My son, almost 5 years old, declared one weekend that we were going to make a bird feeder. He takes after his mommy and always has a project brewing. I was onboard, but quickly had visions of cutting wood and nailing pieces together with a 4 year old. It sounded a bit frustrating, for both of us. I knew I could find an easier way to make a simple, modern bird feeder.
I concocted the idea of using two plates and a large hook to make the bird feeder. I sketched up my idea and passed it by my son for his approval. Then we were off to get supplies. This project is easy to do with or without the help of a child. It costs less than $10 to make a custom bird feeder. With a wide selection of melamine plates, you can make a bird feeder to match any style.
- 2 coordinating melamine or plastic plates (one large and one small)
- 1 large eye hook (8-10″)
- 2 nuts (to fit the threaded end of the eye hook)
- 1 washer or larger nut (that can slide all the way up to the eye of the eye hook)
- E6000 glue or silicone caulk (work in a well-ventilated area)
- Drill and drill bit (1 millimeter larger than threaded eye hook)
- Painter’s Tape
Step by Step:
1. Place a piece of painter’s tape in the center of each melamine plate.
2. Use the ruler to mark the center of each plate on the painter’s tape.
3. With the painter’s tape still in place, drill a hole through the center of each plate. I don’t have a workbench, so I placed a small wooden plaque down under the plate to protect my work surface during drilling.
5. Apply a bead of glue or caulk where the hole in the plate touches the eye hook.
6. Thread the washer or large nut over the eye hook and press into the glue. Add another bead of glue on top. The washer serves mostly an aesthetic purpose to cover up any chips around the hole in the plate. It may have added benefit of being glued to the plate and then providing additional surface area to glue to the eye hook.
7. Rest the plate on the edge of a sink to dry. Apply a bead of glue or caulk where the eye hook touches the back of the plate. I rested mine on the edge of my laundry sink overnight to cure. You could also set it on the edge of an open box or bucket.
8. Once the glue for the top plate has dried, you are ready to put on the smaller plate.
9. Screw a nut on the end of the eye hook. Turn until the nut is about 1″ from the end of the eye hook.
10. Thread on the smaller plate.
With all the right materials, this project was really easy to do and the finished bird feeder looks great. We also made an ultra-modern all-white version for the minimalist. My son enjoyed watching me drill the plates and assemble the top. He helped thread the nuts on for the bottom plate. The best part for him was filling the plate with bird feed and waiting for the birds to come.
I wouldn’t be a good mom or creative person, if I did not also share the trials we had on this project. We planned to give the first bird feeder we made to my mom for her birthday (the one photographed for this tutorial). I knew she would love the pattern and color on the plates. When we were out in the yard shooting these photos, I took her’s off the shepherd hook and hung up the all white version. I set my mom’s next to me on the grass. To get a better shot of the white one, I took a step back…and stepped on my mom’s. The top plate cracked in half.
We were due at my mom’s later that afternoon, so I had to think quick. I also wanted to show my son a positive way to react when something unfortunate happens (he gets upset often when his lego structures get “broken” by the dog or his little brother). I could have simply given my mom the all white version, but I knew how much she would love the patterned plate. So, I did the next best thing. I removed the bottom, patterned plate from the broken bird feeder and swapped it for the plain white plate on the other. It showed my son that accidents happen and we can recover from them without getting overly upset.
We presented my mom with the hybrid bird feeder, white top and patterned plate, and she was none the wiser. She has another bird feeder and a large variety of small birds that frequent her yard. They seem to enjoy their new bird feeder very much, and they are none the wiser that the original roof was blue.