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How to Build a Maple Sugar Shack

Joanna Davidson

Maple sugar shacks have been used for centuries to evaporate the water out of sap. The shacks require an evaporation tool as well as proper ventilation. A traditional maple sugar shack can be made by using a wood-burning evaporation system and a ventilated cupola.

The ventilation cupola and internal equipment make the historic maple sugar shack unique.


If you do not want to add a cupola, install ventilation windows instead.


Use pressure treated wood so the building can handle the steam, smoke and weather.

Make sure there are no gaps and the frame is centered. It's important to have a weatherproof building for maple sugar production.

You may also build a more modern maple sugar shack by implementing an electric evaporator and ventilation windows. It's important to make maple sugar shacks weatherproof on both the inside and outside. Not only will it face the elements on the outside, but the inside will be subject to large amounts of heat and steam during the evaporation process.

Preperation and Floor

  1. Select building plans online or through a company. They are available at websites like Jamaica Cottage Shop (see "Resources:). Make sure the plans include the necessary parts for maple sugar production and are not simply shack designs.

  2. Build a foundation of your choice. A gravel foundation of 3 to 4 feet should be sufficient.

  3. Measure and cut floor joists to proper length, depending on the size of your sugar shack. You should have several joists, depending on the size of the shack, as well as two rim joists, two band boards and two skids.

  4. Nail each joist to the rim joists, placed underneath the row of joists, using galvanized common nails. The sub floor should be even to ensure longevity of your shack. Nail the band boards to the ends of the joists. Anchor the sub floor to the foundation.

  5. Nail the floor to the sub floor using 8d galvanized box nails. Nails should be placed every 6 inches along the edges of the floor and one foot apart on the rest of the floor.

Walls and Roof

  1. Measure and cut wall panels according to your plans or template. Also measure and cut out window and door sections. Measure siding to be one inch longer than your wall panels and cut the needed siding sections.

  2. Nail the wall frame together by nailing studs into band boards, just like the floor design. Nail the wall panels to the studs and nail on the siding. Repeat this procedure for all four walls, making sure the two facing walls match.

  3. Nail door into place on the door wall. Lay the door on the studs and nail hinges to both the door and the stud/door frame. Do the same for windows, if windows are part of the plan.

  4. Push walls each to an upright position on top of the floor. Nail by each wall stud into the floor joists using galvanized 16d box nails. Make sure the walls line up with the edge of the floor.

  5. Measure and cut roof trusses. Cut them to either 2 by 4 or 2 by 6, depending on the size and steepness of the roof. Angle the ends that will form the center of the roof with a saw.

  6. Join pieces of the roof truss with four aluminum mending plates per truss. Screw them into place to complete the roof frame. Nail trusses to the top of the wall frame, alternating sides with each truss.

  7. Sheet the trusses by nailing the roofing sheets to the trusses. Stagger the sheets to increase the strength of the roof. Cut a square section from the middle of the roof to accommodate the cupola. Nail 2-by-4s across the opening to support the cupola.


  1. Install a ventilation cupola by nailing it to the support. Secure it to the roof with metal braces.

  2. Install a flame-retardant frame with the base at least a half a foot above the ground. Place a large vat to hold the syrup on the frame. Alternatively, you may install an evaporator for a more modern maple syrup shack.

  3. Connect a smoke stack from the evaporation equipment to the cupola or ventilated windows.