Intro: Build This Bird Feeder and Chill Out Bird Watching
While sipping our coffee each morning, my wife and I have enjoyed watching birds at the feeder for more years than I can remember. The more varieties of birds you see, the more addictive this simple pleasure becomes. So, with our old feeder in need of replacement it was time to head into the garage workshop and build a new and improved model. The following instructable will provide you with everything you need to know to build a bird feeder for the feathered friends in your yard. I'm confident that, if you do, you'll not only find yourself more in touch with nature but also enjoy your morning coffee more too.
Step 1: Material List
Here is everything you will need for this easy to build project:
1 - 1" x 8", 8 foot long cedar* board (actual dimensions of 3/4" x 7 1/4") *resists rotting - best for bird houses too
1 - small sheet of clear acrylic plexiglass (an 18" x 24" piece costs $8.00-9.00 at most home centers)
Interior / Exterior wood glue
sample size can of exterior wood stain (optional)
Screws and nails
Table saw (although all critical parts can be cut with a handsaw)
Wood clamps (very helpful for assembly)
Nail gun (or a good old fashioned hammer)
Step 2: Cut the Bird Feeder Parts to Size
All the major pieces necessary to build the feeder are shown in the above photo. After cutting these pieces to length there should be more than enough material remaining to trim out the feeder as detailed later in this instructable.
First, cut all pieces to length based on the following dimensions:
3 - 12" long pieces (7 1/4" x 12")
1 - for feeder base
2 - for feeder roof
2 - 10" long pieces for feeder ends (rough dimensions)
Final dimensions: 6 1/2" x 9 1/2"
2 - 9" long pieces for feeder sides (rough dimensions)
Final dimensions: 3 3/4" 8 3/4"
The feeder ends determine the slope of the roof and should be cut in the following manner:
- find the center at the top of the work piece and make a mark
- establish the roof lines by drawing 45 degrees lines from your mark to the edges of the work piece
- to taper the feeder ends to the base, make a mark 1/2" in from the bottom edges of the work piece and draw lines from those marks up and out to the roof lines. NOTE: If you want to keep things simple you can just skip tapering the feeder ends for a more traditional look.
- after cutting the feeder ends to accept the roof, save the 4, 45 degree triangular scraps for later use.
Step 3: Beginning Assembly
1) The first step in the assembly is to attach the feeder ends to the feeder base. However, before doing so glue and nail one of the 45 degree scraps to each feeder end (inside, and centered at the bottom of the work piece).
2) The feeder ends should be nailed and screwed to the base. Determine the position of each feeder end on the base and drill pilot holes for the screws (and nails if using a hammer rather than a nail gun). If mounting the bird feeder to a post you will want to drill one or more mounting holes in the base as well.
Note: one feeder end will be at the edge of the base and the other will be set in 1 1/2" from the edge to allow space to add a suet holder. Note:Attach each feeder end at the edges of the base if you don't want to include the suet holder. When doing so, remember to adjust the sizes of either the feeder base or feeder sides accordingly.
3) Photo #1: Clamping the feeder end to the workbench will make it much easier to attach it to the base. After centering the base and against the feeder end, fire a few nails into the base to secure it (photo #3). Then, using your drill, add screws to the holes you drilled (photo #4).
4) Photo #5: To attach the other feeder end to the base use the two feeder sides as spacers and clamp the other feeder end in the proper position (photo #5), then nail and screw it in place.
Note: You can also add glue to this stage of the assembly. I chose not to since I felt confident the combination of nails and screws was sufficient.
Step 4: Making the Roof
The roof can be constructed in either of two ways:
1) I used a table saw to cut all four edges of the two roof boards at 45 degree angles. I then glued and nailed the roof together creating a mitred roof joint.
2) Alternately, the two roof boards can be assembled without any cutting at all. In this case, just butt the edge of one board up against the side of the other board, glue and nail. Note:If you choose this method be sure one roof board is shorter (by the thickness of your material) than the other and assemble them so that, when finished each side of the roof is the same length.
Joining the roof boards
Photos #2 and #3 may be helpful when assembling the roof. Clamping one side of the roof to a right angled block of wood will make it easier for you to hold the other half in the proper position when nailing them together. This is the method I chose to use. Alternately, you can clamp a roof board to your workbench to hold one half of the roof in a stable position (see my instructable on building planter boxes for photos).
Add the roof supports
Photo #4 shows how we will use the two remaining triangular cutoffs. These pieces will help hold the roof in place. Place the roof in position and using a pencil, mark the inside and outside of each feeder end as seen in photos #5 and #6. Remove the roof and then glue and nail the cutoffs at the innermost line. After the glue has dried check the fit. If the roof fit is too tight, use a chisel to remove small amount of material from the outside of one (or both) roof supports, rechecking the fit frequently, until satisfied.
Step 5: Assembling the Feeder Sides
Making the feeder sides
As seen in the photos, the feeder sides are cut with a 45 degree bevel on the top edge. However, this isn't critical. If you don't have the ability to easily make an angled cut just leave the top edge flat making sure that the underside of the roof contacts the top of the feeder sides to seal out the elements and help keep the seed dry. Photos #3 and #5 show an optional plexiglass cover that can be fitted inside the feeder for additional protection.
Here are the steps to prepare the feeder sides:
1) Cut a 45 degree bevel on the top edge of each side.
2) Center a 1/2" to 3/4" deep groove in the lower edge of each side to accept the plexiglass feeder windows. A standard width saw kerf should be sufficient.
3) Cut two pieces of plexiglass to fit in the grooves of the feeder sides.This can be done on the table saw (which is much easier than scoring the material and snapping it apart).
-Size the plexiglass pieces so they will leave at least 1/2" opening at the feeder base after the sides are nailed to the feeder ends.
- Insert the plexiglass in the feeder sides and then drill three small pilot holes (on the seed side) to tack the plexiglass in place with nails (photo #2).
4) Optional: Attach a wood strip an inch or so below the top of each feeder side (photo #1). Then cut a plexiglass cover to rest on the wood strips, keeping excessive moisture from prematurely spoiling the seed (photos #3 & #5). To provide easy removal of the cover, attach a wire handle as shown or simply glue a small block of wood to the top of the cover.
6) Position and nail the feeder sides in place (photos #3 & #4).
7) Finally, cut two more pieces of plexiglass to rest on the cutoffs that were nailed to the bottom of the feeder ends (forming an inverted "v"). This will create a seed diverter funnelling a constant stream of seed through the opening on the feeder sides. To hold the plexiglass in place, nail 4 small wood blocks to the base. Detail is seen in photos #6 & #7 .
Step 6: Trimming the Feeder
Trimming the feeder base provides a perch for the birds and also prevents excess spilling of seed (birds have no table manners).
1) Cut the base trim so it is extends 1/2" or more above the base and sand the edges to a rounded smooth.
2) Glue and nail in place.
Photo #3 shows a simple suet holder that I made for my feeder. When adding a suet holder simply make it based on the size of the product need it to hold.
When the roof is in set in place you may have very small gaps where the feeder ends and the roof meet (I did). The best way to hide these slight imperfections (while also creating a better seal) is to attach small pieces of trim to the feeder ends or roof. As seen in photo #4, I added trim to one side of the roof which also helps hold the roof in place a little more securely. On the other side I attached the trim to the feeder end. Both pieces of trim hid the gaps and eliminated the chances of moisture entering the feeder in a heavy rain.
Staining the roof will help seal the seam at the peak of the roof and is highly recommended. A small sample can of stain mixed at my local home center cost under $4. I also decided to stain the outside of the base trim just for the sake of appearance.
Step 7: Mount the Feeder, Sit Back and Enjoy
Bird feeders can be mounted in a variety of ways. However, mounting your feeder on a metal pole is really the best method and it really isn't that difficult to do. Buy a pole and set it in a hole with redimix concrete. Have the pole extend to a height of about 5 feet above ground level. Then be sure to attach some form of a shield (see photos for one example) to stop small animals from climbing the pole and raiding the feeder. However, if raccoons are present, applying a thick coating of lithium grease to the pole will be needed to discourage these more clever and determined creatures.
Finally, with the feeder mounted and filled with seed and suet all you have to do is sit back and enjoy the view. Rest assured, IF YOU BUILD IT THEY WILL COME!