Pallet to Ecofriendly Bird House

Submitted by Terry McGuire

            The Wood Shop at Collington is an underutilized resource.  Woodworking is the perfect activity for residents of Collington.  Woodworking can challenge our minds, strengthen our bodies, and provide opportunities to meet other residents.  In addition, we can repair cherished a piece of furniture or create something for ourselves or as a gift.

            Wood working does not have to be expensive.  Collington throws away 100’s of wooden pallets each year.  I wanted to see how long it would take to turn a pallet into a bird house.  I selected the pallet shown because the slats were 5 ½ inches wide.  In addition, the slats were nearly 3/4-in thick. This type of pallet is very common in the Collington dumpsters.

Starting Pallet
Wooden Boards
Finished Birdhouse

          On Day One I moved the pallet into the shop to dry.  On Day Two,   I cut the pallet into boards using the circular saw.  In theory, there is enough wood in a single pallet for two to three bird houses.  However, a great deal of pallet wood is damaged and not usable. 

            The usable boards were the correct width (5 ½ inches wide) so I cut the pieces to length with the sliding compound miter saw.  I needed two pieces wider than 5 ½ inches for the roof.  I selected some reasonably flat pieces and straightened one edge on the jointer.  I then trimmed the boards on the table saw using safety bypass mode. These pieces were then glued and clamped to make wider boards.  I let the glue dry overnight.  Before I left the shop, I drilled the entry hole in the front piece.  The hole was sized for a Carolina wren using 1 1/8″ Fortsner bit. This hole is too small for a house sparrow.

            On Day Three I cut the roof pieces using the table saw and the compound saw. I assembled the box using corner clamps to line up the pieces and used the 18 gauge brad nailer to join the pieces together.   The roof in hinged opens for clean out.  I used a recycled hinge on the roof and a new hook-and-eye to close the roof.  I have installed a screw eye to hang this box from a tree. (It could also be mounted on a pole).   Total time was about three hours.  Total cost – less than $2.00.   You could also paint the bird box.

            Making this bird box is an excellent teaching tool.  It uses many power tools (circular saw, table saw, sliding compound miter saw, drill press, hand drill and brad nailer).  In addition, it teaches how to glue up narrow boards to make a wider board and how to use corner clamps to make a right-angle box.

            The Collington Wood Shop is looking for new users and new members.  If you are interested in learning more about the Wood Shop (or better yet becoming an active member of the Wood Shop) please contact Terry McGuire ( or 908-328-4100.


Posted on September 11, 2022 by Dennis Evans