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How to Make a Birdhouse, Easy Modern Bird House Plans

by on Jul 11, 2023

Learn how to make a modern birdhouse with our easy-to-follow birdhouse plans. Perfect for beginners and doesn’t require power tools! Detailed instructions below.

A few years ago, I made a mid-century inspired wooden birdhouse, modeled after the iconic Case Study houses. I created it using my growing collection of woodworking tools, like a table saw and router table, cutting complex angles, and using joints like rabbets and dadoes. It was fun and challenging, and nearly three years outside later, it’s still very strong and holding up wonderfully.

But, of course I know that most folks, even other creative-types and DIYsters, don’t have access to all these tools. So, I wondered: is it possible to come up with a modern, handmade, simple birdhouse plan that doesn’t required bunches of power tools and knowledge of complex joinery?

Of course it is. So, here’s a DIY simple birdhouse tutorial, perfect for a beginner, that requires only an electric drill and a few toolbox staples. The whole thing can be made for around $10 in materials, and in just an hour or two.  

Yield: 1 modern birdhouse

How to Make a Modern Birdhouse

modern birdhouse

Learn how to make an easy birdhouse with these modern birdhouse plans and just a few simple tools and supplies.



  • Crescent pliers to cut dowels, or other cutting pliers
  • Electric drill and drill bits: 1/4", 5/16", 1 3/8" Forstner bit
  • Optional: Clamps


    1. Head to the home improvement center and find a nice, straight cedar 1x6" with a pleasing grain and few knots. Dimensional lumber is actually smaller than listed, so a 1x6" is actually 3/4 x 5 1/2". Weird, right? Have a nice associate cut yours to the sizes listed above; you can probably make three or four of these guys with an 8' or 10' length. Then, find a small  sheet of luan (probably 2x4', about $4) in the sheet goods section. Luan is a plywood used to make canoes, so it's certain to be waterproof, important for outside. Have it cut to the sizes above, and on your way out, grab a 1/4" dowel rod, and a 1 3/8" forstner drill bit. (Get a set if you can. You'll pay less per bit, and they're useful for all sorts of things).
      prepare wood boards for DIY birdhouse
    2. When you get home, chuck in the 1 3/8" Forstner bit, and drill a hole in the center, about 1/3 of the way down from the top, of one of the 5 1/2" pieces. My center point was 1 13/16" from the top, and 2 3/4" from each side.
      drill a hole using a Forstner bit
    3. Glue everything together into a square, with the 5 1/2" lengths in the front and rear, and the shorter ones on the side. Include the 4x4" piece of luan on the bottom as a floor.  Be sure to turn the faces so that the end grain faces up, keeping the sides looking nice and clean. If you have clamps, they'll be helpful here; if not, just use some painters tape to hold everything together for the first hour or so. (But, seriously, 12-14" bar clamps are a great DIY investment, and can be had for under $10 each.)
      glue the sides into a square
    4. Once everything has dried, find the center line along the face and the back, and drill 1" deep hole 1" from each side with the 5/16" bit. Use a piece of painter's tape to mark the depth on the drill bit. Then, drill matching holes on the back.
      created at: 04/26/2011
    5. Then, drill a 1/4" hole in the birdhouse's roof to accept the dowels at 2 1/2" from the front and side. It's best to drill the back holes about 30-degrees and the front around 40, to welcome the angle of the roof. If this is too overwhelming, don't worry about it. Just drill it at 90-degrees and make the roof flat. Easy peasy.
      drilling holes in birdhouse
    6. Then, cut the dowels into rough, too-long lengths, and assemble everything for a dry fit. You can make the roof sit as far away from the walls as you'd like. Mine is about 1 1/4" in the front, and 1/2" in the back.
      created at: 04/26/2011
    7. Use the pliers or a small saw (if you have one) to cut the dowels flush to the roof, and use some rough grit sandpaper to sand everything flat.
      cutting dowels
    8. Fill the dowel holes on the roof only with glue and let dry. If you're particular (like me), you can use wood filler to fill in any gaps, but that's totally optional.

      We're going to let the roof just float on the body, so that it can be easily removed to clean out any old nests to welcome new birds. So! Be sure not to glue the dowels into the body. They're a 1/16" bigger so everything slides out easily.
      gluing roof
    9. Sand everything smooth, and paint the roof/dowel combo with exterior grade paint. You don't have to finish the body, as cedar is naturally decay-resistant. If you do, be sure to use something that won't hurt the birds, like boiled linseed oil.
      painting roof
    10. Lastly, you can install the birdhouse. I chose to mount it on its own stand, using 1/2" black pipe and a floor flange. I installed a 3" x 3" piece of cedar inside to provide a structure to accept the screws. You could also flush mount it to a house using mending plates, or strap it to a tree.


I put mine in the ground on Thursday evening, and by Saturday morning, a beautiful gold finch was already coming in and out, and there's the beginnings of a nest in there already! Awesome.

How-to Build a Mid-Century Modern Birdhouse of Your Own Design

Anyone interested in design and architecture can appreciate the brilliant combination of modern materials and contemporary lifestyle patterns from the classic mid-century modern ranch home. But rare is the lucky individual that’ll every live in an Eichler or an iconic Case Study House. Heck, most of us will never even live in California. If you’re interested in a more creative approach to building birdhouses, here’s some general guidelines about how to bring your vision to life!

Mid century DIY birdhouse

So bring some modernism to your house, whatever its era, by creating a home for your native bird population by building a mid-century birdhouse.

I’ve included my measurements and process here, but feel free to model yours after architecture you love. And don’t worry if you don’t have a full collection of woodworking tools. You can build a birdhouse from these modern birdhouse plans with any handsaw, an electric drill, and glue.

Or, you can borrow tools from a local tool lending library or have the employees at your local lumberyard or home center make the cuts for you.

1. Design your birdhouse with plain old graph paper and a pencil. Consider the size and weight of your final project.

2. Create a “cut list” by listing the measurements of each of you facades, i.e. base, front wall, back wall, left wall, right wall, roof one, roof two, etc. Something to consider (which I did AFTER mine was glued together), is a way to access the inside of the space to clean out old nests, pests, etc. A trap door in the bottom or back, seems like it’d would the trick. If you’re following my design, the inside wall of the ‘carport’ area would be a good option.

how to make a bird house | bird house plans

3. Cut your wood to size. I used Baltic birch plywood, cause I like the hi-ply of the exposed edges. Soft woods like pine and cedar are fine as long as you’re painting the final product.

The edge of a white picture frame is shown.

4. Do any extra joinery cuts that you might wish. For example, I cut 1/2″ rabbets  in my side walls, and 1/2″ dados at a 1/4″ depth where all my walls sat in the base avoid using large mechanical fasteners, like screws, and as a learning exercise in making stopped dado cuts.

A used piece of wood with white paint and grooves in sit's on the table.

5. Assemble your pieces for a dry fit, check it over, and then once satisfied, glue the whole thing together, adding small nails or even screws if necessary. Let it dry overnight.

A wooden container sits in a shop.

6. Finish your project as you wish. Remember, this is going to be outside, and raw wood doesn’t stand up to the forces very well. Whatever you use, be sure it’s safe for the birds to live in. Don’t do anything to the inside, just the exposed surfaces. Paint is really the best option, but anything that’s designed for long-term outdoor use will work, as long as you’re up to reapply every few seasons.

7. I chose to mount mine free standing, but you could hang yours from a tree or set it atop a fence or handrail on a deck or balcony. To mount as I did, screw a 1/2″ black pipe flange to the bottom of the birdhouse (using pilot holes to avoid splitting the wood), and attach it to a long 1/2″ black pipe, both of which are available in the plumbing section of the hardware store or home center. Purchase a pipe at least two feet longer than your desired height, as you really need to sink it to eliminate any wobble. If you have a permanent location, digging a bigger hole and filling it with some Quikrete is a good idea. (Don’t be afraid, just follow the directions on the package).

8. Create a choice cocktail in a vintage martini glass or tiki mug, throw on some bossa nova, and watch your new feathered friends come home.

Looking for more backyard bird ideas?

A bird feeder with a red roof

Note: In researching the design for my birdhouse, I found these birdhouse designs from Weiler to be very helpful.

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