My sisters birthday was a couple of weeks ago and I promised her a bird table, its late but I made it in the end! This was made completely on the fly so I will give approximate measurements for the wood needed and some of the cuts and techniques I used. I managed to make it from 100% pallet wood (without counting the screws, glue and stain).
To give it a different look I added two little planters at different heights, I also think this might help smaller birds be more camouflaged from predators when feeding though I'm not sure on that.
Check out my YouTube channel for the video of the build and as always, more detailed instructions follow below.
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Step 1: Tools and Materials
- Pencil and rule
- Combination Square
- Rip saw and crosscut saw (table saw would be easier!)
- Wood chisel, 2cm or so
- Bench plane (or jointer) and block plane
- Brace (or drill) with 8mm bit
- Hand drill (or drill) with 3mm bit
- Mitre box
- Philips Screwdriver
- Staple gun
- 3 planks of wood; 100cm X 14cm X 2cm
- 2 pieces of wood; 100cm X 7cm X 4cm
- 1 piece of wood; 50cm X 4cm X 1.5cm
- 30 X 5cm screws
- 10 X 10cm screws
- 8 X 4cm screws
- 10 X 5cm dowels
- Outdoor wood glue
- Exterior wood treatment (I used stain)
- Landscape material
Step 2: Making the Feeding Table
I wanted to give the bird table a bit of a different look so I went with a triangular feeding table. I cut two pieces of the planks to around 25cm long, jointed the edges with a smoothing plane and glued them together. The next day I planed the surface down flat and cut the angles. I made sure the smaller end of the table matched the width of the post.
Step 3: Pointing the Post and Attaching the Table
Not wanting the post to look like a square at the top I decided to chamfer the sides to give it more of a finished look. This was simply a case of drawing identical slopes on opposite sides and then sawing and chiselling the waste off. After that I finished the chamfers off with a block plane.
When that was done I drilled two 8mm holes into the side of the table that would connect to the post. I then drilled the corresponding holes into the post and glued it together with dowels using an exterior wood glue. Where you position the table is an entirely personal preference but I decided to position mine about 30cm from the top of the post.
Step 4: Attaching the Brace and Table Sides
Knowing that the glue and dowels wouldn't be enough to hold the table up in the long term I decided to make a simple brace. Using a mitre box I cut a 45 degree angle on one end of a piece of wood and then a 45 degree angle at the other end. This piece was about 25cm long or so. I then drilled a 3mm hole at each end and attached it with two screws, making sure to keep the table at 90 degrees to the post whilst doing so.
To keep the seed and bird food from blowing away in the wind I added two side pieces onto the table. This was simply a case of ripping two small pieces of wood, matching their angles with the table and the post and then screwing them in.
Step 5: Making and Attaching the Roof
This was a tricky part and much of it I did with no planning at all (like many of my projects). So forgive me for the hazy directions! I cut two pieces from the planks around 25cm long and chamfered the front and side edges. I then cut a truss shaped piece to screw to the post that the roof pieces would screw into. The pitch of the roof and the position of the roof are completely up to you, everyone will have their own preference. I pilot holed the 2 roof pieces and screwed them in with once screw each to the truss piece.
When that was done I decided to make a front truss piece from one of the planks, I then pilot holed the roof pieces again and put two screws from each roof piece into the front truss. This immediately gave it more rigidity. The next step was to make a kind of beam to keep the roof from flopping around. I cut a smaller piece of wood to around 14cm, this was the right length for my particular roof to be straight and just looking more pleasing to the eye. I put two screws threw the bottom of the table into the beam.
After this it got a little trickier as I needed to make the very top of the roof and also attach it to the existing pieces. I took a scrap of pallet wood and chamfered its face into a point to allow water to run off when it rains. I drilled a pilot hole at the back end and screwed it into the back truss. I then drilled a hole at the front end and began to drill a 10cm screw down through the top roof piece into the front truss. When the screw touched the front truss I took it out and drilled down through the roof piece into the front truss a little. This made it easier for the screw to pass through the front truss and also into the beam, thus securing the roof to the truss and then to the beam.
Step 6: Making and Attaching the Planters
Of course if you don't want planters on your bird table then you can completely skip this step! I cut a piece of the planks to 12cm and attached it to the post with dowels in the same manner as the table. I then cut another piece at around 10cm and attached it to the post with dowels at a right angle to the first piece. It was then just a case of screwing in two other pieces to make a square shaped planter.
For the bottom pieces I just attached 4 screws to the bottom insides of the planter walls, screwed in about half way. I then cut a piece of the plank that would fit inside the planter walls and rest on top of the screws.
Step 7: Making and Attaching the Feet
I planed down a thicker piece of pallet wood and cut it into two equal lengths of 50cm each. I then used a combination square to mark half way down the thickness of each piece. After finding the centre line across each piece I was able to mark the width of the pieces.
I sawed down each side of the cuts and then made some relief cuts all the way along the joint. Using a chisel I took out all the waste and slotted the two pieces together. I chamfered the ends and edges to make it more pleasing to the eye.
Turning the pieces upside down I then marked where the post would go and drilled 5 pilot holes. I screwed in 5 10cm screws until they were protruding a few millimetres above the surface. I was then able to use the points of the screws to mark points on the bottom of the post which is where I would drill some more 3mm pilot holes. I could then screw all of the screws in. I was going to add some angled braces from each foot to the post but as it was sturdy enough I didn't bother, also I think it looks better without them.
Step 8: Painting and Fitting the Landscape Material
I used a water based stain to treat the wood as I've been told that its not harmful to wildlife. After the treatment went on I got some landscape material and stapled it to the sides of the planters, cutting off the excess with a pair of scissors.
Step 9: Fill the Planters and the Table!
Now you're ready to move it to your desired spot in your garden or yard and throw in a couple of plants of your choosing. I went to a local garden centre and picked a grass for the top planter and a kind of trailing/hanging plant for the bottom planter. Of course the plants you use are entirely up to you!
The cool thing about this bird table is that as you're making it you can tweak the roof position, table shape, planter position and shape to fit your own personal taste. Being made from pallet wood will it last a long time? Probably not, but the wood was free, it took one weekend of my time and it was designed completely by me, at the end of the day I find that incredibly satisfying.
Thanks a lot for checking out that Instructable! If you enjoyed that then please check out my YouTube channel and if you'd like to support me further and check out my other builds then give my Facebook page a like.
I would also like to take this opportunity to let as many people know as possible that I will be doing my first ever live stream on Wednesday. I thought I would challenge myself to make something live on YouTube within an hour as I don't expect to have too many viewers. I feel like this will make the video more watchable and re watchable by those who miss it live. I'll be live at midnight UK time which will be around 7pm on the East coast of the US and 4pm on the West coast. (most of my followers are in North America). So if you feel like seeing me bumbling and cursing my way through a live build then please join me for the live stream and say hey!