Building a bird house can be a fun and useful project for backyard birders even without woodworking or construction experience, but the proper tools are essential so the house comes together well and will hold up to birds’ use. Understanding the right tools for building bird houses will help make the house easier and safer to build, letting you create both classic and unique designs to provide birds with new nesting sites in your yard.
Before You Build
Before assembling tools for any bird house construction project, read the design plans and instructions carefully. Most bird house kits or plans will include a list of recommended tools, and reading the steps to build the bird house can familiarize you with the techniques needed and may give you ideas about other tools you will need or would like to use.
Basic Bird House Tools
No matter what type of bird house you are building or what birds will eventually use the shelter, basic tools essential for bird house construction include:
- Hammer: Choose a hammer with a comfortable size and grip for safe, easy use. A nail removal claw on the end of the hammer can be useful for correcting mistakes as you build.
- Screwdriver: Screws are sturdier for joining parts of a wooden bird house, and you will need either a flathead or Phillips screwdriver to match the screws you choose for your project.
- Saw: If the wood you will use is not precut, a sturdy saw is essential for cutting the wood to proper dimensions. The saw should be sharp enough for the wood but a comfortable size for easy use.
- Measuring Tool: To ensure the proper dimensions for your bird house, a ruler or measuring tape is necessary. Choose a tool with units that match those given in your plans, either metric units (centimeters) or Imperial units (inches).
- Brace and Bit: A brace and assorted bits will help you drill pilot holes for your screws or nails as well as ventilation and drainage holes for a safe bird house. Paddle or spade bits are necessary for creating the bird house entrance hole unless it is already pre-drilled in your wood.
- Pencil: A regular pencil or carpenter’s pencil can be useful for marking dimensions and shapes on your wood to minimize the risk of errors that will waste materials.
- Safety Glasses: Whenever you will be sawing or working with wood that may splinter, safety glasses are essential to protect your eyes from dangerous materials.
Depending on the type of house you plan to build, materials you already have on hand and what the house plans call for, not all of these tools may be necessary, but having them available will ensure you are prepared for any construction emergencies or alterations throughout your project.
Helpful Extra Tools and Materials
If you want to build the best possible bird house, these additional materials and tools can come in handy. They may not be specifically called for in your project plans, but a bit of improvisation may be able to improve your bird house substantially.
- Galvanized Screws and Nails: These screws and nails have been treated to minimize the risk of rust or other wear and will help the bird house last longer in all weather conditions. They can be especially useful if you plan to use your house year-round or if it will be exposed to rain and snow.
- Treated Wood: Any wood is suitable for building a bird house, but treated cedar is preferred choice because it resists wear and damage from both weather and insects. Opting for treated wood will ensure your bird house lasts through multiple nesting seasons.
- Wood Glue: Adding wood glue along the seams of your bird house, in addition to nails or screws, will help seal the house and keep it sturdier even under hard use. The glue can also help insulate the house so it is safer and more comfortable for both adult birds and nestlings.
- Clamps: Large clamps can help hold pieces of wood in place for precise joints and can keep glued pieces together while the adhesive sets appropriately. Clamps can also work as a second pair of hands to make building the bird house easier.
- Hinges: Adding hinges to your bird house can make it easier to open one side, the front or the roof for easy cleaning and nest monitoring. Choose galvanized hinges so they will not rust and loosen over time.
- Adequate Workspace: A bird house may not be a large construction project, but if you have adequate workspace to spread out your materials, it will be easier to keep track of different tools and pieces as you work. Be sure the workspace is adequately lighted and well-ventilated so the working conditions are safe.
A Note About Power Tools
Power tools are not necessary to build a bird house, but they can be helpful to make the cutting and drilling steps faster, easier and often more precise. If you choose to use power tools, make sure you are familiar with their safe operation before beginning and always supervise children while the tools are in use.
Building a bird house can be a rewarding project, both for you and for the birds that will appreciate the snug, safe space to raise their families. By being equipped with the proper tools, the construction project will be easier and the results more attractive, and you may find yourself making many beautiful bird houses to enjoy.
Photo – Drill Bits © Mark Hunter