You will need:
Enough wood to make a 12" x 18" table - see below
Thin wood for sides 2 x 18" + 2 x 10"
Strong piece of wood for the upright,
1½"-2" square or diameter x
Metal for hanging loop - see below
Garden wire to hang table from a branch
Small screws, around 1½" long, x 8-20 depending on available
Substantial screws to attach table to upright x 2
Pictured left is my original table of this
design outside the kitchen window hanging from an apple tree.
It has been here for about 5 years (maybe more - I forget exactly)
with the only attention being to scrub it clean every now and
then and to replace two of the side pieces when they fell off
(as a result of over vigorous cleaning). Since the first one
I have made several more as gifts for friends. The whiteness
is due to a sprinkling of snow.
- Find wood, cut to size
This somewhat rough and
ready bird-table is quick to make (these pictures detail my
making one in about an hour). It is very effective at its job
being open so that the birds using it feel safe (something that
twee little thatched roofs prevent as they allow predators
to sneak up unawares), sufficiently large to get
lots of food and several birds at a time on and as it hangs
from a tree branch uses little in the way of materials by not
needing to have a large stable base. The "unstable"
nature of the table when birds land seems to be something that
they quite like as I suppose it acts like a tree branch or twig
swinging with their arrival.
You need to find enough
wood to make a base around 12" x 18" (30 x 45cm) exact
size is unimportant. It is important however to have
proper wood rather than ply (unless specifically
for outdoors) or some sort of composite
board as these will start to fall to pieces
after a while when they get wet. The wood should be reasonably
thick or it will warp too much when subjected to the weather,
here I am using 4 pieces of about three quarters of an inch
thick timber that is a left over gravel board from a fence I built last year.
- Attach bits of wood to each other
wood loosely for the base and place two further pieces across
them to hold them together as shown. These are about 3"
Using nails or screws
that are about one an a half times the thickness of the wood
you are using (so they don't poke out the other side) screw
or hammer them together. I used a power driver to drive these
in without any pilot holes needed as long as they aren't
too close to the edge of the wood when they may split it.
This is the underside of the table.
- Turn table over and fix again
Flip the table
over and screw or hammer more fixings in place to make the table
good and solid. Countersunk screws are the best and can be power
driven into the wood so they are flush with the surface or slightly
below it ready for the next step.
- Give table a smooth surface if the wood is a bit rough
This wood was particularly rough in finish which would make
it more difficult to clean properly. Also the pieces weren't
properly flush so I planed it down to a better smoother finish.
Make sure you drive the screws in below the level of the surface
if you do this so you don't hit the planer blade on them.
A power sander would do a similar job.
need to be furniture grade smooth, but if it's too rough
it may retain bits of food which will rot and so make the birds
ill. If your wood is planed to start with you may be able to
skip this step.
- Make a lip around the table to stop food falling off
The table is given a large lip around the edges so that
food on the table doesn't fall off too easily - when birds
land on it and it swings for instance. The lip should be the
thickness of the base plus about another inch by about a quarter
of an inch or so thick. Note that the lips on the shorter edges
have a gap of about an inch at each end. This makes it easier
to clean with a scrubbing brush as it lets the water and muck
run off easily.
6 - Attach a vertical
post to hang the table from
The vertical post
has been added. In this case I used a piece of timber from some
unwanted furniture I took to pieces. In the table at the top
of this page I used a piece of a branch from the apple tree
the table is hanging from when I pruned it. I prefer the rustic
look, but you have to be careful about cutting the bottom face
so that it hangs properly and not at an angle. Serious fixings
are needed to attach the vertical hanger to the table, 2 thick
and long screws for the one here for instance. Put in long pilot
holes so you don't split the timber, I used a torque driver
to push the screws in, a 12v+ drill driver should manage the
job, otherwise take it slow, in either case watch the timber
- Add a hanger
Finally a substantial hanger is needed. I attach a hook
to the vertical post and then use a double loop of garden wire
to go around a branch, if the branch is living then cushion
the wire with something - I find dark plastic to be the best
material, folded over several times it cushions the branch against
the wire and a dark colour makes it unobtrusive.
hook can be of whatever you have to hand. The left one is of
a bent piece of strip metal, the right one is of a cut off barbeque
skewer, bent by 90 degrees into a loop and held in place with
a heavy woodscrew.
The table should be hung somewhere
exposed so that the birds can see around them and aren't
worried about being ambushed by the local moggies.
What to put on the bird table