I live in a house that is easily more than 100 years old. Living here has taught me that the term ‘this ole house’ is the basis of conversation with the repairman I called last week, rather than a syndicated production. By the generosity of God, I grew up on a farm learning to do all that you can to save paying others to do what you might accomplish. Life has taught me that you are a much better person if you mow your own yard rather than get a job, that pays enough money, that after taxes, you can still afford to hire someone else, to mow it for you, and pay for their weekly service, while you also pay a monthly fee to go to the gym or health club, in order to have a place to exercise.

Think about it……..Bob

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Bird Feeder That Will Last

After making a second Bat House, I got a 16 ft., 4x4 treated post and placed this one so that it overlooked my driveway and parking area.  After attaching the Bat House and setting the post, I thought I was finished.  I went in the house, sat down in my recliner, and turned on the TV.  From this chair I have a window just to the right of the TV that I can see the trees outside and watch for squirrels.  When I looked out this time I was surprised to see that I had set this new post about 10 feet from the house but it was right in the middle of the window, and would obstruct my vision of the trees.  I was very disappointed, but not about to go back out and move the post.  So I did what some call "when life gives you lemons, just go make lemon aid".  In this case I pondered "what can I do to change this, because I hate where I placed that post".  After much thought I decided to mount a 1/2 in. dowel on the post so birds might land there and I would be able to observe their beauty.  Well that lasted about 2 weeks and finally I realized that the birds were not going to just flock to the roosting position without some type of incentive.

The best incentive would definitely be food.  So I decided to place a bird feeder on the post.  My younger daughter had been in a summer workshop and as a project, they made bird feeders.  I love the design and decided to use it as a model.  The only problem with the one she made was that it had a wooden piece that you would turn to the side to fill the seed.  After many years that 2 in. square piece of wood fell off and needed repair.  I also noticed that the wooden roof of that feeder was deteriorating from winter, summer, rain, and sun.  So I got out my aluminum roof flanging and made a top for the feeder with a sliding piece to allow the filling with seed.

This is what I wanted to copy for my new bird feeder, with some adjustments.  I wanted a larger capacity so I made it a bit wider.  I wanted a longer life, so I used barn cypress and a fully fitted metal top.  So after I took all the measurements of length, width, and angles, I started my new feeder. 

The first thing I did was to make a template for the sides with notes on it for angles, holes to drill, size, and other helpful information.


 Then I started on the bottom by cutting a piece  6 1/2" x 8".  Next I wanted the lip around this bottom to be about 1" tall and only 1/2" thick, so I cut enough stock to make these pieces.  I wanted the birds to be able to grip the top of this lip as they would a rounded branch, so I needed to round over the top.  To do this I made a jig for my band saw.

I took a piece of 2x4 to my table saw, tilted the blade to a 45 degree, adjusted the height, and made the first cut close to one edge.  Then I turned the piece around and adjusted the fence so as to complete the second cut and make the "V" that I wanted.  Next I used my band saw to cut out a rectangular opening where the blade will be positioned.  Now I clamped that to my band saw and positioned it so I could chamfer the corner edge on both sides of the top of the lip pieces.

Next I took those pieces to my bench top belt sander to round over the top.
Now I was ready to cut the ends to length with 45 degrees and glue them into place.

All glue used on this project is Gorilla Glue.  It is a polyurethane glue and will not deteriorate from rain water.
Next I cut the sides.  Each must be 5 1/2" wide and 8" tall, with the slope for the roof at 25 degrees.  After I ensured that the two were precisely the same dimensions, I set the miter gage for the table saw for 12 1/2 degrees.

I set the blade of the saw so that it would cut a depth of only 1/4".  Then very carefully I lined up the piece with the blade so it would be just inside of the top corner and cut a groove from top to bottom.


  I flipped the side around and aligned the corner with the blade again to make the cut for the other groove.  The same process applies for cutting the two grooves in the other side. 

Now the grooves are ready to accept the plastic rectangles and the sides are ready to attach to the bottom.

I carefully centered the sides on the 8" length of the bottom so that they are only 6 1/2" apart and marked the position, then glued the sides to the bottom.

Once the glue had set for about an hour, I used my countersink drill bit and predrilled holes for 2 - 2" decking screws on each side.

Next I cut two pieces of plastic 6 7/8"x 5 1/4" on my table saw.  These will slide down in the grooves on the inside of the sides.  Making sure that they will fit and not bind in the grooves, I placed one in and marked where the bottom of that plastic piece made contact with the top of the lip.

Then I took my mallet and a 1/2" chisel and notched the lip until the plastic would slide down low enough that the top was even with the top of the side where the groove held that piece of plastic.  I noticed that there was an opportunity for the seed to accumulate in the trench created by the rounded lip and the side piece, so I used the chisel to remove the wood between the two notches for the plastic.

This I made into a slope of about 30 degrees so the seed would track away from the side as the level dropped down and the feeder became empty of seed.

Then I placed a piece of wood on the top just to ensure that the top of the plastic would not be in conflict with the roof.  Now before I put the top on the feeder I must complete a few 'get ready' things.  From a wire coat hanger I cut two 10" sections that will be installed for the hanging harness.

Each of these have an end that will prevent them from pulling through.  I used my needle nose pliers and after gripping the wire perpendicular to the pliers, I wrapped the wire around the pliers so as to make a full circle.  Then I bent the wire perpendicular to that circle.

These wire pieces will go through holes near the peak of the roof and must be installed before the roof goes on the feeder.

Now I can cut the two pieces of 1/2" plywood for the roof.  These are 10" x 7" each.  The 10" run from side to side.  One of these will have the fill hole for seed.

This hole will be 1 1/4" x 1 1/4", centered from side to side and 1" from the top.  I drilled a 1/4" hole and used my Jig Saw to cut the square.

After I cut the square out, I realized that I needed to match this position in the metal top, so I added this to my template as a guide for later. 

Also I had to tilt my table saw blade about 32 degrees to trim the top edge of the roof.  This will make the two sides have the correct angle and prevent a gap across the top ridge.

Now I put glue on the top of the sides and attached the roof with two 1 5/8" decking screws.  Be sure to dry fit the roof pieces so that the ridge will be in the best alignment.  I also bent the two wires slightly just to prevent them from sliding back into the interior of the feeder.

I used a piece of aluminum roof flanging 20" wide to cut the piece for my top cover.  This piece should have a 1" extra boarder to allow the bending which is how it is attached to the feeder.  Final measure for my feeder was 16" long and 12" wide.  Using my awl, I marked lines 1" from the edge on all 4 edges.

Next on one of the 16" sides, I cut the corners with a tab to fold inside when the metal in fitted to the top.  Be sure that the tab is hinged on the 12" side.  This will make the tab fold so that it lays against the longer side and this will prevent the tab from causing you problems when you slide the feeder in and out of the folded sides while fitting and bending.

Now I can make 90 degree bends on one 12" side and the 16" side with the corners cut.  This will look like the start of a pan when it is finished.  Place the feeder, upside down, into this pan and snug it to the corner with the two raised edges.  Now carefully tilt the feeder onto the other area and ensure that the line is accurate for the folding of the other edge on that side.  It could be slightly over or under the original 1" mark and should be adjusted as needed so the top will fit as snuggly as possible.  I also marked the point at each end of the ridge so I know where to cut and bend for the ridge.  Next I remove the feeder and bend a 90 degree on the opposite 12" side.

I made an angled cut at the ridge mark so that when I bend the ridge, the edge will not cause problems.

I used a 1/2" piece of plywood to position in the corner so I could complete the second 90 degree bend on the part of the metal that wraps under the roof.  This I did on one of the 12" sides and half of the 16" side.  When this was completed,

I once again placed the feeder upside down into the metal and checked the fit, as well as the markings for the ridge.  I removed the feeder and made the bend of about 50 degrees on the ridge line.  Now I placed the metal back on the feeder and checked the fit.  At this time, before the top is fully attached, I need to cut the square into the metal that will match the filler hole in the wood roof. 

This is when the template really helps.

After I mark the square, I use my DREMEL tool with a cutting disk.

Once I am satisfied with the metal and the fit, I am ready to complete the bending for the rest of the edges.  I placed the feeder in the metal upside down and worked around the other edges bending and tapping with my 90 degree edger (same one I used for the roof on the Bat Houses) and my mallet.  Also cutting the corners, ridge mark, and insuring a tight fit.

I cut 1/2" slits on each side of the filler square, and then I cut a piece of metal 2 1/4" by 4".  This will be the slide that covers the filler hole.  Once it is cut,

I round two of the corners, and I used some wide mouth wielding pliers to fold the top over about 3/8" onto itself twice as a handle.

Next I position the slide where it will be located and insure its position.  Then I marked the ridge at both sides of the slide

 for the slot that will allow the slide to be inserted.  This cut is made with my DREMEL tool.  Be sure that you favor the other side of the ridge for this slot.

Now the slide can be inserted into the slot and eased down until it makes contact with the two slots.  If the slide is difficult to mate with the slots, then you might use the wide mouth pliers and just very slightly bend the bottom of the slide upward.

Here you see the slide in harmony with the intended positioning.

At this point the feeder is finished, but I had to make it ready to be joined with the 4 x 4 post.  I cut two pieces of treated wood 3/4" x 1 1/2" about 12" long.  I used a piece of 4 x 4 post to mark where to drill 1/2" holes 1/4" deep.  Then I cut two pieces of 1/2" dowel rod about 4" long and two pieces of 1/2" PVC pipe 3 3/16" long.

I drilled through the ends of the 12" long pieces with a 5/32" bit and into the ends of the dowels, so I could put a 1" pan head screw with a small washer that will secure the ends of that assembly on both sides of the outer dowel.

Next I positioned the assembly to the bottom of the feeder to be sure that it is square and centered, and predrilled the holes for some 2" deck screws.

Now I must make a hanging assembly by first curling the ends of the wires that extend from the sides of the feeder,

and then attaching another wire curled in the middle and hooked on each end.

I predrilled and screwed a 3/8" hook into the post.  Then I found an old pulley and a long piece of 1/4" rope.  Once I attached and secured the feeder to the post, I needed to adjust the hanging device in order that the feeder would rest in a good horizontal position.

This required me to adjust the side closest to the post to be shorter than the other side.

I cut two pieces of 1" x 1" stock.  One was 6" and the other was 8".  This gave me a place to tie the other end of the rope and a take-up reel for when the feeder is raised to the maximum height.

As a last minute effort I made a 16" length from 1" x 1" stock and rounded the outer ends as a dowel for a perch stick for the birds.  This I mounted under the bottom of the feeder.

Now the bats and the birds will share the same post.  Bat house faces one direction and the bird feeder faces the other.

There have been no complaints from the birds, as of yet.

Good luck, Bob


 After I finished my feeder and once the birds got acclimated to it, I realized when I went out to fill the feeder the second time that there was no table or place, other than the ground, that I could put the bird seed that I was holding in my hands.  I could not even use my hands to let the rope out that allows the feeder to descend down to my level where I could fill it again.

I got this plastic filler from a garden center.  It is kind of like a funnel but has a sliding piece so you can fill it with seed and then once you put the small end into the filler hole, you pull the sliding piece and it allows the seed to fall down into the feeder.  My problem was that I had this full of seed and as you can see this can't be set down because it does not have a flat bottom. 

So I cut a piece of treated 1 x 6 board about 8 inches long, cut a square hole in one end, centered, about 2 inches from the end.  This I attached to the post with a couple of hinges.

Next I added another 1 in. piece across the end which will butt to the post and support the board when it is in the horizontal position.

I added an eyelet to the post, and a small hook on the board so this shelf can be raised and held in the vertical position when not needed.

When I lower this shelf, I can set the plastic filler and the extra coffee can, both full of bird seed, and my hands are free to lower the feeder.

Set the filler in the feeder, pull the plastic slide, and when this is empty I can pour the seed from the can into the filler to complete the filling of the feeder.

Hope you enjoy this and love watching the birds......

A few of the visitors to my feeder:


I even made one special for my neighbor:

Hope this gives you good ideas.....


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