I saw this on YouTube and was so thoroughly intrigued by its beauty, utility, and apparent ease of construction that I simply had to make one myself and the birds. We drink plenty of wine at this house (for health reasons, donchaknow), and we rarely throw away anything that might possibly be useful someday, so it’s not like we didn’t have a ton of wine corks to work with. And, seriously, doesn’t this look easy enough?
According to the person who posted the video, “You will need 150 gently used corks, one glue gun, 6 large glue sticks and 1 hour of your time.” I think those are all optimistic assumptions. As much as I was convinced that, yeah, I could build this in an hour after watching the video one time, I was, as usual, sadly mistaken. After re-watching the video multiple times, sorting through wine corks that almost, but didn’t quite measure up, and burning my fingers on all the excess hot glue I had to use, I finally finished.
This is a picture of the wine cork birdhouse I made last year. It got a lot of likes and shares on Facebook, but all I could see were the flaws. Notice how one side of the roof is longer than the other? Notice the big globs of glue here and there? I knew in my heart I could do better. I also knew what I wanted to do differently and why, and I knew how to make it easier on myself. I’m going to share that information with you, complete with pictures and diagrams and hints and tips. I used 172 corks instead of 150, and I used synthetic corks instead of natural ones because that’s what I had. So go drink 172 bottles of wine. I’ll wait.
Back so soon? OK, let’s begin!
Here follows step-by-step instructions for how to make the wine cork birdhouse, illustrated by screen grabs from the video. This post contains a few affiliate links. I might make a little money if you click on those links, but I assure you it won’t cost you so much as a penny more than if you hadn’t clicked them. So give a girl a break. Web hosting and wine isn’t cheap. ☺
- About 150 to 200 wine corks. tip: natural corks are easier to work with, but synthetic corks hold their shape better and hold up to the weather better.
- Glue gun and glue sticks OR E6000 Craft Adhesive. tip: E6000 is a more permanent solution and a lot less messy because you’ll use less. Plus, you won’t burn yourself or anything else.
- A very sharp knife OR a hacksaw with a fresh blade OR a Dremel to cut the roof angles. tip: I recommend the hacksaw, especially if you’re using synthetic corks. The Dremel will take longer, but will put less stress on the glued pieces.
Warning! Glue guns get hot. Melted hot glue sticks are hot. Knives and saws are sharp. A Dremel is a power tool and can be dangerous. E6000 Craft Adhesive emits hazardous fumes until it dries and should only be used in a well-ventilated area. And you didn’t really drink 172 bottles of wine just now, did you?
You’ll need 20 corks for the floor, making 5 rows of 4 corks glued end to end as in the picture to the right. That shiny stuff in the picture is a sheet of heavy plastic used to protect your work surface. Another advantage of using the plastic is that it peels off easily in case any glue seeps through and sticks your corks to the work surface.
There are 23 vertical corks glued to three sides of the base for the first row of the walls. Your number may vary depending on the diameter of your corks. Don’t worry about making the corks on the back wall line up perfectly with the side walls, but do make sure the corks are lined up at the exact edges of one narrow side that we’re leaving open for the front
Add 23 more corks for the second row of the back and side walls.
Set this whole thing aside to let the glue dry a little bit. While it’s resting, you can work on the roof. Or drink a little more wine.
You’ll need to make two identical rectangles for the roof. You can see in steps two and three above that the side walls are about 10 corks long, so each side of the roof will have to be long enough to cover that and leave a bit of an overhang. Use 72 corks to make 2 rectangles that are each 12 rows of 3 corks.
The front wall will be built differently because we need to create an opening for the birds to enter their new home. I count 19 horizontal corks for the front wall, with 3 rows of three at the bottom, 2 rows of just 1 cork per row along each edge, and 2 rows of 3 across the top. Notice that you’re extending the front wall about 3 corks higher than the side walls, so you’ll need to add 9 corks to the back wall in 3 horizontal rows of 3 to make it the same height as the front. If you’ve been using synthetic corks for this project, you may want to switch to using 17 natural corks just for the top three rows of the front and back walls.
Now comes the hard part. In order to place the roof pieces to make a peaked roof, we need to cut two 45° angles in both the front and the back walls, like an upside down triangle shape. The tip of the inverted triangle will be exact center of the center cork in the top row. The sides will angle down to meet the height of the side walls. The picture to the right shows the birdhouse after the front wall has been cut. You can see that the crafter was using a serrated knife to slice through the corks.
I can tell you from bitter experience that this method will only work if you’re using real corks that were made from the bark of a tree and are soft enough to slice through. The corks I was using were made of a synthetic plastic material that is much harder than natural cork. A serrated knife, no matter how sharp, is not going to slice through easily, if at all. If you’re using synthetic corks, make your roof cuts with either an extremely sharp small handsaw or a hacksaw with a fresh blade or with a Dremel. And be careful!
Put a generous layer of glue along each angle of the roof, both the front wall and the back wall. Then place your roof pieces on top of the angles. Notice the placement in the second picture below. The tops of the roof pieces do not overlap!
If you used real corks and hot glue, you’ll probably want to go over all the seams with some extra glue just to seal it up tight and strong. You may also need to check for any large gaps and fill them by gluing in some narrow slices of cork. If you used synthetic corks and E6000, you probably don’t have any gaps because your corks were more uniformly sized. You just need to let it sit for a day or two to cure.
If you try this project, I’d love to know how it worked out for you. Please share your experience in the comments section. And maybe recommend some good wine now that you’re a connoisseur.