Single Plank Bat Box

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Introduction: Single Plank Bat Box

About: Woodworking gadget fan, photographer, husband, cyclist, kayaking SUP riding real ale drinker. More of this stuff is over at my Instagram.

I've been meaning to make a bat box for a while, when this contest popped up I thought it would make a great project and one I could do with just hand tools.

I took the basic plans from this RSPB website, it's a fairly simple one plank build.
I'm lucky enough to live near a very good timber merchant, they carry a large array of rough-sawn wood. I bought 2 x 4000 mm lengths of 150 mm wide x 22 mm thick, the plan is to make one of these bat boxes using only hand tools for this contest then knock out 3 or 4 more using all the tools in my shop.

The only powered tool used in the making of this project was my car to get the wood.

Supplies

1 length of untreated rough-sawn wood 150 mm wide x 1100 mm long x 22 mm thick.
Hand saw
Hand drill
Screwdriver
Tape measure
Square
Sanding block
Stanley knife
6 mm wood chisel
Wood glue
20+ #8 x 50 mm screws
Wood filler
Wood primer
Finish paint

Step 1: 5 Simple Cuts

Making the pieces for the box is fairly simple if you start with a piece of the correct width.

Following the plan from the RSPB layout, the first cut is the trickiest, start by marking out both sides down the length. When making the cuts try to make sure they are as upright (90ΒΊ) as possible as this will help you get better joints.

Because this is rough-sawn timber after all the parts were cut I sanded down all the edges.

Step 2: Making the Landing Strip

To make the entrance easier for the bats to enter I cut a tiny bat ladder in the backboard.

To do this I scored two lines a few mm deep across the board, I then chiselled this out.

This again was given a quick rub over with the sanding block.

Step 3: Making the Lid

The next step is to make the lid.

I clamped all the parts minus the lid together, then laid the lid won the side outside the backboard this allowed me to mark the angle I needed to plane.

Using a recently sharpened block plane I was able to put the angle on the lid making sure I stuck to the marked angle.
I left the front face of the lid without the angle because this would allow rain water to spill off the front.

Following the same method as cutting the bat ladder I added a lid width slot in the backboard, the lid can be wedged in to this slot to add to the waterproof and draft proof nature of the box.

Step 4: Hand Drill

My first issue was, I don't own a hand drill nor did any of my neighbours.

Good news... my dad had one on his boat... Bad news... It was on his boat, covered in rusty gunk and unused for years, this thing hardly turned so my first hour was spent stripping it, cleaning and giving it a grease.

I really missed my powered drill at this stage, manually drilling holes is a time-consuming task.

With all that said, I used a combo drill and countersink bit to make the 20 fixing holes through the sides and lid.
To make sure I got the fixing holes centred in the receiving piece I marked the wood width by tracing along an off cut.

Step 5: Assembly

The assembly of the box is a simple task.

The only bit that requires some precision is getting the sides in their correct position. Apply plenty of wood glue to the side of the backboard where the side will contact. Line up the top of the side with the bottom of the slot cut for the top, screw in to place. Repeat for the other side.

Apply glue to the front piece and screw it in to place between the sides.

It might be overkill but I decided to scuff up the inside back wall and inner lid, this was aid the grip for the bats.

Glue the lid stop in at the front of the box, make sure you align the top edge of the stop with the top edge of the sides.

Glue and screw the top in to place making sure you put glue the slot cut in to the back board and position the top in the slot.

Step 6: Fill and Sand

Using wood filler I filled all the screw holes and joint gaps.
Leaving it overnight to harden the following day I sanded it all flat.

Before painting it, I drilled 3 mounting holes, two in the top and one underneath in the bat ladder.

Step 7: Undercoat

Being as this is going to be mounted outside in the always beautiful British weather πŸ˜‰ I decided to paint the box.

I did some research to make sure it was OK (from a bat point of view) to paint the box, most of the information i found was that so long as the inside remains unpainted it's fine to paint.

I masked off the entrance slot with some Frogtape and gave the box two coats of exterior undercoat.

Step 8: Final Coat

Once the undercoat had dried I gave the box it's final spray coat of black satin finish.


I hope this Instructable has given you some ideas and inspiration to make your own bat box. These amazing little creatures need all the help we can give them.
Don't forget the tiny Pipistrelles are the commonest British bats, weighing around 5 grams
(same as a 20p piece). A single pipistrelle can eat 3,000 tiny insects in just one night. More bats = less bugs.

Hand Tools Only Challenge

Runner Up in the
Hand Tools Only Challenge

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    24 Comments

    0
    NEW PEW
    NEW PEW

    11 months ago

    Great Instructable! Congrats with being a finalist in the Hand tools only challenge!

    0
    snowf7
    snowf7

    11 months ago

    You have my vote!
    Thank-you for your entry. We need bats.
    I encourage bats to frequent our property to keep the bugs at bay. We live near a river and have a lot of cedar trees nearby. I have included some information on bats that may put others minds to rest about the exaggerated numbers given to the rabies present in bats. In reality, rabies is present in less than 1/2% of bats.
    https://www.batcon.org/article/bats-falsely-blamed...
    I built a bat house years ago using a pattern that was supplied by Bats Conservation International. They also have some very good information. My neighbours also made one.
    Also check out research by Merlin D. Tuttle and Susan M. Barnard.

    0
    Stevens Workshop
    Stevens Workshop

    Reply 11 months ago

    Thank you for the vote πŸ‘ πŸ™‚
    I try to encorrage all sorts of wildlife around our house.
    I installed a garden pond last year with an area left of fully wild, I have a completely full bee hotel and currently have about 30 sparrows chirping away in the bush out the front, they are there for the bird seed and fat balls on the 6 feeders
    🐦 🐸 πŸ¦‡

    0
    snowf7
    snowf7

    Reply 11 months ago

    It is so great to hear that we are not the only ones who enjoy the wildlife around us. We have chipmunks, squirrels, racoons, skunks and one cold winter night we had a possum (or an opossum) at our back door. There is a community garden next to us with bee hotels. There are bee hotels in our main street park. One of our neighbours has a pond. It is great for the kids to learn about nature. None of them seem to have any fear of snakes, frogs, toads salamanders or bugs. They are always bringing something to the door to share with us.
    We live in a small town in Ontario, Canada with a population under 3,000, so everyone seems to know each other here. It's great. We also feed the wild birds. It is surprising how many different types show up. Last year the Robins didn't head south until the end of October. I'm not sure if they have left yet this year. We have had some very warm weather.
    I wish you the best of luck in having your bat house filled soon. We are not sure if any are living in either of ours, but know we have had lots filling the warm summer skies. I wrote a poem many years ago about bats that I would like to share with you at a later date.
    Thank-you for your warm reply;
    Sincerely
    Vicki Henderson (Snowfleas7)
    0
    Stevens Workshop
    Stevens Workshop

    Reply 11 months ago

    πŸ‘ for nature πŸ‘
    Lovely poem 😁 I might have to use 'night swallows' in the future πŸ˜‰
    What's the difference between a possum and an opossum, I've done a little Google searching and they seem to be the same creature.

    0
    snowf7
    snowf7

    Reply 11 months ago

    Years ago we had a set of Collier's Encyclopedias. That was in the mid seventies. Opossum could be found under "O" and Possum under "P". One was an animal from the Americas while the other was European. Today I can't find any information that offers a difference between the two. I am not sure what happened to the Encyclopedia set.
    I am glad you liked the poem. It is a true story. My father believed that fear came from ignorance and tried to teach us all he could about a lot of things, especially wildlife. We had some friends over for a bonfire many years ago and one of the girls was afraid of what she thought were bats in the sky. I lied and told her that we had no bats, only night swallows. She relaxed and had a wonderful time. It wasn't until many years later that I told her the truth and was forgiven.

    0
    Stevens Workshop
    Stevens Workshop

    Reply 11 months ago

    It's amazing how much education can elevate fear. It's also good to be educated to the difference between fear and awareness, e.g. there is no need to be fearful of a bear but you really should be aware.

    0
    snowf7
    snowf7

    Reply 11 months ago

    LOL I have a great respect for snakes and have no fear handling those local to our area. If I were travelling in another part of the world, I would want to be aware if they were rattlesnakes.

    0
    Stevens Workshop
    Stevens Workshop

    Reply 11 months ago

    Aware and knowledgeable but not afraid 😁

    0
    snowf7
    snowf7

    Reply 11 months ago

    That is a great life lesson.

    0
    snowf7
    snowf7

    Reply 11 months ago

    Night Swallows
    by Vicki Henderson
    When I was just a little girl, I said to Dad "What's that?"
    He said, "Don't be alarmed my dear, it's just a wee brown bat."
    Casting shadows strange and new, it fluttered through the house
    With young and untrained eyes, I saw a tiny flying mouse
    With childhood awe I watched it do a dive and then it swooped
    Like a mid-way roller coaster, oh, how it loop-de-looped!
    Continuing with graceful skill it held my youthful gaze
    It banked and swung through what must be a fancy unseen maze
    Then suddenly it landed on the curtain, way up high
    My Dad said, "It must go outside to eat, or it will die."
    He gently cupped it in his hands and brought it way down low
    I crouched before my father as his hands moved oh so slow
    His fingers slowly opened and into his hands I peeked
    I gazed upon this creature, as it trembled, clicked and squeaked
    "It's much more scared of us," said Dad, "than we are scared of it."
    It fluttered from his hands just then and on a chair, it lit
    It sat so still upon the chair and blended out of sight
    I looked real close and I could see it shaking out of fright
    Until it calmed, we let it be. We didn't want it stressed
    "We'll let it go outside, "said Dad, "run upstairs and get dressed."
    When I returned, I was surprised for it was in Dad's palm
    I never would have guessed that it could be so still and calm
    It looked around with tiny eyes so gentle and so sweet
    There was webbing from its fingers right down to its tiny feet
    Reaching with my hands I said, "I want to hold it oh so much."
    Dad said, "You cannot hold it. If you're gentle you can touch."
    I felt it's back. I felt it's wings, it's fingers and its toes
    Its head was just as tiny as my baby brother's nose.
    Its fur was soft as soft can be, its eyes were clear and bright
    As soft as kid-gloves were the wings that gave its body flight
    And now the time had come to let this creature go outside
    I begged him and I pleaded, and I maybe even cried
    But he explained that we need bats to eat the bugs that bite
    There aren't enough bugs in the house. There's lots outside at night
    We stepped outside, he left dad's hand in one big swooping arc
    Before we knew it, he had vanished somewhere in the dark
    I sometimes I see his shadow as he hunts for food outside
    He swoops around the back light where the bugs don't know to hide
    Most people tend to get upset when bats are in the air
    They just don't seem to understand; they're precious, few and rare
    When people visit late at night and the bats come from their hollows
    We calm our guests with one white lie, we call our bats
    NIGHT SWALLOWS
    They swoop and dive while catching bugs and no one seems to care
    Who's ever heard of swallows getting tangled in your hair?

    0
    garrydelf
    garrydelf

    11 months ago

    I'm not sure this is the best design. I see no provision for cleaning or ventilation. Having the flat floor with no access is going to be an issue as there is only a narrow entry/exit. The guano is going to pile up with no way out or way to clean. Check out some of the designs at Bats Conservation International they have a narrow cavity with an open bottom and no restriction.

    0
    Stevens Workshop
    Stevens Workshop

    Reply 11 months ago

    Garry, I'm not claiming to be an expert in bat, as such I used the exact plans from the RSPB website, I found some very similar plans on a local bat club.
    They actually make the statement that all joints should be sealed as 'bats don't like drafts'.
    Hopefully our local bats won't mind and find it as a safe place.

    0
    Stevens Workshop
    Stevens Workshop

    11 months ago

    Three bat boxes now up on the wall. Here's hoping for some new residents soon πŸ¦‡

    97F73F02-A894-4EC9-B293-C5EA772C52B8.jpeg
    0
    Stevens Workshop
    Stevens Workshop

    11 months ago

    I have since made another two boxes (still to be sanded), this time using power tools.

    F213CF99-1DC0-4D85-9071-3BFABF129210.jpeg
    0
    tomwall1969
    tomwall1969

    Tip 11 months ago

    I would not encourage bats to frequent the area of my house. They eliminate in flight and and unlike birds they can carry rabies.

    0
    Stevens Workshop
    Stevens Workshop

    Reply 11 months ago

    Thankfully the boxes will be located out the front of the house so won't be flying over any area where there is too much foot traffic.

    0
    skipthompson81
    skipthompson81

    11 months ago

    any thoughts to screen door material to allow footholds?

    0
    Stevens Workshop
    Stevens Workshop

    Reply 11 months ago

    Hmmm, I wouldn't be sure about their feet getting caught up, I guess it would matter on the size of the holes in the screen.