Bird houses: finishes to use/avoid? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 21 Old 06-07-2013, 05:31 PM Thread Starter
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Bird houses: finishes to use/avoid?

Hey guys, I received a phone call from a lady wanting 4-5 different custom made bird houses for her yard. She's supposed to be emailing me so we can work out more details. But I was wondering: are there any specific finishes that are better suited for bird houses than others. Perhaps even more importantly, are there any types of finishes one should AVOID using on bird houses (perhaps because they may pose a danger to birds)?

Thanks for any feedback.

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post #2 of 21 Old 06-07-2013, 05:51 PM
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I always use cedar to build my birdhouses and if I can, I prefer to keep them all natural. If I have a client that insists on painting them, I try to push them towards choosing lighter colours so the houses don't turn into solar ovens. As far a type of paint, just an exterior paint. I avoid getting paint on the inside of the hole/house by filling it with newspaper while painting.

I also find adding these hole protectors adds a nice touch to the house as well.

http://www.leevalley.com/en/wood/pag...at=1,250,43298

Or there is this one.

http://www.leevalley.com/en/garden/p...=2,10719,67513

Sorry ... got a little off topic.

Btw ... always have low vacancy rates in my units!
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post #3 of 21 Old 06-07-2013, 08:46 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you, Patrick. That's some great information. I was already thinking of using cedar. But good call on lighter colored paint (if any at all). And that's interesting about armouring the hole.

Great stuff, man!

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post #4 of 21 Old 06-07-2013, 11:31 PM
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Also avoid bright colors. These houses are being built for birds who prefer conspicuous looking houses. They really do hate attention!

Its' never hot or cold in New Hampshire... its' always seasonal.
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post #5 of 21 Old 06-08-2013, 12:34 AM
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These are a couple I built. But the living quarters are only in the top 7 or 8 inches or so. When the birds go in, look at the layout, they say 'it looks bigger from the outside'. Haha!
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post #6 of 21 Old 06-08-2013, 01:32 AM
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Any exterior paint would be fine to use for the bird houses however some would take longer before you could put them to use than others. It's the smell (off gassing) you need to check before making delivery. As long as it smells like paint it shouldn't be put to use. Latex paints would cure faster then oil based paints. It would also cure faster with thinner coats and let each coat thoroughly dry.
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post #7 of 21 Old 06-08-2013, 02:04 AM
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If on the off chance she might be looking for bat houses, you cannot use "new" wood, you have to use old wood reclaimed from an older building possibly. ken
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post #8 of 21 Old 06-08-2013, 08:33 AM
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I used to live near a farm in Northwest Indiana that boasted the largest bluebird population in Indiana. The owner was in his late 70's and had been making bluebird houses most of his life. He explained that though his houses were not pretty to our eyes the birds saw them as home sweet home. He never put any finish on them and he used 3 designs. None were very pleasing to me. As his houses have made many bird magazine articles over the years I guess if you want a good bird population, you might consider following his lead.

Roger from the Great Horicon Swamp
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post #9 of 21 Old 06-08-2013, 08:50 AM
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Originally Posted by khowald View Post
If on the off chance she might be looking for bat houses, you cannot use "new" wood, you have to use old wood reclaimed from an older building possibly. ken
For real? I keep wanting to build a bat house, since I know we have bats in the area, but my wife isn't thrilled with the idea. I hadn't heard about using old wood.

What's the deal? They don't like the smell of the new wood maybe?
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post #10 of 21 Old 06-09-2013, 12:31 AM Thread Starter
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I appreciate it, guys. I'll have to see what the lady has in mind and take it from there. But now I've got confident direction: confirming some of my previous thinking while pointing out some things I hadn't even considered. :thumbups:

patrick2165, I don't think I've ever seen bird houses like that. That's pretty cool!

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post #11 of 21 Old 06-09-2013, 01:31 AM
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+1 for using cedar and not finishing. Oh, I'm planning to build a bat house, too, even if my hunting nephew claims they are the prime source of rabies in Ontario. I don't think so.

Cheers,
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post #12 of 21 Old 06-09-2013, 08:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Chaincarver Steve View Post
I appreciate it, guys. I'll have to see what the lady has in mind and take it from there. But now I've got confident direction: confirming some of my previous thinking while pointing out some things I hadn't even considered. :thumbups:

patrick2165, I don't think I've ever seen bird houses like that. That's pretty cool!
find out what kind of bird's are in her area ? each type of bird has a different size hole, like the jenny wren hole size is 7/8" , you can do a google search and find other hole size's . i just made a doz from pilot wood which is free wood , the best kind , with out any finish on them,
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post #13 of 21 Old 06-09-2013, 03:29 PM Thread Starter
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You know, I, personally, was never all that interested in making bird houses. But the more I think about it the more appealing the idea becomes. Plus, the lure of making money from it doesn't hurt.

And if one wants REAL birdhouse inspiration they need look no farther than the amazing work by Cranbrook2: http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f13/e...dhouses-18439/ Man that guy does some awesome work!

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post #14 of 21 Old 06-09-2013, 04:49 PM
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The Audobon society has a lot of information on bird house design.

http://birds.audubon.org/faq/where-c...s-each-species

Check your state to find which species are in most need of habitat.

On this page is a link to some design specifications.

http://birds.audubon.org/sites/defau...ox_chart_0.pdf
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post #15 of 21 Old 06-23-2013, 07:29 PM
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I love to see what you come up with! Just playing around in the shop, bird houses is one of the things I make. Always wanting different designs.
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post #16 of 21 Old 06-23-2013, 11:04 PM Thread Starter
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Unfortunately, I haven't heard anything back from the lady. I don't know what's going on. But I definitely appreciate the feedback and, if I can't get back in touch with her there's a very good chance of my still making one or two for my own yard. The idea of making one has me actually wanting to make one.

But, hopefully I can get contact with the lady again. She works for a customer of my friend's sharpening business.

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post #17 of 21 Old 02-21-2018, 10:27 PM
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I did some wood burning on a Wren cedar birdhouse that came out great. Want to protect it from the Nebraskans weather..

Wondering if the Cedar Oil that you recommended is better than Linseed Oil for the out of doors projects.
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post #18 of 21 Old 02-22-2018, 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Chaincarver Steve View Post
Hey guys, I received a phone call from a lady wanting 4-5 different custom made bird houses for her yard. She's supposed to be emailing me so we can work out more details. But I was wondering: are there any specific finishes that are better suited for bird houses than others. Perhaps even more importantly, are there any types of finishes one should AVOID using on bird houses (perhaps because they may pose a danger to birds)?

Thanks for any feedback.
Birds seem to have no preference to what type finish is applied to a well made birdhouse. No finish, oil based or latex, as well as wood roof or metal roof seem to have no bearing on the occupants.

If you don't have time to do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it over?
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post #19 of 21 Old 02-24-2018, 01:44 AM
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You can try anything you like finishing it on the outside, but it won't hold up in the sun and moisture -- even 10 coats of spar urethane. Cedar's good. Using an outdoor paint as a sealer has shown some good results. I'm going to see how a marine grade epoxy works on some birdhouses, the portions I spilled on my driveway have been very promising.
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post #20 of 21 Old 02-24-2018, 09:24 AM
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I have only built bluebird houses and only built them using popular straight from the sawmill. No finish. I know one of them lasted 10 years at least, then we moved to the city. They need to be out in the open or close to it and about fence post high. I am talking about farm fences.

Don in Murfreesboro, TN.
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