Saturday, April 18, 2009


Originally uploaded by johnnyapollo
My woodworking club was having a bird house contest. I started thinking about a bird house I built with my dad as a kid - he came home one day with a few cedar shakes someone had given him and we built a small bird house together that hung in the yard for many years. I looked through my collection of old magazines and found one that I liked in a 1940's issue of Home Craftsman. After deciding that I hadn't done anything worth showing lately, I thought it would be something I could bang together quickly but wanted to add the challenge of building the whole thing using hand tools.

All the cuts were made using a short stanley tool box handsaw - I found the teeth too aggressive for all the cuts so I also used a cheap pull saw with finer teeth (this inspired me to find and begin learning more about handsaws and techniques - I'm still in process there). Everything was assembled using wood glue and small brads and it's very close to what I originally built with my dad, other than this design being "stretched" upward for a woodpecker. The hole was drilled using a brace and adjustable bit.

If I were to try doing this again I would figure out a way to remove the bottom for easy cleaning - otherwise the whole thing was very quick to build - took about an hour to cut into pieces (had to re-cut a few things - I also drilled the hole in the wrong place the first time so the front was made twice - second time I got a chip out on the back as I was getting impatient to finish). The main pieces were glued and clamped over night and small brads added the next day - no pre-drilling on the nails and you can see where I got splits on the roof shingles (those shakes are a lot more brittle than I remembered). The only sanding was done to round-over the hole a bit. I did some light planing on the edges.

So anyway, nothing super special about this but it was all done with handtools and surprisingly I got second place in the "most functional" category. The contest was held on 3/21 and I built this the two days previous in the evenings.

1 comment:

wallbeds seattle said...

I love the creativity via use of hand tools. I started out this way, building projects that kept my skills sharp, and basically only used hand tools. The fun is taking something from nature, and manipulating it into something that is useful.
I actually turned my hobby into a company - I build murphy beds (wallbeds) that fold into a cabinet on the wall. It's a fun business, while always challenging. My first models remind me of your project, AND while it wasn't profitable to use hand tools (took me 2 days to build one, vs. 2 hours now!) I got a lot of satisfaction out of my work. I kind of miss that part of it.
Keep the trade alive! It's like watching a jazz artist on his instrument, just playing with the raw, God-given talent that he has.