By Jeff Jacobson
As winter recedes and crocuses begin pushing their way through thawed soil, you know that songbirds will be arriving soon. Next spring, why not build a new home for our feathered visitors by spending a few warm hours on the lathe?
Actually, there aren't many birdhouses that can be made on the lathe, but here's a pretty unique alternative to the traditional "four walls and a roof' style. This apple design is easy to make and will always be a pleasure to see hanging from a tree limb in your backyard. To build it, you'll need a lathe with at least a 12" swing capacity.
Some of you might be concerned about the bright red paint used on the birdhouse, but don't worry. According to bird specialist John K. Terres, in his book "Songbirds in Your Garden," applying a wood preservative to the outside of the birdhouse will prolong the life of the structure. After letting it dry for three to four days, you can paint the house any color you wish. Painting the house should enable the pine to stand up to the effects of sunlight and foul weather for quite a few years before you'll need to retire it and turn a new one.
When it comes to building a birdhouse, here's an additional point that the experts all agree on: leave off the perch. It tends to attract less desirable bird species.
I chose pine to make this birdhouse, because it has reasonable exterior durability and is readily available from local lumberyards and home centers. Other good choices include cedar and redwood, but neither of these turn as well as pine.
The turning blank is made up of seven pieces cut from a twelve foot 2" x 12". Each piece, except for
the outside two, has its center portion removed so that when the birdhouse is assembled the inside will be hollow. The lengths and widths of the picccs are graduated in size to make the turning easier. The corners of the middle piece (piece 1) are cut away, leaving a l'/Along extension for mounting the birdhouse blank onto the lathe's drive center (see Elevation Drawing, page 58). The outside pieces (pieces 4) and those immediately inside them (pieces 3) have vertical edges ripped at a 45° angle.
As much as possible, cut around the knots in the
If you like turning, you'll have a great time with this colorful apple-shaped birdhouse. Laminated construction allows you to hollow the house before it's mounted on the lathe and, once you're ready, turning the pine is a breeze.
Front View - 107i"
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