Build a Birdhouse for Under $5 in Under 5 Minutes

Tim Shaw
by Tim Shaw
3 Materials
5 Minutes
Last year, my girlfriend and I wanted to put up some bird houses, but we were both very busy with work and spring was just around the corner. So, I came up with a super simple birdhouse pattern to make sure we got some homes up in time for our feathered friends, and although it's basic, it gets the job done.

All the birdhouses we put up last year got used, and they are still in good condition after the winter, so I decided to share this pattern for anyone looking for an easy and cheap way to make a birdhouse. I definitely think that sometimes simpler is better, especially if it's the difference between making a project happen or continuing to put it off.
Watch my video! I created this detailed tutorial that will save you time in figuring out the steps of this project.
Tools and materials
Start off by gathering together the tools and materials you're going to need for this project. In addition to a clean working environment and nescessary safety equipment, you'll need:

  • A wooden board (I'm using spruce) 3/4" thick, 5-1/2" wide and at least 48" long.
  • Nails. I'm using 1-1/2" framing nails
  • Screws. I'm using 1-1/2" wood screws
  • Tape measure
  • Sharpie or pencil
  • Handsaw or similar way to cut wood
  • Hammer
  • Small drill bit (for drilling pilot holes for the screws)
  • Drill
  • Hole saw (1-1/4" or smaller - anything larger will attract aggressive bird species.)
Measure and mark the board
Okay, if any of this doesn't make sense please refer to the video in the introduction of this project! This project is much easier to describe with videos than photos.

You're going to mark and cut the board according to the diagram in this photo. Measure from one end of the wooden board and mark the intervals annotated in the image.

Once your board is marked, line up the marks as shown. I use the back of my handsaw as a straight edge, but you can use anything that is flat and straight.

Before you cut these lines, I also suggest you write the name of the part of the birdhouse on each section so you don't get them mixed up. Starting from the base of the board, the sections are: bottom, back, top, front, side, side, scrap. If you're not going to be painting the birdhouse, I would suggest using pencil for this step so you can erase the writing afterwards.

Now, cut the board into sections!
Cut the board into the pieces you marked
Use the handsaw to make the cuts marked in the previous step.
Prepare the front of the birdhouse
We're going to do some more work on the front of the board house. To start off, we need to reduce the width from the stock width of 5-1/2" to 4".

Start by making two marks at 4" along both sides of the piece, then line them up with your straight edge and cut.

Finally, cut a hole with your hole saw in the centre of the board and about 2/3 the way up from the bottom of the board.
Nail it all together
Now comes the fun part - putting it all together.

Start off by nailing the sides onto the base. The square cut on the sides should be right against the base piece and the diagonal cuts should be facing the same way. I also suggest you start a couple nails in the base, then sink them into the side piece. Again, refer to the video to see how I do this.

Once the sides are on, slide the front wall in and nail it in place.
Finally, nail the back in place.
Screw on the top
You can by all means nail the top on also, but if you instead take the time to screw it in place you can unscrew it at the end of each nesting season to clean out the inside of the birdhouse for next year's guests.

Start off by drilling 4 pilot holes for your screws. It's important to keep the top from moving around while you drill each hole or they'll be misaligned by the time you get to the 4th one. You can also do the pilot holes and screws one at a time to stop this from happening.

Once the holes are drilled and the screws are in place, you're done!
Finishing touches
To complete the birdhouse, add a hook or screw in the top to hang it and a nail below the hole for birds to sit on. 

That's it! Thanks for watching and please check out my other tutorials for more easy projects.
Suggested materials:
  • 1x6x48 spruce board   (home depot)
  • Nails   (home depot)
  • Screws   (home depot)
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
3 of 4 questions
  • Judypatoodie Judypatoodie on Aug 05, 2017
    You mentioned keeping our sparrows. Which birds will be interested, of course depending on where you live? I'm in Colorado. Also, will staining and varnishing work instead of painting?

  • Bernice H Bernice H on Aug 05, 2017
    I read somewhere not to bother putting a little perch for the bird. Supposedly they don't like or need it. this true?

  • Aun28338754 Aun28338754 on Aug 06, 2017
    Should there be little air vents near the top of the birdhouse as well?

Join the conversation
2 of 19 comments
  • Ser10100198 Ser10100198 on Aug 07, 2017
    Have you ever observed birds in the wild? I see birds sitting on metal barbed wire cattle fences, electrical wires, etc. in frigid below zero weather. I've never in my 60+ years of living in ND seen a bird frozen to whatever metal they are perching on. I also have several bird house that "swing" and the birds nest in them every year. Every day, a wren scolded us while sitting on top of the swinging bird house as we sat on the deck until the babies left the nest.

  • Liliana Wells Liliana Wells on Aug 25, 2017
    Great instructions. Thanks