Introduction: Entire Dovetailed Birdhouse From One Board
I made a simple birdhouse for a titmice from a single board of redwood. For outdoor birdhouses, I recommend weather-resistant lumber, like cedar or redwood. I incorporated some basic dovetail joints, but you don't have to! This is a super easy project; and the design is very forgiving to small mistakes.
- One board of wood
- I used sustainably-sourced redwood (naturally rot resistant) 72" x 5.5"
- 8 corrosive-resistant screws
- Wood glue
- Teak oil (or other exterior finish)
- Hand saw
- Combination square or speed square
- Sander or sandpaper
- Dovetail guide (optional)
- File (optional)
Using a combination square (or speed square), mark a 45-degree line across the board beginning approximately 6 inches from one end of the board (or higher if you want a taller birdhouse, but note that 6" complements the board width, which can more easily create the side walls in Step 2).
Starting at the same point on the opposite side of the board, mark a second 45-degree angled line across the board. These two lines should intersect in the exact middle of the board (see illustration). Continue both of these lines across to the other side.
Using a handsaw, cut along these two lines, creating a pentagon with three right angles (see illustration). This piece will constitute one side of the birdhouse.
Use the cut-out pentagon from the step above to place onto the board and trace a cut line (90-degree line running perpendicular across the board creating a mirror of the first cut pentagon, which will be the second pentagon with a tapered peak).
Cut along this line to create two identical right pentagons. Let's refer to these pieces as the "end pentagons."
Step 2: Cut Out the Two Side Walls
Measure approximately seven inches from the end of the board and mark it where you'll cut out the side wall (you can get more or less; just make sure the two side walls are of equal length).
Cut along this marked line.
Repeat the step above to make the second side wall.
Step 3: Cut Out the Roof Panels
Now to cut out the roof panels, similar to the step above, measure approximately 8.5 inches from the edge and make a perpendicular mark across the board. Cut along this line.
Repeat the step above to cut out the second roof panel.
You need to trim down one of the roof panels so that when they are layered across the tapered peak of the pentagon ends. Use the first roof panel's width, mark a cut line running parallel down the second roof panel. Cut off this edge. Save this thin strip of wood for Step 12.
As you can see in the last photo, now when the two roof panels form the roof, the larger roof panel extends further up. The second panel is tucked beneath, but they both drop down the same distance.
Step 4: Cut Dovetail Joints in the Sidewall
This is optional. I wanted to add dovetail joints because I think they look cool, but you can use a basic butt joint.
Using a ruler or dovetail guide, mark the angles of your dovetail joints. Use the width of the board, mark the depths of the joints. cut them out.
I didn't feel the need to have super precise dovetails. It's a birdhouse, after all, and I plan to use glue to fill any gaps.
Step 5: Cut Corresponding Dovetail Joints in the End Pieces
Now mark the corresponding the dovetail joints on the pentagon end pieces. Cut out these joints. Use a file or sandpaper to trim the joints down to size. Do a dry fit.
With all the sides complete, mix some sawdust into wood glue, and glue the four sides together.
Clamp it up and let is dry.
Step 7: Cut Out the Bird Hole
cut out the hole, which will be the doorway into the birdhouse. I started with a standard bit, then moved up to a 1" spade bit. I wanted my hole to be about 1&3/8ths, and the only bit I had that was that large was a titanium step bit meant for metal. I used that to bore the rest of the hole.
Optional: to increase the depth of the bird's hole (and protect the birdhouse from predators), cut a 3" x 3" wood plate, drill the same sized hole and glue the plate over the doorway so the hole lines up.
Sand the birdhouse to remove the excess glue.
Step 8: Cut Out the Birdhouse Floor
Put the birdhouse on the wood board and mark around the inside edges to delineate a floor panel. Cut along those lines to create a rectangle that will be inserted into the bottom of the birdhouse and create the floor (sorry I forgot to take pics of this step).
Align the floor correctly in place and drill four holes through the sidewalls into the center of the floor plate to secure it in place.
Step 9: Attach the Roof Panels
Place the smaller roof panel onto the housing (as in photo). Drill a pilot hole through the roof panel into the pentagon wall. Insert screws into these holes to fasten the roof to the housing.
Dry fit the second (larger) roofing panel. Repeat the steps above to drill and screw the panel into place.
Step 10: Cut the Roof Shingles From the Board
This step is optional and a real pain. Use the combination square to mark two cut lines across the edge of the wood board, dividing the board into thirds. Essentially the goal is to create three thinner boards from the original board.
Once you make these cuts, use a saw to cut perpendicular across the board to create shingles of whatever width you prefer. Finally use a coping saw to cut these away from the board at whatever height you prefer.
Step 11: Affix the Roof Shingles to the Roof Panels
Starting at the bottom of the roof panel, glue the shingles to the roof panel in rows. As you ascend up the roof line, layer the bottom of a row of shingles over the top of the row below (as in the pictures)
Step 12: Create a Ridge Line for the Roof
Using the thin strip of wood you cut off the smaller roof panel in step 3, cut that in half lengthwise so that it's even thinner.
Sand the peak of the roof until there's a flat plateau at the top. This will act as a flat ridge along which to glue the strip from the step above, creating ridge line.
Glue this strip across the top.
Step 13: Make the Perch From the Board
Cut a think strip from the board approximately 2.5" long. Whittle that piece down until it's relatively roundish. Drill a hole below the entry hole (see photo), add glue and press the perch into the hole.
Step 14: Finish the Birdhouse
I used teak oil to finish the birdhouse. I don't recommend trying to finish the interior of the birdhouse or the inside of the entry hole (the oils might irritate the birds' feathers). I also used a spray bottle to soak the roof and get the oil into all the nooks and crannies. I applied two coats. Keep in mind that depending on how much weather the birdhouse will take, you might have to reapply finish later.
Step 15: Enjoy Your Birdhouse!
Second Prize in the
One Board Contest