Building birdhouses is a fun and relaxing hobby, and the results look great in the garden while providing wild birds with a sheltered place to raise their young. Basically a small six-sided box, birdhouses are quick and simple to make. Building birdhouses are inexpensive projects and does not require a lot of expensive power tools, and I often use bits of scrap wood, pieces of reclaimed lumber or #2 pine to keep costs low.
Building birdhouses is also great DIY projects for involving kids with woodworking; they can learn a few basic skills while they create a project that they can hang in the yard or give as a homemade gift. At last count, I have built and hung over thirty birdhouses around my property, and have given more away as gifts. Some of my birdhouse designs were inspired by project books and online plans, while others are my own creations such as these three different DIY birdhouse designs.
This interesting birdhouse is actually a combination of three small wooden birdhouses, built individually and then attached to each other to form the multi-unit condo. Each of the little wood birdhouses is a simple six sided box made from pine, though each is a slightly different size to fit neatly together into the condo arrangement. When stacked together, the different sized birdhouses gives the trio of wooden birdhouses a staggered look.
The bird house trio is designed for smaller cavity nesting birds such as chickadees and wrens. The birdhouse condo can be mounted to a tree, pole or small building (mine is mounted to the side of our backyard shed), or add an eye hook to suspend the birdhouse from a tree branch or mounting bracket.
The Cutting List
These little birdhouses are made from pieces of pine that I found in my scrap box. Pine works well for building birdhouses, and will stand up well against the weather for several seasons.
To extend the life of the wood, I painted the exterior of the birdhouses with flat gray spray paint. Do not paint the interiors of the birdhouses.
Cut the pieces of wood into the following dimensions:
- Front (Part A, Qty = 3): 4 ¼” x 4 ¼”
- Back (Part B, Qty = 3): 3 ½” x 3 ½”
- Sides (Part C-1, Qty = 2): 4 ¼” x 4” L
- Sides (Part C-2, Qty = 2) 4 ¼” x 6 ½” L
- Sides (Part C-3, Qty = 2): 4 ¼” x 8” L
- Roof (Part D-1): 6 ¼” x 6 ¼”
- Roof (Part E-1): 5 ½” x 6 ¼” L
- Roof (Part D-2): 5 ½” x 7 ¾” L
- Roof (Part E-2): 3 ½” x 7 ¾” L
- Roof (Part D-3): 5 ½” x 9 ¼” L
- Roof (Part E-3): 4 ¼” x 9 ¼” L
- Wedge (Part F): 1 ½” x 6” L
Assemble the Boxes
Start by drilling a 1-1/2″ hole into the center of each of the three front pieces (part A).
Cut one edge of each of the side pieces (Part C) at a 45-degree angle. When fitted together, the two sides form a 90 degree joint at the bottom of each birdhouse as shown in the diagram.
Starting with the largest birdhouse (), use one front (part A), one back (part B), two matching sides (parts C3) and two roof sections (parts D3 and E3) to build the first condo unit. Use finish nails or a pneumatic nail gun to tack the sides (parts C3) to the back (part B), and then nail on the front (part A). Attach the roof parts (D-3 and E-3).
Lightly sand the exposed surfaces to remove any burrs and to soften the edges.
Repeat the process with parts A, B, C2, D2 and E2 to create the mid-sized unit. Fit the two finished birdhouses together, making sure that the backs and roofs line up evenly. Using the wedge, cut on the 45-degree angles to help fasten the two units together.
Repeat the process with parts A, B, C1, D1 and E1 to create the smallest birdhouse. Stack the smallest unit into the “V” formed on top of the other two, and nail it into place. The roof of the smallest birdhouse at the top overlaps the roofs of the other lower units, creating an interesting roof line.
Paint the finished birdhouses before hanging it outdoors, or allow it to weather naturally to a silvery gray tone. Either way, the birds get a three room condo for raising young, and you get a unique and attractive birdhouse for your yard.
DIY Birdhouse Plans: the Three Unit Birdhouse Condo
Do You Like To Build Birdhouses?
Do You Like To Build Birdhouses?
The Little Hanging Birdhouse
This simple little birdhouse boasts a couple of upgrades that converts an ordinary hanging box into an attractive and functional piece of garden art. For starters, the front panel is made from laminated strips of walnut, cherry, maple, and mahogany. Several coats of Danish oil highlight the contrasting colors and bring out the grain patterns of the wood. The rest of the birdhouse is made of pine. The roof is stained ebony black, and the remaining outside surfaces were sanded and then painted gray. Only the exterior is stained, with the interior left natural for the safety of the baby birds.
I’ve made lots of hanging birdhouses and typically, the box hangs from eyebolts that are screwed into the roof. This creates a point of failure where after hanging outdoors in the elements and swinging in the breeze, the roof tends to pull away from the body of the box. A simple modification solves this problem: drill small holes in the front and back panels, just under the peak of the roof, and thread a cable or wire through the holes. This creates a stronger anchoring point.
There are openings under the roof to increase airflow and help keep the interior cool. Another improvement is an easy access to the interior. One of the sides is hinged, making it easy to clean out the inside—and to tie off the cable for hanging the birdhouse.
The Cutting List
- Front panel: 4-1/2″ x 4-1/2″
- Back panel: 4-1/2″ x 4-1/2″
- Side A: 4-3/8″ x 4″ (the hinged side)
- Side B: 3-5/8 x 4″
- Roof A: 6-1/4″ W x 6-1/4″ L
- Roof B: 5-1/2″ W x 6-1/4″ L
The front panel is made from nine strips that are at least 5″ long. After laying out the contrasting strips of wood, I ripped the width of the end pieces so that the panel is exactly 4-3/4″ wide. The edges were smeared with water-resistant exterior glue and clamped. After the glue dried, the ends were trimmed to a finished length of 4-3/4″ to form the square front panel. I then drilled the 1-1/2″ diameter entrance hole.
Some Assembly Required
Start the assembly by attaching the two side pieces together. Line up the bottom edges, then pre-drill and drive a screw through Side A into Side B. This joint forms the bottom corner of the hanging nest box as shown in the photo.
Side A swings open on open on a pair of weather-resistant screws. To make the hinge, lay the front panel on top of the side assembly, and carefully line up the lower edges of the panel along the sides. Measure down 1-1/4″ front the top edge of the panel, then drill and drive a screw into Side A. Add the Back panel, measure down 1-1/4″ front the top edge of the panel, then drill and drive a screw into the other edge of Side A to create the simple hinge.
Attached the other edge of front and back panels to Side B using glue and exterior nails or screws. Add the roof sections with more glue and nails, drill a couple of small holes for the cable, and the little birdhouse is ready for occupancy.
Variations on a Theme
The License Plate Birdhouse: This little birdhouse is built following the same procedure as outlined above, but with a couple of adjustments: the wood roof is replaced by a license plate and instead of the laminated panel, the front section is cut from a plain piece of pine.
The Rustic Hanging Birdhouse
Made from Reclaimed Lumber and Scrap Wood
Rustic Hanging Birdhouse—Made from Reclaimed Lumber and Scrap Wood
An exterior cedar trim board that was rescued from a remodeling job provided enough wood for the birdhouse and the roof slats were cut from a lightweight shipping pallet.
Finding reclaimed wood is relatively easy but it can take some time and effort to convert an old board into useable lumber. The old wood must be cleaned, metal screws and nails removed, and any split or damaged sections cut away.
Clean off any reclaimed wood with a stiff bristle brush to remove any dirt or loose paint, and let it dry indoors for several days to remove any moisture. Most reclaimed wood has already lost its original moisture but may be damp from exposure to rain or snow.
Inspect the reclaimed wood for nails, screws or any other foreign objects which can damage cutting edges and cause injuries. A metal detector is very useful for finding and removing bits of steel and iron. Mark the useable sections of lumber, and cut away split or damaged sections.
Building this hanging wooden birdhouse requires only basic woodworking skills and hand tools, and re-using old wood helps to reduce the expense and keeps usable lumber out of the landfill.
The Cutting List
Cut the reclaimed wood into the following dimensions. The reclaimed cedar board was 1” thick (known as a 5/4 thickness). If using a ¾” thick stock, increase the width of the side pieces to 4 ¾“ wide.
- Front — 5 ½” L x 5 ½” W
- Back — 5 ½” L x 5 ½” W
- Sides — 4 ½” W x 5 ½” L (Qty of 4 needed)
- Entrance guard: 3” L x 3” W (1 ½“ diameter entrance hole)
- 8 ½” L x 3/8” Thick
- Widths vary from 1 ½” to 4” W and cut to fit
Putting the Pieces Together:
Position the sides together to form a square as shown in the diagram. Nail or screws the side pieces together.
Center and drill a 1 ½” hole through the front section and the entrance guard. Position the front section in place, and attach to the sides with nails or screws. Attach the entrance guard on a bias to form a diamond shape. Then attach the back section.
DIY Birdhouse Plans: Hanging Birdhouse
Birdhouse with a View
Build a Wooden Birdhouse with a View
This little hanging wooden birdhouse is attractive, easy to make, and features a clear plastic back for peeking inside at the nest and baby birds. Hang the birdhouse in a protected area within view from a window and watch as the parent birds build their nest, incubate the eggs and feed the babies.This simple wooden birdhouse requires only basic woodworking skills and tools, and takes only about an hour to build from pine, cedar, redwood or just about any pieces from the scrap bin. I used bits of pine from a reclaimed shelf unit, reducing the cost and keeping usable wood out of the landfill.
Each of the four side sections of the birdhouse has a thin 1/8″ wide by ” deep groove cut across one end to accept the clear Plexiglas panel. Using the table saw and miter gauge, position the fence with a spacer board to crosscut the groove. Raise the blade 1/8″ above the table and run each piece through to create the groove.
The Cutting List
Cut the pieces of wood to the following dimensions. The sides (C) are beveled along one edge at a 45-degree angle. Fastened together, the two beveled edges form the 90-degree corner at the bottom of the hanging wooden birdhouse.
- Front (A) – 5½” L x 5 ½” W
- Back (B) – 5½” L x 5 ½” W (Plexiglas trimmed to fit)
- Sides (C) – 5½” W x 6” L (Qty of 2 needed)
- Side (D) – 4¾” W x 6” L
- Sides (E) – 4” W x 6” L
- Roof (F) – 7¼” W x 8” L
- Roof (G) – 6 ½” W x 8” L
- Entrance guard – 3” L x 3” W (1 ½” diameter entrance hole)
Some Assembly Required:
Start building the birdhouses by attaching the two side pieces together with weather resistant nails or screws, taking care to line up grooves.
Slide the Plexiglas panel into the two side pieces, trimming the panel as needed to fit snugly into the groove. Attach the two remaining sides as outlined in the diagram, taking care to position the side pieces to form a square. Nail or screws the side pieces together, enclosing the clear plastic panel.
Mark and drill a 1 ” hole through the front section and the entrance guard. Position the front section in place, and attach to the sides with nails or screws. Attach the entrance guard on a bias to form a diamond shape, as shown in the photo. Attach the two roof pieces.
Hang the finished birdhouse using two galvanized eye bolts, screwed into the roof peak approximately 1 ” from each end. Use a short section of reclaimed and stripped copper electrical wire to hang the birdhouse from a tree or pole.
DIY Birdhouse Plans: Birdhouse with a View
Using Scrap Wood to Build Birdhouses
This Old Pallet
As the cost of lumber continues rise, many woodworkers and hobbyists are looking for alternative sources of wood for their DIY Scrap Wood Projects. Once you start looking, finding reclaimed wood is relatively easy but it can take some time and effort to convert an old board into a useable piece of lumber.
That old pile of pallets can be a good source of material, but be selective. Pallets are filled with nails that are difficult to remove and takes effort to pull apart, so don’t waste your time with oily, stained or dirty pieces. The old wood must be cleaned, metal screws and nails removed, and any split or damaged sections cut away.
Salvaged lumber isn’t suitable for every project but using reclaimed wood is a great way to stretch your woodworking budget, keeps good wood out of the landfill, and the character of aged wood makes for interesting birdhouses.