My Dad's birthday is in 2 days. I've been off work for my jaw issues for awhile now, so I have been on a bit of a budget, but I had a real image of what I wanted to do for his present for quite some time. At first, I was going to get a store-bought birdhouse for him, but I decided to make my own when I couldn't find one quite to my liking, and I realized that I could probably do this for much less than what I would have to pay to buy one, plus I LOVE making things. Luckily, almost everything I used to make it was already on hand, besides the sheet metal. Here's the details!
Plywood (1/4 inch is what I had sitting around, but I would recommend 1/2 inch if you are buying it)
Galvanized steel sheet (I used a sheet from the ductwork section of Home Depot, it was about 6 bucks)
Super Glue Fix All (available at Dollar Tree)
Wooden Dowel (1/4 inch)
Paint in your choice of colors (you can get tinted sample sizes at Home Depot for less than 3 bucks)
Polyeurethane and/or Thompson's Waterseal (I used both just for good measure)
Hardware for back door including a handle/knob, small hinge, and a magnetic latch
Something for tires (off a toy truck, etc.)
2 red buttons
PVA wood glue
To start, I drew an approximate shape of my camper and I cut 2 pieces of plywood in the same shape. I ended up using a Dremel with a fiberglass enforced cutting attachment, simply because I don't have any power tool to cut like I needed, and a hacksaw wouldn't have reached. Next tool on my want list: Sawzall! I tried to use a regular saw and a hacksaw to cut these at first, but it made the plywood split so much that I would have been completely unable to use it had I cut them that way.
I used a sanding attachment on my dremel to hold these pieces together on my workbench and make sure they are the exact same size and shape, for ease of adding the steel roof later.
Next, I cut the bottom shape, which was 7" wide and the length of the bottom of the side panels.
I knew that if this birdhouse ended up actually being used, then it would need to be periodically cleaned out, so I decided to add a door to the back for ease of cleaning. I cut a 5" square out of the back for this purpose.
Next, I had to figure out how to get these things attached. Such thin plywood, it turns out, is pretty much impossible to nail without it splitting, so I had to resort to gluing the whole thing. I used PVA wood glue for this, and I clamped blocks of wood to each side to prop the panel up in place to dry. Not the ideal method, but I used what I had on hand and it turned out quite well.
Next, I added the door and hardware to the back panel before I attached the back panel to the bottom. I attached the door using the small hinges, but the screws were poking out the back. I didn't want any little birdies getting poked, so I covered the sharp screws in hot glue to make them safe.
I also attached my magnetic closure (which, it turns out, is major overkill!). It is very strong, so I would recommend a smaller one. I used superglue for both sides, and since there was a screw hole in the metal panel on the door, I just aligned it so that I could use the panel as a washer for when I attach the knob to the other side.
Next, I used a hole saw to drill a large hole for the birdies' front door. I also drilled a 1/4" hole and glued the dowel piece into place. The hole required a bit of sanding, because plywood splits so much when cut.
After the sides were attached and ready, I had to tackle the top. You will need a partner for this part! I took a soft tape measure and measured all around my side panels, and came up with 29.25 inches. I cut a length of metal with tin snips and made sure to match the width of the panels (I think it was 7.25" wide), and I used a lot of superglue to attach it. This was extremely difficult, and I had to use a TON of tape to get it attached, and I had to re-glue the bottom on one side a couple of times, because it was a little stubborn.
Here's how it looked while the glue was drying:
After I removed the tape, I had a few different spots that weren't quite attached, so I had to re-glue and re-tape them and wait for the glue to get really dry. It was hard waiting for everything!
Finally, it was ready for paint! I measured a door that fit around the bird hole, and I realized that, since I'm adding tires, I should have moved it over to the left a bit to give the piece a bit of balance, but it probably will need to be mounted on a post anyway, so hopefully that won't be too much of an issue aesthetically in the end.
I was pretty happy with this point, but I thought it was a bit plain.
Therefore, after doing a few Google Image searches for inspiration, I added a decoration.
Honestly, I thought about adding a window, but I didn't think it would be a great birdhouse with a huge window on the front anyway, and I wanted this to be rather water-tight, so the fewer holes, the better.
Now, I was ready to add the fun details! I found this yoyo at the dollar store, and it was PERFECT for tires on this project. I cut it in half after removing the string, used my dremel grinding attachment to make the back smooth, and used super glue fix-all to attach them to the birdhouse.
I had to use masking tape to keep them from sliding down overnight while the glue dried.
Here's the glue I used. I used so much of it for this project, that I ran out! Luckily, I had just enough glue to finish the project.
After the glue was dry, I painted a coat of polyurethane onto all the wood surfaces, then a coat of Thompson's Waterseal. I then used this clear caulk on all the edges, especially where I had cut the steel, so it wouldn't rust in the weather. It dries completely clear and costs less than 2 bucks, and I figured I can use the leftover product in the bathroom to touch up a few spots.
I really wanted to add tail lights to this, but I couldn't find much on hand that worked. Until I found these red translucent buttons, and glow stars.
I cut two glow stars into small circles to function as "back-up" lights, and they will glow in the back yard at night.
Here's a picture of them glowing. I'm so excited for the end product!
I used the last little bit of superglue in the tube and then taped everything in place overnight so it didn't slide down while drying.
After rubbing a few spots of the galvanized steel to remove the glue residue, I have a finished birdhouse! I'm so excited to give it to my Dad.