For every big woodworking project you complete, you create another half dozen to use with your offcuts. Therefore I'm always on the lookout for simple projects I can do with my son but also can be repeated endlessly, allowing me to spread my love of wood by giving them away as impromptu gifts.
This bird feeder is a winner on so many levels. Firstly this is such an easy build it is ideal for youngsters to cut their teeth on using hand and power tools and by providing fruit instead of seeds for the birds it brings in a few new species.
So what do you need:
- piece of wooden board about 110mm square
- windfall branch
- metal or wooden cooking skewer
- wire or string
Step 1: Making the Hole
The central hole is larger than you would usually cut with a drill and the standard way is to use a router in a circle cutting jig. However because the router was set up for another job I though I would see how well misappropriating downlight hole cutters would work.
If you have never come across these, they are hollow, light metal cups with cutting teeth around the rim and when fitted in a drill they make short work of cutting the little round holes in ceiling plasterboard into which recessed downlights fit.
A tip before starting, if you are going to knowingly use the wrong tool for the job, take things slowly and back away frequently.
I was a bit eager to take photos so I made a mistake and cut the wood down to size too soon, making it hard to clamp the wood in place so what I did is clamp down the sacrificial board and screw the main piece of wood to it. For those new to woodworking, the sacrificial board is there so when you drill through an object you go into another piece of wood, reducing any breaking away of wood on the exit hole.
So slowly slowly, bit by bit we cut though the wood. At the end I flipped the wood over and cut from the other side to complete the hole.
Step 2: Attaching the Fruit
I'm using a metal skewer for my feeder but feel free to use wooden ones. Simply cut it down so that it is slightly wider than the wood.
Then to hold the skewer drill two holes from the outside to the left and right of the hole. You should now be able to insert the skewer from one side, push it through the fruit and out through the other side.
Step 3: Adding the Roof
The roof is simply a branch I found on the ground in the garden. Cut it in half by whatever means you have available to use, be that table saw, band saw or hand saw.
I use a slightly unusual technique for mounting the roof. Basically it is free floating and is located solely by the string/wire.
On the square of wood I have put two screws into the top. These are what the string/wire will be secured to. By putting the roof on top of the screws and hitting it with a hammer you can put a dent in the underside of the roof to tell you where you now need to drill 2 holes. These holes should be larger than the screw head and deeper than the screws extend out of the top of the wood. The idea here is that when the roof sits on top of the wood, the screws sit in these holes and the roof lies nice and flag.
So finally some string/wire is looped around one of the screw heads, fed through a hole in the roof, back down the second hole in the roof before being attached to the second screw.
Step 4: Variations
This is just one take on a whole fruit bird feeder. There are so many different ways you could construct a frame to hold the fruit. Some thoughts are:
- 4 branches screwed together in a square
- 3 pieces of planed wood fixed together in a triangle shape
- a turned ring
Please feed the birds :-)