How to build a concrete bird bath

This concrete bird bath is as spacious as a good sized puddle and shallow enough to make a pleasant splashing place for birds of all sizes; it also fills itself. To make one like it, follow these step-by-step directions:

Making the base. Dig a hole about a foot deep and 20 inches square at the spot where you want to build the bird bath. Install a pipe from the house water line to the bird bath using an elbow joint to bring it up perpendicular to the base.

Making the pedestal. Make a form of 30-inch lengths of 1 by 8-inch lumber around the water pipe and over the hole, support-ing it with two 2 by 4’s . Drill a hole about 2 inches from the top on one side of the form to bring the end of the water pipe through. Nail % by 1 1/2-inch stock in the inside corners of the form to reinforce it and at the same time give a design to the pedestal. Pour in the concrete. (It takes about two wheelbarrow loads.)

Before the concrete sets, push two 30-inch-long reinforcing rods down into it. Also, place a metal flange -12 inches in diameter -on top, holding it in place near the center by running two galvanized bolts through the metal into the wet concrete.

After the concrete has seasoned for 15 days, remove the forms and fasten the flange securely in place by tightening nuts onto the bolts.

Making the platform. Take two pieces of 3/e-inch plywood, each 4 feet long and 2 feet wide. Cut a half circle in each piece so the plywood can be fitted around the flange and be flush with its surface. Nail the two pieces of plywood togetherso they can be easily knocked off later. Nail a leg to each corner of the plywood platform to hold it in place.

For sides of the form, use 2 by 4’s, 38 inches long. Fit them together so the end of one board butts the side of the next. Be sure they are straight and level. Within the square formed by the 2 by 4’s, fit a square of 1Va by 2 1/2-inch lumber. This will form the lip around the edge of the platform. Place a wooden dowel at one spot along this lip to make a hole for the water line .

Lay four 3/8-inch reinforcing bars in a grid pattern on the bottom of the form before pouring the concrete. Use a piece of 1 ½ by 2-foot stock nailed to a 4-foot board to float the concrete and shape the bowl. Dust cement lightly over the top and hand trowel the surface to make it smooth. When the concrete has hardened, remove all forms.

Use copper tubing to connect the water line with a float valve (the type sold for watering poultry) at one side of the platform.

Making a portable bird bath. First, form a mound of moist earth not more than 3 inches high upon a flat surface such as ply-wood or hardboard. The mound may be shaped unevenly by hand or more exactly with a template made from a board curved to form the inner surface of the shallow pool. The interior tex-ture of the finished bath depends on the smoothness of the dirt mound before the mix is poured. Don’t make the surface too smooth; birds don’t like a slick surface.

Around the finished mound, build a wooden frame of 1 by 6-inch lumber in the dimensions you want the finished pool to be. The depth of this form must be 1 to 2 inches higher than the earth mound . Grease it well with light engine oil.

Pour just enough concrete mix into the form to settle around and over the earth mound. Lay a piece of wire mesh over the mound to strengthen the floor of the bird bath. Fill the frame to the top with concrete.

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