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Build A Chickadee House

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From: Woodcraft

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Around here, most of us try to practice what we preach, but there are many levels of skill in woodworking, ranging from nil to expertise that is close to unbelievable. For those of us working the electrons to produce the e-Newsletter, a few weeks ago seemed a good time for a Spring brush-up of some woodworking skills, so Nancy Miller, Mike Haught, resident Web Wizard, and I went to the Woodworkers Club to make some birdhouses.

I drew up a quick plan (too quick: I forgot to adjust the floor size down, so had to do some extra cutting) for a chickadee house, after which I checked the lumber room at the Woodcraft store in Parkersburg for good wood. Cypress seemed the best choice as it was wood of the month, and is very suitable for the task at hand.

mikeunisaw.jpg We edge jointed the boards that were already surface planed, and then ripped the squared away boards to width on the Delta Unisaw. Quick cuts by Nancy, with the club's DeWalt DW708 slide compound miter saw, got the cypress to correct lengths, and Mike made the 45° roof line cuts after I marked them off.

nancybandsaw.jpgWe each then took our birdhouse backs to the 14" Delta bandsaw, where, after adjusting the blade tension and the guard height, we cut the arcs in the back. We also clipped the edges of the bottoms for drainage and ventilation using the bandsaw. Next up, we drilled three 1/8" pilot holes in the back. One is aligned with the front entry hole, while two are in the tail, so that a good firm three screw mounting is easily carried out. You can reposition these mounting holes as your site demands. From there, it was time to find a 1-1/8" Forstner bit and drill the already marked entry holes in the fronts.

mikemiter.jpg Once all the parts were cut to size, we rough assembled each birdhouse to check the fit and positioning. With the cypress dried to construction standards, we thought there might be some difficulties, but all cuts were square, and there was no evident cupping or other problems, so one side was then clamped in a vise, one edge coated with Titebond II, and the front was attached with three 1-1/4" brads. The two-part sub-assembly was lifted from the vise, and the second side was edge-coated with glue, the assembly laid in place on that, and three more brads were driven.

The assembly was then turned on its face, and the two sides again edge coated with Titebond II. The back was then placed and aligned and six brads, three per side, used to tack that in place.

Roof assembly was next: the long tail of the back was clamped in the vise to make this easier. The long roof board was placed first, on the glued edges of the 45° angles, with careful alignment, and two brads per side. The short roof board went in place next, with two brads per side.

chichouse2.jpg Some people may wish to modify the design to allow clean-out from the top. That's easily done by aligning the long roof board, without glue, on the angles and using #6 wood screws to hold it in place, two per side. Drill pilot holes, and use round head screws instead of countersinking and counterboring. Flat head screws need countersinking; countersinking in the roof area opens the possibility of small amounts of standing water, which cuts down on roof life.

When the roof is finished, all that needs to be done is to install the floor. This takes one screw, into pilot holes that have also been countersunk and lightly counterbored, per side, with a third screw in front. The finished house is ready for occupancy. The front screw can be backed out, and the bottom pivoted on the other two screws for clean-out (the side screws must be an equal distance from the back of the nesting house to allow even pivoting).

cypresschick.jpgThere is now only the job of locating a suitable spot for your replication of our chickadee house. That's super simple if there is a wooden fence post around. Chickadees love to nest in old fence posts, where often holes are just about the nice tight size they like for a nest. Place the chickadee house four to a dozen or so feet above the ground, on a fence post or on a pole, or on a tree.