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FREE PLAN: Turning a Coopered Birdhouse

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Birds have fascinated humankind for as long as we have been orbiting the sun. Perhaps it is the freedom that flight inspires or their beautiful form. Whether you’re a birdwatcher looking to attract specimens to fill out your life list, or you just like to decorate your home’s interior with flights of fancy, this turned birdhouse can fulfill either function.

The coopered birdhouse is a good lathe workout because it is a nice combination of spindle and faceplate work and, on top of that, does not require a large lathe. (Coopering is using stave construction to produce a hollow wooden vessel or form -— like wooden casks, barrels, buckets or even butter churns.)

You won’t need a lot of wood to make one. Many of mine have come from cutoff ends that would otherwise have been burned in our fireplace. If you use rot-resistant wood (and a moisture-resistant glue), it can be an attractive yard ornament, as well as a comfy abode for your avian friends. If you make use of woods your family finds attractive, and perhaps a lovely paint job, it becomes art to grace your home. You may further enhance paint by adding decorative patterns or drawings with woodburning or archival pens.

I have built quite a few of these birdhouses for gifts, mostly in batches every decade or so. It’s a project that lends itself well to production runs, with 10 to 20 being a good batch size. The original birdhouse design was

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