Something for the Birds


A few months ago we were totally planning on making most or all of our Christmas presents for friends and family.  Of course that didn’t happen in the real world.  Despite our best intentions, time just got away from us.  So only one lucky soul got a homemade gift.  Mostly because he’s the hardest person to shop for: my dad.  He’s the kind of guy who doesn’t really need anything, doesn’t really want anything, and doesn’t even feign interest when it’s his turn to open presents.  It’s almost like we shouldn’t get him gifts, but of course we all still do.  And then we make him open them.  All of which makes it especially awesome when we can think of an amazing gift for such a gift grump.  And this year we did.

It all started with a book that my dad gave us on how to make basic wood porch, patio, and deck furnishings by Black & Decker.  He’d had it at his house for years and gifted it to us when we moved into our house and Dain started to do a lot of home improvement projects.  When he gave it to Dain he told him that he only bought it so he could make the bird feeder on the cover, but then he never got around to it.  Making it an obvious Christmas gift choice since Dain loves woodworking, and we thought my dad would like to finally have said bird feeder in his back yard.

When did we make time for this project?  On December 23.  Cutting it a little close thanks to a hectic December, but we found time to make a Home Depot run a few nights before Dain got started.  Unfortunately, the Home Depot did not have the exact items the book called for.  Perhaps because the book came out in 1996.  But Dain improvised and made it work.  He started by taking all of our purchased materials to the garage to cut everything to length.

The most complicated parts were the sides of the bird feeder. The sections were cut out of tapered cedar lap siding, and then Dain marked them according to the plans to make the final cuts.

The middle slots are where the plexi-glass windows show through. For these Dain started by drilling holes at each end so it would be easy to use the reciprocating saw to cut out the rest.

He cut out the center slots and also cut the curved arches at the bottom where the bird seed will flow out.

Another section that needed to be cut and marked was the base, which was a 16″X16″ piece of 1/2″ plywood.

After all the pieces were cut, Dain brought them into the warmth of our new nursery (which was still very much under construction at the time).

Here’s a diagram from the book on how the whole project goes together.

Dain started by assembling the main center feed box. For this he used wood glue and the air nailer to attach the sections together.

Next he used a utility knife to cut pieces of plexi-glass and adhered them to the inside with hot glue to create the windows.

He also used the air nailer and wood glue to attach the edges to the base.

The roof was created by longer pieces of the cedar lap siding, a 1″ dowl rod and some hot glue to pull it all together.

To hang this feeder, the directions called for a threaded rod to be cut to length and then bent at the top to make a loop at the top. After it was inserted through the top of the roof, center of the house, and through the base, it was secured with a washer and nut.

And here is the finished product ready for some hungry birds.

In all, it probably took Dain about 3 hours from start to finish to construct, and the total cost rang in around $20.00.  And my dad seemed to like it.  As much as it is possible to gauge that from his reaction anyway.  He plans to seal it before it makes its debut in the yard this spring.  In the meantime, my parents have been busy staging dance parties on it in the house.

Oh to be empty nesters.  We also gave my dad a book by David Thorne called The Internet is a Playground: Irreverent Correspondences of an Evil Online Genius.  If you have never heard of him, you should check out his website to see what he’s all about.  He basically publishes hilarious email chains between himself and various people (coworkers, neighbors, his son’s teacher, etc..).  They are laugh out loud funny.  How about you? Did you make any of your gifts?

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