In our previous post you learned a little history of, and how to make your own sweet tea. In this edition you’ll learn how to make a bat house! You’re probably thinking why would I want to make a bat house that’s kinda scary?!
Actually, bats have gotten a bad rap they can be very beneficial to an area especially if you are trying to control the local insect population. I don’t know about the area that you’re from but here in Central Florida in the summer months the mosquito’s can at times become almost unbearable where you can’t walk from your front door to your mailbox without getting “eaten up.” I did some research online, and found that a single bat can eat up to 3,000 insects (mosquito’s included) in a night! Multiply that by the 10 or so bats that should be able to easily fit in this three chamber bat house, and you can see that we’ve got a great form of natural pest control without having to spray a bunch of crazy chemicals all over the yard.
I found a great set of bat house plans which we used for this project over at the Florida Bat Conservancy website. Check out their website, if you find yourself really getting into this and want further information on bats they are a great resource. Anyways, let’s go ahead and get started it’s time to learn how to make a bat house.
Step 1 (Grab a glass, fill with Sweet Tea. Repeat.)
Grab yourself a tall glass of Sweet Tea, when it’s empty refill. It’s gonna make this whole project all the more worth it!
Step 2 (Chop down a tree and gather the wood.)
You will need the following pieces of wood for this project, you may have them around the house. If not head up to your favorite hardware store or lumber yard:
- One 3′ long 1 x 8″ board (you may have to buy this at 6′ long and cut it down)
- One 8′ long 1 x 6″ board
- One 6′ long 1 x 4″ board
- One 3′ long 1 x 1″ (you may have to buy it at 6′ long and cut it down)
- One 2′ x 2′ sheet of T-111 exterior siding or rough sided plywood
- 46 – 1 1/2″ #8 galvanized or other exterior wood screws
- Exterior grade silicone (to seal the bat house when complete)
- Roofing Shingles (optional, I had some extras at the house and used them)
- Exterior grade deck sealer or stain (optional, helps your bat house last longer)
Step 3 (Measure twice, cut once.. hopefully)
Time to start making some cuts to your wood. If you are uncomfortable cutting wood or simply don’t have the tools to do so most home improvement stores will cut wood down to your required sizes. It may cost you around .25 cents a cut but it’s for sure a time saver if you don’t have proper equipment.
- From the 1×8″ cut one 16″ section (roof), and one 14″ section (back).
- From the 1×6″ cut six 14″ sections (front & back).
- From the 1×4″ cut one 14″ section (back), and then cut two pieces at 23 1/2″ long with a 21 1/2″ cut on the front of the board (this creates a 30 degree angle needed for the slope of the roof, see picture below)
- From the 1×1″ cut four 17″ sections (spacers)
- From the T-111 or plywood cut one 17″ x 12″ section and one 16″ x 12″ section (if you have a larger piece of plywood you can cut at 12 1/2″ instead of 12″ for a flush fit.
- Bevel the 1x8x16″ roof section that you cut to 30 degrees, this is best done with a circular or table saw and will ensure that the roof fits properly on the bat house.
- Bevel one of the 14″ X 6″ pieces at 30 degrees. This piece will be used on the front of the bat house and the bevel is necessary to match the slope of the roof.
At this step I have cut all the necessary pieces to their required lengths and angles.
In the South, we make bat houses on the front porch!
Step 4 (Put it together)
At this point you should have all your pieces of wood cut, and ready for assembly. It is a good idea to go back and verify that you didn’t make any mistakes in cutting before you start this step.
Begin assembly of the bat house by placing the two side pieces on a flat surface with the long sides up. Place one of the 14×6″ pieces that you cut earlier on top and align it with the bottom of the two side pieces (see image below). Use two wood screws per side to secure it. Be sure to drill pilot holes for all screws as this will prevent the wood from splitting. The plans recommend using a 3/32″ bit for this, if you don’t have that just use something that is smaller than the diameter of your wood screws.
NOTE: As you put the bat house together in the next few steps it would be a good idea to use both wood glue and exterior silicone to seal the entire house, bats prefer dry spaces.
Repeat the exact steps that we made in the image above with a 6″, 4″, 6″ and 8″ piece, in that order. This will place the 8″ piece at the top of the bat house (see below images for an example).
back pieces being installed, notice the use of caulking to prevent leaks.
Bat House with a completed back
When you have completed the back of your bat house lay it flat, and get your 1×1″ pieces and place them inside the house in the corners as shown in the image below. Be sure to leave 4½”space in the bottom of the bat house so that the bats will have an area to land before they crawl up into one of the three chambers.
Once your 1×1’s are in place take the plywood or rough siding that you cut to 17″ and place it directly on top of the 1×1’s. BE SURE YOU PRE-DRILL YOUR HOLES before screwing the plywood down through the 1×1’s or your bat house will end up looking like mine with split wood. The plans recommend using three screws per side, and be sure that your they attach securely all the way through to the back of the bat house to help strengthen the entire product.
Now take the last two 1×1’s and put them directly above the other 1×1’s, next grab your 16″ plywood piece and position it so that they are both level at the top of the bat house, leaving an inch of space at the bottom where the bats crawl into. Once everything is in place go ahead and pre drill your holes and securely screw everything down being careful not to hit the screws you installed in the previous step.
I didn’t follow my advice, always pre-drill your holes to prevent splitting!
Now it’s time to put the front of the bat house on, go ahead and grab the 1x6x14″ piece that you beveled at a 30 degree angle during the cutting phase. Line it up with the top of the bat house so that it matches the angle of your two side pieces, this way your roof will have a perfect slope. Pre drill two holes per side and attach this board to your side pieces.
Next put another 1x6x14″ directly under the piece you just attached and follow the same steps as above (pre drill and two screws per side). Once this piece is completed grab another 1x6x14″ piece, place it about 1/2″ below the board you just installed to allow for ventilation (see picture below) and pre drill / screw it in.
Just about finished!
Once you have the front pieces attached all that’s left is to center your roof (1x8x16″ with 30 degree bevel), pre drill and attach it. It is important that you using a good amount of exterior grade silicone or caulking where the roof meets the back of the bat house as this is where you will have the highest chance for leaks.
I went an extra step and actually installed some extra roofing shingles I had in my shed on the bat house which along with the exterior stain I used should equal to many years of use. I’ll try to take one with the shingles on it for you all and post it soon!
It is recommended that you install your bat house at least 10 feet above the ground (higher the better) and on a post (4×4 or larger) or building, in an area that receives at least a few hours of sun each day. Everything I have read says not to install your bat house in a tree as it leaves the bats open to predators and is often too shaded and has a lower chance of being inhabited. If you put up your bat house before the spring and all of the conditions are right there is a chance you will have bats living in your bat house by summer!
This concludes our how to make a bat house tutorial, what do you all think? Are you going to give this a try, was the post confusing or well laid out and easy to follow? Go fill up that glass of Sweet Tea that you got in Step 1 and let me know what you think!