BL Workshop

Build a Purple Martin House for the birds

final_martin_hs.jpgMore than 100 years ago, Native Americans made homes for purple martins out of gourds, attracting the friendly swallows to their camps. Build a four-family house and attract these bug-eating birds to your yard to help make your summer pest-free.


  • 1⁄2-inch-thick plywood
  • Saw
  • Drill
  • Screwdriver
  • Wood screws
  • 4 small hinges
  • 2 gate-hook sets
  • Some screen
  • Stapler
  • All-purpose caulk
  • Primer
  • White outdoor oil-based paint
  • Paintbrush


Cut the following from 1/2-inch-thick plywood:

  • One piece, 29 1 ⁄2 inches long and 15 1 ⁄2 inches wide, for the base
  • Two pieces, 18 1 ⁄2 by 7 inches, for the sides
  • Two pieces, 15 1 ⁄2 by 7 inches, for the front and back
  • One piece, 14 1 ⁄2 by 7 inches, for the main interior divider
  • Two pieces, 9 by 7 inches, for interior dividers
  • Two pieces, 7 by 5 inches, for the porch dividers
  • One piece, 19 1 ⁄2 by 15 1 ⁄2 inches, for the ceiling
  • One piece, 11 by 11 inches, for the roof peaks
  • One piece, 29 1 ⁄2 by 11 1 ⁄2 inches, for the roof
  • One piece, 29 1 ⁄2 by 12 inches, for the roof

bird_step1.jpgSTEP 1: Attach the sides to the base, leaving 5 1⁄2 inches on each end.

bird_step2.jpgSTEP 2: Drill four 5⁄16-inch holes,

2 1⁄4 inches and 4 1⁄2 inches from each end and 1 inch from the top of the main interior divider.

bird_step3.jpgSTEP 3: Attach the interior dividers to the base with screws.

bird_step4.jpgSTEP 4: Drill six 5⁄16-inch holes through the floor of each of the four compartments, one in each corner and one midway along each side.

bird_step5.jpgSTEP 5: Drill four 5⁄16-inch holes in each of the front and back panels, 1 inch from the top and 2 3⁄4 inches and 5 inches from both ends. Cut two 2 1⁄16-inch-diameter holes in each panel, each hole 3 inches from the side and 1 inch from the bottom.

bird_step6.jpgSTEP 6: Hinge the front and back pieces to the sides. Secure an eye catch to the free end of the front and back panels, and screw the hook into the sides.

bird_step7.jpgSTEP 7: Attach the porch dividers to the front and back between the entrance holes.

bird_step8.jpgSTEP 8: Cut the 11-inch square of wood along the diagonal to create roof peaks. Drill a 2 1⁄8-inch hole 3 inches from the top of each peak. Cut a piece of screen and staple over each hole. Attach the peaks to the front and back of the ceiling.

bird_step9.jpgSTEP 9: Attach the ceiling to the sides. Drill a 2 1⁄8-inch hole centered over each compartment and cover with screen.

bird_step10.jpgSTEP 10: Attach the narrow roof panel to the peaks. Position the wide panel so it overlaps the top edge of the shorter panel and secure to the roof peak. Seal the roof edge with caulk and finish the exterior with primer and white outdoor oilbased paint. Mount your house on a wooden post using angle irons or on a telescoping pole with a floor flange of the appropriate diameter.

The Purple Martin Conservation Association offers tips for choosing your martin house location and the best dates to open the house in your region at

Comments about “Build a Purple Martin House for the birds”

  1. Bogman says:

    I believe a half moon entrance hole is a preferred solution to discouraging unwanted pest birds.

  2. Jess says:

    How much wood is needed? And how much does it cost?

  3. corby says:

    Out of the three I built for the kids Christmas, two have Martins.. I’m sure the third one will in time.. Thanks for a great design!!

  4. Raven says:

    Mr. Recklies and Mr. Hurley many thanks for the illustrations and complete instructions on simply a first-rate set of plans. Mine is mounted on a sixteen foot treated 4×4 and awaits the first Purple Martin Scout’s arrival. Your hard work on design is appreciated!

  5. Raven says:

    Chris & Kevin- Thank you kindly for the excellent plans, illustrations and descriptions on this project. It is simply first-rate.

  6. corby says:

    Built three at one time for the kids Christmas present. I will put them up in the spring.. Challenging for someone who doesn’t do a lot of woodwork.. I’m very happy with the design…

  7. albert einstien says:

    thanks for the tip about purple martin house plans!
    i plan to build larger bird houses in the future.

  8. bonz says:

    could you not put the screen and use that for more birds

  9. bbbees says:

    I am getting ready to build a martin house with your plan out of cedar. Hope the birds like it.

  10. Anonymous says:

    can you size this down ? the house is very heavy

  11. Someone says:

    This seems like a lot of work i dont think i will try it

  12. Mo says:

    Thnak you for cool plan. This is really great. Others charge money for a simple plan

  13. Gua rtge says:

    Awesome any other woodworking ideas

  14. koo says:

    cool stuff

  15. PEE WEE MAN says:

    Like it

  16. random guy on the street says:

    this is great! my mom was just talking about buying one, but now i can make one for her!

  17. I says:

    Ill put a bird feeder right next to it.

  18. ? says:

    This is the perfect birdhouse for virtually any small bird. Thanks.

  19. troop 7 jace says:


  20. The Man with the Banjo says:

    At first I thought that it meant a purple house for martins. :D

  21. jay says:

    about how much will this cost

  22. boo says:

    I like birds

  23. Itchy says:

    Im 11 and I built 2 one for my grandpa and one for my mom. Thanks!!

  24. jake123 says:

    i am so going to build this for a 4-h project!!!!!!!

  25. dlshggdhfgdfgdhf says:

    uhh.. icant really say any thing

  26. Birdhousebuilder38621 says:

    This is a difficult project to attempt to build. The purple martin songbirds will refuse to use this type of birdhouse if the entrance to each individual room does not have the correct diameter of the entrance to each room in the birdhouse as accepted to the correct species of songbird. If a person can properly build this project, it is a great accomplishment to build this type of birdhouse. This is difficult to build.

  27. shan says:

    thanks so much for the pattern for martins, we are new at this so we are still learning. again thanks

  28. Gecko says:

    im agirl

    Im so going to use this idea for

    my Quarter project

  29. gasrcpro says:

    I am going to build this in my wood working class

  30. kishimoto says:

    That Is awsome

  31. 251517 297 says:

    I am definitely going to build it.

  32. huner says:

    it’s funny OK!!!!

  33. aj says:

    i was a cubscout

  34. !slacker! says:


  35. Anonymous says:


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