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Hi there Fraternity,

Woke up yesterday to the first signs of winter was upon us, a crisp white covering of virgin snow lying over our garden, a scene that would gladden any heart, a sign that Christmas was on its way, but not for yours truly, instead a vice like grip on my heart ensued. I knew when my wife noticed the change in weather, my fate would be sealed. As I stood with my first morning cup of tea, looking out of kitchen window, protected by my double glazing, my good wife appeared at my side. What are you doing she asked, thinking I replied. You know I don’t like you thinking, she replied. Yes dear, I sighed.
As we stood side by side taking in the winters scene, I knew it was coming and I braced myself.

Why don’t you go and build something she suggested. It’s freezing out there I countered. Layers she offered. What’s layers I asked. Three jerseys, get going.

Yes, lads you have guessed it, hyperthermia alley.

Now because I had a more than inkling my wife was trying to make my retirement as short as possible, I took certain measures. When I built my workshop, I made sure it was fully insulated on all four walls, including the floor and ceiling. I also double glazed the windows, and finally my piece de resistance, a gas fired warm air heater (see photo) that takes about 5 minutes to heat the shop, (photo) and with the levels of insulation it’s hardly ever on. I feel these measures should give my retirement some longevity.

Now while I stood there in my workshop staring out at the same scene I once enjoyed from my kitchen I noticed the activity on my bird feeder table, which was considerable. Now I had earlier in the year built a bug hotel much to the consternation of our American members who couldn’t quite believe I was building a Hilton for something that wanted to kill them. This time it would be a winter bird roosting hotel.

Apparently, all you need is a one hole opening, roosting perches and a nest type bowl at the bottom.

As I started to sketch my upcoming bird project. I nearly jumped out of my skin, she is like a ninja. What are you going to make she enquired, and why is it so warm in here? I explained that I was working on something highly technical and as a woman she probably wouldn’t understand. After I extracted my pozi drive, I set to work on my Hole in the wall hotel.

Managed to rake up a length of 6x1 inch red wood. Just the right amount of wood. All cut to length. Now I am not going into details on the build as the photos show all.

Disaster ensued half way through as after gluing up I clamped it to death and left it in my boiler room overnight, big mistake, although the box itself was ok the front came out with a severe belly on it. The clue should have been all 10 clamps lying on the boiler room floor, didn’t click. Now I had no wood left so borrowed my wife’s steam oven and gave it half an hour on full steam at reg 200 degrees. Clamped it flat and left it overnight. Worked a treat, pancake flat. Took it out to me workshop and it fitted perfectly apart from the width which had shrunk by a good half inch.

Then proceeded to rout out all the checks/rabbits with my router table (photo). Before anyone comments, its work in progress. Started out life as a butcher chopping block. It’s rough and ready and tries to main me a couple of times a week but does the job, just.

Depression set in, and as I sat there, feeling sorry for myself, ninja appeared. What’s wrong she enquired. Look what’s happened, and I showed her. Oh, she said, why don’t you punish it she said.
Why. Well it’s obviously shrunk deliberately just to annoy you, yes it has I agreed. How will I punish it I asked? Shove it through the band saw, that’ll teach it. Better still the table saw I countered and proceeded to slice it up with gusto, confidence fully restored I set about finding a replacement front as my Ninja Assassin left, her work done.

Struggling, couldn’t find a bit of redwood anywhere, finally settled on a 600mm oak drawer front from an old kitchen I had ripped out. You can still see the decor routing which I left as it wouldn’t be seen. Passed it through the planer a couple of times and it worked out perfectly.

The roof I did as imitation grey slates, just cutting pvc tar backed flashing into 30mm strips and gluing on with a primer and knife marking pattern on to them, bonded pattern

The front face is on a spring catch and clips off for cleaning etc.

The oak drawer front didn’t match the redwood, so a coat of oak stain on the redwood and a couple of yacht varnish and up it went on the garage wall.

It’s not a piece of art, very minimalistic, but kept me busy and cheap to make and ran me though a plethora of emotions.

Colin
Scotland
 

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Oliver (Prof. Henry)
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As much as I love the project, your story is even more entertaining. :smile:
 

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Theo
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Huh, thought for a minute you were putting us on, because I had never heard of such a thing. But I googled it, and sure enough, they are real. And you are doing a nice job on that one too.
https://www.google.com/search?sourc...1j0i131k1j0i10k1j0i131i20i264k1.0.MY2QEnXzDXQ

By the way, people might call them bird feeding tables, but the truth is they are actually squirrel feeding tables, because is pretty much impossible to keep squirrels from them.
 
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Theo
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"After I extracted my pozi drive..."

Healing nicely is it? ;)

Great job, Colin. I have a question though (don't I always).
Over here, on this side of the pond, the access opening size is critical; too large and some of the 'bully' birds will predate the hotel/nesting box. Another reason for not putting an exterior perch on the front.
See what hole size particular birds prefer in their homes
 

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I also feed birds (and the random chipmonk), especially in winter. I was thinking about building a cluster of nesting sites, something like the picture. But bird houses should be made of fairly rough, natural wood, without external perches, smallish holes, and deep enough so predator birds can't reach the (edible) babies. Here's a picture of a plan, but add a lot of height and put the opening near the top or the birds won't go for it.

My neighbor planted a long row of junipers along the fence, very dense foliage and full of nests. You can't see the nests, but when I whistle when I put food out, 40-50 birds at a time come flying out. They have obviously trained me to feed them, but they're so cute with all their fluttering and jumping about.

We have a feed store nearby that orders 50 lb bags of baker grade shelled sunflower seeds for me. About $45 and lasts about 5-6 weeks. No mess! The chipmonk is being lulled into thinking the free feed is safe, so I will eventually trap it and move it to a safe spot in the desert. A couple of years ago, I captured and moved a dozen of them, and my neighbors cleared out their little buggers. We were chipmonk free for awhile.

Really clever and amusing post Colin. My wife kicks me out from time to time as well.
 

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Tree rodents: between the Great Horned Owls and the Sharp Shinned Hawks in the forest behind us, squirrels and chipmunks don't have a long life expectancy here.
A bird feeding station is like a drive through fast food joint for the predators.
 

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I’m thinking maybe a web cam inside the hotel would be kinda neat ?
I've had a bird nesting on a shelf just outside the front door for years and I thought about putting a camera out there, but the bird poop got to be disgusting, so I took the well used nest down. At least 4 generations of fledglings launched from there. We do have a predator cat that hides under a huge rock rose bush hear where I scatter the seed. The dog chases the cat off every morning, but once in awhile the cat gets lucky. Mother nature plays by some pretty harsh rules.
 

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I finally got around to putting up those Xmas lights on the frontdeck. Unfortunately they run right past the Hummer feeder, I mean maybe 10" above the feeder. The Hummers were somewhat perturbed at my presence and let me know it. I'm talkin' in my face!
Not clear on the size difference apparently.
 

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You have done a super job. I hope you have thanked the Ninja properly for the motivation and inspiration as well. I do have one more thought for you. The work done is superb, but I think you could maybe make a little money in your retirement, I think you can do this, by taking up writing as hobby as well. You have the woodworking mastered, and it appears you could and can write a line or two as well. I enjoyed the project and the pictures and all, but the story kept the wood flying to.
 
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