I’m so excited for today’s installment of Endless Summer Projects! I randomly had this idea months ago to make birdfeeders inspired by mid-century modern architecture, and the big day is finally here! It’s a surprisingly easy project with really fantastic results, and even though it looks complicated, there are only a few steps that the kids can’t do. I love the asymmetry and angles and clean lines, and the bright colors my kids chose for theirs have that perfect 50’s vibe. Strap on your tool belt and let’s get building!
24″ (slanted roof) or 26″ (flat roof) of 1×6 white pine board (called “Common Board” at Home Depot)
ruler or measuring tape
a saw (the best you can get your hands on)
drill and drill bit
cardboard or trash bags
paint (We used Rust-Oleum Ultra Cover Gloss spray paint.)
waterproof wood glue
8 nails (We used exterior galvanized 4d 1 1/2″.)
1 hefty eye screw with a pointed tip
at least 12″ of good rope
birdseed, which we didn’t have (I discovered this at 9PM.)
1. If you can, take your wood to the cutting station at your local hardware store. For the flat roof house, you’ll need the following sections: 10″, 8″, 8″. For the slanted roof house, you’ll need the following sections: 10″, 8″, 6″.
2. If the hardware store will make smaller cuts for you, or if they can do mitred cuts, have them do this step for you. Mine couldn’t, so we did it ourselves. For the flat roof house, cut one of the 8″ sections exactly in half to make two 4″ sections. For the slanted roof house, use the ruler or measuring tape and pencil to make a small mark 2″ from the left side of the 6″ board. Flip the board around and make a mark on the other side, again 2″ from the left. Use a straight edge and the pencil to connect the two marks. Cut on this line to get two identical pieces that have three straight sides and one slanted side. Obviously, a table saw would work the best for this step, but if you don’t have one, a hand saw will work. Either way, an adult should do this step. If you have access to a table saw AND you’re making a slanted roof house, cut about 1/2″ off the shortest side of each angled side piece. This will allow the slanted roof to match up flush with both the front and back edges of the side walls. If you don’t have access to a table saw, don’t even worry about it! Because the roof is slanted, it won’t match up flush with both the front and back of the side pieces, but I don’t think anyone will care.
3. When you have your boards cut, you need to drill “pilot holes” into the base and roof pieces. Pilot holes help guide the nails so that the wood doesn’t split. You’ll be gluing the birdfeeders first and using pretty soft wood, so it shouldn’t split anyway, but pilot holes guarantee that it won’t split. Use a drill bit that is smaller than the nail gauge, and refer to the diagram below (diag. 1) for placement. An adult should do this step. Also, please seriously excuse my diagrams! I started making them on the computer, but it was taking me FOREVER.
4. Sand all of the rough edges on all pieces of wood.
5. Lay cardboard or garbage bags or a tarp or something on the ground outside to protect the ground from paint, and begin painting your pieces. For the sides and roof, paint all sides and edges. For the base, tape off a section on the top side running between the four holes (see diag. 2 below). This is the area where the bird seed will go, and I don’t think any of us want to poison our local bird population by feeding them tainted bird seed. Leaving the middle section paint-free will guarantee happy birdies forever! Other than that section, paint the entire base board. Allow everything to dry completely before continuing.
6. Once all pieces are dry, glue the birdfeeders together. Run a small strip of glue along a 6″ edge of one side wall, line it up with one set of holes on the base running right down the center of the side wall, and stick them together. Make sure the base has that paint-free area facing up! Repeat with the other side wall and the other set of holes on the base. Flip the birdhouse over and attach the roof in a similar manner.
7. Place a nail in each hole in the roof, and pound them in. They should go right into the side walls. Flip the house back over, and repeat with the holes in the base.
8. Here’s the slightly tricky step: you need to find the center of gravity for this thing so that it will hang correctly. Using your finger on the underside of the roof, estimate where you think the magic point will be (hint: It’s not the middle!), and lift up the birdfeeder with your fingertip. Does it hang straight? Make any adjustments, find that same spot on the top side of the roof, and mark it with a pencil. Firmly press the pointed tip of the eye screw into that mark and start twisting it into the wood.
9. Use the rope to attach the birdfeeder to a tree branch. The more horizontal the branch, the better!
10. Place some birdseed in the birdfeeder and wait for the birdies to come enjoy their summer treat!
In case you’ve missed some of our Endless Summer Projects this year, here’s a quick recap: A free printable Summer banner from Classic Play; large-scale wall art for kids from Pars Caeli; printable scavenger hunt clues from Alexandra Hedin; collapsible cardboard houses from This Heart of Mine; and now mid-century modern birdfeeders. Tune in next Wednesday, when all five blogs will be teaming up to create a circus extravaganza!