Sunday, February 9, 2020

Bird Feeder Scroll Saw Pattern.


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When winter comes around our birds don't have as much food available. Insects and fruits are in short supply so they rely on seeds. You can supplement their diet with fruit, dried mealworm, peanut butter, hulled peanuts, and seed.

This bird feeder is 10.25 inches tall. 5 inches deep and 8.5 inches wide. The feeder tray 1 inch deep, 6.5" long, and 4.5 inches wide. That is over 29 cubic inches for seed. 

There is a hole near the peak on the front and back. Run a cord through these holes to hang the feeder.

I included a perch on each end of the feeder to accommodate the birds while feeding. The fretwork is open enough to give you a good view of the little fellows.

The feeder was cut from 1/4" Baltic birch plywood. You will also need 1/4" diameter wooden dowel for the perch.

For outdoor use, you should use a good exterior paint or a few coats of Spar Urethane. When hung completely exposed to the elements the feeder will not last forever but two or three years is a good goal. It will last longer if you maintain it each year.

Remember to use an exterior rated glue. Titebond II is water-resistant but Titebond III is waterproof. I have used both for outdoor projects and have seen Titebond II fail under harsh conditions.

Cutting tight slot and tab joints on the scroll saw:

Sorry that there are so many pictures but I wanted to explain it well. I did not want to do a video because I think the pictures are easier to see than a video. 


I use slot and tab joints is many of my patterns. When cut accurately they provide a strong joint with more glue surface than a butt joint. 

When I know I need a tight joint I will use this technique. If you have trouble getting good joints then try this technique and see if it helps.

Let's start with the slot.


I am cutting across the slot. I will cut it separately.


The board is now ready to cut the slot.


I cut down one side of the slot. Notice that I am leaving the line. Cut just inside the line trying not to leave white. Back the blade out.


Move to the other side of the slot and repeat the last step. Back the blade out.


Cut a relief cut so you do not have to make a turn at the corner of the slot. We want square corners.


The relief cut is made and we are ready to cut across the slot.


Put the blade in the relief cut and complete the slot. One note here is that the slot needs to be as deep as the thickness of the board the tab is cut from. You can hold the board up to the pattern and see if the board is the exact thickness called for. If the board is thinner or thicker then adjust this cut.


We have a decently square slot cut with just a bit of the line showing.


Time to move on to the tab. Note that I left the tab uncut until I completed the rest of the cut. Again, we want square corners so I am going to avoid turning the blade.


Cut down one side of the tab. Leave the line. Back the blade out. Yes, this will make the tab and slot too tight. We will fix that later.


Move to the end of the board and cut to the last cut at the corner. Repeat for the other side of the tab.


We have left the line on both the slot and the tab. They ain't gonna fit. 


That is what we want. It is easy to take off more wood but it is tough to add back what you have already cut away. We will sneak up on a snug fit.


I normally sneak up on the slot side of the joint but you can do this to either the slot or tab. 

There are many different ways to widen the slot until it fits. Put sandpaper on a popsicle stick and carefully sand both sides of the slot equally until you get the fit you want.

You can use a sharp chisel and remove slivers until you have a good fit. The chisel needs to be very sharp. My chisels are almost never sharp. I hate sharpening so I rarely use this method.

I use the edge of the teeth of the scroll saw blade as a file. I start the saw and very gently run the edge of the teeth along the edge of the slot, removing small amounts of wood. I am not really cutting. I am filing. Try to remove a little from each side of the slot to keep the board centered.


With a bit of care, you can get machine quality joints. The trick is to leave everything proud and sneak up on the fit.


This joint is very tight. It does not have to be a friction fit like this. The glue will take up some room. You don't want the joint so tight that you have to drive it together with a hammer. That will cause too much of the glue to squeeze out and may cause a bad joint. If you want a glue-free joint the make it tight.

Let me stress that most joints do not need to be this tight. The glue will cover up some sloppiness. The idea here is to know that if needed you can get extremely tight joints consistently. 

When I show techniques like this I enjoy hearing how you do them different or the same. Feel free to drop me an email and tell me what works for you.

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