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How To Make The "bird house"

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Inspired by a PBS TV show called WordWorld , my daughter (ok, I helped) built the "bird house " shown as an entry in the 10th annual Birdhouse Display and Benefit Auction at The Arboretum in Lexington, KY.  It attracted a lot of attention and potential buyers, but we really didn't want to sell it. So, this Instructable tells you how to build your own....

The Lexington Herald-Leader article on The Arboretum's birdhouse event is:

http://www.kentucky.com/2011/09/02/1867014/birdhouse-on-display-in-the-arboretum.html

As of July 2013, I've added a 10th step which tells you how to 3D print a smaller version of the "bird house."
 
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Step 1: The Plan

Picture of The Plan
Like most birdhouse-building projects, there's a lot of flexibility in the choice of materials, tools, and even size of the completed birdhouse. My daughter's birdhouse, shown in the figure with dimensions, is sized to accommodate most types of birds local to where we live and also to make the size of the letters easy to deal with. There are various WWW sites that discuss the optimal entrance hole size, distance of the hole above the birdhouse floor, and floor dimensions for various kinds of birds.

The materials you'll need:

1. The lumber needed depends on the size of the birdhouse.  Because the entrance holes (it's actually a 4-family birdhouse) are literally the holes in the letters "b " and "d ," the letter size is tied to the type of bird you want to nest within. In any case, we were able to build everything from scraps I had in my shop, and that might work for you too....

2. A durable finish is needed. We used exterior-grade latex paints for the white and black. The red, yellow, green, and blue colors were actually interior latex wall paint samplers... less than $2 each. I don't really trust any paint to last outside, so the plan all along was to seal everything with 2-3 coats of high-quality clear polyurethane, and that's what we did. You could really use just about any paint as long as you seal it that way.

3. You'll also need a few bolts and screws and a weather-resistant glue. I would have preferred to use biscuits to join the wall panels -- but the plywood we used was too thin for that, so it was blocking, screws, and glue.

I have a fair collection of tools, but you don't need too much for this project. Here are the basics:

1. Saw(s) for cutting the panels and letters. We used a circular saw for the panels and a miter saw and scroll saw for the smaller pieces. The only tricky cut is the angle for the roof (see figure); changing the roof slope so that the two roof pieces meet in a 90-degree angle would eliminate the angled cuts, but add a little height. Hand saws could be used for everything and would have scared my daughter less, but I like power tools. ;-)

2. A drill to make the entry holes and drill holes for a few bolts. If you have a sufficiently large hole cutter, that also can be used to shape the outsides of the "b" and "d" circles; I didn't, so that's what we used the scroll saw for.

3. Sandpaper and/or a power sander. We kept things a bit rustic, but there was still plenty of sanding involved....
metzbomber123 months ago

great job a literal "bird house"

HollyMann1 year ago
I LOVE this - the style is perfect and my son used to watch that show years back!
I think this is adorable..I am 13 and till love that show! It would have been cool if you went all out and made the whole house out of letters just like in word world. I think it was a genius idea. Too bad you got all these people being bums.
avatar_i2 years ago
Please tell your daughter that this is simply a beautiful thing! I am seriously impressed! VERY NICE indeed!

Oh, yea, you did O.K., too...
staggart12 years ago
Wow! It is big, I just think this is the most clever thing. Great job!
mary candy2 years ago
Beautiful!
pixie02 years ago
Very nice, but think if the birdhouse is in full sun what the temperature inside might be. A light colour for the outside is preferable. Great project!
ProfHankD (author)  pixie02 years ago
The roof is white. However, you've given me an opportunity to brag a little.

It turns out that last year my daughter's award-winning 4th-grade science project measured temperature gains from having different colored houses. Her project data (see the graph) shows that NIR/IR reflectance matters most. An IR-absorbing black "insulating" foam actually gained the most heat, colors varied little (dyes pass NIR/IR), and aluminum foil gained virtually no heat.

We originally tried gluing aluminum foil on the roof of the bird house, but it looked cheesy and we doubted that paint would stick well enough to it....

glodata.png
wcat2 years ago
A-well-a, everybody's heard about the bird
SIRJAMES092 years ago
WOW!!

you went to a lot of work for a "simple" birdhouse...

But it looks SOOOOOooooooooo CUTE!!!
SIRJAMES092 years ago
about adding a camera....

You said there are 4 sections/rooms to this birdhouse??
And you want to add a camera?

can it be added from above?? is that even possible??

Just a thought Sir.
SIRJAMES092 years ago
is it just me, or is there a bunch of party poopers in here today??

It sure seems like there is....
sally3002 years ago
i am not sure about saying bird on it because you know its a bird house soooooooo what is the point
I think that may even be part of why they did this. plus it doesn't really look like there is an opening for the bird this way... making it look like a novelty item. But then in reality it DOES have openings so birds CAN live in it. See? I couldn't believe how creative this was, I don't know why you have to be such a bummer. Then again maybe they weren't that smart and I just came up with all of that by myself...
Pssssssst. *whispers*

Tell him to stuff a sock in it. ;-)
Because it is pretty.
SIRJAMES092 years ago
The way I see it, it's her bird house....
she made it, she painted it, she owns it.....
Therefor she can do anything she wants with it.

She wanted to put "BIRD" on it with every letter being a different color....
that is her right....regardless of how the rest of us feel about it.

BTW, I like it & think it's pretty too! :-)
jsemple2 years ago
Wondered the same as Comanchegyrl, namely, do four bird families just divide up the space themselves, or would it make sense to install dividers inside the birdhouse?
ProfHankD (author)  jsemple2 years ago
Good question. It didn't have any occupants while on display at The Arboretum, but it was only there a week (during which it survived a storm that apparently knocked-down the post it was mounted on). It is currently in our basement waiting for us to figure-out how a removable "+" partition would work with the addition of an interior webcam... more on that later if it works well. ;-)
hammer98762 years ago
Excellent use of graphics. Cute! (Daughter and "bird" house.)
you state in your instructions that this is intended for 4 bird families. could you include the instructions for the inside flooring and partition please ??
kellimaier2 years ago
This is very attractive. I like the clean modern look. I hope the local cats can't read.
Ninzerbean2 years ago
Incredibly well done!
geppetto4252 years ago
Unless that is outdoor grade plywood it's not going to last very long. Any amount of water that gets between the layers of ply is going to start breaking it down. Better to use cedar, white oak, cyprus... Good plan though!
suzannejb2 years ago
oh, and for the question about "what's the point"? That's why it's so amusing. It's like having a baby wear a onesie that says BABY on it. I've also seen doors with a big DOOR on them.
suzannejb2 years ago
love it! makes me want to think about having a birdhouse
Hi Professor,

So what's your take on a British invention call transputor, projects like Raspberry Pi and OLPC?
Now that is a great looking birdhouse! Without dividers, will 4 families actually build nests in this? Do you have birds nesting in it now?
When I was younger, whenever someone made or bought a wooden birdhouse, invariably, the squirrels would enlarge the hole and take over, move in and eventually destroy the house.
I always thought a copper or brass bushing lining the hole would prevent them from getting a "tooth hold" and spare the house the squirrel fate thus allowing the use it was intended for.
Does anybody have any thoughts on this?
Metal reinforcement of the hole will help. But if the squirrel wants in, it'll find a way. It's effective to position the birdhouse in an area where the squirrel cannot access it.
A superb 'ible and a great project.
That Diagram is awesome! Great job with this instructable, definitely first page quality.
Kiteman2 years ago
Now, if only the critters would learn to read, they'd move in a lot more quickly!
tqwerty Kiteman2 years ago
Even so, the squirrels would still disobey.
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