John’s Bird Houses

Viewer Project -
Added on December 20, 2010

From: John Daugherty

Location: Oliver Springs, TN

Amateur or Pro: Amateur

Finish Used: Rattle can lacquer

Wood Species: walnut, cherry, maple, jatoba, mahogany, ambrosia maple

Project Description:
The bird houses I really don’t have a plan. I get my inspiration from the flowing lines of acorns. I start with a block that’s 2″ square by about 3″ long for the body of the house. If I’m planning on a finial I’ll make it a little longer. For the top I shoot for a 2 1/2″ by about 3 long. I drill the body with a 1 1/8″ forstner bit to a depth of about 1″ give or take. For the perch I drill a 1/16″ hole about 1/2″ below the entry hole which is 1/2″. I drill the entry hole 1/2″ down from the top of the body. I drill the entry hole while the blank is still square and before hollowing. If it’s drilled after hollowing I sometimes get a blowout on the inside and can’t go as thin as I’d like.

I use a chuck on the lathe with pin jaws. I use the 1 1/8″ hole to hold the body of the house. I shape the outside of the house turning it down till it’s about 1/8″ thick. I use the opening for the bird to judge thickness. For the top I turn a 1 1/8″ tenon that fits inside the body. I use the jaws to hold the tenon I turn on the top so I can shape it. For good measure I’ll put a couple drops of thick CA glue around the top to glue it to the body. For the eye hook I use a 1/32 bit and drill the hole with the top on the lathe. I hold the bit by hand and turn the lathe by hand. I’ll add a small drop of CA to the hook too. The finish is usually rattle can lacquer.

I like to use contrasting woods and wood that is gnarly with character. These are really fun to turn and you can crank out several in no time.


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