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Making a birdhouse (or “bird box”) for the garden is a great way to start a woodworking hobby, where you can continue to enjoy the benefit post build! It’s the perfect way to get children interested in woodworking and nature, and can be made by children, under constant adult supervision.

Download and print an RSPB approved A4 plan sheet here.

We have made the small size box with a 25mm hole, suitable for Coal, Marsh and Blue Tits. Par (planed all round) pine is used in the construction, 16mm thick.

No preservative used to finish, but an option would be to treat it with a water based preservative.

Tool Menu:

Also needed:

  • Small latch
  • Wood
  • Roofing felt (slightly bigger than roof section)
  • Small amount of waterproof material, rubber/leather
  • Galvanised felt tacks

Optional:

  • 5mm plastic gardening meshing
  • Stainless steel 30mm ring nails (if not using screws)

Step 1

Prepare material to size as indicated on plan sheet. Use the smallest dimension on the left hand side (for a larger box, use dimensions on the right). Label all sides accordingly.

Step 2

Take the two side sections; measure the smaller measurement on one side and mark out the slope to the taller side. Cut the marked slope and plane smooth. 

Left: Prepare the material. Right: Slope the side sections and plane smooth
Left: Prepare the material. Right: Slope the side sections and plane smooth

Step 3

Prepare a piece of scrap material the same width as the base and put aside.

Step 4

Take the base section; using each corner mark diagonals across and drill an 8mm drainage hole in the middle. Taking the front section, measure 145mm from the bottom of the front for a 25mm hole centre. Drill a 25mm hole.

Left: Scrap material. Right: Prepare the front and back sections
Left: Scrap material. Right: Prepare the front and back sections

Step 5

Assemble and clamp together the two sides and base, with the base placed on the inside.

Top Tip! Place the piece of scrap wood into the middle to aid squareness.

Step 6

Screw or nail down the base into the side pieces, just under the timber’s surface.

knowledge-birdhouse-5-6
Left: Scrap to aid squareness. Right: Screw base into place

Step 7

Re-arrange the clamps to gain access to the back, screw or nail down to secure the sides.

Step 8

The front section fits on to the outside of the box. Therefore the top of the front needs to be bevelled at the same slope as the sides. Use the already fixed box to mark out the slope to get an exact fit.

Left: Attached back section. Right: Slope the front section to match the sides
Left: Attached back section. Right: Slope the front section to match the sides

Step 9

To improve purchase for young chicks leaving the nest you can add 5mm plastic meshing stapled to the inside of the front (approved by the RSPB).  Alternatively you can roughen the inside face under the hole with a file or saw blade.

Step 10

Fit the front section to the box and clamp to the bench, screw or nail the front into the side sections (as step 6).

Left: Add plastic meshing to inside of front section. Right: Fit front section to box
Left: Add plastic meshing to inside of front section. Right: Fit front section to box

Step 11

The roof will need a bevel to avoid any leaking; using the roof matched to the box as a guide, mark out the bevel on roof (arrowed) and plane off waste.

OPTIONAL: For extra drainage you can route a 5mm drip channel on the underside of lid.

Left: Bevel roof to avoid leaking. Right: 5mm drip channel
Left: Bevel roof to avoid leaking. Right: 5mm drip channel

Step 12

Using the galvanised felt tacks, tack the roofing felt to the front and middle of lid; trim to size after. 

Step 13

Make a flexible hinge with the piece of leather or rubber by tacking the leather to the back of the roof piece allowing for a generous overlap at the end of lid. 

knowledge-birdhouse-13-14
Left: Tack the roofing felt to front and middle of roof. Right: Flexible leather/rubber hinge

Step 14

Sand off all pencil marks and sharp corners. 

Step 15

Make a small additional block the same width as the back section and roughly 25mm high x 20mm deep. (The small block forms a sharp pivot point and prevents the lid slipping down). Screw or nail the lid onto the back section, through the small block and the overlapped piece of leather. 

Left: Smooth corners. Right: Create sharp pivot point to prevent the lid slipping down

Step 16

Lid will still open to allow access for cleaning. 

Step 17

Fit small brass catch.

Attach small brass catch

Step 18

Drill a fixing hole in the back and screw to the tree or wall.

Left: Smooth corners. Right: Create sharp pivot point to prevent the lid slipping down
Left: Smooth corners. Right: Create sharp pivot point to prevent the lid slipping down
Attach small brass catch
Attach small brass catch

 

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