though. I just put in a cover crop over the winter so that got forked in before the onions garlic and shallots were planted. I use a lot of pallet wood containers for all sorts of vegetables so they take no digging anyway. My methods are economic and digging is so small a percentage of gardening it is not worth discussing.

  14. Paul White on 13 April 2021 at 12:22 pm

    I was converted to ‘No Dig’ some years ago after watching Charles Dowding on youtube. Just like yourself, you both share your knowledge and wealth of experience gained over many years, it’s truly inspirational. Many thanks! and happy gardening.

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