If you want to go straight to the bird house plans that I use, go here otherwise, today’s post is a follow on from a recent post of mine, Woodworking Plans For Doing Woodworking At Home, in an attempt to help and guide everyone through woodworking.
Without a doubt, the BIGGEST question I get is “what woodworking plans do you use?”. For me, it’s no secret and I don’t feel it a threat to my business because you either have the time or you don’t have the time to build something yourself. So I am happy to share my resources. So if you want the advise of an experienced carpenter/woodworker, go the Official Website of the woodworking package I use which has been put together by another professional woodworker, educator and member of the AWI, Ted McGrath.
I’ve also written a summary about this program if you want to read it here – Finally! A Practical Woodworking Guide For Beginners to Experts!, otherwise go straight to the Official Website link above (click the link because there is a few imitator sites around so get the source right).
New: ‘Wally’s How To’ Series
So moving on with actually building something and in addition to help everyone find easy woodworking projects you can do at home, where to get good woodworking plans and the best or essential woodworking tools (especially beginner woodworking tools), I’ve decided to start a new blog series on the site called the ‘Wally’s How To’ series. In this series of blog posts, I will share the ins and outs of how to build the most popular furniture requests that I’ve received and some personal stories of how they came about.
I hope they provide an interesting and insightful read to you. I will not be explaining step by step of how to make each and every piece of furniture as I don’t feel the benefit in providing this, the woodworking resource and plans that I use (you can get it here) has all the information you need and you don’t need anything else, it’s the one thing every woodworker must have.
What it doesn’t have and you need IN ADDITION to that great set of woodworking plans is my experience and my tips and tricks and what to look out for (+ my humor, of course). I can provide some handy little additions that will making your woodworking projects, DIY furniture and wood projects at home a lot easier for you, or at least make sure you don’t forget or oversee something important.
So here goes, with the first in the series of Wally’s How to Build…..a Bird House.
The Old Bird House
Out with the old and in with the new, and today my son takes the role of head woodworker to begin Wally’s How To’ section. Today we will look at how to build a bird house. So if you haven’t got them already, get your bird house plans (here) and start. As you don’t need any other woodworking resource, I always refer back to these plans.
My son, now a few years later after I made him and my daughter their first birdhouse, is saying to me that he became an ornithologist and an avid bird watcher thanks to the bird house I build when he was child. I constructed that beautiful birdhouse from birdhouse plans in an old book my father gave me when I was a child full of kids woodworking plans which came much in handy in building my own son a birdhouse…about 20 years later.
Soon after building it, I placed a pair of purple martins to settle in and they started raising their young ones. We all enjoyed watching the family of purple martins and it is one of my dearest memories from the time when my children were young kids. And while my daughter lost interest after a few weeks, my son continued to observe the birds and eventually bird watching became part of his life.
So before we proceed, building a birdhouse is great for your kids, get them involved and they will love it and what a better way to start as an easy woodworking project for a beginner.
The New Bird House
Thanks to the time spent helping me in my workshop and watching me with all my DIY woodworking projects, over the years, my son acquired skills and aspired to build his own birdfeeder (which he did successfully). Until recently he has decided he wants an upgrade to the birdhouse I built him when he was young, hence this post.
He told me that he had seen a very beautiful bird house at his friend’s backyard showing me some photos of the bird house which looked very familiar and it didn’t take long for me to remember that I have seen that blueprint while browsing through my woodworking plans. It wasn’t long until my son was flipping through all my woodworking plans trying to attempt to do it himself, mind you, these were not kid’s woodworking plans, they are mine.
So… it was time for a new bird house and chances are that after so many years of working together again but with a big difference; this time the roles were changed as we agreed that now my son is older, he will do the bulk of the work following my woodworking plans (which are the woodworking plans by Ted’s Woodworking) and I will help him and assist him wherever he felt the need. The reason we made that decision and divided the roles in such a way was because with all those step-by-step instructions, these woodworking plans of mine were truly the easiest and best for building a birdhouse, and it was an easy task even for a novice, and my son was more than a novice.
The Bird House Woodworking Plans
To be honest if you want an easy ride on building it yourself, you’ll need to get your hands on the woodworking resources when doing it yourself. Remember, people that make furniture and carpenters charge the prices they do because of the work involved. If you are looking at doing woodworking yourself and learn how to make and build furniture, you need to invest in 3 simple things, good woodworking plans/resource, good tools and good wood (and a good attitude).
Thanks to Ted and his easy woodworking plans, my role in this project was nothing more than a simple observer and saying that I did something more than watching, would be exaggeration. Still, I didn’t want to miss the chance for spending some time with my son, something that we had too little of as he grows older.
How to Build a Birdhouse
As I said, I will not include how to build a birdhouse step by step but here is an insight into building a bird house yourself from bird house plans and some handy tips and tricks in doing so.
The first piece of advice that I need to give to you is know exactly what type of birdhouse you want to build. I am talking about both how it looks and the purpose it serves – what birds do you intend to build the birdhouse for? This is important in order to take into consideration how much word and the dimensions of your birdhouse.
I was with my son the entire time he was building his very own birdhouse following the birdhouse plans I gave him. I was handing him chisels, nails, and screws while he used the table saw to cut the pine material for the front and rear gable ends of the birdhouse, both sides of the roof, right and left side walls, the floor, dormer roof, it was 19 parts in total.
For small project like this I would use handsaw instead of table saw but nevertheless, I very much liked how he made 45 degrees cuts of gable ends and trimmed one of the roof pieces along the long edge, making the roof to be symmetrical instead of slightly lop -sided.
Also, because this bird house was planned for a chickadee he used a hole saw to make 1/18 inches entrance hole as the dimension of the entrance hole is critical for attracting the desired bird. Too large entrance hole may bring starlings instead of chickadees. In addition, he drilled 8 ventilation holes, four each on the left and right walls.
Another important thing is to provide proper ventilation and drainage so he opted for very practical loose – fitting floor, attached with screws, allowing easy cleaning after the nesting by simply pulling out a single screw.
The entrance hole was 6 inches above the floor. Before assembling, he pre-drilled the holes with 1/16-inch bit as a precaution for not splitting when hammering the nails and also used waterproof glue. Because this was stylish house with roof brackets, sliding door, porch and everything, the finishing details such as the assembling and nailing of the porch railing and porch roof to the posts, took most of the time.
Years ago, I painted the birdhouses but latter I just stained them so my son did the same, of course, only the exterior. Staining the interior may keep the birds from moving in.
After finishing, we waited three weeks for the stain to dry and we placed it. Because it wasn’t meant to be mounted on a tree, a wood flange was used to secure it to a fence post, further anchored to a concrete base.
In all, this bird house project brought back some great memories from the times he was kid helping me, at first with small woodwork projects and later with home woodworking projects and outdoor wood projects. I was only hand and he did the rest.
Beginner Woodworker Alert – If My Son Can Build It, You Can Too
So for all beginner and intermediate woodworkers out there, it comes down to this, you can do it too. It really is that. Simple. For instance, with I my woodworking plans, I was asking myself why there was no categorization of woodworking plans according to their complexity, like beginner, intermediate and expert level plans.
Instead in the woodworking package, the plans are presented as is. In fact, the number of 16,000 plans is really immense and beginners who are just starting to discover the secrets of woodworking may find themselves lost in that myriad of plan, but don’t be because there is no reason to feel overwhelmed.
Also keep in mind this.
Watching my son building that bird house with passion, precisely following the woodworking plans, showed me that a soon to be pro birdwatcher can actually not be considered a beginner at all, with a little passion and persistence, he will be an experienced woodworker in no time.
Not Just a Bird House, Don’t Worry
But if bird’s don’t suit you, the same goes for a pet lover, building a dog kennel is as easy as buying the woodworking plans and following them (and having some patience first time around). So labeling the plans as easy woodworking plans or simple woodworking projects would be the wrong thing to do as something that a pet lover my find interesting and easy, a furniture maker could find boring or even difficult to work on.
So what am I trying to get at? Simply this.
I mean can you imagine, even a seasoned pro woodworker, paying so much attention and time to birdhouse? If I was doing it, it would take me much less time to complete it but it would be different from the one my son constructed? Don’t take me wrong, I am not talking about quality but about soul of the project.
I love my work and enjoy building every kind of woodwork project, no matter whether it is an indoor woodworking project such as a coffee table (as requested by my wife) or an outdoor woodworking project such as a storage shed (one of my all time favorites) but since I do it for living, my philosophy is those that cost more, taking, from time to time small projects just for pleasure.
Still I would never think of constructing a birdhouse if it hadn’t been for my son. I am one hundred percent sure now that despite my experience I could never build the house the way a passionate birdwatcher like him did.
Your Turn, Nail It.
The beauty of having an accessible woodworking program lays in the fact that it allows for everyone to try out, to choose the project or plans that he/she needs or likes. Maybe it will take you longer than a more experienced woodworker but you will do it, eventually. I have confidence you can so should have confidence too. Don’t forget to equip yourself properly and look at buying the woodworking package by Ted McGrath (updated this month for limited time only – $20 discount coupon).
More from my Wally’s How To Series, Part 2 and Part 3 below on learning how to make furniture DIY:
Or buy the ultimate woodworkers resource in Ted’s Woodworking Plans to get started.