Making bird tables

SAMSUNG CSCAt this time of year I sell a few bird feeding tables, rather bizarrely called ‘bird houses’ by some. I thought I’d go through how I make them.

First I make the gables with the chain saw:

SAMSUNG CSCThese are from an outside slab of oak.  There is bark and sapwood on there, I reckon this will encourage insect life for the birds.  There’s plenty of heartwood to take the mortices.  Then the table itself, this one is beech, again from a slab, but there is no sappy wood on beech.  I make the 1 inch mortices with an auger.

SAMSUNG CSCThese augers are excellent, ex War Department with the distinguishing arrow marked on the shank.  They must have been stockpiled for tens of years as they come fully wrapped and protected with a waxy film that the instructions tell you to remove with a pointed stick.  Mine are 1953 vintage – the year of my birth.  I turn the handles myself in a variety of lengths, longer ones giving more leverage, and short ones for confined spaces.

Next the pillars to support the gables and roof are cut to length and tenoned.  I’ve used silver birch on this one.  I think they should last OK as they are kept dry under the roof.  I first get them down to near 1 inch with the draw knife, and then use the rounder plane.

SAMSUNG CSCI’d normally do this with the Veritas 1 inch tenon cutter, but I’d neglected to recharge the drill batteries so I just finished then off with the tenoner by hand – it leaves neater shoulders than the rounder.

SAMSUNG CSCI use a V-block in the horse to nip the columns which prevents damage to the bark (thanks David).  Do you like the multiple reducers to get the T-bar onto the hex drive?  Works though but.

Start assembly now, in with the columns.


SAMSUNG CSCThen the gables, this is a bit fiddly as the column positions need to be marked from where the column tops land – round wood can be a bit curvaceous (which adds to the charm, I think).

SAMSUNG CSCYesterday was a new style day.  The customer wanted to be able to hang feeders from a stick so I pierced the gable to take one.

SAMSUNG CSCSAMSUNG CSCI wanted the stick to run through both gables so I needed to align through the first hole into the second gable, could have done with a slightly longer auger, but managed anyway.


On with riven oak roof shingles, pre-drilled and nailed with galvanised nails.

SAMSUNG CSCThen I split some round wood for edgings, having first nailed through into the tenons.   Drill through the table to fix onto the 6 foot pole with 4 inch coach screws (not forgetting to washer them). That’s about the bird table finished, do try this at home.  All you need is to make a couple of shepherd’s chairs to produce the waste for materials 😉

Sorry about the dull pictures, the weather was dull too!