Step by step DIY instructions to make a birdhouse - Part 2
by Rick Brentlinger
(Pace, FL, USA)
Making birdhouses is a fun profitable hobby. It can be a way to earn several thousand dollars this summer instead of watching TV every evening. We have already explained how to get started making birdhouses. Here are detailed, easy to follow step by step instructions to help you make beautiful classy birdhouses.
Make front and back
- Find and prepare pallet wood as described in part 1. Be sure to make the front and back at the same time.
- Choose two same size pieces of wood and draw a 45 degree angle to form the roof gable.
- Nail these two pieces lightly together with a smooth finish nail, leaving enough sticking out so you can pull out the nail after you cut the wood.
- Now saw the angle you drew. You’re sawing two pieces at the same time so that the gable is cut exactly the same. This gives you two identical pieces which makes your roof fit perfectly. Remove the nail that holds the two pieces together.
- Drill an entrance hole in one of the pieces you just cut. Sand any rough edges so your customers and your birds don’t get splinters.
Make the sides
- Find two pieces of wood approximately the same size and trim them to make the sides of your birdhouses.
- Using one inch paneling nails, nail the side pieces to the front and back pieces. Pine and poplar usually do not require pre-drilling. If the wood splits or if you are using hardwoods, pre-drilling is required, with a 1/16-inch drill bit. Now your birdhouse is almost finished.
Make the bottom
- Choose a piece of pallet wood wide enough to extend to the outer edge of your side pieces. If you do not have a piece that wide, make one by nailing two pieces together. Lay them side by side and nail them together with one-inch wood straps. Drive the nails clear through and then bend them over or snip them off.
- Nail the bottom to the sides, again pre-drilling if necessary. I should note here that if you want your birdhouse to have a front porch, you can make the bottom piece two or three inches longer than the birdhouse. This gives the birds a place to perch outside the house.
- Before roofing the birdhouse, nail a bottle cap or aluminum can sign to the front - see photos at the top of this page. It’s easier to do now, before you nail on the roof.
- If you want to add a small woodpile, now is the time. Use three pieces, two nailed to the porch floor and one nailed on top of the two, makes a nice looking woodpile.
Make the roof
- The roof should be as long as the bottom piece, so that your bird porch has a roof or just slightly longer so that it overhangs the entrance hole to keep out the rain.
- Your roof can be multiple slats that overlap to give a chalet look. Or you can use just one piece on each side of the A gable. Pre-drill before you nail, making sure the roof piece is straight. Nail the second roof piece and your birdhouse is finished. Its possible to make 4 or 5 birdhouses a day in less than 8 hours.
- I like to make my birdhouses distinctive so I often cut a 1-inch thick oak branch and trim off the limbs. Then I cut the trimmed branch and use it to make two rustic porch columns.
I pre-drill and attach these with drywall screws, counter- sinking the hole. This makes a good, solid fit and is strong enough to be used as a handle when picking up the birdhouse.
- Now is the time to make use of the metal signs I mentioned in Part 1. Using ½-inch brads, nail bottle caps or hand lettered signs or colorful logos cut from aluminum cans to the sides, front, back, or roof of your birdhouse. Get creative and have fun with the decorating part.
- If you used dumpster wood, you may want to paint your birdhouses. Use bright vibrant primary colors for an art deco look or woodsy subdued colors to blend with the natural surroundings.
- Now you are ready to make another birdhouse. The more you make, the better they’ll look and the more fun you’ll have. Practice makes perfect. Soon, you’ll be putting them together easily, almost on autopilot.
- Offer them to your customers with a smile. You may want to offer wholesale buyers a 10% price break if they buy five or more although you may find they will gladly buy them at your price without any discount.
- Prices depend on the area where you live and what other retail stores charge for birdhouses. If shoppers are paying $20 to $50 for birdhouses, price yours in that ballpark too.
Remember that when you sell wholesale, you'll get about half what you would get if selling them at your own roadside stand or at the flea market or antique mall in your area.
Insider tips for making
extra special birdhouses
These tips will help you produce nice high quality birdhouses that catch the eye of buyers and make them want your product.
- Sand all saw cuts so there are no splinters or rough edges.
- Use a Forstner bit (see picture at the top of this page) or spade bit to drill your entrance holes. Forstner bits make the cleanest cuts. Its easiest to drill the entrance hole before you assemble the birdhouse. You can also cut a rectangular entrance hole using your band saw if you don't have a Forstner bit.
- Use paneling nails for assembly since they hold better than finish nails.
- When using oak, it’s best to pre-drill nail holes since oak is hard to drive nails through.
- Cut a piece of roofing tin with tin snips to form a rustic metal roof. Rust only enhances the antique appearance. Old license tags also work as roofs for birdhouses.
- Cut and trim a tree branch in one-inch lengths and nail three pieces to the front porch of your birdhouse to make a woodpile. Takes just a few minutes and customers love it.
- You can utilize small pieces of wood by sanding one side lightly and painting a hand-lettered rustic sign.
For Wrent For a Song
Don’t Feed the Bears
Don’t Feed the Squirrels
No Crows Allowed, etc
Tack these signs to the side, front, and back of your birdhouses. They’re real eye catchers and help sell birdhouses.
- You can use professionally designed, ready made signs by cutting up Coke, Pepsi, beer cans or coffee tins and using the logos as signs. Tack them onto your birdhouses with 1/2-inch brads. The aluminum lasts a long time and looks great. In my area, red Coke signs are the most popular. Metal bottle caps also make a colorful birdhouse decoration. Specialty beer bottle caps are often the most colorful.
- If you have resorts, bed and breakfasts or other Mom and Pop businesses in your area, use their name on a birdhouse sign. They may buy several to display or resell.
- Use your imagination and experiment. If you have access to driftwood, utilize that in your birdhouses and feeders. Get artistic. You don’t have to be Picasso to be an artist.
- Exterior house paint in vibrant pink, red, yellow, green, and blue gives birdhouses an art deco look. Specially mixed colors that other customers decided not to buy can be purchased for $3 to $5 a gallon at many paint stores.
Additional sources of
pallets and free wood
- Motorcycle dealers - crating around new bikes
- Snowmobile dealers - crating around new machines
- Major appliance dealers - crating
- Cabinet shops
- Tool & die shops
- Machine shops
- Lumber yards
- Paint stores
- Grocery stores
- Garden centers
- Behind shopping centers
- New home sites
- Custom window & door builders
- Kitchen counter top makers
- Electrical supply houses
- Plumbing supply businesses
- Manufacturing plants
- Hardware stores
- Old barns, sheds and houses
Remember to use your imagination. Look in books and decorator magazines for birdhouse ideas. Try your hand at making bookshelves, shadow boxes, laying boxes for chickens, doghouses or what ever strikes your fancy.
The wood is free and about all you’ve got invested is your time. You can make a nice profit using the tools you already have. If you have to buy or borrow tools, you can still make enough birdhouses in a month to pay for the tools.
As you get more proficient at woodworking, you might want to use your dumpster or pallet wood to make other craft items. Now that you have an almost inexhaustible supply of free wood, you can go as far as your enthusiasm and entrepreneurial ability will take you. Jump to Part 1 of How to make birdhouses.Return to Entrepreneurs
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