In need of a safe, inconspicuous spot to keep a spare gate key, I made this fake nesting box. It could be a permanent nesting site for cavity nesters too, with a little modification. Though I have never forgotten or lost my keys in all my 68 years, things could one day change. A Masters key safe works well for many situations but can draw attention to its location. The advice that came with the key safe is to conceal it where possible. The nesting box works well because it’s distinctive and attractive and weatherproof too. My first thoughts were for a fall-front followed by a lift up lid and that would work but I wanted access that gave my largish hands room to punch the buttons, squeeze the clasp and allow the drop down access door of the key-safe to give me more open access. Flipping to the right answered all issues for a right hander.
Additionally, the tri-sided geometrical shape gave strength with a stable design sufficient to resist distortion through atmospheric changes in humidity. There’s no joinery in this, just butt joints with screws or nails.
The size of this nesting box is good for wrens, titmice, chickadees and other small cavity nesters. You can scale the box for larger species and size the hole to preclude or include whichever you want. 1 1/2″ for Bluebird, Chickadee 1 1/8″, Titmouse 1 1/4″, Nuthatch 1″ to 1 1/4″. Place 5 to 10 feet from the ground for any and all except the wren house which has a 1 1/8″ hole and should be placed 3 to 10 feet from the ground.
This project has no joinery so it’s simple to make and though I have screwed the parts together it can be glued and nailed too.
Layout the cut lines as per drawing. Leave about 1/16″ between the knifewalls and knifewall all the way around to prevent splintering. For the side pieces you can use a single cut to cut the two parts at an angle of 75-degrees.
Now pick the pieces for the non-hinged piece. One side piece, the bottom piece and the back piece. These three pieces will be glued and screwed together.
Place the side piece in the vise bottom edge uppermost and place the bottom piece onto the side piece.
Pre drill 3/16″ holes through the roof into the top edges of the side piece and the front piece. Glue and drive the screws.
Hingeing the front unit
The brass hinges are hinged only into one side and not both pieces.
Mark the depth onto the outside face of the back edge of the box side.
You can add a perch or not, up to you.
Drill a 1/4″ hole half an inch down from the bottom edge of the entry hole and centred in the width.
On one of my key-safes I used a base coat of chalk paint in barn red followed by a second coat of granite black. That’s the one at the top of this article. I wanted to sand through. The last waterproofing was two coats with an outdoor water-based varnish. Sand smooth between coats and on the last sanding between chalk paint and varnish sand through to the depth you like.