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Building a Chickadee Birdhouse

Updated: Jun 16, 2021

If you live in North America, chances are you have seen these curious little chirpers in your backyard. Providing a place for them to live will ensure that you have almost no "pests" as they readily eat 35% of their body weight in insects every day! They make great yard pets as they are fairly tame and do not mind humans once they get used to you. I am trying to get this published before spring is over, and so you can make Mom a last day Mother's Day gift, as this box will truly only take you a couple of hours to put together! You may just get some last minute nesting birds in turn!

Now, both the dimensions and the placement of the finished product are vital so I want to touch on them here. The box should be made with a natural, untreated wood such as pine or cedar. They do not like their boxes to be too smooth, however I like to give a light sanding to ensure there isn't any large splinters. The hole should be 1 1/4" in diameter if you live in a climate that gets rather cold, 1 1/8" in warmer areas where the chickadees won't get quite as plump. For placement of the birdhouse, they ought to be near a forested area, maybe on a tree trunk or simply on a fence near a large bush. They should also be placed 4-8' off the ground. They like to have between 40-60% sun throughout the day, so keep that in mind.

Okay, you are ready to begin I am sure, so let's get to it!

First for materials, you will need:

- 4 foot 1"x 6" (they actually measure 3/4 x 5 1/2 in reality)

- 4 2" finishing nails (the ones will small heads)

-1 1/4" hole saw (1 1/8" in temperate climates)

-blue tape (optional)

-wood glue

-1 1/4" brads for compressor nailer

For tools:

-Table saw

-Chop Saw (Miter Saw)

-Air Compressor/Nail Gun

-Drill & Bits

-Mason's Square (not essential, but it is becoming my go to woodworking tool)

-2 small clamps

Here we go!

1) Step one is to cut the roof, for that we will simply use our table saw to cut a 7" piece.

Make sure this panel has no knots or holes in it to prevent leakage!

Once you have the piece cut, adjust your table saw angle to 15° and move the fence 1/4" to the left to make a nice angled edge without removing much wood.

Run it through both ways, which should have it turn out looking like this. Set this aside for now.

2) Next we will cut the sides. You want to make sure you adjust your angle back to 0°, then move the fence to 8". Rip two pieces at 8" off of the long board to make your sides.

Now set up your chop (miter) saw and set it to 15°. Place your board at the 1 1/2" marker which will leave us with a nice angled cut to the top of the board.

This is the ideal time to allow for ventilation. Do this by simply nicking off about 1/4" from the top corner, parallel with the bottom edge. (Full disclosure, I accidentally forgot this step, therefore I drilled holes at the end, either way is fine.)

3) Cut the bottom piece. Slide the fence to 4". Go ahead and rip a piece off, and then rotate it, and send it through again. This will give you a perfect 4" square and a 4" strip we will be using soon, so keep it handy!

Using the miter saw, simply nick off the four corners to allow for drainage. Make sure you don't cut too much off, including your fingers!

You'll end up wit this bottom piece.

4) Time to put these pieces together. I used the taping method to ensure tight corners. Do this by simply putting tape on the bottom piece with some overlap for the sides. Then place the sides as tightly as you can and press the tape down. (Use another piece of wood to square things up nicely.)

Now gently lay the side pieces down and put a small bead of wood glue where they will contact the bottom panel. Using the 4" piece we trimmed off the bottom earlier, stand the sides up and clamp them together with it as the brace for the top section.

After that, start up your air compressor, set it at about 70 psi and put a brad on each side to keep it together.

5) While this dries completely we will prepare the back piece. Cut a piece about 10" long. Drill a hole in the middle, about 1/2" from the top, allowing a place for a screw to hang it.

Now remove your clamps from the box and place a small bead of glue all along the part where we will be placing the back panel. Being careful to place it as well as possible, clamp the back piece to dry. Then go ahead and shoot a brad in each corner.

6) Now we will be putting the roof on top. Again, place a fine bead of glue on all the edges that will make contact. It is important to have a continuous bead to ensure as little leakage as possible. I went ahead and puttied the top holes for this reason as well.

7) Now take a breather! It is about to get slightly tricky but I will walk you through the front panel. It's certainly taking shape.

8) Grab a piece roughly the same size as the front opening. Mine already had a 15° angle which is what you want to meet the roof line. If you don't have one with an angled edge go ahead and cut one.

Now rip this piece down to a 4" width.

Then slip the piece in place and use a pencil to mark the excess. Go ahead and trim the piece off.

9) Now you could proceed to cutting your bird hole first. If you would like to the skip ahead to step 11 and then come back to this step. However I went ahead and put it together first and you can do that as well.

Slip the front panel back into place and prepare to mount it.

Now we will be making the front on a hinge to make it able to clean out periodically. (Although chickadees are known to clean out their own nests!)

This kind of thing is why I love my mason's square. I can easily see that it is 1" deep. (The interior brace can be rotated and placed just so to keep everything squared.) Now I will mark a place to drill to insert the first brad nail to act as a hinge. It should be 1" in and 1" from the front corner.

Choose a drill bit the same size as the nail head. Carefully drill the hole for sed nail.

Hammer this nail in all the way flush. Flip the box over and do the same thing.