With the summer at its peak, anyone would be worried about the poor birds out in the heat. Providing them with water and food is great, but it isn’t the only thing you can do. Birds also need shade to shelter themselves from the blistering hot sun. However, with the rising inflation, everything is expensive, and buying a birdhouse might not be feasible. Though it is not very difficult to make one yourself at a reasonable budget. In this article, we will explore how to make a birdhouse out of wood.
To make a birdhouse out of wood just buy a plank of cedar. This is because cedar is rot-resistant and water-resistant. Along with that you just need a saw, nails or screws, and a hammer. First, you need to take measurements for the walls, roof, front entrance, back, and base of the birdhouse. After that, you just need to cut them out using a saw and join the pieces with nails and a hammer or screws. You can also use an adhesive for additional strength and durability but it is not recommended.
While birds can find plenty of shade in the trees, there might not be enough in the suburbs. To help ensure the protection of these beautiful critters, you can always give them a birdhouse. With inflation, it is hard to buy a birdhouse, but woodworking gives you the power of DIY. With hardly 4-5 dollars you can make a birdhouse that will last you years. If you buy a big enough piece of cedar, you can make around 3-4 houses with ease. This way you will save tons of money and birds at the same time!
Step-by-Step Guide on How to Make a Birdhouse Out of Wood
We already mentioned the few things that you will need to make a birdhouse out of wood. Along with those you will also need a measuring tape and a square. These will help you measure out the pieces you will need perfectly. With everything prepared, let us go through this step-by-step guide.
Step 1 – Taking Measurement
First and foremost, you need to make sure your piece of cedar is perfectly square. If it has been through the jointing process beforehand then you can just move ahead with the measurements. Using a measuring tape first you need to measure out the walls. You can ensure they are equal by first cutting out one wall and using that as a reference. Do the same for the roof, measure one out then use it as a reference. Then you measure out the front and the back keeping in mind that the roof will be joined at an angle. Lastly, you need to mark the base of the birdhouse.
Note: When measuring the front or back, and the side walls, make sure they are bigger than the other when placed on the base. If both of them are equal in size then you will end up cutting either one to fit it to the base of the birdhouse.
Step 2 – Cutting the Walls
First, using the measurements that you took for the wall on the plank of cedar, cut it out. If you make a mistake and were off by a little bit while cutting the first wall, don’t worry. You just need to make sure that the other wall you cut is the exact same measurement as this piece. This is because you want both the walls to be the same size. To do that you just need to use the first piece as a reference when cutting out the second side wall.
Note: You can use any saw for this job, just make sure to account for the kerf when cutting.
Step 3 – Cutting Out the Roof
Most birdhouses have a gable-style roof like a lot of homes in the suburbs. To do that you need to cut these at an angle. You can do this manually or use a mitre saw to make the job extremely easy. Of course, you can also bypass making the angled cut by just cutting one part of the inverted v-shaped roof bigger than the other. It needs to be as big as the thickness of the lumber itself.
Step 4 – Cutting the Entrance and Back
Birdhouses have roofs similar to gable-style homes, so you need to adjust the back and the front accordingly. So you will need to cut both of these to have a wedge shape on one end. You need to make these be precisely at the angle that the two parts of the roof create. So you need to put the roof together first and measure the angle between them. To cut the entrance doorway either use a hole saw bit with the drill or a Forstner bit with a drill press. Just make sure it isn’t too big for any predators to ensure the protection of the birds.
Step 5 – Cutting the Base
To measure out the base just check the length and width of all the walls of the birdhouse. Once you do that you just need to cut a piece big enough for that.
Step 6 – Joining the Pieces
The first thing when assembling the birdhouse will be to join the walls to the base. Since everything is properly measured out you just need to ensure proper placement when nailing the boards. By either using nails with a hammer or screws using a driver, connect the walls with the base. Once that is done it is time to connect the entrance and the back of the birdhouse. You first connect it to the base of the house and then to the side walls for structural integrity. In the last, you attach both the parts of the roof together and then attach the inverted v-shaped roof to the sidewalls and the entrance and back.
It might sound complicated to make a birdhouse out of wood, but it is extremely easy to do so. All you need is the right tools for the job and even an amateur can do it with ease. The hardest part is making the measurements, but you can find templates and sheets online for convenience’s sake.
Best Wood for Building a Birdhouse
There are a few types of wood that can be used to make a birdhouse. Cypress, cedar, redwood, and pine are the most common choices amongst woodworkers for these kinds of projects. All of these woods have one thing in common, they are outdoor-friendly. While pine is fairly water-resistant, it does not have the rot resistance as cedar and cypress do. So using pine comes at a risk of rot unless it is old-grown pine.
To avoid the hassle altogether, using either cedar or cypress is your best bet. Depending on which one is less expensive in your region, you can choose either. However, cedar is more readily available and is reasonably priced. Also, when you cut into cedar it has this great aroma which is just amazing making it a pleasure to work with as well. Not to mention once you make the birdhouse we are sure the birds will enjoy the smell of cedar too.
Cypress is slightly denser making it harder to work with, plus it has a distinct aroma that most woodworkers don’t enjoy very often. On the other hand, redwood is almost 20% more expensive than both cypress and cedar. Not to mention it is denser than both as well. So clearly cedar gets the top spot as the best wood of choice for making a birdhouse.
Can You Make a Birdhouse Out of Plywood?
Plywood is a great material to work with which is pretty durable. Not to mention it is way less costly than solid wood lumber. This makes it an ideal candidate to make a birdhouse out of since it is easier to work with than solid wood. However, there are slight differences that make it a poor choice compared to solid wood. To understand why it should not be the first choice for making a birdhouse, let us understand how plywood is made.
Plywood is very different from any engineered boards which are made out of wood chips. It is designed by joining thin sheets or veneers of wood together using adhesives. With adhesives and an incredible amount of weight and pressure, it creates an almost solid piece that is not different from wood in mannerism. This is why plywood can almost be treated exactly the same as solid wood.
The reason it is a poor choice for a birdhouse is the type of wood the plywood is made of. You cannot be certain if plywood is made of the wood it is said to be throughout. There are multiple layers in plywood and it can be anything from quality wood to low-quality lumber. With a solid block of wood, everything is as it looks. If there are knots they will be visible throughout, but in plywood, it might not be the case.
Even if you find a quality cedar plywood sheet to make the birdhouse, you still need to check if it is exterior quality or interior grade. Interior quality plywood does not have a finish that can withstand high levels of moisture. Though exterior quality plywood can withstand a decent amount of rain. If it is exterior grade quality plywood then check the cost differences according to its size. If it is less expensive then you can go ahead and make a birdhouse out of that, otherwise, just go for solid wood.
Tips for Attracting Birds to Your DIY Birdhouse
- While most people would consider putting the birdhouse near a bird feeder or putting seeds inside, it is actually a bad idea. Any food near the birdhouse will attract other predators. Deep nesting birds usually require privacy to grow their offspring. If they find any predators nearby they will not want to make the birdhouse their home. So keep it as away from the bird feeder, seeds, or food as possible.
- Try to face the birdhouse entrance away from the direction of the sun. You want to keep it away from direct sun exposure as much as possible. Facing it towards the East is a great idea as it is opposite from where the sun rises.
- Make sure that the entrance to the birdhouse does not get too much fast wind. Facing it East helps in avoiding the wind direction blowing in its entrance, making it a comfortable dwelling for any birds living inside it.
- Putting greens around the birdhouse helps attract birds to your DIY birdhouse. Plants, ferns, and moss around the birdhouse will make the birds feel at home.
- Securing birdhouses to any trees is also a great option as most nesting birds build their dwellings in trees. If there already is a place to live the birds will claim it as their home.
- Putting up multiple birdhouses with different designs also attracts birds as not all of them build the same kind of nests. Giving them options might attract more species of birds.
What is the Best Size Hole for a Birdhouse?
The best size hole for a birdhouse will differ from species to species. However, the range averages between 1-inch to 1-1/2-inches big. Some species of birds like the downy woodpecker prefer a sizing hole of about 1-1/4-inches big. The same goes for titmouse and the Bewick’s wren, which also prefer the same size hole as the downy woodpecker. So if you have these birds around your neighbourhood, it is best to stay in that range. If the Chickadee is the most prominent species of bird in your surroundings, then you would like to keep the size hole at a 1-1/8-inches.
All in all, anything bigger than one and a half inches is too much for a birdhouse. If you are making multiple birdhouses then make a wide range of size holes for different species between 1-inch and 1-1/2-inches. This way you can attract a variety of species instead of just one.
Should You Seal Your Birdhouse?
Most woodworkers when working on DIY projects such as this always ask the question of whether they should seal it or not. This is a perfectly valid concern, as we don’t know how animals might react to certain types of sealers. When it comes to nature, leaving things as natural as possible is always the best course of action. However, you also want to protect these animals from weather conditions, such as rain.
Sealing a birdhouse is a perfectly valid option, as not only it will protect the birds inside from any moisture, but also prolong the life of the structure itself. It will make your birdhouse last for years before it requires any sort of maintenance again. UV degradation and moisture damage are big problems with wood. To ensure that your birdhouse remains a strong dwelling for these critters for generations, you can definitely seal it.
Though when applying any sealer to your wooden birdhouse, you will want to make sure it does not have any harmful chemicals in it. Not to mention even if the birdhouse is free from any chemicals, you need to give it enough time to cure properly. This way there is no scent leftover to prevent the birds from living inside it.
FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions
Is cedar better than cypress for making a birdhouse?
Both cedar and cypress are equally good options to make a birdhouse out of. The only thing that you should keep in mind is workability and price. If you are planning on making multiple birdhouses, you will want to buy the cheapest of these both.
Can you make birdhouses in different designs?
It is actually encouraged to make multiple birdhouses with varying designs. This attracts different species of birds to make nests in them.
Should you put food in the birdhouse for the birds living in them?
You should avoid putting food in the birdhouse as it might attract any invading predators. You should also keep the birdhouse away from any bird feeders as you want to give the birds the privacy to grow their offspring.
Can you apply a finish on the birdhouse?
Applying a finish is usually discouraged amongst woodworkers, specifically those that might fume when exposed to the heat of the sun. Sealers that are made for outdoor furniture that are safe and do not contain harmful chemicals can be used instead. However, even then you need to make sure to let the sealer or finish cure fully before placing it outside for the birds.
Making a birdhouse is not only a step toward helping preserve nature but also a great path toward animal welfare. With the temperature rising every year, more than the previous one, giving these birds a dwelling will ease their efforts of building one. Not to mention you will have a great view of these birds nesting in your garden. Hopefully, our article helped you on your journey to make DIY birdhouses out of wood.