Building a Birdhouse

Learn how to create a birdhouse using recycled pine boards from an old barn with a rustic look, and with practically no expense.


Figure K

Making a birdhouse is a perfect project for a beginner; it can be built from recycled lumber and the construction doesn't have to be exact.

Materials and Tools:

recycled or scrap lumber, cut to size
hammer and nails, or air-powered nail gun
cordless drill with screwdriver attachment
wood screws


In this project, a board was used for the back that was about 18"in length. Two shorter boards are cut at an angle so that the roof will angle downward allowing rainwater to drain off.

Two identically cut side-pieces are attached to the back board using an air-powered nail gun. The board can also be attached using a hammer and nails. Three nails are used to attach each of the two side-pieces.

After attaching the two sides, use the same technique to attach the bottom using two nails to secure each side to the bottom piece.

With the back, sides and bottom all attached, next install the roof. The roof piece should be slightly wider than the body of the birdhouse to offer adequate protection against rain. Attach the roof to the slanted side-pieces using two nails per side.

The final element for the birdhouse is the front with the circular entry door. The size of the circular door is important. An opening of 1-1/2-inches diameter is large enough for bluebirds, finches and other smaller songbirds, while being small enough to keep starlings from entering or nesting in the box.

Install the front board using only two screws connecting it to the sides of the structure, near the top. This will allow the front to be flipped open for cleaning out the birdhouse between nesting seasons. Drill pilot holes in each of the sides -- each at the same height.

Install a single screw in each of the two pilot holes, resulting in a "hinged" front that can swing open for cleaning.

Finally, install a single securing nail at the bottom of one side extending into the swinging door. Attach the nail loosely in a pre-drilled hole to serve as a latch to keep the front piece secure while it's closed.

Safety Alert: Power tools should never be used by young woodworkers except with close adult supervision.

Safety Alert: Always wear safety glasses to protect your eyes when working with wood and with power tools.

Note: Except for the diameter of the entry hole, the dimensions for a birdhouse are not critical. Some of the dimensions for the boards used in this project but you won't necessarily need to follow these dimensions exactly.


Q: Can you stain a fiberglass door to look like a wood one?

A: Yes, but you have to be sure you're using the right kind of stain. Regular thin-bodied stain won't stick to the surface; instead, you should use a thick-bodied gel stain that's made especially to go on fiberglass. It works especially well on fiberglass that has been textured to look like wood.

Q: How do you seal particleboard to make it waterproof?

A: All you need to do is brush on a thin coat of polyurethane (a mixture of 30 percent mineral spirits and 70 percent polyurethane). It's a good idea to seal particleboard because the glues that are used to make it can seep out and create unhealthy fumes.

Q: How can I remove mildew and moss from my wooden roof?

A: Carefully! Remember: A roof can be a slippery place to work. A power-washer is a good tool to use for a job like this; if the roof slopes, start at the top and work your way down. And use bleach only if all the plants around the house are covered to protect them.

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