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    Build a Bird Feeder from Scrap Lumber—Part I

    more on woodworking safety

    Tools and Materials

    With winter in full swing and spring still many weeks off, I thought a simple bird feeder would be a great, easy weekend project. I’ve got piles of old 2x4 lumber off-cuts and a variety of other scraps floating around my shop—perfect for a project of this nature.

    This little bird feeder was made primarily of 2x4 lumber that I re-milled down to 1/2-in. thickness. The roof is nothing more than some 1/4-in. cherry scraps that I handplaned just a bit. Although flat, they still retain a lot of the mill marks left when the boards were originally cut. For those hoping to learn how to build a bird feeder that sports a unique look, this feature adds some nice rustic appeal.

    Check back Thursday, January 22, 2015 for the final installment of this project, as we glue up the bird feeder and install its roof.

    How to Make

    Build the Baseclick to enlargeGluing up a panel

    Build the Base: For the base, a re-sawed a 2x4 in half and then glued up a panel measuring approximately 6-in. x 11-in. Since this is an outdoor project, I was sure to use a waterproof glue—in this case, Titebond III.

    Build the Baseclick to enlargeUse a combination square to mark the sides

    Lay Out the Sides: The sides measure 7-1/4-in. long by 3-1/4-in wide (at the widest point up near the roof peak). I used the cap from a can of spray paint to trace a simple arc, to give a little bit of shape to the otherwise rectangular sides.

    Build the Baseclick to enlargeCutting curves on the bandsaw

    Cut the Sides—I: I made the straight cuts for the sides using my bandsaw, but you could also use a jigsaw for this cut.

    Build the Baseclick to enlargeCutting curves on the bandsaw

    Cut the Sides—II: In order to make the curved cuts more easily at the bandsaw, I first made some relief cuts. Only then did I tackle the curves.

    Build the Baseclick to enlargeSanding curves

    Sand the Curves: A bit of sanding and my sides are ready. Once again, you don't have to rely on a machine for this. You could just as easily sand away the bandsaw or jigsaw marks by hand, starting at 80-grit, and working your way through 120-grit, and finally, 180-grit.

    Build the Baseclick to enlargeRip the sides at the tablesaw

    Rip Sides for Seed Tray: With the side roof supports out of the way, it's time to cut the four sides for the lower tray, which will eventually hold the birdseed. I ripped four pieces of 1/2-in. stock to a thickness of 1-1/2-in. at the tablesaw.

    Build the Baseclick to enlargeCutting miters using a tablesaw sled

    Miter the Sides: The lower tray is joined together with simple miter joints. I began by cutting a miter on one end of each of the four side pieces. Then, I used stop blocks to make repeatable cuts for each pair of side pieces. The long workpieces measure 10-3/4-in. from long point to long point. The shorter sides measure 6-in. (long point to long point).

    Build the Baseclick to enlargeCutting grooves at the tablesaw

    Grooves Secure the Bottom: Next, I cut 1/4-in. wide grooves near the bottom edge of each of the side pieces. These grooves will later accept the bottom panel we glued up earlier. I made an initial groove on each of the four sides, and then repositioned my tablesaw’s rip fence before widening the groove to final width.

    Build the Baseclick to enlargeCutting the bottom to size

    Cut the Bottom to Final Size: With the box sides cut and grooved, I was then able to calculate the exact length and width of the bird feeder’s bottom panel—taking into account that the panel will fit into the grooves, with a bit of extra room for seasonal expansion and contraction of the wood.

    Build the Baseclick to enlargeCutting a rabbet at the tablesaw

    Rabbet the Bottom—I: Next I rabbeted all four edges of the bottom panel at the tablesaw, to fit into those grooves that were cut into the sides earlier. While the panel is approximately 1/2-in. in thickness, the rabbets bring the edges down to about 1/4-in. – just right for those side grooves. This is a two-step cut. Here’s the first cut.

    Build the Baseclick to enlargeCutting a rabbet at the tablesaw

    Rabbet the Bottom—II: And here’s the final cut that releases the off-cut and leaves you with a perfect rabbet joint.

    Build the Baseclick to enlargeDry-fit

    Dry-fit: If you’ve done your homework, this is what you should end up with. Four grooved box sides that accept the rabbeted bottom panel. Note that this photograph was taken before I had grooved the sides, but it should give you an idea of what you’re trying to achieve. Check back next Thursday, January 22, 2015 for the final installment as we glue-up the bird feeder and attach its roof.