Repurposing Scrap Wood into a DIY Bird Coop
As a hobbyist woodworker and bird enthusiast, I was looking for a weekend project that could combine my two passions. With a pile of scrap wood leftover from previous builds, I decided to try my hand at constructing my own DIY bird coop to house a few pet chickens in my backyard.
After doing some initial research online, I learned just how rewarding yet challenging building a functional coop can be. There are many factors to consider from ventilation to predator protection. However, the ability to repurpose scrap materials gave me confidence I could find a creative solution.
In this article, I’ll share my experience repurposing scrap wood into a custom DIY bird coop for a small backyard flock. I’ll go over planning considerations, material selection, construction steps, and tips for maximizing functionality on a budget using recycled wood. Whether you’re new to woodworking or just looking for inspiration, let’s get started!
Planning Considerations for Building a Backyard Bird Coop
When taking on a new DIY build project, proper planning is key to success. There were several important factors I needed to think through before getting started:
Size and Layout
First, I researched how much living space chickens require per bird. On average, you need 2-4 square feet inside the coop and 8-10 square feet in the outside run area per standard chicken. With scrap wood, I could build a small coop for 2-4 birds.
I sketched a few different layout options to maximize space efficiency. A lean-to style coop with an attached run seemed ideal for a small backyard. This allowed me to adjoin the run to an existing fence line for one less wall to build.
Ventilation and Insulation
Proper ventilation and insulation are vital in a backyard bird coop. Chickens can become overheated in summer and chilled in winter without adequate provisions.
I planned to use recycled wood panels for walls but ensure adequate airflow by leaving ventilation gaps between wall boards. The roof would also utilize salvaged roofing metal on top with gaps between the underlying wood roof boards.
For insulation, I could stuff any cavities between wall boards with scrap fabric, straw, or foam as needed. The enclosed coop with a closing door would also help retain warmth in cold months.
Materials and Construction
When sourcing scrap wood for an entire build, you must be flexible based on what materials you can access for free or cheap. I took inventory of usable boards and posts leftover from previous carpentry jobs.
With a mix of 1x4s, 2x4s, and 4×4 posts, I could frame the basic coop structure. The hodgepodge of boards forced me to get creative with joinery methods. But I welcomed the challenge for a satisfying recycled wood build.
Based on available materials, I designed a basic framing plan utilizing different techniques like lap joints, butt joints, and screws to piece together the coop frame.
Selecting and Preparing Scrap Wood Materials
Before constructing my DIY upcycled bird coop, I needed to assess my recycled wood stock and prep the boards:
Gathering Usable Scraps
I sorted through my scrap wood collection and gathered usable boards in good condition. Keeping the small planned size in mind, I focused on thinner 1×4 boards which would be easier to reuse versus bulky 2x stock.
Longer boards could make up the framing studs, while shorter 1×4 cutoffs would work for horizontal framing members. I also collected a few sturdy 4×4 posts for structural supports.
Inspection and Treatment
Once I selected my scrap wood, it was important to inspect each board thoroughly. I checked for:
- Rot or cracks – discard damaged boards
- Nails or screws – pull out all hardware
- Wood defects – cut around defects for best sections
For an outdoor structure, treating the wood against rot and pests was also essential. I used a clear water sealant on each board to protect the coop while maintaining the weathered patina of the recycled wood.
Cutting to Standard Dimensions
While working with random size/length boards, I cut each one down to standardized widths and lengths for simpler framing. This involved:
- Straightening edges with a circular saw
- Cutting to length with miter saw
- Removing warped sections as needed
Standardizing the scrap boards took a little extra time but really simplified the upcoming framing and assembly.
Framing the Coop Structure with Recycled Wood
With my salvaged building materials prepped, it was time for the fun part – constructing the coop! I used a combination of basic carpentry techniques to frame up the enclosure:
Building the Floor Platform
The floor needed to be moisture and rot resistant. I cut 4×4 posts to length for the corner uprights and secured them with brackets.
For the floor joists, I attached 2x4s across the posts using metal hangers. A plywood sheet was screwed on top to form the floor platform.
Assembling the Wall Frames
The front, back, and side wall frames were assembled next. Each wall consisted of:
- 2×4 studs spaced at 16 inches for rigidity
- 1×4 horizontal boards screwed between the studs
- A half-lap joint at each corner for stability
Half-lap joints interlock the vertical wall studs between overlapping horizontal boards. This created sturdy 90-degree corners from uneven scrap wood.
Raising and Connecting the Walls
With all 4 wall frames assembled, I stood them up one by one:
- The back wall was attached first to the floor platform
- Followed by the side walls, checking for square
- Finally the front wall with the door frame opening
I used metal plates screwed into the adjoining wall studs to interlock the walls at the corners.
Completing the Roof Frame
For the slanted roof rafters, I cut pairs of 1×4 boards to length at the desired slope. These were joined together at the peak with a metal connector.
The rafter assemblies were attached to a horizontal roof beam at the top of the rear wall. The beam was secured to the wall framing using joist hangers.
Finishing Coop Details with Upcycled Elements
After constructing the underlying coop structure from recycled wood, I still needed to add details like:
Installing Salvaged Roofing
For the angled roof, I used corrugated metal sheets from an old barn roofing job. These added weather protection without heavy lifting.
The bendable metal sheets were ideal for covering the uneven gaps between my repurposed roof boards.
Old window frames were incorporated into the front and side walls to let in light. I cut openings in the wall to fit the window sizes.
Tip: Place windows higher up to avoid predators, and add hardware cloth behind glass panes.
Building Door with Reclaimed Wood
The coop’s swinging front door was fabricated fromweathered 1×4 barn boards. Hinges from an old gate were used to hang the door.
A salvaged door handle and latch kept the door securely closed against nighttime predators.
Installing Perches and Nest Boxes
Inside the coop I built roosting perches from 1×4 cutoffs, and fastened them high up on the walls.
For egg laying, I hung repurposed wooden crates with padded straw up near the roof. This created cozy, private nest box areas.
Tips for Maximizing Functionality
When working with limited recycled materials, here are some useful tips to maximize functionality in your backyard bird coop:
Prioritize ventilation – This is key for health. Allow airflow through gaps in siding or roofing.
Prevent drafts – While ventilating, also deter drafts inside coop in cold months.Closeable vents help control airflow.
Use sturdy hardware – Rust-resistant screws and metal brackets reinforce stability in the structure despite using irregular upcycled lumber.
Seal wood properly – Protect recycled wood from exterior moisture. Apply weatherproof sealant to all exposed surfaces.
Divide interior spaces – Section off areas for roosting, egg-laying, feeding, etc. This helps hens feel secure.
Expect imperfections – Don’t fret over uneven walls or boards. The chickens won’t mind as long as basic functions are met!
Building my own DIY backyard bird coop from recycled wood scraps was an incredibly rewarding weekend project. It allowed me to upcycle leftover materials into a custom enclosure for my small chicken flock.
Though working with irregular salvaged lumber posed some framing challenges, I ended up loving the rustic character it brought to the finished coop. And the chickens seem happy in their new home!
I hope this guide to repurposing scrap wood provides inspiration to build your own functional DIY bird coop on a budget. With proper planning and some carpentry creativity, you can give new life to old materials while housing your feathered friends.