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How To Make An Eco-friendly Bird Box

Making Bird Boxes Video

If you don’t like reading, you can watch me making 3 bird houses for a customer instead:

Tools You Will Need

I’m going to describe the woodworking machines and power tools I have in my workshop, which I used to make the birdhouses. Whilst it is not strictly necessary to have all of them, they will certainly make your life a lot easier when making this bird house!

Hand tools are great if you are on a budget, but can be frustrating and time-consuming unless you are an expert at using them.

  • Planer – Needed to flatten out the boards. You can use a handplaner but as mentioned, this will take a lot longer. If you are going for a really rustic look (we’re not), then you can dispense with the planer entirely.
  • Table Saw – Needed to ripcut the boards, and joint them with my jig mentioned next. This gives a nice straight edge to reference from, and will make your work much easier to join and a lot more professional looking! No more gaping gaps or wonky lines… I also made use of the table saw to cut the 45 degree angles on the roof boards. I don’t think it’s possible to do any of that effectively with a handsaw. Well, maybe if you’re Paul Sellers, but certainly not with my handsaw skills 😉
  • Jointer Sled – I made one of these to deal with my jointing requirements since I don’t have a dedicated jointer machine.
  • Miter Saw – Needed to crosscut down the boards to length and cut the 45 degree gables. You could do this with the table saw too. If you are good at following pencil lines with a handsaw then you could also work that way.
  • Drill Press – Needed to cut the bird box entrance hole and also drill out the hole for the dowel perch. You can do this with a hand drill if you have a steady hand, although it is much harder to keep perpendicular to the workpiece, so you might end up with a wonky perch!
  • Router Table – I made my own table to mount my router in, and used a chamfer bit on this to give a nice edge to the entrance hole of the bird box. You could achieve something similar with a rasp if you are careful. Or if you don’t mind your birdhouse looking very rustic, you can leave this step out altogether.
  • Brad Nailer – Needed to attach the components. Brad nails are awesome because they don’t leave ugly nail heads visible. Again, this makes the finished product look that much slicker. If you don’t mind rough and ready, then you can just use hammer and nails or screws.
  • Belt Sander – Needed to sand down the wood. You can do this by hand if you like with a sanding block or just a piece of sandpaper, but this is much harder work and takes a lot longer. If you don’t mind rustic, then leave the wood as is.
  • Random Orbit Sander – Not strictly necessary, but as we like to make our products look as elegant as possible, we use the random orbit sander to finish them and give a lovely smooth look and feel.
Using the jointer sled to straighten board edges for the bird box | Reclaim Design

Materials You Will Need

  • Wood – Either shop bought or reclaimed wood. If you are using reclaimed wood, be sure to remove all nails, staples, screws or anything else stuck in it! If you want to make a better looking finished bird box, then you can fill the holes with glue and sawdust or wood filler.
  • Wood Glue – Use waterproof glue since the birdhouse will be outdoors. I use Titebond III – expensive but the best on the market.
  • 38mm Brad Nails – For the nail gun. You can use round wire nails if using a hammer.
  • 60mm Hole Saw – Needed to cut the entrance hole.
  • 8mm Dowel – Used for the bird box perch.
Rip cutting the boards for the bird box | Reclaim Design

Preparation

  • Plane The Boards – Thickness the boards with the lunch box planer to 2cm thick.
  • Joint The Boards – Make one edge perfectly straight in the table saw with a jointer sled. Then run the jointed side up against the table saw fence, set to desired final width and cut away the opposite rough edge. I am using pallet wood and final dimension the boards to 13cm wide.
Crosscutting the boards for the bird box | Reclaim Design

Measure Twice Cut Once

Don’t be like me and measure once then get it all wrong 😉

I made myself a miter saw fence and stop which I set to the length that I want to make the repeat cuts. It’s much more accurate this way.

You can make the bird box any size you want. These are the sizes I chose to work to due to the dimensions of the wood I was working with:

  • 2x boards @ 15cm for sides.
  • 2x boards @ 20cm for front and back.
  • 1x board @ 17cm for base.
  • 2x boards @ 19cm for roof.
Cutting 45 degree gable ends on the bird box | Reclaim Design
  • Cut the 45 degree gables on the 20cm boards using the miter saw.
  • Mark off the centre using a pencil and speed square.
  • Use the speed square to run a line down the centre of the front board.
  • Use the hole saw to drill the entrance hole at the centre point.
  • Mark 2cm down the centre line from the bottom to drill a hole for the dowel perch using an 8mm bit.
  • Use the router table with a 45 degree chamfer bit to run on the outside of the entrance hole.
  • Use the table saw to cut 45 degree chamfers on the 2 roof boards along the edge grain.
  • Cut 9cm length of dowel.
Cutting entrance hole to the bird box | Reclaim Design

Putting The Bird Box Together

  • Put the 2x 15cm side boards on end, edge grain facing upwards.
  • Run a bead of glue down down one of these and smooth it over with your finger.
  • Lay the front board with the entrance hole on top of this (chamfered edge facing out). Make sure the edges are lined up correctly.
  • Shoot in 3 brad nails along the length to secure.
  • Wipe away excess glue with a damp cloth.
  • Repeat on the other side.
  • Flip the house over and repeat for the back board.
  • Glue and attach the base board.
  • Drill a couple of drainage/ventilation holes in the base.
  • Sand the front, back and sides. It’s easier to do this without the roof attached. I use a belt sander initially then a random orbit sander to remove the lines/roughness.
  • Glue and attach the roof boards, making sure the chamfers line up on the gable. If your cuts aren’t accurate, you can fill the gap with glue and sawdust or woodfiller to neaten it up.
  • Glue the dowel into the predrilled hole. You may need to tap it in with a wooden mallet (so as not to break the dowel).
  • Leave to dry for an hour or so (depending on environment – may be longer curing time. Refer to the instructions for your particular brand of glue if in doubt).
  • Sand the roof as per the sides/base.

The Final Product

Done and dusted. Find a safe, private spot and mount the birdhouse at least 5 feet from the ground using a nail or screw. Then just place the predrilled hole at the back of the birdhouse over the nail or screw head.

Sustainable bird box made from reclaimed wood | Reclaim Design

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