Build A Birdhouse In An Hour From Scraps
By Jim Shutes
Birdhouses can be a very fulfilling and rewarding addition to your yard or garden. Not only do you reap the enjoyment of building an all-time favorite wood project with your hands, but you also provide homes for some of nature's smallest, and most-watched, creatures!
With just some scrap wood, and about an hour of your time, you can build a wonderful birdhouse that you can enjoy all year 'round. You can create your birdhouses for specific types of birds, depending on the entrance hole size, the size of the birdhouse, and how high you mount or hang your birdhouse from the ground. In just a short while, you can be bird-watching right from your window!
There are many different styles, shapes, and sizes of birdhouses. Let's build a birdhouse for a House Wren. House Wrens are easily attracted in urban areas, farmyards near woodland clearings or edges of woods. They will also use a free-hanging box, unlike other species.
Use 1" standard lumber. It can even be from scraps of wood from other projects. The largest pieces may be approximately 8" x 10" in size. Figure out the shape of the birdhouse you would like to build. It can be a traditional birdhouse, where it is primarily a box with a roof. Or, you can vary the design by slanting the walls, or adding a second story. For this article, we will keep it pretty basic, and assume that you are building a standard box with a roof.
You will need a front, back, 2 sides, 2 roof pieces, a floor, a 3/8" dia. dowel, some waterproof wood glue, and some nails. Make your front and back walls the same shape, approx. 8" wide, by 10" tall, with 45-degree angle cuts that come to a point at the top.
Now, drill the entrance hole for the House Wren, roughly 1 1/2" in diameter, which should be about 4 - 6" above the floor of the birdhouse. Using a 3/8" drill bit, drill the hole in the front, for the perch. This will be about half the distance from the floor to the entrance hole. Do these cuts only for the front wall.
Look at your front and back walls that you have cut 45-degree angles from the top. Measure the distance from the bottom to where the angle starts. This will be the height of your side walls. Now cut your sides. The measurements will be the height of your side walls by 7" wide. Using waterproof wood glue (such as TiteBond II) and finishing nails, nail the front of the birdhouse to the sides, leaving the bottoms flush. Then nail the back to sides, as well.
Now you need a floor. My personal preference is to make the floor larger than the birdhouse, to give it a little flare. Measure the width and depth of your assembled walls, and add an inch to both dimensions. This is your floor size. Cut your floor and nail it to the bottom of your walls. Be sure to use waterproof wood glue, before nailing, to seal the floor to the wall bottoms.
Now it's time for the roof. Measure the length of your 45-degree angle and add a half inch to the length, and a full inch to the width. These dimensions will be one of your roof pieces. Add an additional ©" to your length to make the second roof piece. Adding the additional ©" will cause the longer roof section to overlap the shorter section by the thickness of the wood. This helps to seal the roof. Using your waterproof glue, glue and nail your shorter roof section to the walls. Make sure to keep the top of the shorter roof section flush with the opposite walls. Now add the longer roof section, but overlap the shorter roof section by the thickness of the wood. This will make the roof pieces flush with each other.
Cut the ©" dowel to 3 inches long. Apply some wood glue to about 3/4" of one end and press it inside the 3/8" perch hole you have previously drilled. Now your birdhouse is complete. You will want to use a good outdoor varnish to seal the outside of your birdhouse, to keep the new residents dry.
The only thing left to do is either mount your birdhouse to a tree, or hang it with some rope from a tree limb, or just about anywhere in your yard or garden. It doesn't take long to start seeing birds. Maybe hang some small bird feeders near the birdhouse to speed up the process. You will have hours of fun watching the birds, and you've given some of God's little creatures a wonderful home you can be proud of. And best of all, it only took you about an hour or so to do!