Making a nest box

We have a lot of wild life on our few acres of smallholding. We get many species of bird from tiny wrens to four foot high red kites, lots of rabbits, occasional deer that love to destroy fencing, foxes, various rodents and far too many types of spiders for my liking.

Lots of swallows nest in the sheds - their favourite hobby is to crap all over our cars and to dive bomb the cats. More swallows and robins nest in the barn. Great tits and blue tits dig holes in our rotting soffits and nest in the eaves.

As an experiment I’ve made a nest box to see if I can attract any of the birds away from these destructive locations!

I started with a completely filthy piece of old 8 inch moulding about 4 feet long. I ran it through the table saw to remove the moulded portion leaving me with a short board about 160mm wide and 18mm thick.

I drew one of my usual high tech whiteboard plans as this one didn’t warrant CAD time and I must say I was quite pleased with the result. At this point I realised I wouldn’t have quite enough material in the skirting board for the whole thing so I grabbed a couple of old scraps of 18mm pallet wood from the yard to use for the roof.

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I cut the board into the various lengths using my table saw cross-cut sled and then added the various angles, which are 73/17 degrees. Then glued up the whole thing in one go. When the glue had partially cured, I came back and doweled the whole thing for some total overkill levels of strength. I managed to run out of 5mm dowels and had to swap up to 8mm part way through but that’s ok this thing is R-U-S-T-I-C either way.

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Then for the roof, I used 10mm dowels with the scraps of pallet wood to make up a three part panel. I used the Axminster No. 1 Dowelling Jig for this with pretty good results. Although I did have to use some 4mm packers to enable the 10mm drill holes to line centrally in my 18mm pallet wood stock. They’re just about visible in the first photo below - the grey rectangles between the jig and the stock below the snazzy “Made in Taiwan” sticker. It worked out almost ok because I was a fraction off on one hole leaving that panel slightly offset but this was on me not positioning the packers accurately rather than any problem with the jig.

I sanded the worst of the muck and damage from all of the boards and added matching 17/23 degree bevels to the roof so that it will hinge nicely and look in keeping with the rest of the nest box.

Then I waxed the interior with some clear BriWax and gave all of the outer surfaces two coats of hard curing varnish before finally fitting the roof using some tyre inner tube as the hinge, held in place by two hard wood slats. It’s not pretty but serves the additional purpose of ensuring water can’t get between the roof and the back panel. Two brass rings will be used to wire the roof closed for the nesting season.

Fergus N