A Single-Board Birdhouse

birdhouseA few years ago, I made about a dozen birdhouses and gave them out as gifts. I was recently asked for the plans, and had to admit that there were none — I pretty much made everything up on the fly. Pictured is my attempt at retroactive plans drawn from memory…

Construction is very easy:
– The entire birdhouse comes from a single 1×4 or 1×6
– All cuts are for length only – no ripping required
– All angled cuts are 45 degrees.

The design is very forgiving with respect to dimensions, so a hand saw would work just fine if you don’t have access to a miter saw.

The only real trick is securely attaching the roof, since it is difficult to fasten to the end-grain of the sides. If I were making them again, I’d use a construction adhesive like PL Premium which works well in that situation.

Click the image above to enlarge, or you can see the raw plans in Sketchup format here: Birdhouse Plans in Sketchup Format

On the Virtue of Loose Screws

Fastening two pieces of wood together with a screw seems like such a simple thing, and yet most people (myself included, until recently) never learn to do it properly.   The counterintuitive lesson I have learned is very simple:

Loose Screws Make Tight Joints

That is to say, pre-drilling ONE loose screw hole allows the screw to draw the joint tight with a great deal of clamping force, even if you start out with a gap between the boards. On the contrary, if the top screw hole is tight, allowing the screw to bite into the top piece of wood, any gap — regardless of how small — will be locked in place and the boards will never draw tight.

Screw Fastening Technique

It is important to draw all these screws tight

Printrbot Z-Axis Carriage. I drilled out some of the laser cut holes to better allow these screws to draw tight

I was reminded of importance of this technique recently, as I assembled my Printrbot 3D printer kit. The Printrbot kit consists of many pieces of laser-cut wood that MUST be tightly screwed together tightly using the technique above.

Failure to do so can turn this sturdy machine, capable of epic 3D-printing awesomeness, into a wobbly maker of not-so-epic “abstract plastic blob art”.

The best and worst of 3d printed pigs... One awesome, one I prefer to call "abstract"

The best and worst of 3d printed pigs…
One awesome, one I prefer to call “abstract”


In 2004, I took lots of photos as I built a 23 foot Phil Bolger “Light Scooner” [sic].   As the name implies, it is a very light weight schooner built from fiberglass-laminated plywood.   It is a fun boat to sail, and has a very lively ride.


You can view more here:  http://waters.to/boats/bolger/index.html


In 2002 or so, I built a radio controlled sailboat and documented the process.


You can view more here: http://waters.to/boats/Mary_J_Ward/index.html