Introduction: Bird Straw Toy Maker
My wife found a suggestion to make a bird toy to promote chewing or beak health. It's basically paper straws cut into pieces, and then poked (or drilled) I in the center to place on a string or hanger. I thought it would be helpful to make a jig to make the process simpler, faster, and more repeatable.
Three paper straws can be inserted at a time, drill through the guide holes, and then cut at the guide lines; resulting in twelves pieces of straw ready to be strung on the toy.
- Scrap piece of wood 2x4
- Scrap piece of 3/4" plywood
- (2) Hinges
- Box of 7 3/4" length paper straws
- Some type of hanger
- Bird, Sun Conure (optional)
- Table saw
- DADO stack
- Sand paper or sanding block
- Drill 1/8" or 1/16" drill bit (depends on the hanger used)
- Screw driver
- Digital caliper (optional, to figure out needed drill bit thickness)
Step 1: Cut the Scrap Wood to Size
Cut the 2x4 down to a length of 7 3/4" (to match the length of the paper straws). Set the fence guide of the table saw, and account for the thickness of the blade.
Cut the 3/4" plywood to the same length.
Adjust the fence guide to cut the plywood to a width of 3 1/2" (to match the nominal width of the 2x4).
The plywood should fit/stack nicely on top of the 2x4.
Step 2: Cut the DADO Slots
Cut the DADO slots into the 2x4. Set the DADO stack at 1/4". Install the DADO stack into the table saw. Set the DADO blade height at 1/4". I find it helpful to do practice cuts on scrap wood, to get the height correct. Try place a paper straw in the DADO cut to make sure it seats flushed.
With the height set correctly, cut three evenly spaced DADOes down the length of the 2x4. (This is where the straws will be seated).
Cut three additional evenly spaced DADOes down the width of the 2x4. (This will be used as your cut guide, when cutting the straws into smaller pieces).
Step 3: Installing the Hinge
This would be a good point to sand the surfaces of the 2x4 and plywood, to make the a little smoother.
Follow the directions that came with the hinge. You'll need to mark the location of the holes, and predrill. Use the screw driver to attach the hinges to edge of the plywood, and then the edge of the 2x4. Now you can open and close it like a box.
Step 4: Drill Guide Holes
Using the T-Square and pencil, mark three lines on the top of the 3/4" plywood that are evenly spaced in the center between the width wise DADOes.
Now, using the T-Square and pencil, mark three lines to follow along the center of the length wise DADO cuts. If you center them correctly, this should be the center line of the straw lengths. And the intersecting lines should be the center of each future straw piece.
Determine the width of the hanger you'll be using (digital caliper is helpful here), and select a drill bit to match. Ours is 1/8". Drill hole through each intersecting line. You'll want it deep enough to go through the lid, and optionally a tiny bit into the 2x4.
Step 5: Start Drilling and Cutting Straws
You can start the steps for making the straw pieces.
- Open the lid.
- Insert three straws into the lengthwise DADOes.
- Close the lid.
- Following the predrilled "drill guides", drill twelve 1/8" holes in to the paper straw.
- Open the lid.
- Following the width-wise DADOes "cut guides", cut the three straws into twelve straw pieces.
Step 6: Assemble the Bird Toy
Place the straw pieces onto the hanger, sliding them onto the hanger using the drilled thru holes. Try to alternate the colors, as you go along.
If you need additional straw pieces repeat the previous step (drilling and cutting).
Reinstall the bottom of the hanger, that will hold the straw pieces in place.
Hang the toy up somewhere convenient for your bird. Now relax, as your bird chews/destroys the toy… rather than your shirt collar.
Step 7: Finishing or Future (optional)
I'm thinking of using a wood burner to label/personalize the tool.
And I may stain or paint the top and edges of the tool.
In the future, I may redesign the tool; to eliminate the manual drilling and cutting of the straw. Likely overkill, but the automation/simplification intrigues me for some reason. I'm thinking two blocks of wood. A bottom block for holding the straw in place. The other is pushed down into place thru posts (rather than hinges), and will have metal blades and metal awls to poke the holes and cut the straws in a single motion.
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