Build your own bird feeder – with just one tool!

A home-made wooden bird feeder is tied to a tree with some rope.
Making this wooden bird feeder yourself is a breeze

  • Difficulty
    easy
  • Cost
    < 50 £
  • Duration
    1-3 h

Introduction

When it gets cold outside, birds really appreciate some food that they don’t have to dig around for in the snow and ice. A sheltered bird feeder can help keep their seeds nice and dry, even in bad weather. And it couldn’t be easier to make it yourself – all you need is one tool: the versatile multi-function tool.

You need
Utilities
  • tape measure
  • carpenter’s square
  • ear protectors
  • screw clamps
  • carpenter's hammer
  • face mask
  • safety glasses
  • work gloves
  • pencil
Materials
  • 1 plank of wood: approx. 50 x 50 cm (L x W), around 15 mm thick
  • Wooden rod: approx. 10 cm long
  • Waterproof wood glue
  • 8–10 nails
  • Sprayable clear varnish (for the exterior)
  • Waterproof rope/cord: approx. 50 cm long
  • 2 eyelets (note: the rope/cord must be able to fit through them!)
L: Length, W: Width, H: Height, D: Diameter

Let's go - step by step

Step 1 7

Measure and mark up

Close-up of two hands drawing a line with a pencil and steel square
Drawing straight lines and right angles is easy with a steel square

You need: carpenter’s square, tape measure, pencil, wooden plank, wooden rod

To create your sheltered bird feeder, you need to cut seven pieces of wood and make a small perch from the rod. First, draw three squares for the back/roof of the shelter. You’ll also need a base that is slightly narrower than the three sides. Base your measurements on the thickness of the wood: multiply the thickness by two, then make the base that much narrower than the other pieces. For example, we used wood that was 15 mm thick (so 1.5 cm). The sides and roof of the shelter each measured 20 x 20 cm, so the base was 17 x 17 cm. The base will also have a border made from three smaller panels, which meet at the edges. These are 5 cm high in our feeder.

Here is a breakdown of the measurements we used:

  • 3 pieces for the back wall and roof (20 x 20 cm)
  • 1 piece for the base (17 x 17 cm)
  • 2 side panels for the border along the base (17 x 5 cm)
  • 1 side panel for the border along the base (20 x 5 cm)

Top tip: if you're using other measurements, make sure you subtract the thickness of the wood from the length of the left and right border panels. The base plus side panels should be the same width as the back wall of the feeder.

It’s best to use a steel square to make sure you mark up everything correctly. This will also help you mark a mitre. There should be a 45-degree angle where the back wall and roof meet. Draw this along the edge of the wood pieces using the steel square – where two of your square panels meet. This means you only have to saw once and both panels will be angled correctly.

For the perch, measure approx. 3 cm and mark it on the wood.

Tip
WHAT IS A MITRE?

A mitre is formed where two pieces comes together to form a corner. For example, picture frames are often joined together with a mitre joint at the corners. The sides of the picture frame actually form a 90-degree angle. However, their ends are sawn off at 45 degrees angles – halving the angle. Mitres are often used for aesthetic reasons – as with picture frames – but they also help to distribute force more efficiently.

Step 2 7

Saw the walls, roof and base of the shelter

Close-up of a hand using a multi-function tool with a saw attachment to cut a plank of wood.
Use the multi-function tool to saw the various panels for your bird feeder.
A screw clamp holding down a piece of wood, as a line is drawn on it in pencil.
To make sawing diagonally easier, you can click the saw attachment on to the tool in a way that is comfortable for you to hold it.
Two screw clamps hold a piece of wood in place as a 45-degree angle is sawn.
To make the mitre cut, mark up a 45-degree angle and fix the wood in place with two screw clamps before you start sawing.

You need: Multifunction tool, screw clamps, safety glasses, ear protectors, work gloves, wooden plank

Now saw along your marked-up lines. First trace the pencil line without the blade and then saw through the wood. Because the multi-function tool vibrates a lot, it's important that you clamp down the pieces of wood firmly before you start sawing. Otherwise the wood could slip and the cut won’t be clean.

Top tip: you can click the attachment for your multi-function tool into the corner of the device in whichever way is most comfortable for you. It’s quick and easy thanks to the new AutoClick system with Starlock attachments.

Cut the mitre joint by sawing down at the 45-degree angle that you’ve marked up (so not directly downwards). If you're using thicker wood, you should use a NanoBlade saw or a mitre saw for this kind of cut.

Step 3 7

Cut the perch

A multi-function tool with a saw attachment is used to cut a notch in the rod.
Saw down the centre of the rod to create a flat surface

You need: Multifunction tool, safety glasses, work gloves, screw clamps, ear protectors, wooden rod

To make the perch for your feeder, first saw halfway through the rod vertically, following the pencil line you drew earlier. Then firmly clamp down the rod in an upright position and saw down the centre from above, until you meet the other cut/the pencil line again. This will create a flat surface that will make it easier for you to mount the perch on your feeder.

Step 4 7

Sand down the edges and surfaces

A piece of wood is sanded down using a multi-function tool.
Sand down all edges and the sides/roof/base of your shelter.
A screw clamp is used to hold three pieces of wood as they are sanded down at the same time.
If you have lots of small pieces of wood that are the same size, it’s quicker to sand them down by clamping them next to one another with a screw clamp.

You need: Multifunction tool, Sanding sheets for the multi-function tool (120 grit), Sanding sheets for the multi-function tool (80 grit)

Now sand down all your pieces of wood – both along the freshly sawn edges and surfaces.

Step 5 7

Assemble the side panels with nails and glue

The various parts of the sheltered bird feeder are put together
Screw clamps will help you to keep the various parts of your bird feeder in place.
Close-up of the perch for the bird feeder, which is glued to the base of the shelter and held in place with screw clamps.
Because garden birds only weigh between 20 and 100 grams, glue is strong enough to attach the perch to the feeder.
A nail is hammered into a piece of wood, which is clamped to another piece of wood using a screw clamp.
To make your bird feeder even more sturdy, you can fix the pieces together with nails.

You need: screw clamps, carpenter's hammer, Waterproof wood glue, 8-10 nails

Now assemble your bird feeder by applying a good coat of glue to the edges and then sticking them together. Clamp them together with screw clamps to prevent any pieces from slipping. If you want to make your bird feeder even more sturdy, you can also nail the pieces together.

Glue the perch to the bottom of the base, in the centre, again using screw clamps to help you.

 

Step 6 7

Make your bird feeder weather-proof with a clear, water-resistant finish

Varnish is sprayed on the bird feeder.
To ensure your bird feeder can withstand the winter weather, it’s best to use a clear varnish

You need: work gloves, face mask, clear wood varnish/ finish spray

To protect your home-made bird feeder from the elements, you should give it a finish – either with coloured paint or some clear varnish. It’s best to use a spray so you can easily coat the corners and edges. Spray the finish on to the feeder from around 20 cm away and then leave it to dry. If you’re not working outdoors, you should wear a face mask.

Step 7 7

Hang up your sheltered bird feeder

Two eyelets are screwed into the back of the feeder, and the rope/cord is thread through one of them and tied in a knot.
To protect the tree, it’s best to hang up your bird feeder using a piece of cord or rope.
A bird feeder hanging on a tree in a garden
A small bowl of water can transform your bird feeder into a bird bath

You need: 2 eyelets, waterproof rope/cord

Once your bird feeder is dry, it’s time to attach it to a tree. First, mark up two holes on the back of the feeder, each 2 cm from the edges, and screw an eyelet into them. Now thread the rope/cord through one of the eyelets and tie a tight knot in the end. Then you can easily attach the feeder to any tree of your choice. Just make sure it’s nice and straight. Your home-made bird feeder is complete.

When it gets cold out, fill the feeder with seeds, oat flakes and raisins. In milder weather, put a small bowl of water in your feeder to make a bird bath. That way, your creation will be well-used all year round.