Building the $2 Birdhouse




About: Repairman! Enjoy frugality and helping others. Debt free since 1999. Enjoy nature, especially birds. Like a good storm!

I have built many of these $2 birdhouses as gifts. The basis of the $2 birdhouse is a 6" wide Dog Eared Cedar Picket, which comes in 5 and 6 foot lengths. The cheaper 5 foot picket will be enough to build one birdhouse and typically sells for less than $2. Please make sure your picket has not been stained or treated, just the natural Cedar. Also, keep in mind that any 1"x6" stock will work; I have transformed quite a bit of scrap wood into birdhouses. I have been told to avoid pallet wood as some has been treated with arsenic, but do not know this to be a fact in all cases, just be aware of the possibility.

Step 1: Materials Needed... Tools Needed...

Some good 1x6 stock, at least 5 feet per house. If using Cedar Pickets, try to find some that are not badly warped and have a uniform thickness. Remember to look for wood that you can recycle!

Indoor/Outdoor wood glue, such as Elmers, nothing fancy is needed.

1&1/4 inch brads, if you plan to use a nail gun, similar sized 16-18 gauge will work very nicely.

Perch is a 1/4 inch twig or other interesting device, such as a Golf Tee, rusty screw, basically anything a small bird would be comfortable perching on.

As basic as a miter box and saw, all the way to a chop saw and table saw if you have them.

Hammer and drill for pre-drilling holes or an air powered nailer (16-18 gauge is all you need).

Eventually, you will need a hole saw, probably 1&1/4 inch, but go to 1&3/8 inch if you have Bluebirds.

Step 2: Some Plans... (I Use the Term Loosley)

It might help some folks to print the following two diagrams, but it isn't necessary. I do recommend using a tape measure and marking your cuts before the actual cutting begins. Also, take a look at your boards and plan around any defects.

Step 3: Getting Started & Saw Work...

Before getting started, consider where you want to put the birdhouse. Choose the hanging or flush mount Instructable. This Instructable is for the hanging birdhouse is the basis for the flush mount birdhouse, so you will benefit from reading on.

Saw Work: Cut four 9" pieces for the gable ends and roof pieces. Cut two 6" side pieces. Save the scrap for the floor. If you started with a 6' picket, you will have enough scrap to build a tool box - I will be working on the toolbox Instructable soon.

Optional saw work, trim one edge of one roof piece the width of the material. This will result in a symmetrical roof, but the birds won't notice!


Step 4: Optional Saw Work - Trimming the Roof...

For a perfectly symmetrical roof, you will need to drag out the table saw and trim off one edge of one roof by an amount equal to the thickness of the board. The Pictures will explain why...

Step 5: Assembly - the Fun Part!

All points of attachment are glued with Elmer's indoor/outdoor Wood Glue, or equivalent, then nailed into place. VIEW ALL PICTURES AS THEY ARE THE INSTRUCTIONS...

Step 6: A Front Door and a Perch...

For most urban birdhouses, an entrance of 1&1/4 inch will be good. Nuthatches, Chickadees, and Sparrows will be your most likely tenants. If you are lucky enough to have Bluebirds, you'll need to increase the hole size to 1&1/2 inches. A hole saw makes a nice smooth hole, but check for splinters inside the home.

A twig, slightly larger than the hole works great. Strip the bark off with a knife and glue in place. Usually, the perch is placed 2 inches below the centerline of the entrance.

The pictures are the instructions, so view them all...

Step 7: A Floor (clean Out Hatch) and a Wire for Hanging...

Although it is not completely necessary a clean out hatch is a good idea. Many birds will clean out a house themselves, but an occasional problem might render the nest unused. I have found dead birds, wasp nests, and so much nesting material that I needed access to clean.

When installing the floor, it is easiest to place the house on top of the floor and nail in from the sides. Remember to leave a gap for the action of the hinge, which consists of a nail driven in each side towards one end of the floor.

The house will need some type of hardware to hang it from. An old wire hanger, a scrap of wire, a small chain, etc... I have found that installing the hanger on alternate sides of the roof results in a stable house. (You'll understand when you see the pictures.)


Step 8: Final Thoughts...

Locating a birdhouse; a few tips...

Try to locate the birdhouse in a shaded area that is free from hazards. About eye level is high enough to keep cats away, but not so high to cause a hazard to chicks, who might make a crash landing during their first flight. Trees are a good place to hang a house, but keep an eye out for squirrels. I hope you enjoyed this Instructable. I will try to keep an eye on comments, in case you have a question. Check out my birdhouse maintenance Instructable Enjoy!



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52 Discussions


6 weeks ago

Hi, Getting ready to make some birdhouses with my grandkids. A guy at the WoodCraft store suggested the use of cedar fencing. Unfortunately as I was researching the best dimensions it recommended that the thickness of the wood (for bluebirds and the like) be .75" The fencing is .625" That does not seem like a deal breaker and maybe it isn't, but the thickness helps the insulation. The bird houses we will be making will hopefully house baby birds in TX and NC so I am going to have to opt for boards thicker than the fencing. Drat. The fencing is way cheaper. I like the plan and hope to use it though! Love Instructables.


6 years ago on Introduction

I actually wouldn't recommend using cedar for birdhouses - most any other wood would be acceptable, so long as it isn't treated. Cedar emits high levels of toxic phenols. (This is why it repels insects). Birds have very delicate respiratory systems. Just as you shouldn't house small animals on cedar shavings (particularly in closed spaces), I wouldn't expose delicate baby birds to it, either. It may wind up damaging their internal organs, and shortening their lifespan. While no studies have been done on this, the possibility shouldn't be ignored. Better to be safe, and use pine or a hardwood! (Pine also emits phenols, but at lower levels).

1 reply

Question 1 year ago on Introduction

How far below entrance to intall perch? How far below entrance to floor?


1 year ago

Do you buy any chance sell them? Thanks.


1 year ago on Step 8

I just stumbled on your page through Pinterest, looking for some easy construction projects I can do with my son who has autism. He seems drawn to this type of thing at school so I want to start small. I love this project and appreciate that you posted this. Not sure if you eve still check this, but thank you!


2 years ago

Thank You! This was very useful! We have finches around the neighbor hood and they need a home! Thank You Again!


10 years ago on Introduction

I hate to be picky, but the Eastern Bluebird should have a 1 1/2 inch hole, our fatter mountain / Western guys go for a 1 9/16. The bird box should also NOT have a perch - that helps predators! When I get around to it, I'll put my instructable on here. (currently working on bluebird box #53 for this year) Check out the 'nabs' site (North American Bluebird Society) for verification of these directions. All the rest of these directions for this nesting box will work fine - my design uses only straight cuts for speed, has a mesh for swallows, a hole guard for protection, and a double floor to help the cleanout. Stay tuned....

4 replies

Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

I made that change for the Bluebird hole size. I do recommend removing the perch if there is a problem with predators. Otherwise, a perch is a nice thing to have for the birds and the folks who watch them. I know a man who attaches a small branch to the base of his birdhouses. This becomes a gathering place for the inhabitants.


Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

 i used to live in north QLD australia. we would get snakes getting into the bird boxes and eating the birds. so we added another hole to the back of the box. one in front one in back. we had a perch at both holes. after we did that snakes would still get into the box but they couldnt eat the birds because the birds would fly out the other hole.
just a suggestion


Reply 3 years ago

Thanks for the good idea. Here in Texas we have a problem with bull or king snakes doing the same thing. Perhaps a higher up escape for would help. We've had some luck attaching hardware cloth under the bottom.


3 years ago

Why put a perch? All I ever learned is to not put a perch it offers a place for a predator to get eggs/babies or chew holes larger to use for squire netsing.


3 years ago

Fun☆tastic!…‥....My elves will appreciate the easy assembly!…‥....Hohohoho!!

Hi Chuck, I just made the top and walls of my first birdhouse. Thanks for the instructions. I made all the cuts per the measurements. I used a 6" wide redwood fence board. I have not created the bottom yet as I am thinking about extending the bottom to make a landing platform for the birds. I will post the pictures once I decide on the floor size. I will read up on what others have to say about making different landing spots for the birds. - Gary

2 replies

Hi Gary, If you have squirrels in your area I would reconsider an extended landing as it will give them a perch to sit on while shewing a bigger hole, unless you surround the hole with something like metal flashing. Becky


Old car/truck tags can be used for birdhouse roofs we have a bunch of them friends collect them and give us them to us or anybody you know can give you the old one


4 years ago on Introduction

This birdhouse looks really cute and I'm hoping that it will work for my school project! Thanks!


4 years ago on Introduction

Just finished my first one, two more to go for the Grand kids. I just bought the pickets at Home Depot yesterday for $1.33 each on sale.

1 reply

Reply 4 years ago

We pick up wood at dumpsters or behind a Sears store all we pay for are nails maybe 1.00 we use a air gun for staples which we have or nails never had to buy wood always free look around your area homes stores etc good luck