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How to Make a Simple Bird Table
By Chris, Kev and family

This project is targeted at those with little woodworking knowledge or experience and few tools. Of course experts can have a go too! Throughout we will tell you what we used, but you can improvise and use whatever seems to fit the bill. This is a plain flat bird table, with sides to stop the food falling off, and designed to hang from a tree or similar. It took us about an hour to complete.

We decided to make our table 18" (470mm) square and we found a suitable offcut of 3/8" (10mm) exterior plywood lying around Kev's workshop. You may find something similar at your local builders' merchant. You can use any wood suitable for exterior use, and it can be thicker material if you wish. You might prefer something a little smaller eg 18" (470mm) x 12" (300mm) depending on the space available or the wood you have to hand.

Sawing the plywood
We got a pencil and ruler and drew our 18" square in one corner of the plywood. We found a rusty old hand saw and got to work. It was very rusty and very hard work! We enlisted the help of a passing teenager, under supervision of course!

Coffee break

With our square cut out, we searched for something to use for sides. Six foot (1860mm) of roofing batten, approximate dimensions 1/4" (6mm) by 1 1/2" (40mm) was chosen. We cut the batten into four sections that were 1/2" (10mm) shorter than each of the sides of our table so that water would be able to run off the corners. Again we enlisted the help of a passing loved one and called to the kitchen for assistance too!

Sanding
Our next task was to sand down all the cut pieces of wood. This was important, as we did not want to risk injury to our anticipated visitors, or ourselves!. We used fairly rough sandpaper.

Nailing

We decided to use 1" (25mm) annular, or ring shanked nails (galvanized will do the job just as well) which would hold fast in the wood, to fix the sides to the table. We needed 12 for our table. Using a 1/8" (2.5mm) drill bit we drilled the holes for the nails, through the sides and a short way into the plywood - not too deep as the nails won't hold. If you don't have a drill use plain (smooth ungalvanised) 1" (25mm) nails and don't drill holes. Although they will not hold quite as well they will be less likely to split the wood.

Turn the table vertically upright and drill the first nail hole 2" (50mm) from the corner of the table through both the table and batten (see picture). Drill the second hole 2" (50mm) from the other end and drill the third hole at the centre point between the two. Make sure the hole will be in the centre of the table edge, to ensure a solid fixing and so the wood doesn't split. Then hammer in the nails fairly gently, again so that the wood doesn't split.

Finnished table

Our next concern was to apply fixings that would enable us to hang the table. We used net curtain eyes, but small cup hooks would do, just ensure that the hook isn't so large that the sharp bit protrudes from the bottom of the table and/or splits the wood. It's really important to make sure that the hooks are as secure as possible to hold the table securely. If you can screw the hooks or eyes into the table manually then do so. They need to be about 1 1/4" (30mm) diagonally in from the edge of each corner. If it is too hard to screw them in directly start the hole (to a 2mm depth) with a small meat skewer or a very small nail and then screw them in.

Now to hang it! We don't have a hardware store nearby that sells chain by the yard/metre so we obtained very cheaply four 2' (600mm) long key chains with belt clips at the bottom and keyrings at the top. We attached the four key rings to an "S" hook look alike for easy hanging at the chosen location. This wasn't really necessary, nylon rope or string will suffice for hanging.

End product

We contemplated using some kind of finish to preserve the wood, but it really is best for the birds not to, so we left it plain. After all we can always make another one very quickly and cheaply when this wears out! If you do decide to use a preservative, use a non-toxic timber treatment (not paint or creosote).

Next we chose a location where the birds would have plenty of look out points and perches and one that was high enough that cats could not jump onto it. This seemed ideal, but I'm not sure the kids will agree!

Had we decided to make a freestanding table, we would have omitted the hooks/eyes and obtained a treated softwood post. Hammer the post into the ground until solid, stand the table on top (centralised) and hammer a 4" (100mm) or 6" (150mm) nail through both table and post. Alternatively, drill a hole first and use a coach bolt to fasten the two together.

Fixings

Here are some of the fixings we used: from left to right - net curtain eye, galvanized 1" (25mm) nail, annular 1" (25mm) nail, coach bolt.

If you have a go at this project, we'd love to hear your observations and maybe even see pictures of your results, so we can post them here. If anything isn't clear please email us so that the page can be revised and improved.

Good luck!


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