Stylish Bluebird House Plans
April 8th, 2022 | Back to Blog Listing


One of the completed and installed birdhouses
My friend's dad found the plans to this particular birdhouse on a handyman site. There is currently a sizable grass-roots effort across the United States to repopulate bluebird populations and these particular birdhouses are specifically designed for doing just that. Something about the shape and the opening is attractive to bluebirds over many other species.

This same friend of mine recently purchased a large piece of property deep in the woods and has been working to attract any number of bird species. I thought it would be fun to construct a few birdhouses for her property, but didn't really have a starting point. So I took these plans and made a number of “fancy” modifications to them just to make them much more aesthetically pleasing and hopefully much more durable in the elements.

The birdhouses are designed with a swivel door so that they can be easily opened and cleaned from time to time. While it’s not entirely necessary to include that functionality, they came out very nicely and the mechanics work well.

Materials Needed

Qty Item Purchase
Price
# Birdhouses
Per Item
Material
Cost
1 2x4 (pressure treated) $6.88 2 $3.44
1 1x12" Pine Common Board $27.36 2 $13.68
1 Everbilt 3/16" steel dowel rod $2.11 6 $0.35
5-pack Schlage interior bathroom key $4.99 5 $1.00
50-pack Uenhoy 5/8" diameter plastic bushing (50-pack) $8.99 12.5 $0.72
1 box 2" GRK #8 White Finishing Screws $16.99 8 $2.12
1 box Spax #8 1.25" multi-purpose screws $13.98 16 $0.87
1 box Spax #10 3" exterior screws (x3) $4.67 5 $0.93
1 box Spax #8 3/4" multi-purpose construction screws (x3) $2.78 12 $0.23
1 box #17 3/4" weatherstrip copper nails $2.10 3 $0.70
1 pack Everbilt Brass #4 5/8" Wood Screws $1.28 4 $0.32
1 roll Rolo 5.5mm Brass Chain $15.99 12 $1.33
1 sheet Zinc Sheet Metal (26 gauge) 18" x 12" $6.83 2 $3.42
1 White polystyrene molding 11/16 x 11/16 x 96" $5.36 2 $2.68
1 box #18 gauge 5/8" stainless wire brads $2.10 8 $0.26
1 can Colored exterior sample paint $4.98 2 $2.49
1 can White exterior paint $4.98 16 $0.31
2 2" foam paintbrush $0.98 1 $0.98
1 roll Painter's Tape $7.48 50 $0.15
1 can Rustoleum Semi-gloss black spray paint $4.98 8 $0.62
1 5" zinc plated 20-gauge tie plate $0.70 1 $0.70

Tools Required

  • Miter saw (ideally with fine tooth sawblade)
  • Jig saw (with wood and metal saws)
  • Drill
  • Various drill bits
  • 60 grit sandpaper
  • 400 grit sandpaper
  • 5/8" hole saw or paddle bit
  • Drill press
  • Wood clamps

Cutting out the Pieces

I won't go into all of the details on how to cut the dimensions of the birdhouse, namely as they're all available in some detail on the original website, but would instead just note that the project is probably easiest with a jigsaw. You can configure a table saw to do the cuts, but I found it much easier just to use the jigsaw and then handle any straightening during the sanding process.

I should note that this is also a perfect project for all of the scrap wood that you might have lying around. While the birdhouses are larger than any others I've built in the past, they still don't require all that much material. There are just three sides and a roof; the entire back and separating pieces inside of the birdhouse are all constructed from a single 2x4.

After you finish cutting out the pieces described in the plans, you should have 7 unique cuts of wood: two sides, a front door (without the door hole), a roof, the top 2x4, the midpoint 2x4, and the birdhouse stem 2x4.


The various pieces of wood for a single birdhouse after making all of the required cuts


A collection the assembled birdhouses

Birdhouse Assembly

The assembly of birdhouse should be pretty straightforward to anybody even nominally capable of doing craft construction projects. The original plans used nails for the construction, but I thought it would be nicer to use GRK finishing screws. These are extremely thin screws and have no kind of visible head on them. This makes them ideal for countersinking (which is of course why they're used for finishing). With a little dab of extra paint over the holes, the birdhouse will appear as if it has been glued together.

Incidentally, you can use wood glue for the entire process, but there's really no advantage and then have to wait for it to dry. If the goal is merely to hide the screws then either finishing or cabinet screws should do the trick. Either way, it's just a birdhouse so there's really no wrong way.


A rough version of what the door hole looks like after being cut. This one got a little scraped up, but it still works just fine

Cutting the Front Door Hole

I tried cutting the door hole using a variety of methods on my drill press, but the bottom line is that it's just very difficult to use a boring bit for overlapping holes. Not to mention, you'd still need to trim the edges of the hole slightly to get the ovular shape.

With that in mind, I found it best just to use a jigsaw. If you're going to be making several of these birdhouses at once (a I did), then it would probably be easiest to create some kind of template on paper first. This way you can just set the paper atop the door and use a punch or pin to "trace" out the door hole. Whatever method you use, the jigsaw will work best for the cut itself.

The original plans suggest scraping up the inside of the hole so that the birds have something to grip onto when entering the birdhouse. So don't worry about the hole not being perfectly smooth. This is actually to the advantage of the final product.

Painting the Birdhouse

Painting the birdhouse is a pretty simple and fun process. I found it easiest to use foam brushes. They're cheap, effective, and more than large enough for expedient painting. I wound up applying 4 or 5 coats to these birdhouses and sanded them with a high grit paper to give them a smooth-looking surface. Keep in mind that the first two coats are going to absorb pretty heavily into the wood, so you're really just create a base layer. You can apply a primer first if you want to, but I didn't think it was necessary to do this since it was just as easy to add additional coats.

Try not to get any paint on the inside of the birdhouse itself. I used some paper towels and tape to prevent this from happening, but you can also just be careful. It's likely that a little bit of paint will get inside of the door hole opening, but this can just be sanded out later. The airholes require slightly more attention as the plastic bushings won't properly fit if there is a buildup of paint inside of them.


Three of the birdhouses drying in the sun before the next coat


Continuing to add coats of paint to the birdhouses


Playing with one of the airhole bushings
Adding the Airhole Bushings

Once all of the painting is completed, you can finally install the plastic airhole bushings. These certainly aren't necessary, but add a really nice flair to the final product. They're also useful in preventing the airholes from getting warped and rotting out in any kind of way.

You may need to clean up the inside of the holes ever so slightly. I just used a small piece of 60 grit sandpaper to smooth them out. The 5/8" bushings should fit perfectly into the 5/8" holes you drilled. They're a light plastic, so be sure to use a gentle mallet if you encounter any resistance; they will definitely break if you hit them too hard.

Cutting the Trim Pieces

I'm not going to lie, this part is a real pain in the ass. It will absolutely require some kind of miter saw and ideally one with a high-tooth / sharp blade given you'll be cutting polystyrene. There's really no good way to join the two pieces along the front perfectly together at the bottom corners, but you can give the illusion of this with some careful cuts.


Testing one of the trim pieces against the front edge of a birdhouse
Since the birdhouse has been cut using 63 degree and 27 degree angles, you'll want to set the miter saw for 27 degrees. It's probably going to take a little playing with it to see which direction the molding has to be cut. I found it easiest to cut a piece about 20” long, place it along the front edge it’s going to be affixed to, and then use a pencil to draw the angled direction of cut.

The front molding will need to hang down slightly lower than the birdhouse walls so that it can be joined to the base molding.

I won't go into textual details on how to accomplish this, but if you look closely at the picture provided, you should be able to recreate the process. To keep myself humble, I should note that I went through quite a few pieces before I finally settled on a cutting pattern that worked for my tastes.

Attaching the Trim Pieces

Attaching the trim pieces is actually a pretty fun step. I decided to go with the copper nails for durability in the elements, but also because I happened to like the aesthetic of making them visible along the edges. I used my nail gun and air compressor for the first version, but found it difficult to purchase 3/4" brad nails at my local store. After experimenting with a few different materials, I found that the copper heads provided a good contrast against the black.

You can really do this part any which way you like, but I did meticulously measure out the sides and then affix the nails at even intervals. Again, this is entirely for the aesthetic of it. So long as the trim is properly affixed to the underlying wood, it'll work just fine.

Adding the Door Lynch Pin and Chain


Holding one of the lynch pins against the left side of the door. I wound up placing all of them on the right side of the birdhouses
I tried a variety of different locking pins and lynch pins for the front door, but none of them really accomplished what I was hoping to find. My Schlage keypadded door came with a special tool for opening the door in an emergency. I noticed that it was the perfect size for a lynch pin and found that I was able to order additional ones directly from the manufacturer on Amazon.

Use a 3/32 bit and drill the lynch pin hole so that it aligns with the bottom of the bird hole entrance. Be sure to align the drill on the side so that it's as centered as possible in the front door.

Once the hole has been drilled and you've tested the lynch pin, use about 4-5 inches of the brass 5.5mm chain and one of the #4 brass wood screws. The brass chain is malleable and should be easy to affix onto the side of the door. The lynch pin can just be slid into one of links of the chain and will rest in the looped part.

This part isn't entirely necessary, but given that the birdhouses should be cleaned at least once per year and the fact that the lynch pin is so small, it just seemed like a better way to ensure it doesn't get lost during cleaning.


Experimenting with the brass chain

Creating the Mount Points


Affixing the tie plate to the back of the birdhouse
Starting on the front side of the birdhouse, place a mark in the dead center of the 2x4 about 2" from the very bottom of the 2x4. Place another mark in the dead center of the 2x4 where the base of the house walls end. Using a 3/16” drill bit, drill holes through. These will be used for the mounting screws along the stem.

Flip the birdhouse over and place the tie plate at the very top so that just one row of holes is exposed above the birdhouse itself. Use a sufficient number of the Spax #8 3/4" construction screws to affix the tie plate to the back of the birdhouse. We'll use the center hole on the top row as a means to secure the top of the birdhouse to a tree. You can skip this step if you're planning to mount the birdhouse to a pole.

Affixing to a Tree


The ladder leading up to the mount point for the purple birdhouse
Insert a 3" #10 Spax Construction screw into each of the two holes on the stem. I found it best to get them started so that it was easy to screw them into the tree when I was hanging by the ladder. The two screws along the stem are likely more than enough to affix the birdhouse to a tree, but it's best to use the exposed tie plate as a final mounting hole.

The screws should be more than long enough to seal against the tree with a significant bit of pressure.