How to make a birdhouse out of a shoebox

Updated November 21, 2016

Birdhouses attract birds to your yard, giving you the opportunity to watch them flutter and play from your porch. If you're lucky, they'll even build a nest in your birdhouse, meaning spring will bring baby birds and plenty of happy chirping.

Even if you have no woodworking experience, you can create a birdhouse. Treated properly, shoeboxes make suitable birdhouses that even children can make.

Dust and clean out your shoebox. Use the tall, narrow kind rather than the square kind that contains boots.

Cut a 1 to 1 1/2 inch circle in the lid of your shoebox. The larger the hole, the larger the bird that can make a nest in your birdhouse. Poke a second, tiny hole in the lid about 1/2 inch below the entrance hole. This hole will hold the stand for your birds.

Snip a 2-inch piece of 1/4 inch diameter dowel with pruning snips. Slip the dowel into the tiny hole below the entrance. It may wobble for now; when you're finished building, it won't move.

Slit the upper and lower right corners of your shoebox lid. This side of the lid acts as a hinge for the front of your birdhouse.

Paint the entire shoebox and lid, inside and out, with glazing glue. Press pieces of scrap paper or fabric into the glue to give it colour and style. The glue and fabric or paper will also give the box more stability.

Press pieces of paper or fabric firmly into place around the hole for your dowel rod. When dry, the material will stiffen and hold the dowel in place. Allow the glue to dry overnight.

Add two more layers of glazing over the paper or fabric design. This not only seals your project against the weather, it makes the cardboard stiffer and sturdier. Let the glue dry for 2 hours between coats and overnight after the last coat.

Glue the right edge of your box lid to the right edge of the box. Close the birdhouse "door." It should fit snugly in place and remain closed on its own. Let the glued hinge dry for at least four hours.


Mount your new birdhouse in a sheltered area between bushes, in a tree or on a fencepost. You may want to reinforce the back or bottom with a little plywood. If your area has particularly wet spring seasons, use outdoor varnish instead of glazing glue for the final coats on the box.

Things You'll Need

  • Narrow shoebox with lid
  • Utility knife
  • 1/4 inch diameter dowel rod
  • Pruning snips
  • Fabric or paper scraps
  • Craft glazing glue
  • Paintbrush
  • Superglue
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