How to Build and Decorate a Birdhouse Part 1 Build a Rustic Birdhouse

PART 1 of "How to Build a Simple Birdhouse." Fast build of the basic birdhouse. In Part 2 we will see how to style and 'antique' or age the birdhouse to look like a very old rustic barn.

How To Build a Birdhouse that looks like an Old Barn

I began with a clean white pine board that is 8-inches wide. Measure and cut-out the Front and Back boards 11.5 inches tall and 5.75 inches wide. These will be the front and back of the birdhouse.

The two side boards 8.5 inches tall 3.75 inches wide. Measure and cut out these two boards.

For the front and back, we need to create a centered 90-degree cut that will accommodate the roof. An angle other than 90-degrees will complicate the jointing of the roof boards. We want to keep this simple.

Front and Back boards of the birdhouse

A centered 900 angle on the two longer boards is made and cut using the jig saw. For a 900 Right Angle, the sides "A" and "B" would be 4 1/4 inches based upon the 5 3/4 inches width ("C") of the board. In this triangle, this hypotenuse.

(Sides A and B = 4.25" each, and Hypotenuse C = 5.75", so if A2 + B2 = C2, then sides "A" and "B" are both 4.25 inches

(4.25 X 4.25) + (4.25 X 4.25) = 36, which is accurate.

When you get the dimensions that you like for a birdhouse and if you intended make others in the future, it is best to make a reusable template. Trace the cut-out wood pieces onto non-corrugated cardboard like the interior of a cereal box or heavyweight craft poster-board. Cut and save these templates for future use.

I made this birdhouse more-or-less visually using the T-square and pencil, drawing directly on my available wood stock what 'looked about right.' Hence the half and quarter-inch dimensions. It would be easiest if these values were whole integers but if you are using a pre-made card-stock template to trace your pieces onto the wood, this would not matter.

Also, I prefer making birdhouse with 900 roofs because they are easier and quicker to build. There is less toil with fitting the two roof boards together into a tight-fitting seam. You can use steeper angles but you get into challenges of matching the roof board together. This project is meant to build a bird house fast and easy and more about how to decorate for that aged rustic appearance.

Cut out the Roof Boards for the Birdhouse

Roof boards for the birdhouse

From the white pine board we next cut out two sections that will butt-together forming the 900 angle for the roof. For our birdhouse, the two roof section dimensions are 5.0 inches by 7.0 inches, and 5.0 inches by 7.75 inches are used. IMPORTANT: Notice that ONE of these two boards (section "B") is taller than its counterpart by the WIDTH (here, 3/4" or 0.75 inch) of the board being used. The allows for the two halves of the roof to equally drape-over the sides of the birdhouse.

Assemble the Birdhouse

Assemble the parts to the birdhouse

Overlap roof piece "B" over roof piece "A." Drill a pilot hole and countersink it. Screw in the first drywall screw just barely snug. Aligning the two pieces, drill the second hole and countersink it and insert the second drywall screw and tighten. Return to the first screw and draw to tightness.

A small scrap block of wood should be positioned center under the roof flaps as shown, and held in place with a wood screw. This provides more stability and provides a solid anchor for the hanging hook which will be screwed-in the top center of the roof upon completion.

Using the same drill-first, countersink-second and screw-together-third method, repeat the necessary steps to assemble the four sides of the birdhouse. I don't use any particular measurement for placing the position of the drill holes. Use your own judgment. This is supposed to look 'primitive' and certainly not mass-produced. A deeply counter-sunk hole that is slightly larger and deeper than the intended screw-heads actually looks best. Don't try to hide the fact that this is rustic, primitive and broken-down in appearance. Old barns have faults. That is part of the allure and charm of this birdhouse.

The bottom board if I have worked the calculator correctly, will be roughly of the dimensions 5.25 inches wide by 5 5/8 inches long. Drill either two or four holes in this bottom board, countersink the hole on the bottom and attach this to the bottom of the birdhouse with drywall screws. This will be the removable 'trap door' for cleaning out vacant nests at the end of summer.

Attach the Roof to the Birdhouse

Position the roof assembly over the top of the upright birdhouse and with a pencil, mark where it sets on the pinnacle of the Front and Back. Using these pencil lines as a guide, drill a 1/8th hole from the underside to the outside, just inside of these lines. On the outside (top) of the roof, countersink the holes created and insert drywall screws, reattach to the top of the birdhouse.

This birdhouse now more-or-less completed except for carving or drilling the entrance hole, and drilling a horizontal hole in which to insert a stick for post; the branch for the bird to perch upon. Since we intended to decorate and 'age' this birdhouse, we can leave the entrance hole and perch creation for later. In fact, for the next step is is probably best to not install the entrance hole and perch guide hole at this time.

The basic birdhouse parts assembled. No detailing yet.

The Assembled Birdhouse should look Something like this Graphic

In Part 2 of this serial How to Build and Decorate a Birdhouse PART 2, we shall learn how to provide surface aging and stress detail, create the entrance hole and perch, sand it, stain and sand it for the appearance of age and wear, then re-stain again further to suggest age and weathering.

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Radlie Hunter
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Launie Sorrels
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Teresa Farmer
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Posted on Feb 12, 2010