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X-Wing Birdhouse



This is one time when I suggest you watch the video instead of just reading the project here. I think the video is much more dynamic and fun.

This spring, my wife decided we should make some birdhouses to help attract native birds to our backyard. At almost the same time, I was invited by some other youtube woodworkers to mark "star wars day" with a project. The idea is that several of us would make a project, release it on May fourth, and we would link to each other's project as well, for extra impact.

(** May the fourth, as in "May the fourth/force be with you", just in case you really don't know that.)

After some thought, and a lot of headscratching, I was stumped for ideas. One of my sons had been helping my wife with the birdhouse plans, and suggested that I try making a star wars birdhouse. So I did.

There are many many free plans on the web for birdhouses. We were trying to attract a Caroline Wren, and this was the plan that we were working from. When building a birdhouse there are a few key dimensions that you need: the size of the base, the size of the opening, the height of the ceiling, and the height of the opening above the base. All of those vary by bird species, and it is best to stick with the recommended dimensions.

I decided to build an X-Wing birdhouse. Or rather, I decided to build a birdhouse that resembled an X-Wing. I did want this to be an actual accurate and useful birdhouse, so I was determined to stick with the core recommended dimensions. Therefore, the main body of the X-Wing was going to be that Carolina Wren birdhouse shown above.

In sketchup I first drew the plain birdhouse and then set about modifying it, with inspiration from various pictures of X-Wings that I found online. The body of the project would be from rough 3/4" pine. I would use some dowels to help with the illusion -- I would cut some up to be the engines, and others to serve as the weapons at the end of the wings.

PLEASE NOTE that the image here is slightly different from that shown at the beginning of the youtube video. My original plan was to leave the back wide and flat, just as on the original birdhouse. I later decided this was a mistake and cut and trimmed the back to match the outline of the nose, as shown here.

A few more sketches follow...

I only needed about 36" of pine board to make the birdhouse. This is a chunk of 11" wide rough pine from the home centre. The beauty of this project is that you don't need to joint it or plane it, as rough lumber is actually preferred for birdhouses, as it gives the birds a better grip.

The pine was quickly cut up into smaller chunks. Here I'm drawing the angles to cut off part of the "wings" to give them their shape.

A miter saw is not necessary -- you can do all of this on the tablesaw -- but it does make things go a lot quicker. Here I'm knocking off the top corners of the two side pieces, for ventillation holes. In a similar fashion I knocked off all four corners of the birdhouse base, also for ventillation.

Drilling the "doorway" hole in the front.


I used glue for all of the joints except for the front. In this way we could later easily remove the front when we need to clean out the birdhouse.

The one dimension to keep in mind is 22.5 degrees. The top of the sides are cut at 22.5 degrees. The back edge of the roof is cut at 22.5 degrees. And the lower section of the nosecone is also cut at 22.5 degrees. In this way, all of those parts fit together nicely without gaps.

The nosecone was cut from a scrap piece of 4x4 that I had laying around the shop. (It might have actually been more like 3x3 from previous use I'd made of it.) The angles looked complicated in sketchup, but once I'd cut the bottom off at 22.5 degrees, the other angles were easily drawn on the piece, and then sliced off with the bandsaw.

For the engines I cut off a section of old shovel handle that I had laying around. The lasers on the end of the wings were from some skinnier dowels -- again, just what was available.

I used the drillpress to drill a shallow recess in the ends of the larger dowels, so that I could glue in the smaller dowels.

The dowel pieces were attached with 5-minute epoxy. After it had dried a bit I put a wood screw into the engines from behind. The lasers on the ends of the wings were too small for that, so I contented myself with shooting in a few pins to help hold them in place while while the epoxy dried.

Then it was on to painting, and at this point I realized that the wide back had to go. So I moved over to the bandsaw and trimmed the back so that it was flush with the nosecone. Then end result looked light-years better!

As I was saying... Then it was on to painting.

First I primed and painted the entire piece with white. Then I masked off around the door and applied grey. I also painted the bottom (back of the X-Wing) grey and made rings around the engines. Next, I painted a black "window" on the front/roof, and also painted the back and front ends of the engine black.

The most intricate part was the red. I painted a red stripe down each side of the X-Wing. I also painted a red ring around the front of each engine. And each wing recieved a blocky L-shaped area of red, and also some small rectangular tick marks.

The challenge here is that there is no one paint scheme. When I researched online I found many different X-Wing paint schemes. I think the movies might even have had different colour schemes -- but don't quote me on that. I just picked among them and came up with something that I thought looked nice.

Here is the last shot of the finished X-Wing birdhouse on my bench. What follows are some nicer shots on a black background.

Yes, it is a bit goofy looking, I know. But it was a fun project to build. It went together quickly, and I think is a great example of how much a creative paint job can make a huge impact. I also think this project is a great example of how a creative imagination can make even a weird idea (seriously, an X-Wing, birdhouse!? turn out okay.



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See Also:

Dollhouse Bookcase

Theo's Castle

Tangram and Gift Box