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Nest Box out of oak: to oil or not?

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Andy Kev.

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I've been tasked with making a nest box for a friend (presumably for use next year) and as I had a bit of oak lying around, I decided to make it out of that, what with it being fairly weather resistant and all.

I read somewhere that you have to be careful about treating the wood of nest boxes as the chemicals involved might not do the birds any good. Does this mean that you can't give the outside a coat of something to help the weather resistance a bit? Maybe linseed oil? Or should I just leave it in its natural state?

Thanks in advance,

Andy.
 

That would work

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Linseed oil on the outside won't harm birds at all. Personally I would leave it bare because the oil finish won't last long enough to make any difference to it.
 

Andy Kev.

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Thanks for the replies. That seems to be a consensus: leave it natural.

Incidentally, I've been planing away at the bench for the better part of four hours and have so far got the top, the two sides and the back. The oak I'm using has the most difficult grain I've ever planed. Cupped, twisted and generally deformed don't even begin to describe the raw pieces and I can see why I laid the wood to one side a few years back. I've never seen grain like it except on bits of olive and I've never gone to the sharpening stones more often in one session.

That said, the grain, once revealed is very attractive and tomorrow should go a bit quicker as the pieces which are destined to form the bottom and front are a bit less wild. I suppose this underlines the idea of developing skills. Previously I knew that it would have had me beat but now I know that I can beat it and that of course is a pleasant feeling. That said, if I'd been using more normal wood, I would have had the box completely finished by now.
 

Lazurus

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I have used some vehicular clear coat in the past but does need a few weeks to let the smell evaporate
 

JoeSheffer

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I've made dozens over the years from bits of scrap oak (...or to be honest with other hardwoods i have lying about, but definitely oak!) , and now finish them all with osmo exterior.

They all tend to end up occupied, so i think this birds smelling the oil thing is a little bit of a red herring! They last so much longer oiled...i have some in the trees round my house and bits of woodland that have been there for about 10 years now.

My favorite way of attaching the lids is now using an angled rebate into the back panel and then using a decent rare earth magnet on the front to keep it in place - clean, easy and lovely.
 

Andy Kev.

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The nest box project may be spiralling out of control. In accordance with the wishes of the "client" it now has a peaked roof, just like a house. (Is peaked roof the correct term?) It's turned out moderately well: 45° mitres done with a hand plane being surprisingly accurate and that despite the roof being of the most intransigent oak whichever grew on earth. The body is now of the greenish coloured bit of American poplar. Anyway, this has led to a request that the length of the apex be covered with a strip of copper sheet (folded to give 1" on either side) so as to provide water proofing. This is clearly designed more to please the human eye than potential residents. I daren't think what the spec would be if she were to ever want a rabbit hutch.

I've no concerns about potential toxicity of copper as there would be no danger of water leaking through it and dripping into the box.

Now to the next question: assuming this goes ahead, what sort of nails should be used to attach 1 mm copper sheet to the oak roof?

Joe, thanks for the Osmo tip. That's reassuring.
 

Suffolkboy

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Silicone sealant would probably hold it in place without the need for nails.
 

Pete Maddex

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Make your own copper nails by cutting spikes with tin snips and hammering them into predrilled holes, I have done this with brass on marking gauges.

Pete
 

Paul200

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JoeSheffer":d57ezh75 said:
My favorite way of attaching the lids is now using an angled rebate into the back panel and then using a decent rare earth magnet on the front to keep it in place - clean, easy and lovely.
That's a new take on an old problem - tidy!
 

Andy Kev.

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Pete Maddex":18o42rrg said:
Make your own copper nails by cutting spikes with tin snips and hammering them into predrilled holes, I have done this with brass on marking gauges.

Pete
A month or two back I had to nail something together and found that the forged nails which I prefer were a bit too long so I did what you say: cut to length, put points back on with a file and then into predrilled holes. Now that you mention it, I wonder why I didn't remember that and the contrast between the blue-black nail heads the copper should look OK.
 

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