The birdhouse in progress

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Blog entry by mpounders posted 08-02-2011 06:47 PM 2811 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I didn’t get started on the birdhouse contest until after it had already begun, so I haven’t had much time to post anything. I was really concerned that I wouldn’t get it finished in time, so my plan was to work on critical areas, so that at least I would have something to enter, if I got delayed or didn’t get the sides or back or roof finished. So I started carving the front first. I cut out all the basic shapes for the front, back, and sides. Then I used tracing paper to get my designs properly sized and placed within the constraints of those pieces.

After I got the front finished, I did the sides, reversing the pattern on one side. I didn’t carve the sides all the way to the top because the roof would over-hang and hide that area.

Then I did the back. I received some sample copies of a European carving magazine that had this wonderful pattern.
Their carving was a larger, pierced and high relief carving with a slightly different face. I changed it up a bit and gave the dragon more of a beaked, almost griffin-like face, that I thought went better with the bird theme.

When I finally got all these carved, I started the burning and shading. I did the sides and dragon first, before doing the front, so I would get in lots of practice before doing it!. I really liked the relief carvings without the burning, but I was afraid the details might not show up well. I’m not real confident in my relief carving and feel that I need more depth or something, compared to other carvings I’ve seen. Finally, with everything burned, I was able to glue the sides to the front and back with simple butt joints. I ended up needing to put little glue strips inside the front and back to hold the side pieces in. I also did this so that I would have something to screw the bottom to. I just cut the bottom to size, after I had the rest glued up.

So by the 23rd, I had a birdhouse of sorts, and I could always just enter it with a plain roof. I started measuring and cutting out the roof. I didn’t get both sides carved and burned until late at night on the 29th. I had to glue both pieces of the roof together and let them dry over-night before I could glue it to the rest of the house.

Saturday morning, the day before the contest ended, I carefully glued the roof on and help it in place with rubber bands. While it was drying, I turned the base mounting pedestal out of a piece of 4×4 post. I decided it needed some leaves, so I started carving and burning those to see how it would look. Once the roof had dried, I needed to carve and burn the small area at the top where the two pieces butted together. This let me continue the shapes of the leaves onto the end-grain and make it look like they flowed together. I finally completed the pedestal and cut out the base from a piece of cherry, which got a little routed edge for decoration. While all this was going on, I applied several coats of BLO to the house and then finally wiped on some satin polyurethane right at midnight.

I finally got the pictures taken and submitted after church the next day. Whew! I need a vacation! Thanks for looking and listening to my rambling.

-- Mike P., Arkansas,

8 comments so far

View Maveric777's profile


2693 posts in 3075 days

#1 posted 08-02-2011 07:04 PM

Thanks for taking us along with you on this build Mike. I find it really neat to see other folks process and thoughts during a build. Enjoyed the project and blog very much. The best of luck to you in the contest….

-- Dan ~ Texarkana, Tx.

View Ritty's profile


63 posts in 2795 days

#2 posted 08-02-2011 07:12 PM

looks really good, i bet it took u forever to get those pieces done keep up the good work and post the finishedd projet.

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3301 days

#3 posted 08-02-2011 08:14 PM

well mike this is the ugliest bird house ive ever seen…...LOL….... i wasnt thinking that when i saw you enter the contest…you sure do beautiful work and i have to say this really doesnt belong outside..its way to nice , i really appreciate the fact that you can carve such a beautiful piece, i wish my hands and arms were able to do this kind of carving…but there is no way…ive got a bad disc in my neck or something..and i dont have the strength i need…but anyway , mike you have done a marvelous job for the contest…whoever wins, they win…of coarse i would not have entered if i didnt want to win, but ill be happy with however it turns out…and the folks on this site will vote for the one they liked the most…good people here on lumber jocks…and i know from being here awhile that your one of them mike..ive enjoyed watching your work become better and better..and that is what i enjoy about lumber jocks…seeing wood workers become better and make beautiful pieces…this one mike is pure art…thanks for posting it…good luck…..grizz

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View mpounders's profile (online now)


875 posts in 2893 days

#4 posted 08-02-2011 11:00 PM

Thanks Grizz! I always think I can improve but I appreciate you noticing! The prizes would all be nice, but compliments sure keep you trying, even if you don’t win. I think your entry has a pretty good chance too… my wife and I were admiring it after you posted it! Maybe they should have a contest for the ugliest workshop or the worst tool? That might be interesting too!

-- Mike P., Arkansas,

View Richard's profile


297 posts in 2535 days

#5 posted 08-08-2011 05:23 PM

Morning, Mike.
IMO each individual side of this piece is amazing work of art. I checked out your ‘projects’ to see the finished project and was equally blown away. Yes, ”... something that royalty would commission…” is a perfect description.


Peace and blessed be.

-- 'I sand, therefore, I am'. Richard. PNW.

View helluvawreck's profile


31076 posts in 2865 days

#6 posted 08-08-2011 05:44 PM

Mike, these carvings for the birdhouse are absolutely outstanding. Your carving is so clean and crisp. You really do wonderful work.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View WayneC's profile


13754 posts in 4095 days

#7 posted 08-09-2011 06:58 AM

I wish I could have stuffed the ballot box…. Yours was my favorite… : ^ )

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View mpounders's profile (online now)


875 posts in 2893 days

#8 posted 08-09-2011 04:58 PM

Thanks all! I had fun carving it!

-- Mike P., Arkansas,

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