This is a birdhouse that I designed for Cub Scouts to build. It is intended to be an inexpensive but a quality build that is cheaper than most "kits" that can be bought. I think that you will find that the time that you take to put together these kits is well worth it so that Cub Scouts or other kids that you are working with have a quality birdhouse that will last a very long time. Please enjoy!
Step 1: Gather Tools & Materials
This birdhouse requires just a few tools and some simple materials. Below is a full list of what you will need. I also included links to materials just as a reference.
Materials (what is required for each toolbox):
- 1 - 6' long "dog-eared" fence picket
- 16 - 1-1/2" long 4-penny galvanized finish nails
- 1 - larger galvanized nail or screw (specific size is not specified)
NOTE: screws and nails are sold by the box, one box should be more than enough for a pretty large group.
- Tape Measure
- Carpenter's Square
- Hand Saw (or optional powered miter saw)
- Drill (for pre-drilling nail holes and to make an insert for the handle)
- 1/8" drill bit (for pre-drilling nail holes)
- 1-1/4" paddle bit or hole saw (for making the entrance hole for the bird)
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as Safety Glasses & Gloves
Step 2: Cut the Wood
This step is ideally done before you have a large group of boys. You may want to reserve some portions of it for the boys to get a chance to use a hand saw. For instance, you could leave the two side pieces as one and show them how to measure and mark the angle and then make the one final angled cut on a pencil line. If you are doing this with a group of Cub Scouts, make sure that each scout has their Whittling Chip and that they understand that a saw should be treated as a special kind of knife. At no time should Cub Scouts be using power saws or power drills, but with the proper guidance and supervision, they are allowed to use hand tools.
Start at the end of the fence picket where the corners are cut off or the "dogear" side. We will use the dogear detail to make the roof slightly more interesting. Meausre down from the end of the board 9 inches. Use the speed square to mark a straight line across the board and cut this off for your roof.
For the bottom, meausure down another 4 1/4 inches. Use the speed square to mark a straight line across the board and cut this off. Now, to create a way for any water that might get into the birdhouse to get out, you want to take and cut the corners off of this board. This does not have to be precise, just cut about 1/2 - 3/4 of an inch off each of the corners
For the front, measure down 10 1/2 inches. Use the speed square to mark a straignt line across the board and cut this off. Now, we need to drill a hole for the birds to enter and exit. This hole should be 2 1/2 inches down from the top and in the center of the board. Drill a 1-1/4" hole.
NOTE: different birds will be attracted to different diameter holes at different heights. This birdhouse is designed around some chikadees and/or nuthatches. If you would like to attract a different bird then look around on the internet for what size hole and how far up or down on the front the hole should be. Here is one such website at this LINK
The back is the easiest board in this birdhouse to cut. Just measure down 16 inches, use the speed square to mark a straight line across the board and cut off with a saw.
For the two sides, these will be made with a sloping angle to match the angle of the roof. First, we want to cut all the square ends. So, measure down 21-1/2 inches, use the speed square to mark a straight line across the board and cut off with a saw. You should have about 10 inches of scrap left over if all the pieces were cut from one fence picket.
Now, to create the angle for the roofline. If you lay the Side piece in front of you, with the long way going left to right, you will measure 10-1/4 inches along the top edge and make a mark right along the top edge of the board. Now, measure from the opposite end 10-1/4 inches along the botom edge and make a mark right along the bottom edge of the board. Connect these two marks to create the angle for the roof. Cut along this line with a saw and the two sides are complete.
Step 3: Assemble the Birdhouse
To assemble the birdhouse, we will work our way around the birdhouse, putting the last side (which is the side that will swing open to clean out the birdhouse) on at the very end.
Step 1: Butt the first side piece up to the back. Align the angled end of the longest edge of the side piece to the top of the back. Move it down by about 1/4 of an inch to allow a small air gap at the top of the bird house. Nail the back to the side with three 1-1/2 inch nails.
Step 2: Find the front of the bird house and attach that the the side. Align the bottom of the front with the bottom edge of the side piece. Nail the front to the side with three 1-1/2 inch nails.
Step 3:You should have what looks like a "C" now. Close up the bottom of the bird house by aligning the bottom board about 1/4" from the bottom of the side and front. Leaving this 1/4" gap will allow for a drip-edge, protecting any water from working it's way back up into the birdhouse. Nail the bottom on with 2 nails from each of the 3 sides.
Step 4: Put the roof on now, aligning the very top of the roof with the back and letting the front overhang the birdhouse opening as much as necessary. Nail the roof on with two nails into the back and two nails into the side.
Step 5: Finally, the last side is ready. Mark a line very near the top of the birdhouse from the front of the birdhouse to the back of the birdhouse along the open side and using your speed square. This line will be the pivot line for your birdhouse clean-out door. Using a drill, drill as straight as you can through both the front and the back, right along this line. Now, put the last side in place and using just two nails through those pre-drilled holes, nail the last side in place. This should be able to pivot along these two nails now, so that it can be opened up to allow clean-out.
To secure the clean-out door, we need to drill one more oversized hole for a galvanized nail or screw at a slight angle downward from the front of the birdhouse, into the pivoting clean-out door. Once that hole is drilled, it should be as easy as sliding in the nail or screw into the hole to lock the door in place.
Step 4: Helpful Tips
These are a few notes and/or tips to help you as you build this birdhouse:
- I have a link to a cedar fence picket in the description. This will weather naturally to a nice grey color or you can stain it. If you want to paint your birdhouse, then you can find treated pine fence pickets for slightly cheaper at most hardware stores too.
- When assembling, hammering together the first few boards can be difficult. I find it useful to stand the side piece up on the table then place the bottom at a 90 degree angle (making a "T" when viewed from above the table). Now, you can lay the back on the side and it is supported by the side and doesn't fall-down because it is supported across by the bottom piece. Use this bottom for both the side and the front, as you are attaching them with the nails.