Intro: Eastern Bluebird Houses (from Hand Tools)
Eastern bluebirds are great birds, and building homes for them is a simple, fun project that can be completed with hand tools such as a saw, hammer and screwdriver.
This Instructable is loosely based on the plans from the North American Bluebird Society:
For more information about bluebirds:
For directions on how to use your birdhouse, by Unclesam:
Step 1: Materials and Tools
This project yields two bluebird houses; two houses are preferable to increase the chances of getting a bluebird in one of the houses.
($12) 2x 1"x6" x6' Board (1 house per board) I used pine, cedar or redwood better.
($1.50) 1 box 1.5" Nails (~1-2 dozen/box)
($2.00) 1 package 0.5" Wood Screws (4-6 per box)
($2.00) 1 package 1.5" Wood Screws (2 per box)
($4.00) 2x 1/2",3/4" or 1" conduit, 10'
($2.50) 1 package 'C' clamps, sized for conduit (2-3 per box)
Approx total cost -> $24 for two boxes, less per box for more because of extra hardware.
1.5" Hole bit
1/16" drill bit (optional)
Hand drill or (optional) Cordless Drill/screwdriver
Step 2: Measure and Mark
Each bluebird house has six pieces you will need to cut (from smallest to largest):
1. Bottom (4")
2. Front (9.5")
3. Left side (angled)
4. Right side (angled)
5. Top (10-13")
6. Back (14-15")
Step 3: Make the Cuts!
Now it is time to whip out your handy handsaw. You could use a power saw, but it would be overkill =)
Be careful to start the cuts on the line, and it is a good idea to finish by turning the piece around before you get all the way through, to avoid lots of splinters.
Step 4: Prep the Cut Parts
If your handsaw is anything like mine, the edges that you have just cut are going to be a little rough and will benefit from some light sanding. Sand around the cut edges of every piece until they are smooth and non-splintery.
Next mark and cut the entrance on the front piece. I used a 1.5" round hole (some plans use an oval).
The 1.5" hole bit has a normal bit in the center, to help center and guide the bit. Once the center bit pierces the underside of the piece you are drilling, flip it over and finish from the other side to minimize splintering the wood.
Once the centers are cut, the bottom will need some drainage holes. I used four 1/4" drain holes in a square pattern, you may be able to use three.
Don't forget to sand around the holes you just cut!
Step 5: Assembly, Part 1
This can be a little tricky by yourself, but creative clamping can act as a second pair of hands. Remember to start all your nails on a solid surface, not balanced on top of the other pieces!
First, set the back on a flat surface and place the bottom and two sides into place. Leave a small 1/4" gap between the top of the back and the beginning of the side pieces, for ventilation.
Next take the front piece (the one with the hole in it) and place it on top of the other pieces. Clamp them lighty at the bottom if you have to. Line it up and mark nail locations on the right side and bottom - the left side will become a hinged door, so don't put any nails in it yet!
Start the nails on a level surface, it's easier than leaving the whole contraption together, trust me. Pieces won't go falling down on you and it saves the headache.
Once the front is tacked in, flip the whole thing and tack in the same side and bottom from the back.
Step 6: Assembly, Part 2
Now we create a hinged door out of the left side piece.
First, select a spot about 1/2" from the top of the front piece on the left side. Mark it, and use your square to find the point at the same height on the back piece.
If you prefer to pre-drill your holes, go ahead with a small bit. Otherwise, go ahead and screw in two 1.5" wood screws to make the hinge.
Pre-drill a small hole in the front piece and insert a nail to hold the bottom of the hinged side in place.
Once that is done, go ahead and nail the top piece into the tops of the front and back.
Step 7: Staining / Painting
Now it's time to stain the houses. If you're using a more durable wood like cedar or redwood, you probably don't have to do this. Since I used Pine, the stain will help extend the life of the birdhouse and make it look better.
Avoid getting any stain on the interior of the houses, because it is smelly and potentially bad for baby birds.
Step 8: Mounting
Now to select a good location for your bluebird houses, consult the following resources:
Once you have selected a location, get a stepladder and your sledgehammer and carefully pound the conduit deep into the ground. The entrance should be between 5 and 7 feet off the ground, so a 10' conduit is going to need about 4' of pounding. Be patient and careful, don't damage your fingers or fall off the ladder! You almost certainly will benefit from having someone else help you here, at lease to hold the ladder. I am not responsible for your safety. Use common sense!
With the conduit in the ground, go ahead and mount the C clamps directly to the bird house in place. Make sure that the clamps are holding all of the weight and it resists spinning on the conduit.
I placed the houses 10' apart on the edge of a field with some bushes and a small tree about 50' away, with mowed grass in between.
Step 9: Wait for Tenants!
Install a predator guard of your liking and check on your birdhouses every few days or once a week.
Follow the bluebird cultivation guide and best of luck on finding some new blue friends!