Introduction: Simple Birdhouse for Chickadee


The goal of this ible is to show you how to make a simple birdhouse out of four nails, a bit of glue, and a scrap of plywood (at least 14 inches x 19 inches, anything bigger is gravy). This is a great project to do with kids!

Step 1: About This Particular Design

This bird house is tailored for chickadees, but you can of course modify it to suit whatever bird you are trying to attract. I chose chikadees because they are friendly birds that stick around through our cold Canadian winters, and can easily be tamed to come eat out of your hand, especially if you are giving them tasty treats like sunflower seeds.

The house I am building is meant for chickadees that live in northern climates. Depending on the bird and climate, the size of the hole will varry. For Chickadees, 1-1/8 inches is the normally quoted size, but this will be a bit too small in northern areas where they get plumper. In Canada and part of the norther United States, increasing this to 1-1/4 inches is a safe bet. You will also notice that there is no peg; putting a perching dowel is a feature that will attract different birds. In these dimensions, sparrows would quite like the house if it had a perch.

Step 2: Material

For this project, you need

The tools required are

Step 3: Dimensions

If this is going to be cut by kids (be it by hand or electric depending on age), pre-drawing the lines will be nice. If you are doing this with a table saw and are comfortable using the fence, you can get away with a list of the dimensions and just use the fence to size everything.

What you will need are two pieces that are 4 inch wide for the front and back. The front should be 8 inches long, and the back needs to be at least 11 inches long, but you really want to get it 12-14 inches long. The first 9-1/2 of the back make up the wall, and the rest will keep going below the bird house so you can easily fasten it. If your piece of wood allows it, you can make the house a few inches higher.

The sides should be the 2x the width of your ply (so with my quarter ply, that's half an inch) plus 4 inches. So the sides are 4-1/2 x 9-1/2. Since you will be cutting the slant for the roof in the sides, you can keep them as long as you want if you are just cutting up scraps and won't re-use anything else, and just trim it to size when you add the taper.

Lastly, the base is going to be a 4x4 square, and the roof a 5x6 inches.

The hole should be centered on the front piece's width, and 6 inches up from where the base will be.

Step 4: Cutting the Taper of the Walls

The walls will be 8 inches high in the front, and 9-1/2 in the back.... or whatever lenght you ended up with after the kids cut the pieces.

Laser lines on saws are genrally pretty gimicky, but this is where I actually like having one. Since we can mark our sides using the front and back and draw a line between the points, we are getting a pretty random angle. Following that line with the laser guide (not to position the saw, but rather just the rotation of the base), you can get the correct angle to your saw very easily.

Step 5: Drill Holes

In preparation for installing the base later on, we want to drill two holes in each side. These holes will be very close to the bottom edge, and about half an inch in from the front and back edges. The drill bit size you select should match the nails you are using, so that they can slide in and out, but not fall through. This is because our base just rests on the four beds, for a dirt cheap mechanism. No need for hinges, and it will hold just fine.

You will also have to drill the opening for the birds on the face plate. In this case, I am making a 1-1/4" hole that is centered just over 6 inches away from the bottom edge (kinda eyeballed it).

Step 6: Add a Knob

Adding a knob to the underside of the base by gluing a bit of scrap to it will make it easier to handle the base.

Step 7: Assembly

Everything except the base just gets glued together. You can get away with using 2 clamps, but 4 is better. Assemble all the walls at once. Once that is dry, you can glue on the roof.

Step 8: Installation

Now that everything is done, you can slide the base in and inster the nails to prevent it from falling back out.

You can now go out and install your bird house. For chickadees, it should be at least 4 feet off the ground, and as much as 12 feed up. If you have more than one, make sure they are very spaced out, as the chickadees could get a little territorial.

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