workshop

How to Make a Bird Feeder 

Most of us have probably built a birdhouse in high school shop class, or for a woodworking project as a child and even if you didn't take woodworking, that's okay too. A common material used to build it is pine boards from the home centre. The best wood for birdhouses is the ones that are strong enough to withstand the rigours of outdoor use since they'll be subjected to rain, snow, sun and other natural elements.

Now that I live in my grandad's old house, I find tons of his woodworking projects. One that we enjoy is this big bird feeder right outside our dining room. He made it a while back and one of the base panels was junked up due to water damage, so I thought it'd be a good opportunity to learn how to restore my grandad's design with some fresh materials. And if you are someone who just loves birds or maybe just enjoy feeding them then this project is for you.

My research has shown that the cedar bird feeder shouldn't be finished with anything unless you thinking about painting it. Although I thought some spar urethane or maybe just protective coating was necessary but however many, many opinions pointed to leaving the cedar bare and letting it resist the weather as it should and I think moving forward with that is the best idea.

I purchased some cedar to make this bird feeder. The old plans I had were mostly made of wide, flat boards instead of dimensional lumber because it’ll be easier for me to cut and shape such pieces as opposed to certain planks.

In order to get those flat panels, the 1x4 lumber had to be glued together on the short sides. Typically, pine lumber shrinks when it soaks up water and therefore original 90-degree cuts usually end up rounding over after they're exposed to moisture. To remove these soft and curved surfaces you can use a jointer or a table saw to create a flatter face appropriate for panel making.

Cedar doesn’t shrink in the same way when drying, so these short pieces of cedar were pretty flat and clean. I joined the boards together using biscuit joints that act like finishers to keep edges aligned while the glue is wet. To join the boards together, I simply cut and glued some sections that would become walls and floors of the bird feeder itself.

I didn't have any construction plans to go by, I just used my grandad's existing bird feeder and tried to make a replica. Using some double-sided tape to keep the wall pieces together, I cut them both with the circular saw to form their final shape. The two roof panels also need a simple bevel, just like the sidewalls. In order to determine its exact angle I simply measure it from the sidewall pieces, which I cut at that angle using my table saw. Once both walls have been fitted with a dado, all I must do is slip in the glass panels and secure them with a few screws before painting.

The two remaining walls will be made of glass panes so that you can see exactly how much birdseed is left in the feeder. I had some leftover pieces of glass, but they were just too big for this project, so I needed to cut them down. I used a great new device called the Straightedge Glass Cutter; it is perfect for scoring some nice clean lines on a few sheets of glass without any hassle! After applying some slight pressure on the side surfaces of the glass, we were able to break and slide out the remaining wall pieces. Using a small cedar scrap as a spacer, we filled in the gap between the base and glass panels so as not to inhibit the movement of bird food from spilling down.

Now that the roof is all still in one piece and has been glued into place, the walls precisely cut with cutter and a small retaining wall added to the base sheet, it was time to put everything together for this bird feeder project. I attached the wooden walls to the base panel using glue and screws from underneath. Then I went outside and took down an old bird feeder from its post and removed the existing mounting hardware so I could use some new outdoor decking hardware and mount it back up. Using only new metal spacers, I slid into place two glass pieces onto the wood edges of my overall design using some simple spacers that helped support them both on each side of the board-- voila! The new feeder is done!

I didn't want the roof of the bird feeder station to be permanently fixed, so I used hooks and springs to connect it to my sidewalls with ease. This system allows me to slide the roof on and off again while also being sturdy enough to stay in place during high winds and any climatic conditions. The bird feeder was fully assembled, the only thing left to do now was to add tons of birdseed – and done!

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