Introduction: Songbird Bungalow (from Scratch)

About: We help you live a more energy efficient, eco-friendly, sustainable and green lifestyle. In our spare time, it's not unusual to find us turning stuff into something more useful or fixing broken stuff.

Making the Birdhouse Bungalow from scratch is simple, but a few of the steps require the use of power tools (not for children). Fortunately, assembly, finishing and decorating the bungalow makes for a terrific project for everyone.

A kit is available at Bishop's Green Home for those who don’t have or are uncomfortable using the required power tools.

Be sure to read all of the directions before you begin your project.


Safety Equipment

Eye protection



Paintbrush (unless you choose to use spray paint


Hammer or mallet


Electric drill

1/16” drill bit

3/8” drill bit

1-1/2” spade bit or hole saw



2 each 4” x 4” x ½” Solid, knot free, soft wood

1 each Tin can (Just about any 15 to 20 ounce can will do)

1 each 3/8” x 16” of hardwood dowelling

2 each 3/8” (length) self-tapping or wood screws

1 sheet 220 grit sandpaper

< 1 pint Polyurethane

Step 1: Step 1 - Cut Walls to Size

Cut two pieces of 4” x 4” x ½” soft wood for the front and rear walls of your bird house.

Step 2: Step 2 - Align Walls and Mark for Reference

Place both walls, back-to-back and draw a line like this. Only draw the line half way across, this way you’ll know which sides go together and that the holes you’ll drill later line up correctly.

Step 3: Step 3 - Mark Locations for Drilling

On just one of the walls draw a straight line from one corner to the opposite corner.

Along the line you just drew measure ¾” from each corner and mark both spots. Then measure 2-1/2” from one corner and mark it. Note that this is not the middle of the front wall.

Step 4: Step 4 - Drill Holes for the Hanger and the Perch

Making sure the side marks line up, secure both pieces with a clamp or two.

Place both walls on a block of wood and secure to your workbench. You’re going to drill all of the way through both marks closest to the corners. Be careful not to drill at an angle or your birdhouse will take on a trapezoid shape.

Step 5: Step 5 - Drill Hole for Front Wall Entrance

Remove the clamp and the unmarked wall.

Place the marked wall on a spare block of wood. Clamp the marked wall and block of wood together and secure to your workbench. Using a 1-1/2” hole saw or bit drill through the mark at 2-1/2”. This will be the front wall and the 1-1/2” hole will be the entrance to your birdhouse.

Step 6: Step 6 - Painting the Walls & Tin Can

You may want to paint both walls and your tin can now. However, you could skip this step and paint the entire birdhouse after it’s built. Be aware, painting the walls now will allow all the wood’s surface to be sealed and likely give the birdhouse a longer life.

If you paint the walls now, be sure to place a tack or small nail on the orientation marks you made on the side of each wall.

Note: Having trouble removing glue residue from your tin can? Try soaking it in scalding water. Let is soak for a minute, then remove with tongs. Using gloves, firmly rub the glue with a rag. It should come off with a little effort.

Better yet, use a heat gun or hand-held blow drier to melt the glue and then wipe with a dry rag.

Step 7: Step 7 - Secure the Tin Can to the Rear Wall

Take your tin can and turn it upside down, so that the opening is face down. Drill two 1/16” holes about 2” apart. These holes will be used to screw the can to the rear wall.

Place the can, closed end down, on the rear wall. Place the front wall on top and line up your marks.

Line up the tin can so that the outside edge is close but doesn’t cover the 3/8” hole.

Notice that I’ve placed the can on the side furthest from the door. This is done to allow your bird tenant to build-up more nest material below the entrance.

Using the two holes you just drilled, secure the can to the rear wall using your two 3/8” long screws.

Step 8: Step 8 - Cut and Insert Doweling for the Hanger & Perch

Cut the 3/8” dowelling, so that you have one

7-1/2” (Hanger) and one 8-1/2” (Perch) long pieces. Carefully sand off any rough spots.

Insert the 8-1/2” long dowel into the 3/8” hole closest to the can and the 7-1/2” dowel in the opposite hole. Lightly tap each dowel to seat it completely.

Step 9: Step 9 - Install the Front Wall

Line up the front wall and insert onto the 8-1/2” dowel (Perch). Gently tap the wall until it contacts the 7-1/2” (Hanger) dowel. Line up the hanger with the empty 3/8” hole and tap into place.

Step 10: Step 10 - Align Hanger & Perch

Place the birdhouse on a block of wood or the edge of a sturdy surface, so that the end of the 7-1/2” dowel hangs over. Gently tap the dowel, so that it extends equally from the front and rear walls.

Step 11: Step 11 - Finish and Decorate

You can finish you Birdhouse Bungalow any way you like.

Here are a few ideas:

1. To prevent water from collecting in the tin can, turn the bungalow upside-down and drill two 1/6" to 1/4" holes, one at opposite ends, on the bottom.

2. Ad an awning over the entrance. This will help keep water out and add a bit of unique detail. The example above was made from an empty peanut butter container lid. Plastic lids are simple to shape and come in many colors.