# Solar Birdhouse

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This project was built with wood and the solar panel / light from a low cost walkway light. The octagon shape can be scaled up or down. The dimensions for this birdhouse (see drawing) were optimized for a House Finch size bird. There are multiple sources that can provide optimum sizing for birdhouses. I used the following website:

Check out the Video for highlights:

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## Step 1: Drawing

Refer to the drawing for all dimensions:

## Step 2: Tools/Materials

Tools:

• Table Saw
• Drill
• Hole Saw (3/4”, 2” and 5”)
• Hammer
• Nail gun (optional)
• Sander
• Tape measure
• Pencil

Materials:

• Solar panel/light
• 8 foot long 1x4
• 2 foot long 1x8
• 2.5” long 7/16” diameter dowel
• Screws or Nails
• Glue
• Wood filler
• Paint or Stain

## Step 3: Solar Panel/Light

Find or buy a solar panel / light. I acquired this panel after a neighbor backed over it with his lawn mower. The top half was separated from the spike but the panel and light still worked. Note that you can buy a set of eight lights for under \$20.

## Step 4: Cut Walls

Cut 1x4 to 11.75” in length. Repeat process 7 more times. You should have 8 walls.

## Step 5: Chamfer Edges

Set the angle on the table saw to 22.5 degrees. Chamfer the edges of the 1x4s.

Cut a 2” diameter hole (or a size to match your desired bird) into one of the walls using a hole saw. Refer to the site above for the optimum hole height above base.

## Step 7: Octagon Size Calculation

Measure the width of the finished wall. If the saw was set correctly, the outer dimension should be 3.5” (size of a 1x4) and the inner dimension should be 2.88”. If not, don’t worry. Measure the inner dimension. You will need to modify the octagon drawing to match the new dimensions.

With the measured side distance, calculate the octagon shape. If you don’t remember high school geometry, use these sites for dimensions:

http://rechneronline.de/pi/octagon.php

http://www.htmliseasy.com/octagon_layout/

## Step 8: Start Octagon

Cut the basic square for the octagon from the 1x8.

## Step 9: Complete Octagons

Draw two center lines. Offset the center lines to the width of the sides. The intersecting area will be removed with the 45 degree cuts. Repeat process two more times. You should have 3 octagons.

## Step 10:

You should have these pieces

## Step 11: Cut Light Hole Into Upper Octagon

Cut a 5” diameter hole (or a size to match your light) into one of the octagons using a hole saw.

## Step 12: Attach Walls to Octagons

Per the drawing, glue and nail walls to the octagons. Try to center the last sections to equal out the gaps.

## Step 13: Fill Gaps

I was off slightly and had to use wood putty to fill in the gaps.

## Step 14: Add Light Holes

Add light holes. My wood working skills are pretty limited so I chose simple holes. The holes were cleaned up with a round file.

## Step 17: Optional - Add Perch

Insert perch per the drawing.

## Step 20: OPTIONAL – Ditch Light and Add a Plant to the Top Portion

Participated in the
Great Outdoors Contest

Participated in the
Teach It! Contest Sponsored by Dremel

Participated in the
Summer #mikehacks Contest

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## 12 Discussions

Hey,
Any idea by which solar powered portable cooler can be used instead of light, since I reside in a place which has a very hot climate (summer peaks up to 55°c) I thought that will help the poor birds around

OK, a family member already asked the obvious question. Why would a bird want a solar lit home? Does it make sense?

I have no idea. I was thinking the same thing half way through the project. Note that the light is very dim and if take a look at the plans, you will see that the house section is separated from the light section (solid wall). Therefore, the bird should be
able to get a good nights rest - my opionion :). If you still think this is a bad idea, sub the light for a plant or don't include the top section

I was thinking the same thing. "KIDS! Shut the lights off!" But I live in Michigan and it doesn't get very dark here at times so I guess the birds will be just fine with it. Nice build.

I have a little question regarding the "rain catchment system" on top: Won't that kinda shorten the lifespan of the luxury home?

2 replies

My goal was to hide the light so yes I built a "rain catch". However, the light holes around the perimeter should allow the water to drain. Note that the actual holes are closer (almost flush) to the floor - not centered as shown in the CAD model. If I have time, I will update the model and send a new PDF. BTW, I would have built nicer windows if I had better woodworking skills.

This is in regards to the pictures shown in Step 9 (45 degree cuts for the Octagon). It was pointed out to me on a Woodworking forum that I shouldn't used the table saw fence as a cut off guide for crosscutting since it can result in kickback.

From Hammer1 @ Woodworkingtalk.com:

As shown, if the work piece should move, it is trapped between the fence and the spinning blade. At the minimum, you should have the fence back farther than the corner to corner measurement of the work piece, long way. Rather than using the fence for a stop where the work stays in contact with it through the cut, you can clamp a block to the fence, or just the front edge of the table. The work brought against it just like you did with the fence but as you slide forward, the work is free. The work piece should, in most cases, be supported on the miter head. You have the work piece unsupported.

A better option for quality cuts is to add a long wood bar to the miter gauge head. The face is often covered with sandpaper glued on for a non slip surface. A stop block can be clamped to the wood bar for repetitive cuts. It also gives great support to the piece. Just remember to always go forward only, don't ever back up. If you pull the miter bar back while the saw is spinning, watch that your hands are centered to the miter gauge slot in the table.

of course.... any bird would like a solar lit house to live in...great idea...think I'll build one...great conversation piece...

Very nice, I like it! I've tried building angular stuff like this, and know how those joints can be tricky sometimes. Thank goodness for woodfiller :)