Oct. 24, 2014

The Shouting Soapbox: Building a Birdfeeder

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November 17, 2011

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I had an epiphany the other day, folks. You see, I am a man of two great loves – nature, and power tools. And up until quite recently, I figured that these two passions of mine went together like oil and water: experience had taught me that the outdoors and power tools did not mix well. The lack of outlets in the wilderness prevented me from bringing my beloved chainsaw along on hiking trips, and the small size of my garage quashed my hopes of growing an indoor forest. Sadly, it seemed as though I’d never have enough time for both passions to flourish. Until, that is, I discovered the simple joy of the art of woodworking.

Since that moment I’ve thrust myself into a variety of woodworking projects for the home and garden, and it’s gone great so far. Knowing the inquisitive, industrious types that you lot are, I decided to do something a bit different this week. In this special DIY edition of “The Shouting Soapbox,” we’re going to learn how to build one of my favorite projects, a birdfeeder.

We’re going to need the following materials for this project:
– Wood. Some thin sheets from the hardware store ought to do. I used some stuff I found in my scrap wood pile, so I can’t really provide specifics. Sorry.
– Glue. Note that we need a special type of glue, which should be labeled “Wood Glue.” White glue will not work, as I learned the hard way.
– Bird food. Choose the food to stock your bird feeder with based on the type of bird you wish to attract to your outdoor environment. For example, to attract finches, fill the feeder with small nuts and seeds. Larger birds, such as cardinals and robins, will prefer a healthy mixture of nuts and berries. Birds that are larger still, such as eagles and hawks, prefer cardinals and robins.
– Saw. Used to shape the wood into our desired shape. Consult the chart below for more information:
– Acceptable: Band, Bow, Hand, Table.
– Unacceptable: See, Saws II-IV, S.A.W.
– Chips. Woodworking is hard, and you’re gonna need a snack.
– Actually, make that granola. More outdoorsy.
– Sandpaper, to smooth out the wood.
– Waterproof wood sealant, varnish and/or finish, to coat the final product.
– Wait, I take that back – you actually do want chips for your snack. Granola is gross.
– Staples, to attach the wood together.
– Tape, to attach the wood together.
– Metal feeding tray.
– Miniature high velocity pneumatic cannon w/wireless remote-control enabled.
– Acorns (1 dz.)
– Webcam, attached to aforementioned pneumatic cannon.
– Safety gloves and goggles.

Now that we’ve got all our materials together, it’s time to go to work. First, lay everything out on a big table in front of you. Have you got everything? Well, if you don’t it’s too late now – you’re just going to have to make do without it. That’ll teach you to follow directions.

Alright, the first step is to prepare a workspace. Clear the area around an old table or workbench, and place your materials beside it. Remove the tablecloth, if any, and cover your workspace with several layers of old newspaper. (If you don’t have a subscription, and your neighbor has already taken his paper inside for the day, go online to your favorite publication (read: The Flat Hat) and print several pages from that. I suggest using copies of this column, in case something happens to the copy you’re using now. )

Once you’ve prepared the workspace, take four pieces of wood, and cut them into equal sized rectangles – the dimensions depend on personal preference, but I went with 8×11 inches. Conveniently, those are the same dimensions as the printed page, so use this column as a handy measuring tool. You’re welcome.

These pieces will form the base of our bird house. Using wood glue, go ahead and attach the pieces together at 90o angles to one another – you should now have a box-like shape with an open roof and front end. If you have another shape, you seriously need to learn to follow directions. I’ll give you another chance this time, though – go ahead and start again, we’ll wait.

We’re not going to wait. If they can’t catch up, so be it, but the quality of our birdfeeders won’t suffer because of a few wannabes who couldn’t hack it. Woodworking is cutthroat, and mistakes will not be tolerated.

Moving right along, cut another piece of wood slightly smaller than the sides of the box, and glue it along the front edge, leaving a slight gap at the bottom. Glue the metal feeding tray underneath, so that food being “dispensed” from the bottom of the feeder will be caught.

By now, you should be able to see your birdfeeder taking shape. (If you can’t see it taking shape, I thought I was pretty clear when I said there would be no second chances. Leave us. Now.) We just have two components left to attach, so it should be smooth sailing from here. Cut a flat roof for the box, using the same dimensions as the other sides. Using a section of PVC pipe (cut to your desired length), trace and remove a hole in the center of the roof, then attach the PVC pipe.

Wait, what do you mean we forget PVC pipe? Quickly, run to the store and pick some sort of piping out. Metal, PVC, glass, whatever. Just grab it and sprint home. Then, follow directions as previously instructed. Fill the pipe with bird food, and attach a removable lid to the pipe. Almost done!

Now, there’s just one step left – squirrel deterrent. See, a birdfeeder will attract many beautiful animals to your abode, but it will also attract those little furry thieves, the bane of our campus. Squirrels. There are many different methods to chase them off, and they all have their supporters and advocates; choose whichever you like: there is no “right” deterrent. Mine is the best one, though, so use that one. When you write your own how-to guide, then you can pick. Attach your high-velocity pneumatic cannon to the birdfeeder, and install the acorn ammo tube into the loading mechanism. Then, attach the webcam to the side, and rig the setup so that you can control the device from your laptop computer.

Congratulations! We’re finished, and you now have your very own, socially-acceptable, squirrel shooter! Now, from the privacy of your own dorm room, you can enjoy the privilege of observing beautiful animals frolicking about your creation. Right up until a mouse click sends an acorn hurtling towards them at high speed, that is. Oh, and the pretty birds are a nice bonus, too.

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Zack Perconti

Zack Perconti

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