The 'Surf Front' Hand-Sculpted Birdhouse
Bradford Sweet builds his 'Surf Front' birdhouse with a gutter, textures the roof with latex caulk and more.
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When Bradford Sweet of Relay, Md., was 14 years old, he found himself giftless and penniless just two days before Mother’s Day. Fortunately for him, his parents owned a cabinetry business and he was able to raid the recycling bin for some scrap wood. He quickly transformed the wood, along with some soda cans and latex paint, into an adorable birdhouse for his mom (that would have taken most people months to complete). Today, Bradford frequently designs his birdhouses to match the homes typical of his historic Baltimore neighborhood or of some "Surf Front" getaway he dreams up in his mind.
Materials and Tools:
1/4" metal tubing
1/4" and 3/4" wood dowels
latex paint; blue, brown, red and white
latex caulking and caulking gun
3/4" wire nails
1/2" wooden bead
flex shaft carving tool
1/2" and 1" hole makers
nail gun - optional
1. Sketch out the design of the birdhouse onto scrap wood.
2. Cut the scrap wood for the house using a band saw. Wear safety glasses. Two of the sides will have two pieces of wood to allow for a space for the stilts to sit and a small wood strip attached to allow for the removable bottom to sit. Cut the following pieces:
- Two peaked sides 4-1/4" x 12" tall at the peak
- Two 3-1/2" x 6" rectangle sides
- Two small 3-1/2" x 2-1/2" rectangle sides
- Two small 3-1/2" x 1" wood strips to hold removable bottom
3. Attach all sides and pieces together using wood glue and brad nails either with a hammer or a nail gun (figure A).
4. Cut the porch pieces including the steps, triangle wedge for the porch, and wooden dowels for stilts and interior hook support with a scroll saw. Attach the porch parts and wooden dowels with wood glue and brad nails (figure D).
5. Place the four-sided piece on wood to trace out the base.
6. Place the birdhouse on a piece of wood for the base and trace around the bottom of the birdhouse. Then mark an oval for the outside of the base. Cut out the hole indicated by the bottom of the birdhouse. Cut out the outside oval shape. Attach the base with wood glue and brad nails (figure E). Round the edges of the base with a grinder or sander.
7. Cut and carve the awnings, porch posts, surfboards and peak trim with a scroll saw and a flex shaft carving tool.
8. Nail and glue all awnings, columns (figure F) and ginger bread (figure G) sections to the house.
9. Carve out the windows and doors with a flex shaft.
10. Drill the hole for the bird entrance and perch in the top front part of the birdhouse (figure H).
11. Prime all parts of the birdhouse with latex primer. While the primer is still dry, sprinkle sand on the base so it sticks to the primer. Let dry.
12. Paint the birdhouse details such as the vertical lines, the surf shop sign, and moldings using desired colors of latex paint (figure J).
13. Measure and cut aluminum flashing for the roof, adding about an inch all around to bend the sharp edges under. Bend the bottom ends with square pliers to form gutters. Cut pieces of copper tubing for the downspouts.
14. Attach the aluminum pieces to the roof using nails. Bend the sharp edges of the aluminum flashing under and attach the aluminum flashing to the wood roof with 3/4-inch wire nails overlapping the gutters.
15. Punch a hole in the gutter with a screwdriver and insert the copper tubing into the hole with wire nails. Bend the tubing at the end to resemble a downspout (figure L).
16. Drill two holes in the peak of the roof through the dowel underneath and insert a bent piece of metal tubing.
17. Turn the birdhouse over and bend the metal tubing over so the hook will not pull out when the birdhouse is hung. At the same time attach the wooden bottom with the hole to the bottom with screws. This will sit on the pieces installed earlier.
18. Texture the main roof and porch roof with latex caulking.
A cute bungalow gets its interior colors toned down and its backyard revamped.