The Birdhouse is a simple Christmas ornament I made of walnut, maple, a wooden dowel rod, and a small bird I purchased at Hobby Lobby.
The first thing I did was to prepare the wood. I prepped a maple blank to be 2″ by 2″ by 4″. This will be the birdhouse body. In hindsight, I could have made this block much shorter, 2 1/2″ would have been sufficient. I also cut a piece of walnut 2″ by 2″ by 2″. This will be the roof of the birdhouse. Next, I turned both pieces of wood into cylinders using a roughing gouge. While turning the cylinder, I turned a tenon on one end of each block. I will use the tenon to hold the work while completing the turning process.
Figure 2 and 3 show the basic dimensions of the Birdhouse ornament.
First I turned the birdhouse’s main body. I mounted the maple block into a chuck using the tenon cut earlier. I made sure the tailstock end was flat using a skew. Then, I used the skew to make the top shape of the birdhouse. Next, I locked the lathe so it could not spin and marked a straight line on the cylinder from end to end. I marked a point 5/8″ from the tailstock end and drilled a 3/8″ hole 1/2″ deep. I then marked another point 1″ from the same end and drilled a 1/8″ hole 1/2″ deep.
To reduce the weight of the ornament I hollowed it out using a 1 1/16″ frostner bit. I drilled this hole 7/8″ deep. The particular bit I used was a Bormax Fagma frostner bit. They are not cheap but they cut wood like it is butter.
Once the hole was drilled, I placed a live center in the hole to reduce the amount of vibration in the blank while I separated the birdhouse from the wood blank using a parting tool.
The best way I have found to hold the birdhouse while I finish the shape is using a pin jaw mounted to my chuck. This jaw fits inside the 1 1/16″ hole I drilled earlier. I placed the birdhouse on the pin and spread the pin jaws out to get a tight grip on the birdhouse. I then finished shaping the birdhouse with a skew.
When you use the skew correctly the ornament requires almost no sanding! The chips are super cool looking, like steel wool.
Before removing the birdhouse from the jaw chuck I applied two coats of shellac.
Next, I turned the roof of the birdhouse using the walnut blank. I chucked it up to the lathe using the tenon. I drew three lines: one for the top of the ornament, another 1″ below it for the roof’s starting point, and a third 1 1/8″ from the top for the lip on the roof’s bottom edge. Below the bottom line, I turned a tenon. I will use this tenon to attach the roof of the birdhouse to the birdhouse itself.
Next I used a parting tool to set the diameter of my tenon, the top of the lip and the top of the roof. I used a bedan to finish out the tenon. Then, using a 40/40 ground spindle gouge, I shaped the roof. I continued to shape the top of the roof till I removed the waste wood and left a small, flat surface. (See Figure 14)
I then drilled a 1/16″ hole in the top. Once the hole was drilled I sanded the roof and put two coats of shellac on it. After it had dried, I put an eyelet in the 1/16″ hole and using a parting tool I parted off the roof leaving about an 1/8″ tenon on the bottom.
To complete the birdhouse, I inserted the tenon on the roof into the birdhouse body and glued it using Titebond glue. Then I glued a short 1/8″ dowel rod into the small hole using CA glue. For the final touch, I attached a bird to the dowel rod using a hot glue gun.
I have made a bunch of these birdhouses with many different kinds of wood. Most of the houses looked best when I used the same wood for the roof and the house itself.