There’s an old saying that goes, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” And that’s pretty much what today's project is all about. If you’ve ever put a bird feeder in your backyard, you know the seemingly constant struggle of trying to keep squirrels away from the birdseed. Even a “squirrel proof” bird feeder can be taken over and completely consumed by these backyard thieves. So we decided instead of trying to stop them from getting the upper hand, we’d give squirrels the attention they’re clearly begging for and give them their own custom squirrel feeder. The best part? They’ll look like they’re sitting at a miniature picnic table while they’re eating!
Whether you’re hoping to distract squirrels from your bird feeder or you have a soft spot for these little animals (or both), this squirrel feeder is a great way to bring nature up close and get to know the creatures in your backyard. Not to mention, this is a great project to do with your kids and is something they’ll enjoy and learn from after it’s built!
Step 1: Cut wood
The first step is to cut your wood to length with a handsaw and a miter box. Measure out each length individually and then line up the mark with the slots in the miter box. Clamp your wood in place and cut with a handsaw. For the angled pieces, 22.5° is one of the angled slots on the miter box.
Cut the one-by-four to one 6” length for the tabletop, and one 3 1/2” length for the backsplash.
Cut the one-by-two into two 6” lengths for the benches, one 7 ¼” length for the crossbar, and four 3 ⅝” lengths with parallel 22.5° angles for the legs.
Step 2: Glue legs to tabletop and bench to crossbar
This entire project is put together with glue because the pieces are so small and angled that it would be difficult to hammer in nails. Screws would drive up the cost of the project, and glue is really all you need to build a sturdy miniature table for the squirrels. This also makes the project super easy to involve kids! If you’re building this yourself and don’t want to wait for glue to dry, you can of course opt for screws or nails instead.
Position angled legs at either end of the one-by-four tabletop. Use any of the other pieces to line up the legs ¾” from either end of the table. Secure in place with wood glue, and set aside to dry.
Next mark the underside of the bench pieces. Mark ¼” in from the long edge and then measure down the length and mark at 2 ⅞” and 4 ⅜”. These marks will show you where to place your crossbar. Add glue within the pencil marks and position the crossbar on top (using the other bench as a support while it dries). You can mark both benches at this point, but only glue the crossbar to one of the benches in this step.
Step 3: Glue remaining bench to crossbar
Once the pieces from the last step have dried, it’s time to fit them together and glue on the other bench. Lay the table upside down and position the crossbar across the underside of the table. Line up the crossbar with the other bench piece and add glue to secure in place.
Allow the glue to dry (I used a clamp to hold the bench and crossbar together so I could move this out of my way while it dried).
Step 4: Add spike and glue down benches
Now is the time to add something to hold the food on your mini picnic table. We opted for a long screw that could skewer fruits and veggies. You could alternatively attach a small bowl for nuts, although I would make sure it has some drainage holes so it doesn’t just fill up with rain water.
First, make a mark on the tabletop that’s centered side to side but slightly offset from the middle of the table lengthwise. You’ll want to make sure that it’s far enough over that you can drive the screw up through the bottom of the table without the crossbar getting in the way. And then, because the mark was on the top of the table, I found it easiest to drive the screw down through the tabletop first to establish the placement, then remove it, flip the table around and drive it from the other direction.
Now that the screw is in place, please be extra careful as you finish the product so that you don’t scratch yourself.
Step 5: Glue legs in place
Position the benches on the legs, making sure they’re level. Mark with a pencil, then apply a line of glue to each of the four legs to secure the bench seats in place.
Step 6: Add backsplash
The backsplash of the picnic table is entirely there for easy hanging of your squirrel feeder. If you plan on putting it on a flat surface, you could use small nails or screws at the bottom of the legs to toenail the table in place. Otherwise, the squirrels might run off with your feeder!
For the backsplash, I wanted some extra security, so I added a couple screws along with the glue.
Step 7: Hang and add a snack
Hang your picnic table squirrel feeder by driving a couple screws (or nails) through the backsplash.
And lastly, it’s crucial that you add food to your squirrel feeder! Knowing the best kinds of food is really important, and despite all of the photos across the internet of squirrel feeders with ears of corn, I learned with some quick research that corn isn’t the best for squirrels. It’s basically the squirrel equivalent of junk food. It’s best to stick with non-citrus fruits, fresh vegetables, and nuts. There are some nuts to stay away from (like raw peanuts), however, so be careful. If you want to learn more about squirrel food, check out this link. There are also some varieties of packaged squirrel food, including a “squirrel log,” which seems to be appealing because of how long it takes for the squirrels to gnaw away at it.
It may take a week or two before the squirrels realize where and what your feeder is, but don’t give up hope—they’ll find it eventually!