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Do a search for Bird House or Wren House on Instructables and you will no doubt find an endless number of Instructables on how to build these things. Overall, a pretty simple design of a box with some holes in it.

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This Instructable will show how to mass produce bird houses to give as GIFTS on the CHEAP. Not only will we show how to give as great gift to friends and family without breaking the bank, we will show how to do it relatively QUICK and Efficiently!

The idea is actually pretty simple. How does Santa's Elves manage to mass produce so many great toys and other gifts for the entire World? You must be organized and systematic. In about 4 hours, with help from my son and daughter (the helper Elves), we built 13 Wren Houses for only about $60. That is about a 50-60% savings over paying retail.

Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Hanukkah, and all other gift giving celebrations!

Step 1: Tools

I have been teaching my kids, every project is easier if you use the right tools. The right tools means being more efficient. If you want to drive a nail, use a hammer. If you need to drive lots of nails use a nail gun! If you want to cut wood, use a handsaw. If you want to cut lots of wood, use a power saw. You get the idea.

Here are the tools we used in this project.

  • Table saw to turn 10 long pieces of wood into 78 shorter pieces of wood.
  • Air Compressor to drive a Brad Nailer
  • Brad Nailer used to drive over 300 brad nails.
  • Drill press to drill over 100 holes.
  • 1/4 inch drill bit to drill over 100 ventilation holes
  • 1 1/8 spade bit to drill 13 more entrance holes
  • 1/8 innch bit to drill 26 mounting holes
  • Pencil to draw some lines
  • Speed square to help draw straight and square lines.
  • Tape Measure to measure stuff.
  • Needle nose pliers to pull some poorly shot nails.
  • Leather gloves to prevent getting splinters from the cedar wood.
  • Allen wrench to disassemble the brad nailer to dislodge a broken nail.

Step 2: Supplies

In addition to the tools we needs materials and supplies to build from right? This not a complex project, therefore minimal supplies are needed to build 13 bird houses.

  • Wood: To build 13 wren houses I used ten 72"x5.5"x1/2" cedar fence boards. Purchased at local DIY store for only $2.50 each. Could have saved $.51 a board by purchasing the treated fence pickets. We chose cedar planks do to its resistance to mold, mildew, decay, and insects.
  • Brad Nails: Used over 300 1 1/4" brad nails. I already had these in my supply from previous projects, but you can purchase 1000 for about $8.00
  • Wood Glue: Already had this too, so not extra cost.
  • Wood Letters: Pre-cut letters to personalize each house from a craft store to save time. Bought 13 letters at $1.99 each. Darn! One 2 inch letter cost nearly as much as a 6 foot long board!! Sometimes you need to pay a little more to save on time.
  • Spray Paint: Had some spare paint in the cabinet, so again no extra cost.
  • One thumb screw to secure each house from critters. Cost is about .20 each.

Step 3: Cut All Wood

Using the dimensions provided, we turn 10 pieces of wood into 78 pieces of wood. With the assistance of my Elf who was handling the wood while I did cuts and table saw fence measurements, this took about 1 hour to cut all the wood for 13 birdhouses.

Pay special attention the dimensions of the wood. We used cedar fence pickets for this project which are 1/2 inch in thickness rather than 3/4 inch thick which is a standard for most 1x lumber. If you use 3/4 inch stock, you will need to adjust the dimensions of the floor/bottom cut accordingly.

Step 4: Set Table Saw Fence

Be sure your saw is unplugged before taking measurements and moving your fence guide. Don't want to accidentally switch on the blade when measuring.

As a rule of thumb, double check your table saw fence measurements with a tape measure. Our first cut is going to be for the roof/top which is 8 1/4 inch cut. When checking your measurement on a table saw, measure from the inside of the fence to the inside of the blade.

You should repeat this step for each change in dimension cut.

Step 5: Cut the Wood

Since the boards we purchased have a dog ear cut at one end we will start with using this as our roof. The dog ear cut gives a good design look to the house.

With help from Elf assistant, we started cutting.

  • Set fence at 8 1/4 inches.
  • Cut 1: We cut 10 boards at 8 1/4 for the roof of each house. We now have 13 top pieces set aside.
  • Set fence at 11 inches.
  • Cut 2: We cut the 10 boards again, this time at 11 inches for the back of each house. We now have 13 backs set aside.
  • Set fence at 8 inches.
  • Cut 3: We cut the 10 boards again, this time at 8 inches for the sides. We now have 26 sides set aside.
  • Set fence at 4 inches. NOT PICTURED
  • Cut 4: We continue to cut 4 inch cuts for the bottoms. We now have 13 bottoms set aside.
  • We now have enough wood for 10 complete birdhouses. Instead of scrapping the extra wood. You can salvage the wood to get 3 more complete houses with minimal scrap.

Step 6: Drill the Entrance Hole

So that we did not need to measure the drilling point for all 13 front side entrance holes, a drilling guide was made prior to drilling. This is a time saver to be more efficient and accurate.

  1. Get a scrap piece of wood to lay between the drill press table and the board to be drilled.
  2. Mark a top edge line where you will align each board to be drilled.
  3. Top edge line should be placed 1 inch away from where you want the outer edge of the hole that will be 1 1/8 inch.
  • Align the drilling guide board with the drill press table as desired.
  • Place the top edge of the front side board to be drillied with line on the bottom board.
  • Drill through the board and repeat 12 more times.

By the way, I do not have two left hands. I was managing the board being drilled and taking pictures, while one of my helper Elves operated the drill press. :-)

Step 7: Drill Ventilation Holes

Next we need to drill ventilation holes in all the bottoms and the left/ride sides. No exact measurement is needed for these holes. I would just recommend drilling the holes at least 1 inch inside of the edges of the boards to ensure the integrity of the wood.

Depending on the your drill press, you can drill multiple boards at the same time to speed of the process. Remember, we are trying to be more efficient.

  • Use 1/4 inch drill bit.
  • Drill multiple boards at the same time.
  • Drill 4 ventilation holes in each bottom/floor.
  • Drill 2 ventilation holes near top edge of each side.

Step 8: Drill Mounting Holes

Only one set of holes left to drill on the 13 backside boards. We use a 1/8 drill but to drill a pilot hole at the top and bottom of each board approximately 1 inch from the top and bottom edge. The pilot hole will be used to send a mounting screw through if hung on a permanent structure. The pilot hole will help prevent the board from splitting when driving a screw.

  • Use 1/8 inch drill bit.
  • Drill hole approximately 1 inch on center from top edge of backside board.
  • Spin board to other end.
  • Repeat another pilot hole.

Step 9: Painting Letters

We thought it would be a nice touch to personalize each house. Went to a local craft store and purchased wood lettering to be fastened to the front of each house. The letter can also act as a perch for birds to easily enter the house.

  • Lay some type of back drop.
  • Place letters on back drop.
  • Spray paint backside of letters.
  • Let dry for about 20 minutes or to touch.
  • Flip and spray front side of letters.
  • Let dry to touch then give 2- 3 coats.

If you have an assistant, this can be done while drilling in the previous steps to save time. Remember, we are trying to work on mass production in a short amount of time like Santa's Elves.

Step 10: Mark Lines for Sides

In order to speed up the process of the build we marked each of the backside boards with lines where we will nail on the side boards.

  1. Use a speed square or some other straight edge to mark lines on first board.
  2. On each of the other backside boards mark a line on the edges as a guide where the speed square will align.
  3. Draw your lines quickly with the speed square using the edge lines as a guide.
  4. 13 boards lined in less than a minute.

Step 11: Dry Fit and Build

  1. Next we are going to dry fit the pieces together to get a visual of the final build before nailing.
  2. Layout the pieces to ready for a systematic build process.
  3. Start nailing with a brad air nail gun or finish nail gun using 1 1/4 inch nails, using 3 nails per edge evenly spaced.
    1. Nail front to left side.
    2. Nail bottom to front and left side.
    3. Nail top to front and left side.
    4. Nail back to back to left, top, and bottom.
    5. Side right side into place and nail swivel nail at the top from front and back side.

One is now nearly complete. Remove from your work space and begin nailing the second set of boards while your assistant places another set of board for nailing. Repeat until all a complete.

Step 12: Personalized Letter and Lock Screw

Let's put the finishing touches on next.

  1. Glue and nail the letter beneath the entrance hole.
  2. On the right hand side that is hinged with two nails, drill a 1/8 inch hole at the bottom of the board.
  3. Push through and use a thumb screw to lock the right side to prevent critters from invading and easy clean out of next box.

Step 13: Complete With Ribbon and Bow

Voila! Three birdhouse gifts ready for gifting to some friends and neighbors. Rolled inside the entrance hole is a little documentation and happy gift wishes for the recipient. These three are going to neighbors. We are looking forward to hearing about the birds who make these their new home.

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Now get out there and start giving. There is something special about giving and receiving something handcrafted and personalized.

Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Hanukkah, and all other gift giving celebrations!

Happy Making and Giving!

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Bio: Professional Educator for over 25 years. Avid DIYer! Why pay somebody to do what you can do yourself? Active in web design and development for ... More »
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