Introduction: Coffee Can Birdhouse

About: I teach engineering at a local high school. I am a woodworker, maker, modeler, and dad.

How to upcycle a coffee can into a chic birdhouse.

Easy to make with hand tools and a few dollars in materials.

The most expensive part is probably the coffee that was originally in the can.

Step 1: Find a Coffee Can

These plans are adjustable to based on the coffee can you have. I used a standard 10 oz foil can.

Step 2: Make Some Coffee

You need the energy and you need to empty the coffee can anyways.

Step 3: Materials Needed

I made my birdhouse out of rough cedar that I purchased at Menards.

Any big box store would have similar materials.

You will need the following:

  • 1 x 6 boards (actual size 3/4" x 5-1/2") about 30 inches long
  • 6d galvanized finish nails
  • 1/4 inch dowel rod
  • empty and washed coffee can
  • fresh coffee for motivation

Step 4: Tools Needed

This project is easily completed with hand tools. Power tools make things faster but not always safer if you are doing this with a little helper.
Tools needed:

  • Hand saw
  • Measuring Tape or Rule
  • Speed Square
  • Pencil or Marking Tool
  • Power Drill
  • 1/8" Drill Bit
  • 1/4" Drill Bit
  • 1-1/8" Spade Bit
  • Wood Glue
  • Hammer
  • Safety Glasses

Step 5: Cutting the Boards to Size

Cut your boards to the sizes shown above.

You will need two pieces 4-1/4" x 4-1/4" square for the end panels.

Since our boards were 5-1/2" wide, this will be the width of the widest roof panel.

The other one will be cut to 4-3/4" to give us a 1/2" roof overhang.

The length of the roof panels is adjustable based on the size of your coffee can.

Measure your coffee can then add 1-1/2" for each end or 3" total to the length of the roof panels.

After cutting, you might want to hit all the edges with some sandpaper to avoid nasty splinters.

Step 6: Layout Where End Panels Will Go

Measure in 1-1/2" from each end of the roof panels to mark where the end panels will be.

This will aid in assembly and nailing the birdhouse together later.

Use a rule and a square to mark your lines.

I know this is a birdhouse, but you can practice good layout skills even on a birdhouse

Step 7: Pre-drill and Glue the Roof Assembly Together

Use the narrow roof panel to layout where the glue and nails will go on the wider panel.

Pre-drill the nail holes with a 1/8" twist drill. This is not necessary, but this will keep wood from splitting.

In this photo, you can see where I marked the layout for the end panels.

Step 8: Assemble the Roof

Glue and nail the roof together.

I used three nails here.

Step 9: Check Your Progress

Here you can see how things will go together.

Notice the roof is now symmetrical and there is an even overhang on both sides.

Step 10: Drill a Hole for Birds

This was designed as a wren house.

Draw an X from corner to corner and mark the center for the hole.

Use a 1-1/8" spade bit to drill a through hole in one end panel.

If you want to make this for another type of bird, you will need to research what size hole you need.

Do not make the hole too large or you will get pests (eg. sparrows) living in you birdhouse.

Step 11: Double Check That the Can Fits

Make sure your measurements and layout are still correct.

This is the last time to make adjustments.

Step 12: Apply Some Glue to the End Panels

Apply a bit of glue and assemble the end panels.

Use your layout lines to help you get these in the right place.

Step 13: Nail End Panels to the Birdhouse

Pre-drill four nail holes (2 each side of roof) and assemble with 6d galvanized finish nails.

Take your time and check your alignment as you go.

Offset the nails slightly to avoid hitting another nail.

Step 14: Use Clamps to Help With Assembly

Use a few clamps or a helper if you need to while assembling the birdhouse.

Sometimes the parts like to move around too much while nailing.

Step 15: Oops! Accidents Will Happen!

Sometimes the nails will have a mind of their own.

This happens even when you are trying to be careful.

Take your time and tap or pull the nails out and try again.

Step 16: Renailed the Roof Back Together

I goofed on my layout lines. I just moved the nail holes over a bit and re-nailed things together.

The birds will never know the difference.

Maybe you can offer to discount the rent.

Step 17: Drill Holes for the Dowel Rod

Use a 1/4" dowel rod to hold the coffee can and the wood together.

Layout and drill a hole for dowel. I placed mine about 1/2" in from the corner.

I ended up using a 9/32" drill bit. The 1/4" hole was too tight.

You will want the dowel to be secure, but you also need to able to remove it for cleaning and maintenance.

Drill a hole in both end panels.

Step 18: Insert Dowel and Trim to Length

Most people think a birdhouse needs a perch.

Have you ever seen a tree with a perch?

Birds will know how to get in and out of the birdhouse.

Sometimes the perch makes it too easy for predators to get to the eggs.

Trim it flush with the front of the house.

Step 19: Admire Your Work

Step 20: Add Screw Eyes to Hang Your Birdhouse

I twisted two screw eyes about 1" in from each end of the roof.

Pre-drilling will make this easier, but this is not necessary.

Use a pair of pliers or a nail to help screw these into the wood.

When the eyes are in, you are done!

Go outside and look for great places to hang your new birdhouse.

Congratulations on your project.

Step 21: Screw Eyes I Used

These are the screw eyes I used.

This pack cost me about $1.25 at Menards.

If you wanted to make this house last longer, I would use stainless steel hardware.

Step 22: Can Also Use the Plastic Coffee Canisters

Here is another birdhouse I made using plastic canister from another brand of coffee.

Adjust the length of your roof panels to accommodate the difference in size of canisters.

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