Whether you dream of living like Cinderella with a murmur of birds swarming around you, or you want to adopt a pegleg pirate parrot, or you simply enjoy Arkansas’s backyard birds, this project will help you create a safe way to feed your plumed friends.
Sure, you could just throw birdseed on the ground, but that would leave the birds vulnerable to neighborhood cats and predators. Let’s avoid that series of unfortunate events and learn how to make your very own simple birdfeeder.
Materials: The Cut List
- (1) 10″ x 6″ piece (bottom)
- (4) 6″ long pieces of ¾” x ¾” square stock (roof pillars)
- (1) 12″ long ¾’ x ¾” square stock ( roof beam)
- (2) 12″ x 6″ piece (roof)
- (2) 12′ long ¾” x ¾” square stock that has been cut
diagonally at a 45-degree angle ( to attach the roof to the base)
- (2) 1 ½” x 10″ (base border)
- (2) 1 ½” x 6 ⅜” (these might change depending
on what thickness plywood you use.)
Starting Out: Making the Cuts & Assembling the Basic Frame
For the bottom, roof, and border pieces I used plywood. The bottom piece was ½” thick, the roof and border pieces I used were ¼” ply. For the ¾” x ¾” pieces, I used a piece of pine lumber I found in the scrap bin.
Starting out, I used the table saw to cut the ½” plywood down to 10″ x 6″. I used the table saw to accomplish this task. I then took the piece of pine lumber and used the thickness as a guide to cut a square piece out of it. I wanted these pieces to be square with a good 90-degree corner on it. I’ll explain why very soon. Out of this one-piece, I was able to cut all 4 of my pillars to hold the roof up. I then glued and used a finish nail to nail the roof beams to the feeder. This joint doesn’t have to be super strong. There will be other boards that will strengthen these joints.
Adding the Roof
While I let the glue dry, I switched over to working on the roof. I took out the piece of ¼ inch plywood and cut it down to two pieces of 12″ x 6″ pieces. These pieces will make the roof that will keep your birdseed nice and dry. You can’t just glue these pieces together because they are too thin to nail together. That’s why I made the 12″ long piece of ¾” x ¾ pine. It’s important to have a strong 90-degree corner for the roof—but also later to hang your bird feeder. If you don’t have any hooks or small D-rings, you can cut this piece at 14″, giving you an inch on either side to attach the string. I used glue and short pneumatic staples to attach these two pieces. Make sure that when you attach them, you make one piece flush with the top of the beam. The second half of the roof should be flush with the top of the already attached piece of plywood. If you want the roof to be exactly equal, you can cut one piece ¼ inch longer than the other.hen this is hanging outside, no one is going to notice that one piece is shorter than the other.
This next part is the most difficult part of the entire process.
- Cut a 45-degree angle on one edge of these next pieces. I changed the blade of my table saw to 45-degrees. I always use a speed square to double-check the angle of a blade on tools like the table saw or the miter saw.
- After I am sure that the blade on the table saw is set to 45-degrees, I set the fence on the saw to cut off a triangle strip that’s the entire length of the board. This will be cut down into 2, 12 inch long pieces.
- Take these pieces and glue and nail them onto the tops of the roof pillars. It makes it much easier to do this if you have a pneumatic nail or staple gun. If you don’t have one of these then that’s ok too. What you will want to do is find the place you want the nail to go in at and make a mark.
- Take a finish nail and clip the head of the nail off, put this in your drill. Now drill down through the piece. You want to make sure you drill straight down in the middle of the 45-degree angle so that the nail will go down into the pillar.
- Now you can add glue to the tops of the pillars, put the piece you drilled on the tops of the pillars, and nail them down. This is how you will connect the roof to the base.
To connect the roof to the base, all you need to do is put a bead of glue along the angle cut and place the roof on them, and put in a few nails or staples. Now every little bird in your area will have a nice dry place to eat. You are almost done. All that’s left now is to put the short little walls up that keep the seeds from falling out. These are the 1½” tall pieces that are either 10″ long or slightly over 6″ long. The first step will be to take the 10″ long pieces and attach them to the sides using both glue and nails. Make sure that bottoms are flush. This is the piece that will strengthen the joints connecting the bottom to the pillars. After you have the two long pieces connected, the shorter sides from outside to outside. Now cut the last two pieces to that size and attach them to the sides. Put some hooks or D-rings to the beam that runs in the middle of the roof.
Now for the fun part: painting your bird feeder. If you have kids involved in your life, this is a fantastic time to let them take over. Since my nieces are out of town I got to paint myself. I chose to go with a black roof, turquoise pillars, and yellow walls. I painted the bottom black as well. After I was finished painting I used spray polyurethane to seal everything up and waterproof it. Overall, I was very happy with how it turned out.
Adam Kittrell is the Wood and Metal Shop Foreman at the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub. He has been working in and around shops since middle school and has only cut his fingers on a saw once. His shop teachers would be proud.