In building this octagonal birdhouse for a Craftsman competition, I learned a few new tips and was reminded of quite a few very important ones. Here are the most notable:
5. When gluing mitered shapes, use a jig
I was able to set things up using corrugated fasteners found in my grandfather’s toolbox. I then used elastic paracord (shock cord) to apply uniform inwards pressure on the 8 segments of each octagon.
I did use a jig to help clamp the smaller pieces while gluing, but a larger jig would have saved me a bit of time in the beginning.
4. Working from a plan saves a LOT of time in the long run
While initially overwhelmed trying to figure out how to design and build the birdhouse, I started with a pencil and paper before moving to Google Sketchup. Modeling the birdhouse allowed me to better visualize the project and helped me stay focused while going about building it.
In the end, a few of the modeled features were scrapped, I hope for the better.
3. Always test glue on scrap material first
I learned this the hard way. A new glue I was using happened to be too viscous, and I ended up with quite a few glue spots that were tough to sand out. You can see the squeeze-out that I could not avoid or easily cleanup on the trim fencing.
2. Mask off corners for easier glue removal
Moving a little too hastily I neglected to do this. Cleaning up glue spots takes much longer than the 2 minutes it takes to mask off mitered corners to avoid squeeze-out stains in the first place.
1. Calculate and measure twice, cut once
Originally I had wanted to build shallow roofs out of thin plywood. I ran the calculations, made the measurements, verified the measurements, and made my cuts. My calculations were wrong.
While I did try to model out what I was looking to do, the program was not cooperating well. After a long span of going nowhere fast, I resorted to pen and paper, and thought all was well. Mistakes like this are bound to happen occasionally, and it’s never pleasant when it does.
Once I redid all the math, geometry, and trigonometry, I realized that a shallow angle roof would have been more difficult to cut and assemble than it was worth. I liked the look of the birdhouse as it was, so I scrapped that entire feature entirely.
0. Zeroth Law of Tool Use: rushing increases the risk of injury 10-fold
Oh, I don’t need to clamp that piece of wood down, I’m only looking to make a short quick cut. *thunk*. And that’s how I bruised my shin.