Anthony enjoys spending time in the workshop, kitchen, garden, and out fishing. Many of his DIY projects are featured in his yard.
The DIY Country Store Platform Bird Feeder
Platform feeders attract a large variety of birds, including many types of birds such as cardinals who will not approach a traditional tube feeder. Fill the bin with black oil sunflower seeds, and the birds will come!
The country store platform bird feeder is designed to resemble a rustic building from the Old West. The country store motif adds a bit of whimsy to a basic tray feeder without sacrificing functionality. The fly-through design that allows birds to approach the feeder from multiple directions, and the covered bin protects the seed from the rain and snow. The porch roof helps to keep the seed dry, and the feeder tray has drainage holes in the corners. The feeder is finished with a few simple trim pieces and colored stains to add character to the design.
The feeder is made from inexpensive pine along with a few other leftover pieces of wood from my scrap bin. Pine works well for this project and will last for several seasons, especially after the exterior is painted and stained. Cedar and redwood are also good choices. Hardwoods such as mahogany and teak are naturally resistant to insects and weather, and tend to last longer when exposed to the elements. Birdhouses and feeders are good projects for reusing weathered wood and bits from the scrap bin. Avoid using any pressure treated lumber; the chemicals used to ward of the bugs are potentially harmful to the birds.
The size of the feeder is not critical, and you can adjust the dimensions as needed. I used a standard 1x10 pine board from the local home center for the base of the feeder, which is actually 9-1/4" wide. Look for pieces of lumber that are flat (not warped or cupped) and free of large knots. I spent about $10 for the wood in this project.
Step 1: The Cutting List
Cut pieces of wood to the following dimensions:
- Base: 14" L x 9-1/4" W
- Tall Wall: 12" H x 9-1/4" W
- Ridge Cap: 9-1/4" L x 1-1/2" W
- Porch Roof: 6-1/2" L x 9-1/4" W
- Porch Posts (qty = 2): 7" L x 3/4" x 3/4"
- Bin Front: 7-3/4" L x 7" W
- Bin Roof: 6-1/2" L x 7-1/2" W
- Bin Sides (qty = 2): 10" L x 4-1/4" W
- Tray Sides (qty = 2): 15-1/2" L x 1-1/4" W
- Tray Ends (qty = 2): 9-1/4" L x 1-1/4" W
The bin sides, the ends of the bin roof, the porch roof and the tops of the porch posts are all cut on a 30-degree angle. Rough-cut the porch posts a little long; we will adjust the final length of the posts later for an exact fit to support the roof.
The corners of the base are cut on a 45-degree angle to allow rainwater to drain out of the feeder tray. A few 1/4" diameter holes drilled through the base will work, but I prefer to clip off the corners. A power miter saw makes cutting off 1/4" from each of the corners quick and easy.
Step 2: Build the Bin
The country store design might look complicated, but the construction is relatively easy when broken down into subassemblies.
Begin by assembling the bin, and start by attaching the front section to one of the side pieces. Line up the bottom edges of both pieces, and secure with weather-resistant nails or screws. A bead of water-resistant glue helps to holding power of the pneumatic nails. Then, attach the other side section of the bin with more glue and nails or screws.
Step 3: Layout the High Wall
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The high wall divides the bin that holds the bird seed from the tray where the birds can land to feast. Both the bin and the slanted porch roof attach to the high wall with screws.
The bottom of the high wall has a small opening that allows the bird seed to flow out of the bin and into the feeder tray. The slot is shown in the photo and is about 5-1/2" long, and centered along the bottom edge of the high wall. The top of the arched slot is 1-1/2" high at the peak, and tampers to 3/4" high at the ends.
Cut the slot using a band saw or jig saw, and then sand the edges smooth.
Step 4: Align the Seed Bin the High Wall
Next, attach the high wall to the bin. Temporarily position the bin against the high wall, centering the bin on the back section. Use a pencil to trace a line along the inside edge of the wall, following the sides of the bin. This will make it easier to locate the nails for attaching the the wall to the bin.
Using the pencil lines as a guide, drill pilot holes for the screws. Use care to locate the pilot holes 3/8" from the pencil line, so the screws will be centered in the sides of the bin. Attach the high wall to the bin.
Step 5: Attach the Base
Next, position the bin assembly on to the base. Using the same tracing procedure, mark the locations of the high wall and the bin pieces on to the base, and then drill more pilot holes. Attach the bin assembly to the base with more screws.
Step 6: Fit the Trim Around the Base
The trim around the base of the feeder was cut from 1-1/4" wide pieces of pine. Measure across the end of the base, and cut the end pieces to fit. Then measure the side pieces - including the additional thickness of the end pieces, and cut the sides to fit. I attached the trim pieces at the end of the project, after the pieces were fitted, sanded and stained.
Step 7: Add a Ridge Cap
The ridge cap sits on top of the high wall. Though mostly decorative, the ridge cap helps to protect the end grain of the high wall against the elements.
Center and cut a 1/4" deep by 3/4" wide groove (called a dado) along the length the ridge cap. The ridge cap should fit snugly on the top end of the highball. I used a piece of mahogany for a bit of contrast, sanded and finished with cherry stain.
Step 8: Get Ready for Paint
If you want to paint or stain your feeder, now is the time to sand all of the remaining pieces to round over the edges and smooth the joints. Breaking the sharp corners gives the feeder a finished look, and allows the paint and stain to adhere better.
Sanding and the staining the pieces of the feeder is easier at this stage, rather than trying to apply different colors of stain after the feeder is fully assembled.
I used three different colors of stain to add a little variety and interest to the feeder. The stain also helps to protect the pine from the elements and extends the life of the feeder. The base and outside of the bin was whitewashed with Willow stain; the interior of the bin was left natural where the birdseed is stored. The roofs of the bin porch along with the porch posts were stained walnut brown. The ridge cap is stained cherry to accentuate the reddish color of the mahogany. The trim around the tray is also stained in cherry.
The stained pieces were left overnight to dry thoroughly before beginning the final assembly.
Step 9: Add a Porch
Attaching the porch is the hardest part of the feeder build, but it's the porch that gives the feeder its country store charm. The porch roof also helps to keep the birdseed dry and protected from the rain and snow.
The porch roof is attached to the high wall using screws. Because the roof slopes at a 30-degree angle, the screws must be driven into the roof at the same 30-degree angle. Start by locating the position of the roof against the high wall, 7-1/2" up from the base. Using the same procedures for attaching the bin to the base, mark the locations for the pilot holes. This time, take care to angle the drill at the same 45-degree angle as the roof line.
Attach the porch roof to the high wall with screws. Using the longer 6" power bit makes it easy to reach past the bin to drive the screws through the high wall and into the porch roof.
Step 10: Put Up the Porch Posts
The porch posts were cut long initially to make it easier to mark and cut the posts to the correct length after the porch roof is installed. The posts are located approximately 1-1/2" in from the front edge of the porch roof, and 1" in from the side edges. Temporarily line up the top end of the post (with the 30-degree cut) under the porch roof, and mark where the post meets the base. Cut the posts to length.
Now, position the posts back under the porch roof and mark the post locations on the base for drilling the pilot holes. Since the porch roof is now in the way of drilling, unscrew and remove the porch roof. Drill the pilot holes for the posts, and attach each one with a screw drive up from the underside of the base. Then, re-attach the porch roof.
The front of the porch roof simply rests on the posts. If needed, you can attach the roof to the posts with a nail or screw.
Add the Final Touches
The platform feeder is nearly complete and only needs a few final touches:
- Attach the trim around the edges of the base using nails or screws.
- The bin roof is attached using a pair of hinges, forming a lid for the bin. The small hinges make it easy to fill the hopper with birdseed. Center the roof on the bin, making sure that the overhang is even on each side. Attach one side of the hinge to the roof, then attach the other side of the hinge to the high wall.
- Attach the ridge cap to the top of the high wall with a few nails.
The new platform bird feeder is now ready to feed the hungry birds in yard. Attach the feeder to a post, fill with bird seed (we use black oil sunflower seeds) and the birds will come. The Country Store Bird Feeder was open for just a few hours before several chickadees, titmice, a nuthatch and a downy woodpecker all stopped by to pick up some seed.
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2015 Anthony Altorenna
Tell Us About Your Bird Feeders
Sp Greaney from Ireland on May 27, 2020:
Great idea. Wish I had the skill to make one. It looks so much nicer than many commercial ones.
craftybegonia from Southwestern, United States on December 13, 2015:
That is so neat! I definitely love it. I wish I was more of a carpenter, but I am not. People who can wirk with wood and build things are so very fortunate!
Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on December 01, 2015:
This looks so nice and I am sure the birds would enjoy this luxury. I do feed birds everyday but had never thought about doing it this way.
Well explained and illustrated hub. Thanks for sharing your useful idea and project!
Anthony Altorenna (author) from Connecticut on November 30, 2015:
Thanks for stopping by! Squirrels are a problem with platform and tray feeders, and I just accept that they will eat some of the birdseed. A baffle around the pole helps to keep them off the feeder. The squirrels are also daily visitors to our deer feeder box, which you can see in the background of the last photo. They even knocked the lid off!
Donna Herron from USA on November 30, 2015:
This is a really cute feeder and your directions and photos are very easy to understand. I think our squirrel would make an all day buffet at this feeder, but with a few adjustments, this feeder would be quite popular with the cardinals we have. Thanks for sharing your project. Pinned to my bird and garden board!