Picture of Cable Spool Duck House
Turn a large cable spool into a pretty nifty dwelling for ducks, or for just about any other outdoor critter!

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
A local construction site was giving away four large cable spools, and we grabbed them before we knew exactly what we were going to do with them, because they are cool. After a bit of staring and scribbling, we realized that one of the spools could become the upgraded duck house we needed, due to our abundance of ducks.

About spools: I was told that usually a construction company will pay a deposit of $50 USD or more per spool to the cable manufacturer, then return the spool when empty. We were lucky because in our case the manufacturer didn't want their spools back, so they became a nuisance and the foreman put them up on Craigslist for free. But when you see empty ones, never assume they're free and just swipe them, that's weaselly. In many cases you'll find that they are for sale at a reasonable price or for free, but you've got to play nice and ask. Electric companies, phones companies and cable TV providers are all possible sources for spools.

-spool: the one I used was four feet in diameter, and 32 inches tall. The inner "barrel" was two feet across.
-misc. wood: sourced from free palettes, acquired (by asking nicely) from lumber yards and furniture stores.
-galvanized drywall screws
-"door" hardware: hinges, handle, latch.

-circular saw
-hole saw drill bit (two sizes)
-screwdriver (or chisel, if you're one of those "right-tool-for-the-job" snobs)
-vise grips
-socket wrench
-paint brush

stonykill9 months ago

A bit of bad information at the end. It says you do not need a door at the entrance. True, you don't if you want something to kill your ducks.

Very cute build, but PLEASE for the good of your ducks, add a door

mcraghead (author)  stonykill9 months ago
Hi Stonykill, I appreciate your concern and would absolutely add a door if this structure were just "in my yard," but it's in an enclosed aviary setup with a decent dog patrol who keeps the raccoons and skunks away. No foxes or other predators. Plus, the ducks have guns.

Ducks with mad skillz. YES! :)

kjones-23 months ago

This. Is. Fabulous.
I have been searching for the best way to make a couple of duck houses for the girls to lay in, and to give them shelter when the weather warrants it.
You pegged it....and I am able to get some of these local to me.
**excitedly jumps around**
Thank you for this share!

OREOMAN1 year ago
Where did you find a cable spool
slee801 year ago
Thanks for the idea! I just finished one of these made for my dogs!!
13, 8:44 AM.jpg
cdays_012 years ago
Wow, a "why didn't I think of that" project. I have one of these sitting around all of the time. My call ducks are about to get a mansion. Thank you.
cbgjr2362 years ago
Great up cycle !!!
jmckibben12 years ago
caarntedd2 years ago
This is a great use of an empty spool. This design could be adapted to make any type of storage or furniture. Look out next time I come across some of these! Nice Instructable.
mcraghead (author)  caarntedd2 years ago
Thank you!

I'm going to make a half-round, half-height version that sits on top of the existing house, for use as both storage space and a bench for the kids to sit on as they commune with the ducks.

Except for tables, much of the furniture I've seen made from spools seem a bit cumbersome, but the cylinder shape got me thinking of stacking options: make two of these "barrels," chop big circles out where they touch, and you'd have a barrel as tall as a human. You could turn that into an outdoor shower or a sauna or outhouse or spray-tanning booth or darkroom or phone booth or giant beer can...

Mmmmmm........giant beeeeeeeer.......
katydaisy2 years ago
Absolutely BEAUTIFUL !
Makes me wish I'd picked up the spool I spotted on Craigslist a month ago. . . next time then. . . .
And I love the "occasional cat" !
Great idea, and plenty more potential uses. Would certainly be sturdier than my current chicken coop which is slowly rotting in the garden.
I'd possibly have added some Lino or similar to the floor of the coop sealed around with silicone to aid cleaning, maybe I'll do that with mine.
Very inspirational.
We're can I get em
Here in da city it might be near impossible to get a spool
mcraghead (author)  TheMrCOOLguy22 years ago
"Electric companies, phones companies and cable TV providers are all possible sources for spools," but they can still be challenging to find because everybody wants to make a table when they see one. I'd say find businesses with full ones and leave your contact info for when they're empty. The other challenge (at least for the big ones I used), is transportation: they're really big and really heavy.

Best of luck!
foobear2 years ago
zomrgerd love this!
mcraghead (author)  foobear2 years ago
joey24dirt2 years ago
This is so cool. I visit sites where they always have empty spools. I think I've found my next project!!
mcraghead (author)  joey24dirt2 years ago
Awesome, and thank you!