old timer

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

How to Make Bird Feeders from Old Porch Lights

Okay!  So, last week I told you I have this giant GIANT mess in my back yard?  I'm trying to clean up stuff and use it as I go.  HUM!  That's not usually how it goes around here.  SO!  Here's one fun thing I made out old porch lights.  You might remember these from an earlier post.


Well, here’s a little ditty on how to make a quick, fun and inexpensive little bird feeder!


This WILL get a little long!  SO!  Bear with me.  There are 3 parts to this. 

First part: gutting the light. 
Second part: mounting the light. 
Third part: making a bottom to hold the seed in.

PART ONE!  Find the lights you like.  The before picture are the lights I bought at a thrift shop for $1.  YES!  That’s ONE DOLLAR each.  These are going to become bird feeders very soon.

Now we are going to tear each light apart.  My favorite part of some thing like this! 

While taking these apart I did each one a little bit different just to see what happens.  It’s okay.  You can do the same thing.  You DO NOT have to follow along with this exactly as I show you here.  If you do a step before I do,,, it’s okay!  If you do the steps out of order ,,, it’s okay!

Pull out the light bulb.

On a couple I took out the light bulb first because there was no glass inside.  In this case ,,, NOT a smart idea.  That was the hard way.  On 2 sides of this light I found a nut.  Once I unscrewed both, the whole bottom part came off making getting the light bulb out much easier. 

Can you see the nut?

Unscrew the nut all the way. 

Next, take the glass or plastic out of the sides of the light.  Mine had a couple lips on the inside that held them in place.  I just yanked and hoped.  Some came out that way, a couple did not.  That’s where I love my hammer!  YEP!  Give it a little smack over a bucket or some paper or some thing that will catch what ever it is that you just broke.  I love that part!  CRASH!

Pull out the glass or plastic.


See that wire inside???
Cut it off! 

YEP!  Just whack it off.  I used a pair of side cutters.  A heavy duty cutter of any kind will work.  They just need to be slim enough to get into that opening.  Don’t even try your scissors.  EEK!  Cutting this would ruin your scissors.  On the back of the light is the rest of the wire.  Pull it out.  Now, in my case, that wire will be used for some thing else.  So, I kept all of it.

Now twist off the ceramic piece that held the light bulb. 

HUM!  Easier said than done huh?  Some of them are tough to get off.  On the back of the light is a nut.  If you can put a wrench or socket on it to hold it in place, then turn the ceramic piece it should come apart.  Or hold the ceramic piece and turn the nut until it comes off.  Some times these are rusted in place.  One of mine was.  By the time I got it apart, it was in many little pieces.  That’s okay.  Just toss it out.

the nut on the back

By the way, I keep 2 five gallon buckets near my work bench all the time.  During projects like this when I have steel I want to throw away, it goes in one bucket.  When I have copper or brass to throw away, it goes in the other bucket.  THEN when they are full, they are ready to go to the metal scraper for cash.

At this point in your project you should have just the bare bones of the light. 

It's naked!

No wire, no sides, no nothin’!  YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Place the nuts back on the screws that held the top and bottom together.  Voila, part one done! 

So I decided I wanted to mount these on a piece of wood.  These will be going to a show with me for sale.  So, this will let the buyer mount them easier. 

Soooooo, here we go with PART TWO.

First, I took a long board and got a good look at how this would look when it’s finished.  I also got to measure and figure out the board’s length.  Remember you are going to put 2 screw holes in the board so you can mount it on a fence in your yard.  That means you have to be able to have room between the ends of the bird feeder and where your hand will hold the screwdriver.  Some times when I am not paying enough attention I put that hole UNDER the end of some thing and you can NOT screw in that screw. 

This board is too long.  If I leave room on each end to put the holes where screws will go to hold this onto a fence,,, how much board do I really need???  If you cut yours too long, it's okay!  Better too long, than too short!

I used an old fence board I had laying around in that GIANT mess.  Once Upon a Time I stenciled it with the words: IT ALL BEGAN IN A GARDEN.  Because of the length of this board I cut it into 3 pieces.  I am really hoping some one will buy all 3.

See the holes on each end of the board?  This is where you'll screw the whole thing to your fence.

Now it’s time to drill holes in the fence board where the screws will hold this fun piece to your real fence.  You can do this now or after the whole thing is put together.  It will be easier for most people to do it now.  Nothing will be in your way when you drill.  Either way will work fine!  Mark your holes maybe an inch from each end of the board and close to the center of the board.  Drill a small hole.  Drilling a smaller hole will be what they might call a pilot hole.  It will keep the board from splitting like it could without this hole. 

Was that confusing?  Let’s say your board is 20 inches long and 4 inches wide and it is laying flat, right in front of you.  Start from the left end.  Measure one inch toward the right.  Mark it with a pencil.  At that pencil mark, measure 2 inches from the top towards you.  That is where you want to drill your hole.  Mark it with a black felt pen.  Now measure 19 inches from the left toward the right.  Mark it with a pencil.  At that pencil mark, measure 2 inches from the top towards you.  That is where you want to drill your hole.  Mark it with a black felt pen.   DRILL where your 2 black felt pen marks are!!! 

Look inside the feeder.  See that hole back there. 

That is one of the holes we will use to mount this onto our wood.  Notice how large that hole is?  It’s larger than the top of the screw I will use to mount this.   I’ll show you in a minute what to do.  Piece of cake!
Next we are going to drill another hole.  You will need 2 screws to keep this mounted onto your boards.  SO!  Let’s drill it.

I don’t think you need to worry about exactly how far apart to make your holes.  Just go down a couple inches and drill another hole.  What size hole???  Well, that depends upon your screws.

This wonderful tool

goes every where I go. 

I would be lost with out this.  You can get one of these at any hardware store.  They aren’t cheap (unless you can find a plastic one), but, I save so much time with this.  What happens here?  In this case put one of the screws you will use in a hole. 

Not quite right.

For this hole you want it to go all the way through so the bottom of the screw head is sitting on top of the hole. 

AHHHHH!  Just right!

Now you know exactly what size drill bit you will need.  SCHWEET!!!

When you are finished drilling the new hole, place your feeder on your board.  Center it as good as you can.  Remember to leave room on the top and bottom of your board for the mounting holes if you haven't drilled them yet.  These are the holes where you’ll place a screw through them so these will hang on your fence.  Screw in a screw in the hole you just drilled. 

Tighten this ALMOST all the way.

You can measure and all that.  NOT ME!  Just wing it.  It doesn’t matter if it’s just a tad bit off.  The birds won’t mind.  They’ll be so happy with what they are eating; they’ll just give you a one winged salute.  That’s their way of saying thanks.  It’s better than a one finger salute♥!!!

Now, look at the back of the board. 

See the sides hanging over the edge of the board???  Very close to even on each side.

Is it close enough to being straight???  IF not, move the feeder just a bit.  Close enough!!!!

Next, put in the next screw in the hole that was already there.  Remember how big the hole was?  Find a washer that will fit over the whole hole and will slide on your screw without being really sloppy. 

A little sloppy is okay.  Screw it in!   Then tighten the first screw.

OKAY!  So, your piece is finished except for one small piece. 


YEP!  The bottom of the feeder.  You have a fun feeder, but when you put food in it right now ,,, it falls out!  OOPS! 

Step Three:  You have many choices for this.  I had an old piece of Plexiglas here from a zillion years ago.  I used it.  You could go to your local glass shop where they sell windows and tell them you'd like to buy some Plexiglas and have them cut it for you.  Just be sure to bring in your lights with you.  They would need to measure.  They cut it wrong from your measurements.  TOUGH!  They cut it wrong from their measurements and they have to do it again at their expense!  

I measured the inside of the bottom of the feeder.  Sorry I didn't get better pictures for this part!!!  It was about 2.5 inches across in each direction.  It’s a square hole.  So, I used a ruler to measure 2.5 inches from one side toward the middle of the Plexiglas.  Then I moved down that side a couple inches and did that again.  Then I lined up the ruler from one of those marks to the other mark and drew a line all the way down the Plexiglas.  Then I used a jig saw to cut down the line just on the inside of the line.  I didn’t go right over the line.  I went just on the inside of the line making it just slightly less than my original 2.5 inch measurement.  This way it will fit perfectly.  Then I took that strip and cut 3 squares out of it doing exactly the same thing.  Measure 2.5 inches and cut on the inside of that line.

Plexiglas comes with a sticky, thick paper over it to keep it from harm.  Just peel it off when you are ready to use it.


I placed my squares inside the feeder then hung them on my back fence. 

I'm very happy with these 3!!!

My poor fence is trying desperately to fall over.  My neighbor has hit my fence so many times ... it’s sad.

As you can see,

Can you see the Plexiglas?

Now you can see the Plexiglas!

these are fun. 

Now, these aren’t feeders you can fill with tons of seed and walk away from for a week.  These are more like put a hand full out and come back the next day or even that night and do it again.  I’m thinking I might go back and redo the bottom.  Maybe drill a small hole in the middle of the Plexiglas and put a small bolt through there from the bottom up.  Then I could add a nut on the top to hold it in place.  The bolt would reach up about an inch high and I could place a block of suet on it.  I’m not really sure yet.  I’ll try a couple things then see what the birds like.  Once I figure that out, all 3 will probably get the same finish.  Only time will tell.

I hope you understood all the instructions.  If not, just let me know where I can help you if you’d like to try this. 

It comes down to:  no matter what light fixture you use, you have to tear out the insides and hang it with a bottom that can hold some food. 

I have a couple different lights in the garage I might try doing them too only in a different way.  I’ll see if they are any better.  If so, I’ll post them later!

Thanks so much for checking this out!  I sure appreciate it!!!

Have a good one and thanks for stopping by!  Shelley





  1. Replies
    1. Hello! Thank you so much! These were so much fun. It looks like a lot of work. BUT! It really isn't. Just lots of little steps. Have a great day! Shell