Free birdhouse plans for not one, but two different birdhouses! Measurements, cut lists and instructions for these DIY birdhouses – each coming in at less than $4 in wood!
One of my most popular posts of all time is the time I shared Ana White’s birdhouse plans. It was easy, inexpensive, and has lasted from 2016 to now – with a new bird family in it every year.
(I *think it’s a new bird family each year? How long do birds live for? Maybe great-grandma-Gertie is still popping out babies 7 years later?)
But one thing I did wrong when building those birdhouses was to seal the bottom so that it can’t be cleaned out; something a few people commented on even at the time.
I imagine at this point the DIY birdhouse is a bit funky inside from shells, poop and messy teenagers, so I decided to whip up another couple of easy birdhouses before the Spring thaw.
There are a lot of birdhouse plans available online, but when I went searching through the fancier ones, I found that a lot of them required payment. Fair enough, someone has gone to the work to create the plans, build a house, photograph it and blog it – so its money earned.
But, for this simple birdhouses – ones that you can make with the kids – free birdhouse plans just seemed like the right thing to do.
Both of the plans below are made from one fence board – 1′ x 6′ x 5′. (30.5cm x 183cm x 152cm). The nominal measurements of the fence boards were actually 5/8″ thick and 5 1/4″ wide.
Last time I used cedar, but after a bit of research I learned that it IS actually safe to use pressure treated wood for birdhouses.
New pressure treated wood is treated with Copper Azole type B and C (CA-B, CA-C) and is safe for making birdhouses. Alkaline Copper Quaternary (ACQ) was used for a limited time after 2004 and was also safe. Older pressure-treated wood however was treated with Chromated Copper Arsenate (CCA) which had arsenic and could be toxic to birds. ~ Gizmo Plans March 29/21
The difference in price between a cedar fence board ($8.21 CDN) and a pressure treated one ($4.66 CND) was almost half – so I opted for the pressure treated.
Free birdhouse plans – Standard birdhouse
(2) 5 ¼” x 8 ½” base & roof 1 (13.3cm x 21.6cm)
(2) 5 ¼” x 4 ¼” sides. (13.3cm x 10.8cm)
(2) 5 ¼” x 7 ½” front and back. (13.3cm x 19cm)
(1) 4 5/8″ x 8 ½” roof 2. (11.75cm x 21.6cm)
Start by finding the centre of your 7 ½” boards. Set your mitre saw at a 45° angle and then cut your roofline from the centre point. Flip and do the other side.
Repeat for both the front and back of your birdhouse.
Mark a line down the centre of your front board – from the point down past where the 45° angle ends. Mark a second line across the board from the bottom of the 45° cut to the other. This is where you’ll set up your spade bit or circle saw to cut a hole.
This article “Best dimensions for birdhouse entrance holes” from The Spruce has a great breakdown of hole sizes for each type of bird.
I’m going to offer a suggestion to help with the error of my last birdhouse build…
start gluing (outdoor appropriate wood glue – Amazon affiliate link), and nailing the sides of your birdhouse to the front and back – but DON’T nail or glue it to the bottom yes. Use the bottom board to set your birdhouse straight, but we’re going to attach it with screws later so that it can easily be removed down the road for cleaning.
I used 1″ finishing nails in my brad nailer, but the last time I made birdhouses, the kids had a GREAT time using a hammer to put it together.
These free birdhouse plans include a “porch” overhang on the front. It’s not necessary, but I hate the idea of a baby bird falling, so this was my attempt at a little extra safety net.
Look how bowed that wood is 🤦🏻♀️ – makes me crazy, but what can you do? It’s all home improvement stores sell anymore.
Once you have all four sides glued and nailed, it’s time to add the base. For this we’re going to pre-drill holes up from the bottom of the base board into the sides, front, and back.
Make sure the extra “porch” section of the base is on the same side as the birdhouse hole. No point having a back porch if you can’t get to it. 😂
Do NOT use wood glue, but attach the base to the body with 1 ¼” screws. Deck screws are your best bet since they are coated for the elements.
This is where my plans differ from Ana’s again; I cut one side of the roof to be 5/8″ narrower that the other side.
Attach the 4 5/8″ roof piece to the top of your birdhouse, lining the edge up with the peak. Use outdoor appropriate wood glue and finishing nails.
Now attach the wider roof board so that it actually overlaps the first.
You’ll notice that the sides of your birdhouse don’t butt up against the roof. This is intentional. That small gap is covered by the roof overhang, so very little moisture should get it, but it allows for air circulation within the birdhouse itself.
I gave the whole birdhouse a decent sanding to clean it up a bit, and now it’s ready to hang!
Free birdhouse plans – pitched roof birdhouse
(1) 5 ¼” x 6 ½” base (13.3cm x 16.5cm)
(3) 5 ¼” x 9″ sides & back. (13.3cm x 22.8cm)
(1) 5 ¼” x 6″ front. (13.3cm x 15.2cm)
(1) 4 5/8″ x 8″ roof. (11.75cm x 20.3cm)
Set your mitre saw up at a 26° angle. Cut your two side pieces so that they will angle down from 9″ to 6″ (which is approximately 26º)
Using a spade bit or hole saw, cut the opening in the front (6″) board.
Attach the sides of your birdhouse to the back panel using outdoor appropriate wood glue and finishing nails. The sides are attached inside the front and back boards – see below.
I cheated a bit here, but I found it easier than setting up my table saw or mitre saw for a bevel cut on the front and back pieces. Instead, I used 60 grit sandpaper on my random orbit sander and sanded down the front and back boards so that they made a smooth continuation from the front to the back boards. It doesn’t have to be perfect, so sanding is a quick and dirty way to get ‘er done.
Attach the roof to the body with wood glue and finishing nails. You will have a slight overhang on the front of your birdhouse to help keep rain out.
As with the last birdhouse we just built, we’re going to line up the base with the bottom of the birdhouse, pre-drill holes in the front, back, and both sides, and then attach the base to the body with 1 ¼” wood screws. Do not glue the base if you ever want to be able to remove it for cleaning.
I had wood glue everywhere and the boards themselves were terribly bowed, so I gave this birdhouse a good sanding as well – just to remove the top coating of chemicals and give it a more uniform appearance.
I know the birds won’t care, but I do.
Oh! The ¼” dowels are from the dollar store – you can get a pack of a dozen for just over a dollar. I cut these with scissors, pre-drilled a hole in the face of the birdhouses and then attached them with wood glue.
All-in these free birdhouse plans will help you build two different birdhouses for less than $5 CDN each ($3.50 US, €3.20)
The birdhouse in the back is a semi-detached. I’m happy to share the plans with you if you’d like, but I wasn’t entirely positive that birds like to live in such close proximity?
For the best way to hang birdhouses, this article: “Birdhouse placement” is a great resource. A couple of things that I found interesting is that the ideal is to hang your birdhouses with the entrance facing east so that it gets morning sun, but doesn’t overheat inside in the afternoon. The article also says not to place birdhouses close to bird feeders as feeders attract predators that might attack the nest. Great tips – go read it!
For your Pinterest boards:
Amazon affiliate links to products I used:
That made me laugh!! For about $700 in tools you can build yourself a $4 birdhouse. 😂😂
It’s just crafting with bigger storage needs. lol
Have a great one!