Birdhouse Garden Seat Build

Topics Covered
1. How This All Started
2. SketchUp Drawing of Garden Seat
3. Cut List, Cut List Notes, Sketches, & Photos
4. Building Steps
5. Finishing
6. In Closing
7. Request

1. How This All Started
Over four or five days, I kept passing by what is shown in the following photo, alongside the road in my neighborhood. Since then, I have come to refer to it as the “Birdhouse Garden Seat.”

Neat looking, I think.


Photo 1

Its deplorable condition explains why it was tossed to the curb. But, I figured, you know I could use this existing seat as a prototype for building a new “Birdhouse Garden Seat.”

So I grabbed this garden seat and brought it home.

2. SketchUp Drawing of Garden Seat
With a pencil, paper, and tape measure—I sketched and dimensioned this garden seat. Next, I used SketchUp to sketch the garden seat shown below (Sketch 1) along with overall dimensions.

Sketch 1

Clicking on the link below will enable you to download from the 3D Warehouse the above Sketch 1. Actually, the file that you will open is made up of six scenes. The six scenes help (I feel) to visualize the build process, from start thru completion of the project.

Birdhouse Garden Seat Build – 3D Warehouse

3. Cut List, Cut List Notes, Sketches, & Photos
Labeling of boards for the “Birdhouse Garden Seat” is shown in the following two sketches (Sketches 2 and 3).


Sketch 2

Sketch 3

Now grab some 2 x 4s and 1 x 4s, size as listed below, and you are ready to start building your “Birdhouse Garden Seat.”

Regarding cutting the wood members, I believe it is best to rough-cut the boards say about an inch longer and 1/4” wider than needed. And then as you go thru the build process cut the board or boards your currently working with to final required dimensions.


Cut List Notes
General Note for “Cut List Notes”
All brad nails referenced in “Cut List Notes” and elsewhere in this post are 18-ga. and galvanized.

Note 1
The dimensions of the four “I” boards vary slightly as follows:
1—Front board—Overall dimensions are 3/4” x 3-1/32” x 30-7/8” with a 1-5/16” x 3-1/4” notch at each end to accommodate the “A” board at each end.
2—Two interior boards—3/4” x 3-1/8” x 30-7/8”
3—Back board– Overall dimensions are 3/4” x 3-1/8” x 30-7/8” with a 19/32” x 3-1/4” notch at each end to accommodate the “B” board at each end.


Sketch 4

Sketch 5

4. Building Steps
Step 1—Start by cutting the “A” & “B” boards several inches longer than shown in the cut list. Next, make the two 45* cuts on the tops of all four boards.

In Photo 2, the board is shown positioned and ready for making the 2nd 45* cut. Fiddle with and position the “STOP BLOCK” shown as required to center the point made by the two 45* angle cuts. And with the “STOP BLOCK” positioned as required, make all of the 45* angle cuts on the four “A” & “B” boards.


Photo 2

Step 2—After making the 45* cuts on the “A” & “B” boards, the other end of each board is cut to finished length.

To ensure the boards are the same length, I set up a stop block for the two “A” boards, as shown in Photo 3 for cutting the two “A” boards to length. (Also, do the same thing for the “B” boards, using the length required for the “B” boards.)


Photo 3

Step 3—Using a dado blade set, cut dadoes in the “A” & “B” boards for the two “D” boards. Reference the SketchUp model for Sketch 1 (downloadable from the 3D Warehouse) for dimensions for the dadoes, which can be measured from the SketchUp model for Sketch 1.

Photo 4 shows one of the two “D” boards fastened to the “A” & “B” boards.

Photo 4

To fasten the “A”, “B”, and “D” boards together, I used #8 x 2” deck screws. You can see the general placement of the deck screws in the following Photo (Photo 5). I positioned each deck screw 7/8” in from each side of the “A” and “B” boards.

Photo 5

Step 4—After installing the two “D” boards to the “A” & “B” boards, you want to next install the two bottom “C” boards to the “A” & “B” boards.

The jig shown below in Photos 6 & 7 worked great at keeping the “A”, “B”, and “C” boards aligned while making measurements and fastening the boards together.

Now the jig shown below doesn’t center the “C” board between the “A” & “B” boards. However, I like the look of the “C” board being inset 3/4” from the outside sides of the “A” & “B” boards. Therefore, I made it a point to make sure the jig below was clamped to the outside side of the “A” & “B” boards.

Photo 6

Notes for Photo 6
Note 1—Shown here is one of the “C” boards held in place by the jig (described in notes 2, 3, & 4) and two clamps.

Note 2-This part of the jig is 3/4” x 3-1/4” x 10-1/2” OSB fastened to the 1/2” OSB (referenced in note 3) with 1” brads. Center and fasten the 3/4” OSB on the 1/2” OSB as shown to clear the “A” & “B” boards.

Note 3—The OSB shown here is 1/2” x 7-1/4” x 13-1/2”. And the 7-1/4” dimension is the vertical dimension.

Note 4—If you look closely inside the black rectangle, you will see two vertical pencil lines. On the other side of the OSB shown here is a 2 x 4 spacer (1-3/8” x 3-5/16” x 4”), and the 4” dimension is the vertical dimension. There is also an identical spacer down at the other end of this jig—these two 2 x 4 spacers space the bottom of the “C” board 4” above ground level. Almost forgot, I secured the 2 x 4 spacers to the 1/2” OSB with brads (1-1/2” length).

Photo 7

Photo 7 above provides another view of the jig referenced in Photo 6, from the opposite side of the view shown in Photo 6.

To fasten the “A”, “B”, and “C” boards (referenced above in Step 4) together, I used #8 x 3-1/2” deck screws—shown in Photo 8. And this fastening means applies to both the bottom “C” boards and also the two upper “C” boards.

Photo 8

Dimensions for placement of the fasteners for Board “C” are shown on Sketch 6.

Sketch 6

Step 5—Next, install the two upper “C” boards to boards “A” & “B.” As with the lower “C” boards, use #8 x 3-1/2” deck screws and position as shown in Sketch 6.

Shown in Photo 9 is the jig I used to keep the “A”, “B”, & “C” boards aligned while making measurements and fastening the boards together.

It’s worth cautioning that this jig doesn’t center the “C” board between the “A” & “B” boards. And again, I like the look of both the bottom and topside “C” boards being inset from the outside sides of the “A” & “B” boards. Hence, I made it a point to make sure the jig below was clamped to the outside side of the “A” & “B” boards.

Photo 9

Notes for Photo 9
Note 1—This note (Note 1) plus Notes 2 & 3 give the particulars for the jig I used to hold the upper “C” boards in place while fastening to boards “A” & “B.” Now back to the 1/2” OSB pointed at by Note 1, the dimensions for this 1/2” OSB are 1/2” x 13-1/2” x 16-3/4”, and 16-3/4” is the vertical dimension. Also the 1/2” OSB part of the jig is clamped to the “A” & “B” boards—as shown in Photo 9. Note also that the 1/2” OSB bottom side rests flush against the table saw tabletop.

Note 2—This part of the jig is 3/4” x 3-1/4” x 10-1/2” OSB fastened to the OSB referenced in note 1 with 1” brads.

Note 3—Shown here is a 6” length 4 x 4 with the top of the 4 x 4 positioned 13-1/2” above the table saw tabletop as shown in Photo 9. Position the 4 x 4 (horizontally speaking) to clear the inside sides of the “A” & “B” boards: I offset the 4 x 4 by 1-3/8” from the edge of the 1/2” OSB. For fastening the 4 x 4 to the 1/2” OSB, I used three #8 x 3” deck screws.

To help in assembling the “C” boards to the “A” & “B” boards, I clamped a strip of 3/4” OSB to the “B” board as shown in Photo 10 below. It’s nice to have the “A” & “B” boards staying upright and not falling over during assembly.

Photo 10

Step 6—With the two A-B-C-D board assemblies put together, we have completed the work involving 2 x 4s, and we can now move on to working the 1 x 4s part of this build.

Let’s skip the “E” board for now and install the two “H” boards.

Photo 11 below is helpful in showing how to go about aligning and leveling the two “H” boards being installed. The build in its current state is setting on my table saw tabletop.

In addition to measuring where to place the two “H” boards, you need to both level the two “H” boards and ensure that the two “B” boards are at a right-angle to the table saw tabletop. Consequently, the level shown in Photo 11 was used to level the two “H” boards. And to ensure that the two “B” boards are square with the tabletop, the orange triangle (partially shown at the bottom of Photo 11) was used.

I used nine 1-1/2” length brad nails to fasten each end of the two “H” boards to the “B” boards. See Photo 12 for general placement of brad nails.

After brad nailing all four ends of the “H” boards, I cut the right end of each “H” board shown in Photo 11 to length, and sanded (using a random orbital sander) flush with board “B.”

Photo 11

Photo 12

Step 7—Now let’s go back and install the “E” board.

As shown in Sketch 2, center the “E” board on the bottom side of the two “C” boards. I used five 2” length brad nails to fasten the “E” & “C” boards together, and general placement of the five brads is shown in Photo 13.

Photo 13

Step 8—Next, let’s space and fasten the “H” boards to the “G” boards which were previously installed.

The two “H” boards, which are adjacent to the two “B” boards, are spaced 1/8” from each “B” board. For the 1/8” spacing requirement, I used a 24” length steel rule (1/8” thickness).

Spacing between the “H” boards is 5/8”. A scrap piece of 5/8” plywood I had worked for setting the spacing between the “H” boards.

For fastening the “H” boards to the “G” boards, I used 1-1/2” length brad nails. To keep the brads from blowing thru the “G” boards, be sure to angle your nailer slightly. The general placement of the brads is shown in Photo 14.

Photo 14

Step 9—Now let’s install the two “F” boards, as shown in Sketch 2.

To get the required length for the two “F” boards, I used two strips of wood clamped together with spring clamps, as shown in Photo 15. Having a Cut List is nice, but I still would use the measuring method shown below (Photo 15) to ensure for an accurate measurement before cutting the “F” boards to length.

Photo 15

Photo 16

Fasten each end of the “F” boards shown above (Photo 16) to their associated “A” or “B” boards (as applicable) with three 1-1/2” length brad nails.

Step 10—Moving right along, it’s now time to install the four seat boards (“I” boards).

The notching dimensions noted below are for the dimensions referenced in this post and associated SketchUp file (downloadable from 3D Warehouse). If any of your “A,” “B,” or “I” board dimensions vary from what are used in this post, then you will need to adjust your notching dimensions.

To cut the notches, I used my table saw to cut as much as I could for the long leg of the notch, and then I used a flush cut handsaw to finish cutting the long leg.

And to cut the short leg of the notch, I used my band saw.

The setup I used for notching the long leg required for the front and back “I” boards is shown in the following two photos (Photos 17 & 18).


Photo 17

Photo 18

Notching of the “I” board butted up against the two “A” boards consists of a 1-5/16” x 3-1/4” notch at each end of the front “I” board.

Notching of the rear “I” board butted up against the two “B” boards consists of a 19/32” x 3-1/4” notch at each end of the rear “I” board.

As shown in Photo 19 below, the four “I” boards are coplanar with the outside edges of the “A” & “B” boards. Each end of the four “I” boards is fastened to the two upper end “C” boards with two 6d galvanized finishing nails.

Regarding the nail fastening, I drilled 3/32” diameter pilot holes. I also angled the drilling and nailing as required to clear the “D” boards located above the “I” boards.

Photo 19

Spacing used between the “I” boards is 1/8”.

Step 11—We are almost finished, just need to build four pseudo birdhouses. Let’s start with the roof, which consists of two “K” boards per roof.

Cut and install the “K” boards (roof boards) first, I figure it will be easier to finesse the fronts to match up with the roof boards versus the other way around. And the required board dimensions are shown on Sketch 5.

Shown below in Photo 20 is the basic setup I used to cut the 45* angles for the “K” boards (roof boards). To ensure that all “K” board lengths are identical, I used the stop block shown clamped to the miter fence to make the second 45* angled cut on each “K” board.

Photo 20

Best to cut all of the “K” boards while you have your miter saw setup for cutting the “K” boards.

After cutting all of your required “K” boards (roof boards), install all of your roof boards.

The plywood (I used a 1/2” x 5” x 9” piece of plywood) clamped as shown in Photo 21 ensured that the backside of the roof boards are positioned flush with the backside of the “A” boards. (Use this clamped ply setup with the “B” boards also.)


Photo 21

For fastening the “K” boards to the “A” boards, use four 2” length brad nails per “K” board. General placement of the brads is shown in Photo 22 for one of the “K” boards.

Photo 22

Step 12—Time to install the final board members, which are the birdhouse fronts (the “J” boards). You can find the dimensions for the “J” boards on Sketch 4.

First make the two 45* angle cuts required for each “J” board using your miter saw. Set the miter saw for a 45* angle cut and make all of the 45* angled cuts required for the four birdhouses.

Regarding board lengths, start with lengths over 6-1/2” (use let’s say 7-1/2” for starters for the lengths) and trim to 6-1/2” on all four “J” boards after all the 45* angle cuts have been made.

After making all of your 45* angle cuts, make sure that the “J” boards mate up with your roof boards (the “K” boards)—tweak if need be.

Also, make sure the “J” board widths match up with the widths of the respective “A” & “B” boards—again, tweak if need be.

Drill the birdhouse entrance holes as follows:
(1) If you have a drill press, that would be ideal for drilling the birdhouse entrance holes. However, it’s not a deal breaker. Use what you have.

Line up the center of the birdhouse entrance hole as shown in Photo 23. For repeatability, position the drill press fence and a clamped scrap piece of OSB as shown before drilling the 1-1/4” diameter holes using a 1-1/4” diameter Forstner bit.

Looking at Photo 23, you’ll notice that a small non-Forstner bit (1/8” diameter bit) is shown. I started with the 1/8” bit, to help in lining up the birdhouse front on my drill press table. Then I replaced the 1/8” diameter drill bit with a 1-1/4” diameter Forstner bit. (Just make sure the height of the drill press chuck above drill press table allows for removing the 1/8” diameter drill bit and installing the 1-1/4” diameter Forstner bit without having to move the table up or down.)


Photo 23

(2) Next, drill all four of the birdhouse holes using a 1-1/4” diameter Forstner bit.

The final setup for drilling the birdhouse holes is shown below (Photo 24). And the 1x board clamped on the right side of the “J” board keeps the “J” board from moving while being drilled.


Photo 24

(3) Final step for completing the birdhouses is to clamp the “J” boards to the “A” & “B” boards, and then fasten the “J” boards (birdhouse fronts) to the “A” & “B” boards with
1-1/2” length brad nails (four brads per birdhouse front).

See Sketch 4 for placement of brad nails.

5. Finishing
The finishing will be turned over to the finishing department. My wife likes to finish pieces, so she will be handling the finishing. And that is fine with me.

Cathy is thinking of painting it a dull green.

6. In Closing
That is the thing about woodworking, if you see a furniture piece in a museum or auction catalog that you like, you can build it. Heck, even something you find or see alongside the road.

And that is what we have here. A brand new “Birdhouse Garden Seat” built using as a prototype one that I found in sorry shape alongside the road.

So, about 3,000 words, five sketches, twenty-six photos, one cut list, and one 3D Warehouse link later here is the completed “Birdhouse Garden Seat” (Photo 25).

P25--Birdhouse Garden Seat

Photo 25

I think this “Birdhouse Garden Seat” is going to look neat out in the backyard.

7. Request
If you enjoyed this post, I would be very grateful if you would share it by email with your friends, or on Google+, and/or Facebook. While I am being needy, would you give me a “Like” on my Facebook page (Woodworking with AJO)? You can click on the link shown below for my Facebook page. Thanks a bunch.

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Take care