How to Make a Suet Plug Bird Feeder

suet-plug-feeder_collage

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:

  1. Safety Goggles
  2. Safety Gloves
  3. 4″ x 4″ Board (approx. 24″ long)
  4. Tape Measure
  5. Pencil
  6. Miter Saw
  7. Folding Workbench with Clamps
  8. Power Drill
  9. Spade Drill Bit 1-1/4 inch
  10. Optional: Sander
  11. Table Saw (Alternatives are described below.)
  12. Regular Drill Bit
  13. Eye Screw
  14. 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.)

miter-saw

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.

suet-plug-feeder-1

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. :)

suet-plug-feeder-2

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.

suet-plug-feeder-3

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.

suet-plug-feeder-4

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.

suet-plug-feeder-5

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

PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.

You might also like:

17 comments to How to Make a Suet Plug Bird Feeder

  • Carol G.

    Very functional and looks good as well. Thanks for the great idea!

    One question. Is the 4″x4″ board untreated wood? I was wondering if the treated stuff would leach into the suet and make the birds sick?

    I got a kick out of Step 7 and it made me giggle. I think most hardware and home improvement centers sell disposible paper filter masks that are pretty cheap to prevent the saw dust from getting into your nostrils.

    I am a sculptor so I have a few various styles of respirators as we deal with many toxic materials in our experimentation and play. I love my collection of power tools and prefer my diamonds on the rim of a cutting disc rather than on my finger. I tease my husband saying he married me for my tool collection. My bad?!

    • Holly

      Thank you.

      The board is treated. I’m not sure if it will leach into the suet. That’s a good question.

      Step 7 … I think what did me in was drilling the food holes. Sawdust was flying EVERYWHERE! It’s hard to say, though. I also did the miter saw cuts right before that. As soon as I got in front of a mirror and “cleaned” my nose I realized, “Okay. We’ve got another step to add.” ;)

      Sculpting? Oh, I think that is soooo cool!

      I love your sense of humor! Has your husband ever DENIED the accusation?! ;)

      • Carol G.

        I wonder if you coate the inside with silicone to seal it? They use silicone in cooking and it is considered inert as far as leaching goes. Doesn’t it feel good to make things?! You will be so proud when someone comments on the cool suet feeder and you can proudly say you made it yourself. When I am creating something I do not seem to mind getting dirty. It is like gardening, it feels good to play in the dirt. LOL! I cannot wait to hang my copy of your suet feeder in my yard.

        He still turns red when I tease him. He always brags (in the form of a complaint) about getting the wife that wouldn’t go to Tupperware parties and instead wrenches on cars. He wears my mechanical knowledge like a badge of honor. He is sweet and tells me he is proud of his girl. We met at work where I was hired in as their first female mechanic in the late 1970′s. I have since re-educated myself and moved on to making art. I know, it was a backwards move as I will never make money this way, but it is something I have always needed to do.

        Once he retires I am going to have to teach him to weld so he can help me with larger heavy projects as my back is messed up so I have only been painting as of late. Until he learns to weld, I have bragging rights. I will lure him in by telling him he can play with my tools. My bad?! Tee hee!

  • How about a DIY post on how to make suet. The store-bought suet is expensive and the birds go through it way to fast. I had a recipe for suet onceI, but it used peanut butter, which attracted a lot of starlings and crows (yuck!). I bought some suet at the grocery stored but didn’t have it ground up. I tried to melt it in a saucepan – no good.

    Just a thought.

    • Holly

      That’s a great idea. I have been planning on doing a DIY post on bird food. I’ll make a note to add suet to the list.

      Thanks for the feedback!

  • I’m really proud of you; I’m afraid of power tools. :(

  • Hpuletz

    Good job, Holly. Looks great! I like power tools.

  • Amanda Goff

    Awesome! Good job Holly! :)

  • janet panecki

    Your suet feeder is a knock-out! So much better looking than those messy snap-together suet cages that I have previoysly used.

    I doubt that I will try to make one, you are brave to use those saws!
    But, I have a wood working husband who will proudly do this for the birds.
    Thanks for the idea! Now to get some suet!

    • Holly

      Awww. Thank you!

      It was very gratifying to have never used power tools [to any great length] and to have started with a scrap 4″ x 4″ and ended up with … viola!

      Thanks, again. :)

  • JOE HARRISON

    Just a tip..When you bore your holes, put a board under the post you are boring..When the blade breaks thru, it will be smooth and not leave jagged edges…You can also use a holesaw if you have one…Neat looking, and I’m gonna make some…Here’s to happy feeding:0

    • Holly

      Thanks for the tip. Yes, after the post was published my brother mentioned placing a scrap board under the project board. I guess it’s called a sacrificial board. I’ll have to try that next time!

      I’m not sure if my husband has a holesaw, but I’ll ask. Thank you!

  • Linda

    Just bumped into your site! I’ve never blogged before, hope you’re still around.I love the few power tools I have. A drill press is very useful when you need a straight hole, and the sacrifice board underneath is essential for clean cuts.Wondering if pressing warmish suet through a pastry bag (or cut a corner off a freezer bag) would fill the holes,then chill the entire feeder before hanging? BTW, love your site!May God’s creatures and inspirations continue to nourish your creativity.

    • Holly

      I’m still around, but it’s been a while since my last post … quite a while.

      Oh, I’d love to have a drill press! You’re right. If you need a perfectly straight hole, a drill press is the only way to go.

      Your idea about the suet is a great idea. That just might work.

      Thanks for the kinds words about the site. My prayer is for God to provide me with wisdom, peace, and conviction on the direction/existence of this site.

Leave a Reply to Hpuletz Cancel reply

  

  

  

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>