I often pray for ideas for posts, and that’s how this post came about.
While strolling through Rural King (a home and garden store), I noticed the simplicity of the suet plug bird feeders and thought,
“Hmmm … this just looks like a 4-by-4 with some holes drilled through it and some angled cuts. … I bet I could make this, assuming John has the right tools and can walk me through a few things.”
It took me a second, but I realized God had just given me my next post idea.
John made a few practice cuts, walked me through how to use the power tools for this project, and then I was set free.
I told John I had to make EVERY cut myself (to provide a DIY post). There was even a moment when he walked over to graciously show me something when I abruptly said, “Don’t do it!” After telling me to take a chill-pill, he assured me he was not going to do anything to the board I was working on.
If you’d like to make a feeder like this, here’s how you do it.
First, don’t be intimidated by power tools. Of course, safely operating power tools is paramount. (Be sure a knowledgeable and experienced person walks you through how to safely use the tools.) My point is, I’ve rarely used a power tool, yet I was able to make this nifty little bird feeder. If I can you can!
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Safety Goggles
- Safety Gloves
- 4″ x 4″ Board (approx. 24″ long)
- Tape Measure
- Miter Saw
- Folding Workbench with Clamps
- Power Drill
- Spade Drill Bit 1-1/4 inch
- Optional: Sander
- Table Saw (Alternatives are described below.)
- Regular Drill Bit
- Eye Screw
- Optional: Water Sealer, Stain, or Paint
Step 1: Practice Cutting, Drilling, Etc. on a Scrap Board!!!
Practice with a scrap board. I learned from mistakes I made on my scrap board, which kept me from making them on my project board.
Step 2: Cut the Board
Measure and mark the 4″ x 4″ board for a 13-inch cut. Line up your miter saw (on 0° for a straight cut) against your pencil mark and cut. (Use excess board as your practice board.)
Step 3: Cut Angles
If you don’t have a LARGE miter saw but still want the angled top, BEWARE! It will require a lot of patience, planning, precision eyeballing, and a very steady hand.
With a large miter saw you simply measure where you want the cuts and make your four (4) 45° angled cuts.
With a small miter saw you run into the problem I did. The saw is not large enough to cut all the way through the board when cutting angles.
Even with cutting the board on both sides, the saw could not cut through the board completely. I ended up with a thick splinter on each side, but it sanded off just fine.
My first set of four (4) angled cuts went great. I made a line that helped me eyeball where on the board I wanted the blade to land, but even better than that was a pencil mark I made on the saw platform.
When I flipped the board around for the other set of four (4) angled cuts, it required precision eyeballing. When in doubt, I erred on the side of not cutting enough. Then I moved the board a hair and shaved off a little more.
Step 4: Drill Food Holes
Each hole “tunnel” should be 90° to the previous/next hole. This will give you greater odds of seeing a bird no matter how the feeder is positioned.
Don’t drill the holes so close together that the wood separating them collapses or splinters away while drilling.
Tip: Be sure to keep the drill bit plumb (completely vertical), and keep an even downward pressure on the drill bit.
If you wiggle the bit (like I did on my practice board) you’ll end up with a crooked oval. It will look weird, and the suet plugs won’t fit.
Be prepared for wood shavings to fly EVERYWHERE. This brings me to my next tip.
Tip: Don’t take forever drilling the holes.
Once you get the hole drilled almost all the way through, the drill bit will start to get too deep into the board for the wood shavings to fly out. They’ll start accumulating in the hole you’re drilling. A little is okay, but I usually had to stop at least once to brush off the shavings and dig some out. The frictional heat causes the shavings to get very warm. You may even see a little smoke.
Optional Step: Sand All Sides and Corners
I wanted a smooth look and feel to the feeder so I used a sander. It also helped smooth out the splintered edges around the feeder holes.
Step 5: Provide Perching Places
With the table saw, cut out grooves for birds to cling to while feeding.
If you don’t have a table saw, be creative. Instead of grooves, you could drill holes off to the side of the feeder holes and install small wooden dowel rods or use nails for the birds to perch on.
Step 6: Install Eye Screw
You’ll need to drill a hole for the screw, but it needs to be just slightly smaller than the screw. This will allow the screw threads to bite into the wood.
Once you’ve drilled the hole, put the drill in reverse (this was a toggle switch on our drill) to get the drill bit out. You should then be able to EASILY hand-turn the screw into the pre-drilled hole.
Optional Step: Apply Water Sealer, Stain, or Paint
You’ve probably seen someone’s brand new privacy fence or wood deck QUICKLY turn from a beautiful natural brown or red to an old and weathered gray color in less than a year or so. With proper stain or water sealer, you’ll protect, to some extent, the wood from the sun’s harmful uv rays (which cause the discoloration) and from water (which causes the rottage).
I plan on using either a stain or water sealer. After I do, I may update the top photo.
Step 7: Blow Your Nose
Yep. You’ll end up with sawdust in your nostrils. So, blow your nose.
Power tools are AWESOME! I can already see my future Christmas lists morphing into something previously unfamiliar to me.
What was the FIRST project you made with power tools?
Or, what do you hope to be your first project?
This was shared on the following blog hops and link-ups:
From the Farm Blog Hop
Homestead Barn Hop
Simple Lives Thursday
Wednesday’s Prayer Girls & Link-Up Party