Build a Classic Birdhouse

Measure, cut, and nail together your own birdhouse. With the proper patience and a beginner’s knowledge of woodworking, this project will be a breeze!

| January 2017

  • This is the perfect project on which to cut your woodworking teeth.
    Photo by Fotolia/Alexandr Blinov
  • “The Useful Book: 201 Life Skills They Used to Teach in Home Ec and Shop” by Sharon and David Bowers.
    Cover courtesy Workman Publishing Co.

Sharon and David Bowers have written The Useful Book (Workman Publishing, 2016), a veritable encyclopedia of do-it-yourself — whatever “it” is, learn to cook it, build it, sew it, clean it, or repair it. Not only do the authors walk you step-by-step through handy repairs and projects, but they include illustrations, charts, and lists to keep their explanations simple and accessible. Like a shop teacher and a home economics teacher combined in print form, this book will have you prepared for anything!

You can purchase this book form the Capper's Farmer store: The Useful Book.

A bird could probably live in just about any box that keeps it warm and dry, but if you decide to put one in your yard, why not give it a bit of charm? Here it is: the classic birdhouse. The perfect project on which to cut your woodworking teeth. Your woodworking skills will build on each other, like stacking stones for a tower. At the base of this tower are measuring, cutting, and nailing, so as you work on this project, focus on getting these essential skills just right. The first rule of woodworking is “measure twice; cut once.” Take your time in preparation and assembly will be easy.


• Pencil
• Tape measure
• Ruler or carpenter’s square
• 2 bar clamps
• Jigsaw or handsaw
• Drill
• Spade bit
• 1/2" bit (for optional perch)
• Hammer
• Paintbrush
• Safety goggles


• One 6-foot, 1 x 8-inch, cedar or pine board
• Fifty 1-1/4-inch finishing nails
• One 4 x 1/2-inch dowel (optional)
• Wood glue
• Paint, polyurethane, or varnish finish
• Galvanized wire


1. Start by drawing the shapes of your largest pieces, the front and back, onto the board. Lay the 1 x 8-inch board on a flat surface and hook the metal end of your tape measure on a long edge of the board, near one end. The front and back of your birdhouse will be 7-1/4 inches wide, so measure exactly 7-1/4 inches on the short (8-inch) edge and make a small tick mark with your pencil. Each piece will be 9-1/2 inches tall, so use the tape measure to measure and mark 19 inches along the long edge of the board. At the 19-inch mark, line up the carpenter’s square along the bottom of the board so one side of the L points exactly perpendicularly across it. Draw a line all the way across the board. Measure along this line, and make a mark at exactly 7-1/4 inches. Use the long edge of the carpenter’s square to draw a line connecting your two marks at 7-1/4 inches. You will have a 7-1/4-inch x 19-inch box.



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