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This article was published in the October 2018 edition of More Woodturning

Birds as an 8 page pdf


Main Photo

Main photo:  A cardinal of redheart, yellowheart, and blackwood.


Lots of turners make birdhouse ornaments.  I made a set in 2002.  But I wasn’t happy about the idea of turning a wood birdhouse and plopping a plastic bird on it.  I figured there had to be a way to turn one but didn’t think of a way.  This year I decided to pursue the idea seriously.  It turned out to be fairly simple to turn a minimalist mini-bird—I didn’t even need to do any eccentric mounting as long as I was willing to turn the beak separately and abrasively shape the tail after turning.

Then I thought that I’d try to make the birds more realistic.  This turned out to be a rabbit hole that I have yet to really climb out of.  I thought it would look better with eyes that were black and convex rather than holes.  I tried several different ways. 

I found that I could cut a slot in the bird’s head and glue in thin stock to make a crest.

Next I tried adding wings.  Hand bending veneer neither worked well nor looked good.  I then tried shaping wing stock on the lathe by drilling a core out to match the body diameter and cutting the wings out with a scroll saw.

After that I tried to make bi-colored birds.  I think the first one was supposed to be a robin where I glued some cherry to a length of walnut to make a bi-colored turning square.  This did yield a bird with a red breast but the red on real robins doesn’t make a straight line from neck to tail.  So, I tried cutting out a cherry insert and matching recess on a scroll saw which worked better.

Lastly (so far), I noticed that my other bi-colored birds tended to look like robins with a different bird’s dress on.  So, I started generating patterns using a profile picture of a real bird to get the proportions right.  And, of course, along the way I made or modified a few tools.

Preparing Turning Stock and Mounting

I like to use a collet chuck when turning small and close to the chuck, because it doesn’t chew on my fingers the way #1 jaws do. Cutting turning stock to a square that fits in one of the collets is quicker than turning tenons.  Cutting the square a little oversize and then reducing the corners equally until the stock fits is just about as quick, less fussy, and seems to me to hold better.  3/8” is a good size for mini-birds.  Conveniently a 3/8” square is a little oversize to fit in a 1/2” collet. Figure #1 is my somewhat messy photo showing three different methods of nicking the corners off.  In the foreground is a dowel sizing plate (it came with a Bealle threading kit) which is little more than a plate of steel with three holes drilled in it.  You can use a mallet to tap the turning square through the hole to remove the corners.  It’s easier to start the square centered if you chamfer the corners with a knife first.  Try to keep the stock vertical and centered.  To the left of the sizing plate is a drill sizing gauge.  You can use the drill sizing gauge in the same way as the dowel sizing plate.  Or you can just use the drill sizing gauge, the dowel plate, or your collet to check the size of the method I ended up liking best which was scraping the corners of the turning square with a utility knife as shown in the middle of the photo.  Take a couple of strokes on each corner and test the fit.  Repeat until it does fit.  For minimalist birds you can round the corners of a long square all at once, particularly if your headstock spindle is drilled out larger than 1/2” like the Powermatic 3520B.  For bi-color birds it’s easier to cut a short length of a turning square (say 2-1/2”) and only round over half of it.  This is because it’s easier to line up the cutting/turning pattern to a square edge.


Figure #1:  Three methods of rounding over square stock to fit in a collet chuck.

It was fortuitous that I started with square stock because it made locating the eyes, legs, beak and wings much easier.  Consider the eyes.  You can locate the first eye most anywhere as long as it’s in the middle of the head.  The second eye, however, must be diametrically opposite the first eye—which you can’t see at this scale.  However, with a square base you can clamp the bird in a vise at 90° intervals and only have to locate the eyes top center.

Turning the Body

Mount your collet chuck on the lathe so that you can mount the body blank.  But first an aside about collets:  Not all collets are labeled for diameter the same way.  Some are labeled for the maximum diameter the collet will take.  The collets that came with my Beall collet chuck (bought ages ago) are labeled this way.  Brand name ER32 collets bought through an Industrial Supplier are often labeled for the middle of the clamping range.  I have no idea how the Beall clones are labeled.  But it doesn’t matter in the end if you cut your stock a little oversize (3/8” corner to corner is about 3/100” oversize for 1/2”) and size your stock to the collet by trimming the corners.  Mount the collet in the chuck and tighten the chuck just until resistance is felt.  Don’t use just the collet, because the stock can spring it open a bit.  After you’ve done this once you can check to see what size hole the turning square fits and find (in the drill sizing gauge?) or make (drill a hole in steel or brass sheet) a gauge.

Oh, and an aside about size:  If you’ve not done any small scale work, then you may be more comfortable practicing on moderately larger birds.  A 9/16” turning square will be about 3/100” larger corner to corner than a 3/4” collet.  But they will look a little big on a normal bird house ornament.

A good length for the minimalist bird is about 1-1/4”.  So, mount the body blank in the collet chuck with about 1-1/2” sticking out as in the Top Image of Figure #2.  Then turn the blank round as in the Middle Image of Figure #2.  A small skew, such as a 1/4” round one, is a good way to round the blank as you can take light, controlled cuts and dispense with the nuisance of tailstock support.  The project is also, in my opinion, a great way to practice and gain confidence with a skew.  With such small diameter work there isn’t much rotational inertia built up so even if you do have a catch all that will happen is you’ll chew up the blank a little.  There shouldn’t be any scary bangs. If you don’t have a 1/4” skew you could make one from a 1/4” HSS drill blank or even a #2 Philips screwdriver.  Then switch to a small spindle gouge and turn a half-cove to start the head as in the Bottom Image of Figure #2.  This should start about 1/4” from the end of the blank and be about 1/4” in diameter.


Figure #2:  Mount the blank, turn round, and start turning the head.

Now use a spindle gouge to round over the head as in the Top Image of Figure #3.  Ideally this would be a 1/4” diameter hemisphere with the base 1/8” from the end.  Also round over the front of the body convexly towards the head.  Now make a mark about 3/4” from the end of the blank.  Make a shallow V-cut at the mark.  Then round over the body to the bottom of the vee and taper the tail down to the vee as in the Bottom Image of Figure #3. The body should round convexly to the tail.  The tail should taper straight, or perhaps slightly concavely, to the body.  Sand the body with appropriate abrasives.  Remove the turned bird body from the chuck.  If you are trying to turn several from the same blank, remount the blank extended out and cut off, leaving a half inch or so of blank square attached to the tail.


Figure #3: Shape the head, body, and tail.

Turn the Beak

Before turning the beak, consider how you’re going to make a matching mortice and tenon to mount it.  If you’re only going to make very few birds, you could just turn the tenon smaller than the beak and then find, by trial and error, a drill to make a mortice to match.

 If you’re going to make several birds it would be better to make a tenon gauge to turn to a given size.  A standard parting tool exerts a whole lot of force on a turning this size, so you should use a 1/16” thin parting tool.  This means the gauge has to be less than 1/16”.  I made mine out of some 0.050” brass sheet.  Brass is nice because you can file as well as grind it.  Another candidate in my shop would be a used reciprocating saw or scroll saw blade.  If you use a blade grind off the teeth first. The thickness of these blades varies, so measure the one you use, or at least compare the thickness to your thin parting tool before investing a work in a gauge.  To make the gauge you need to cut a slot that is the width you want to make the tenon, that is deeper than it is wide, and that has parallel sides.  I found that two Dremel cut-off wheels mounted side by side would cut a groove that matched a #54 drill which is in scale for eyes and beak tenons on this size of bird.  If you cut the gauge in one pass the sides should be parallel.  If you don’t have a Dremel and are working in brass you can use a fine toothed reciprocating saw blade to cut a slot and then enlarge it to suit with a flat needle file, or cloth backed abrasive backed up with the non-toothed side of the reciprocating saw blade.

Mount a square of contrasting wood (I used Yellowheart) prepared just as you did for the bird body in your collet chuck so that it’s sticking out about 1/2”.  If you choose something precious and rare such as pink ivory wood you could use a 3/16” square adjusted to fit a 1/4” collet.  Turn about 1/4” round and the diameter you want the beak to be as in the Top Image of Figure #4.  Taper the beak to a point that is the length of beak you want.  Then the 1/16” parting tool to create a tenon that is two or three parting tool widths long as in the Middle Image of Figure #4.  The beak will fit on to the head without a gap if you undercut the shoulders of the tenon.  I made a tiny skew from a 3/32” HSS drill blank and used it as a scraper to undercut the shoulder.  Sand the beak with appropriate abrasives.  Work of this size can be cut off with a skew.  Hold the skew horizontally long point down angled back towards the headstock slightly with one hand.  Use to fingers of the other hand to lightly grasp the beak.  Push the skew into the beak tenon, making contact with the middle of the skew edge, and continue to push until the beak is cut off.  Store the beak somewhere safe until ready to mount it on your bird.  I use an upside-down jar lid snagged from the recycling. The Bottom Image of Figure #4 shows the bird body and completed beak.


Figure #4:  Steps in turning the beak.

Add Leg Holes, Eyes and Mount the Beak

20 gauge wire looks to me to be the right size for this size of bird.  20 gauge wire is 0.032” in diameter which corresponds (leaving a little room for glue) to a #65 drill bit.  Drills bits this diameter aren’t usually at your local hardware, tend to be expensive, and break easily.  One of the things my Dad taught me was to never start a plumbing repair when the hardware store wasn’t open (long before the era of big box stores).  A corollary would be to never start drilling sub-#60 holes without a spare drill bit.  Now this might start my engineer Dad spinning in his grave, but when working in wood making holes for low stress mortises, there is a rather inelegant work around—hard steel wire.  Back when I started turning drop spindles I bought various sizes of stainless steel music wire to find out what size worked best for the hooks.   A piece of stainless steel wire just a little larger than the wire to be mounted and cut straight across with cutting pliers works pretty well for drilling short holes in wood.  And if it gets dull another cut with diagonal pliers will fix it right up.  If you don’t have a lifetime stash of music wire try looking at various straight pins.  If you can’t find wire of any kind the right size you can make it cut a slightly bigger hole by tapping the wire on one side with a hammer, then cutting where the wire is wider.  Or just go ahead and order a dozen #65 drill bits from an Industrial Supplier.

You may wish to consider the grain and figure of the wood before orienting the turned body.  Insert the square part of the blank in a vise with what will be the bottom of the bird facing up.  Mark the location of the leg wire holes which should be about 1/8” from the junction of body and tail.  Use an awl to start holes at the pencil marks.  Then use a #65 drill bit or substitute to drill leg holes as in the Left Image of Figure #5.  I have my wire drill bit mounted in a pin vise which makes it easier to mount and MUCH easier to find.  Unclamp the bird body in the vise, and rotate it 90° towards you.  Use a pencil to mark the eye location which should be the center of the head when viewed from above.  Then use an awl to make a shallow hole for the eye as in the Right Image of Figure #5.   Unclamp the vise, rotate the body 180°, and re-clamp.  Repeat the procedure for the other eye.


Figure #5:  Drill holes for the leg wires and eyes.

Re-clamp the body in the vise so that it’s at about a 45° angle with the bottom facing up.  Use a pencil to mark the location of the beak.  Start a hole at the mark with an awl.  Then drill a hole with a drill bit that matches your beak tenon diameter, as shown in Figure #6.  I found it helpful to aim the drill towards the mid-point between the eyes.


Figure #6:  Drill a mortise to mount the beak.

Holding a small part like the beak for insertion can be a challenge.  I tried several methods.  Ordinary tweezers had a way of launching the beak across the shop following the slightest finger twitch (which in my shop means making a new one).  I tried making tweezers with concave tips out of PVC.  But what I ended up liking the best was padding the jaws of a pair of needle-nose pliers with 2mm craft foam.  The foam wraps around the part keeping it from being launched and pads it so you don’t dent it unless you’re really ham fisted.  Cut two small pieces of self-adhesive 2mm craft foam (or use regular with spray adhesive) and place them together with adhesive facing out.  Close the jaws firmly on the foam.  Then trim the excess to match the sides and tips of the jaws.

Hold the beak with the modified pliers and insert the tenon in the drilled hole.  Check that you can fully insert the beak without a gap showing.  If your undercutting of the shoulders of the tenon was insufficient and you have a gap showing, try flattening the head around the mortise with sandpaper.  Once satisfied with the fit, remove the beak, and holding with the modified pliers dip the tenon in a drop of glue and then insert the beak as shown in Figure #7.


Figure #7:  Insert the beak with modified pliers.

Finish the Minimalist Bird

You can finish the shape of the tail with a scroll saw or with a drum sander.  If you want to use a scroll saw, leave the body attached to the turning square as long as possible.  Start a cut at the base of the tail and curve in to shape the tail, then sand the cut smooth with drum sanders or by hand.

To abrasively shape the tail, cut off the square part of the blank on a band saw.  Shape the tail to the desired shape with a drum sander as in Figure #8.  Follow up with finer abrasive drums or sand by hand.


Figure #8:  Shape the tail abrasively.

You can get colored epoxy coated 20 gauge copper wire in many colors.  Yellow, Brown, Black, and Gray (Titanium) are good bird choices.  Cut off two approximately 1” lengths of wire (they’ll be trimmed to the exact length later) as shown in Figure #9.  Hold a wire close to one end with the padded needle-nose pliers.  Dip the end in a drop of CA glue and insert the end of the wire into one of the leg holes.  Repeat for the other wire.  Do not bend the wires at this time.  Give the CA glue a chance to set.


Figure #9:  Cut the leg wires.

Find a 6” or so long piece of wood and drill a leg hole in one end.  Insert one of the leg wires in the hole.  The use the wood piece as a handle while spraying finish on the bird.  You can clamp the wood piece in your vise while the finish dries between coats as shown in Figure #10.  Apply two or three coats.


Figure #10:  Apply spray finish.

Drill leg holes in whatever you want to mount the bird to.  In the photos I’m mounting it to a birdhouse ornament perch.  Make the holes the same distance apart as the legs are.  Cut one leg wire 3/8” below the bird, and the other leg wire slightly shorter as shown in the Top Image of Figure #11.  It will make insertion easier if you round over the cut ends of the wire slightly and countersink the leg mounting holes in the perch.  Figure out which way to mount the bird so his best side will face out.  Holding by the bird body, slide the longer leg wire partly into the appropriate leg hole, then start the other hole and push the wires in.  Check that 1/4” of wire is exposed between bird and perch.  Remove the bird and trim if needed.  When all is well remove the leg wires from the perch, dip the ends of the wire in a drop of CA glue and insert them into the perch as in the Middle Image of Figure #11.  When the glue has had a chance to set, bend the wires into a bird like stance as in the Bottom Image of Figure #11.


Figure #11:  Mount the leg wires and bird.

Lastly glue the perch into a birdhouse ornament, (or however you want to mount your bird), as in Figure #12. If you don’t have a birdhouse ornament plan, there’s a link to one in References at the end of the article.


Figure #12:  The minimalist bird mounted on a birdhouse ornament.

Escaping a Monochrome Body

It’s possible to make more realistic birds of more than one color by piecing a multi-color blank together.  You’ll need a scroll saw for this.  First print out a cutting pattern.  See References for cutting/turning patterns for several birds on my web site.  You can make your own patterns by tracing and scaling a profile photo.  I think CAD makes this much easier than paper and pencil.  The photos will follow making a Cardinal.

Print out the pattern.  The pattern will be less susceptible to distortion when repositioned if you print it out on thicker stock.  The pattern in the photos was printed on manila folder stock.  Cut out the pattern leaving excess at the top to further reduce distortion.  The pattern is a rectangle divided into three sections (head, body, and tail) with a cutting line.  I glued my pattern to a piece of blue masking tape so it wouldn’t move when I was cutting the pieces out, but I could still re-stick it.  Other options are double stick tape or a restickable adhesive glue stick, although you’ll have to be careful not to let the pattern shift with the latter.  Attach the pattern to your turning square so that the bottom edge of the pattern is aligned with the corner of the turning square as in Figure #13.  If you try one of the more complicated birds such as a bluebird with a red breast and white tummy you’ll need two patterns.  After affixing the first patten, make some nicks at the head/body and body/tail lines so you can align the second pattern piece after gluing in the first insert.  Allow a little waste past the head.  Carefully cut out the recess with a scroll saw as in Figure #14.  I used a #3 blade.


Figure #13:  Attach the pattern.


Figure #14:  Cut out the recess.

What’s left of the pattern represents the actual recess you cut out, rather than what you may have intended, minimizing total errors when you cut out the insert piece.  If you had used two patterns there is the possibility of doubling the total error (say if you cut the recess a little shallow and the insert a little deep).  Remove the pattern and restick it on stock for the insert as in Figure #15.  If you align the edge of the pattern slightly back of the corner of the turning square you’ll be able to clamp the insert into the recess even if the insert is smaller than the clamp face.


Figure #15:  Re-attach the pattern to the insert stock.

Now cut out the insert on the scroll saw.  All wood not covered by the pattern should remain so you should regard the edge of the pattern to be a line the saw blade should follow.  Or if you prefer, you should remove a kerf width of pattern as you saw, as in Figure #16.  The cut out recess and fill piece are shown in Figure #17.  Dry fit the pieces.  If there are problems with the fit you may be able to correct them with a little sanding.


Figure #16:  Cut out the insert.


Figure #17:  The cut out pieces.

Assuming you achieve a decent fit, apply Gel CA glue to the recess and spread it over the entire joint.  Bring the two pieces together and clamp, as in Figure #18.  Give the glue time to cure.  Then round over the corners of the part of the turning square than needs to fit in the chuck.  If you have visible gaps you can try filling them with glue and sawdust.  Mount a scrap piece of the darker (sawdust acts like end grain and darkens from the glue, thus using the darker wood for fill will be less visible) of the two woods on your lathe.  Turn it round.  Put a piece of paper on the lathe bed.  Turn the speed of the lathe down and leave the dust collector off.  Sand using 80 or 100 grit abrasive until you have sufficient sawdust collected on the paper.  Mix the sawdust with polyurethane glue and spread the mix generously on the recess.  Then join the pieces together and clamp.


Figure #18:  Clamp the pieces together until the glue is cured.

Cover the turning pattern part of the pattern with clear tape to protect it.  Then cut out the turning pattern.  Turn the bird body, using the turning pattern to determine the length of the head, body, and tail and follow the same procedure as you did to turn the minimalist bird.

Adding 3D Eyes

The little holes used for eyes in the minimalist bird cast shadows that look enough like eyes to suggest eyes to our brains that see faces in everything from the moon to toast.  However, bird eyes, like ours, are little spheres mostly embedded in a face, so they’ll look better if they’re rounded convex.  Conveniently the visible part of most songbird eyes are black so all that’s needed is a small round insert that’s rounded over.  I tried rounding over the end of a tiny turned rod on the lathe and that part was easy.  Getting the tiny piece cut and glued in with the right amount protruding was tough.  It ended up to be a lot easier to turn a round rod on the end of a turning square which serves as a handle for the eye stock.  I glued the eye stock in, cut it off protruding slightly and then rounded the end over with a cup bur (See References).  Alternately you could try rounding the eye with abrasives.

Mount a square of the blackest wood you can find into the collet chuck.  3/8” square stock works fine.  But if you want to conserve your stash of blackwood, you can use a 3/16” square with the corners trimmed to fit a 1/4” collet as I did in the photos.  Turn a half inch or so of the square to round using the gauge for the beak tenon as in the Left Image of Figure #19.  Remove the turning square from the lathe.  Mark the eye locations with pencil and awl as done for the minimalist bird, only this time drill holes matching the tenon diameter.  Use a cutting awl or countersink to countersink the hole slightly. After dry checking the fit, dip the end of the rod in a drop of CA glue and insert it into the drilled mortice as in the Middle Image of Figure #19.  Give the glue a chance to cure.  Then use a fine toothed saw to cut the rod off so that it protrudes slightly.  I took the photo with a non-distracting background.  In use I clamped the bird body at a slight angle in a vise.  This let me hold the saw in one hand and the turning square handle in the other.  Rotate the bird body in the vise so the eye faces up and insert a cup bur in your drill.  Then use the cup bur to round over the eye as in the Right Image of Figure #19.  You may find it easier to use a larger size of cup bur first to bevel the edges of the rod.  Practicing on stock with just a turned head would be prudent to avoid wasting work.


Figure #19:  Turn eye stock, insert the stock, and round over the eye.

Adding a Crest

A Cardinal or a Tufted Titmouse wouldn’t look right without a crest.  You can add an abstract, mostly 2D, version of a crest.  Begin by clamping the bird body by the attached square in a vise at a 45°.  Select a fine toothed saw to saw a slot for gluing in the crest.  The wider the kerf, the thicker, and thus sturdier, the crest can be.  In the photo I’m using a 32 tpi reciprocating saw blade.  I would be prudent to practice on a blank with just a head turned before risking a lot of work.  Use the thumb of your non-dominant hand to steady the saw until the cut is established as in the Left Image of Figure #20.  You could also try precutting the slot with a thinner kerfed blade.  Cut a thin sheet of wood using a scroll saw or bandsaw.  Test the fit of the sheet in the slot as in the Right Image of Figure #20.  If the sheet is too loose you’ll need to cut another.  If the sheet is too tight you can thin the sheet by rubbing it back and forth on a piece of medium abrasive.  The fit should be loose enough that the insert will easily bottom out in the slot.


Figure #20:  Cut a slot for the crest and check stock thickness.

Cut out a slightly over-size crest.  Using tweezers or the modified needle-nose pliers, dip the crest in Gel CA (this will help fill any gaps) and insert the crest blank in the slot as in the Left Image of Figure #21.  Try to ensure that the crest blank bottoms out in the slot or gaps will be visible.  Then abrasively shape the crest with a drum sander and hand sanding as in the Right Image of Figure #21.  Medium abrasive, such as 150 grit, doubled over a couple of time and used by the doubled over edge will fairly quickly shape the concave curve of the back of the crest.


Figure #21:  Glue in and shape the crest.

Adding Wings

The method of adding wings this article describes results in somewhat abstract representations of wings, and have to be cut out on a scroll saw, but there is at least some turning involved to prepare the stock for sawing.  Cut a turning square that is 3/4” x 3/4” x 1-3/4”.  Mount it choked up in your 4-jawed chuck with #1 jaws to prevent splitting when drilling (particularly if you try to squeeze by with 1/2” square stock).  Use a center drill to start a true hole in the end of the stock as in the Top Image of Figure #22.  Measure the diameter of your bird body and select a drill bit the same diameter.  Mount the drill bit on your lathe and drill in about 1” as in the Bottom Image of Figure #22.  If you are going to make several identical birds it would be more efficient to turn the bird body to a specific diameter and use a matching drill.  With care you can get two sets of wings from one blank.


Figure #22:  Center drill and drill-hollow the blank to match the bird diameter.

Remove the blank from the chuck and mark lines 1/8” and 7/8” from the drilled end.  Use the bandsaw to cut a notch about 1/8” deep about a third of the way across the blank as in Figure #23.  This notch will allow you to directly see the thickness of the wing blank you turn.


Figure #23:  Notch the end of the wing blank.

Loosen the chuck jaws.  Slide the blank back onto the drill and advance the drill until the blank protrudes a little more than an inch from the faces of the jaws.  Then tighten the chuck as in Figure #24.  This allows you to remount the blank centered.  A cone tailstock center won’t work for centering the blank as the notch will deflect it to one side.


Figure #24:  Remount the blank with the aid of the drill bit.

Make pommel cuts at the lines on the blank.  Then reduce the area between the pommel cuts to round as in Figure #25.  You can stop the lathe to check the thickness of the wing blank remaining by viewing the notched end as in Figure #26.  Aim for about  1/16” depending on how muscular you want your bird to look and how confident you feel about using a skew.  Sand the turned area.


Figure #25:  Turn the blank between the lines round.


Figure #26:  View the notched end to gauge the wing thickness.

Remove the wing blank from the lathe.  Draw an abstracted wing shape that is 1/2” long on a small piece of masking tape (it’s easier to see the lines on the old original color).  Place the tape on the wing blank so that the front of the wing faces the open end and the pattern is centered when viewed from above with the square ends flat as in Figure #27.


Figure #27:  Place a wing pattern on the wing blank.

The still square ends of the blank keep the blank from twisting when the wings are sawed out.  The un-hollowed end resists splitting of the blank when sawing.  Mount a #3 blade or so in your scroll saw.  The wings will be sawn out using two cuts.  Start sawing in from the drilled end (NOT from the side) and follow the pattern to the tail end of the wing as in Figure #28.  Withdraw the blade, and starting again from the open end of the blank cut out the other side.  Figure #29 shows the blank and the cut out matching pair of wings.  If you are careful, your wings aren’t too fat, and your next bird has the same body diameter you can probably cut out another set of wings by turning the blank 90°.


Figure #28:  Cut from the end for the first cut to cut out the wings.


Figure  #29:  The completed wings and what’s left of the blank.

Clamp the bird blank in a vise so that a side of the bird faces up.  Select the correct wing for that side.  Put a drop of Gel CA glue on the wing and place it on the side of the bird.  The front of the wing should be just behind the neck and the wing should be centered when viewed from above.  Allow gravity to clamp the wing in place until the glue cures as in Figure #30.  Then rotate the bird blank so that the other side is up and glue the other wing in place.  Check to make sure the placement of the second wing matches the first wing.


Figure #30:  Glue the wing onto the bird blank.

Shape the wings with a knife and/or hand sand the wings as in Figure #31.  The bird’s tail can be completed as the minimalist bird.  The main photo shows the completed cardinal I used in the photos for the additions to the minimalist bird.


Figure #31:  Round over the wings with knife and/or abrasives.


Patterns for a birdhouse ornament and multi-color bird bodies:

I have a gallery of birds mounted in various ways at:

If you didn’t notice, text referring to a section of a composite photo (such as Middle Image of Figure #19) is a link that leads to the individual photo used to make the composite.  Let me know if this is helpful to you.

I found a set of 12 cup burs, item 344365, for $22.50 at