Talking Birdhouse With A.J. Hamler

We sat down (metaphorically) with A.J. Hamler, author of the upcoming “Easy to Build Birdhouses” to get his take on the subject:

Q: Why birdhouses?

A: Birdhouses are among the most satisfying of woodworking projects. They’re fast to make, require only small amounts of materials, and can be made with just a basic toolkit. Besides, birds are sneaky. Leave your windows open for even a minute and they move right in. By making birdhouses you can keep those refrigerator-raiding birds outside where they belong.

Q: Can anyone make the birdhouse projects in the book?

A: I found that birds have a difficult time making them. It’s that lack-of-opposable-thumbs thing, I guess. For everyone else, the house projects are very accessible. Most can be made in just an hour or two. Even though the fancier houses take a bit longer because they have more parts and require some creative painting, all the procedures used in construction require only basic woodworking skills and tools. Opposable thumbs are pretty much a must, though.

Q: Are these good projects for kids?

A: With adult supervision, these are perfect family projects , they’re both easy and fun, plus a birdhouse project is a perfect introduction to woodworking for young people.

Q: How are the houses made for specific birds?

A: Like people, birds have preferences. By making the houses with dimensions they like and matching the entrance holes to the size of the birds, you can attract specific ones to your backyard. You still have to take the birds’ regional differences into account, though. I’ve had no luck attracting Amazonian parrots to my backyard, for example. But even if you can’t get one species to move in, you can still attract wrens , among the most desirable birds , with any birdhouse. Wrens will live anywhere, just like my cousin Cletus. But they’re cleaner and a lot nicer to have around.

Q: One of the most unique houses in the book looks like a spaceship. Was that difficult?

A: It’s actually one of the easier houses to make, because all the major components are standard PVC fittings from the home center. The hard part was finding some science-fiction geek with a spacesuit to pose for a photo with the finished birdhouse. Fortunately, I still had my old spacesuit up in the attic.

Q: The birdhouse made like an old-time box camera is great! How’d you come up with that?

A: Yeah, well, the first one I designed was made like a Web-Cam, but none of the birds would fit.

Look for Easy to Build Birdhouses this June from Popular Woodworking Books.

– David Thiel