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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I finally decided to take the plunge and build a long overdue new loft. I have a good idea of what I want as far as it being functional and construction guidelines that I'm going by but I'm also feeling it out as I go and would appreciate any input. I'm pretty much starting over on raising white racing pigeons and have recently imported some new foundation birds from around the country and a couple from the local AU Racing Pigeon Club that I joined today. Oops, its late, I mean yesterday. I've started with a concrete slab 8'x16' and conventionally framed the back wall and framed the front out of 4"x4" posts because I like that look better than than 2x4s. This is from last weekend:

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Lumber is very expensive right now! It has gone up 180% since last Summer so I've been trying to conserve some but now that I'm into it I figure I need to do it right so I might have to sacrifice a bit as the old saying goes: "If a jobs worth doing, its worth doing well."

That said, I figured I'd save on material and not overhang the roof on the sides, living in Arizona with little rain, but now I'm wishing I'd done the overhang while thinking about the mess when it does rain. I am professional woodworker and there is another saying: "A good woodworker is one that can do a good job fixing his mistakes." - I've decided I need to do something about the overhang, I don't really want to demo to go back and extend the roof because that would get pretty involved to make it NOT look pieced in, for instance my facia board is one piece and adding to the end of that would likely be noticeable and I would have to at least partially pull up my roof sheeting to attached stringers and cut the edges back 3/4" to to nail the the edge of of the overhang sheeting. I'd rather just add something above the opening on the sides. There's not a lot of room above the openings to work with so this is a bit challenging, again, I'm feeling this out as I go and suggestions are welcome. Questions are also welcome - they help me to think. 馃 This is where I'm at right now:

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When I built my coop I did not do any overhang on the sides. Needless to say 4 years later ripped the roof off and put a 1 foot over hang. Anyways your craftsmanship looks great. Keep us updated .
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
When I built my coop I did not do any overhang on the sides. Needless to say 4 years later ripped the roof off and put a 1 foot over hang. Anyways your craftsmanship looks great. Keep us updated .
Thanks, I've decided I'm going to make some corbels with the tops tapered down and mount them just high enough above the door to clear it. For about a 16" overhang.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I made another detour today because I had wanted to sheet the interior walls which would make the coop much easier to clean, but I refused to pay $60 a sheet for 1/2" plywood to do it so I grudgingly decided I would just paint the studs and and OSB instead. BUT today I found some 1/4" sheets described as underlayment that is some solid core material with a nice smooth one-piece face out of bamboo, made in Vietnam. I didn't even know that could veneer bamboo like that but I was impressed with it and it was only $16 a sheet meaning I could do the interior walls for for under a $100! I had already built the interior partitions and tacked them in place so I had to take them down, apart and trim the width, but it is worth it. I seem to be taking 2 steps forward and then one step back but will have some time tomorrow and should be productive day. In the meantime, the corbels for the overhang change are also in the works.

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Finished the corbels today. They multiplied on me.

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I also built some 22 1/2" wide corbels to support the landing board. Adding the facia thickness of 1 1/2" gives me 24" and by ripping just one 48"x96" sheet in half it will span the 16'.

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Its kind of surprising how many parts are going into this pigeon coop. This evening I loaded up 5 precut 1/4" sheets for the interior walls, 2 precut 1/4" sheets and cleats for the ceiling above the interior partitions, 8 corbels, cleats and facia for the overhang, and 4 corbels for the landing board which I will cut out the cleats and facia for tomorrow. I work off of being visual and am anxious to see how things are taking shape.

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Hi Benjeon,

It's wonderful to see your loft built stage by stage. The workmanship seems superb.

Good choice on going with the bamboo mats ; much better than other alternatives, (cheap, eco-friendly + easily replaceable.)

Post more pics, keep us updated.

Best of Luck building your loft. 馃榾
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
It's wonderful to see your loft built stage by stage. The workmanship seems superb.
Glad you enjoy it. I thought it might be fun to share my experience in pigeon coop carpentry coming from a woodworker/cabinetmaker perspective.
Good choice on going with the bamboo mats ; much better than other alternatives, (cheap, eco-friendly + easily replaceable.)
Yes, it seems to be a good choice, I'm anxious to see it up tomorrow and maybe I'll wet an area to see if the grain comes out as I'm considering going with a clear coat for a natural wood interior instead of painting.
Post more pics, keep us updated.

Best of Luck building your loft. 馃榾
Thanks, will do. Its going to be real nice having a new loft!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Finished framing the overhang addition today. Also did the landing board framing:

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Stepping back to take a look I wasn't quite sure if I liked it and how to describe the overhang addition, made me think of the loft having short wings or maybe having ears ;)

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The design is kind of growing on me though. At least it will help keep the rain out and from the inside looking out is kind of cool...
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The 1/4" bamboo underlayment worked great for sturdy and smooth interior walls, I like it better than if I had used 1/2" fur plywood. A nice improvement over the exposed studs walls and very economical to boot! Very pleased with this find...

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Today, I put the interior partitions back in with a soffit above, sheeted the overhangs and the landing board and then sat back and daydreamed how I wanted to finish while accessing what it would take to get this project done so it wouldn鈥檛 drag out. Below is what I鈥檓 seeing is in front of me yet:

Building 3 sets of trap doors 鈥 And the framing to mount them. My plan is for them to also serve as me release doors so I designed a way to fold up the bobs and keep them out of the way. They will also lock shut because I don鈥檛 want any more visits in the night from mass murdering owls! Another thing I鈥檓 thinking about is having a shelf that folds up where the pigeons can land before heading out the door. I hope to train my birds to also crate by going into the crate set right outside the traps鈥

Building 10 nest boxes 鈥 They will be 2 stacks of 5 high side by side with an 8鈥 soffit above and about a 12鈥 space underneath or above the floor, each box will be 28鈥 wide, 12鈥 high and 12鈥 deep/however I may go a little deeper. I want the face(s) to be removeable for easy cleaning. To have things be low-maintenance is very important to me. The boxes will be built out of 3/4鈥 Moisture Resistant MDF and the faces out of Alder hardwood. I will use dowels and each box will have a solid folding down door, about 10鈥漻10鈥 on alternating sides, which kind of serves as a pigeon balcony. I have a couple pretty good original ideas on how to make the face frames removable and cabinetmaking is my bag so I just need a good plan.

As a custom woodworker, when my customers ask me if I can build them something, I have a saying: 鈥淚f it is made out of wood, and I can envision it, and the price is right, I can build it.鈥 I just hope I am envisioning a good design to do this. But if I鈥檓 going to get this done quickly, I also need to remind myself that this is for a pigeon coop and not a custom home.

Perches 鈥 I will also be building these out of MDF and will be building box perches, probably about 4 陆鈥 deep and as close to 12鈥漻12鈥 that fits in the openings. 2 units will be 5鈥檟5鈥 for 25 boxes each on the back wall. I will also make some window perches and maybe a couple community battle shelfs.

Trim 鈥 Looks like I鈥檓 going to have to make some special trim for the exterior corners.

3 Human doors 鈥 I bought some nice dry and straight 2鈥漻3s鈥 and plan to assemble the doors using half-lap joints.

Painting 鈥 I always prime before painting and will caulk after that and do a bit of prep work before painting 2 coats. I have 4 gallons of premium Sherwin-Williams, chocolate brown, that have been in the shop for a couple years so I guess that is the color, I will also trim in white. I hate painting but am good at it and believe a good prepping and the work you put into the paint job is worth it for the overall finished look and durability.

Attaching hardware cloth 鈥 I always find this job frustrating trying to get it tight and often the wire is not perfectly square which drives me crazy. I counted 24 squares I will have to cut and figuring an average of about 30 staples per square -therefore I said, forget stapling all that by hand! I found a 16g, 7/16鈥 crown staple gun and 1 陆 鈥 galvanized staples for $149 and was glad to pull the lever on that purchase figuring it would save a day鈥檚 work, probably my fingers and come in handy in the future!

It is easy to underestimate the work in building a pigeon coop!! Eh?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Worked a few odds and ends today. I didn't like the sharp edge on my landing board so I set up a bullnose rounding-over bit in the router and ran it on the top and bottom edges. It came out nice, the landing board is super straight and flat.

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After that I decided I better get everything all sealed up so it stays straight and doesn't start getting weathered or delaminating my plywood so I ran to Home Depot and bought some primer, Kilz - exterior, all weather sealer and severe stain blocker, oil based, and it is really some strong and adhesive primer! A scrub brush and mineral spirits wouldn't get it all off of me and i expect I'll be wearing this paint for a few days. I spent 5 hours priming and figure I have about 4 more hours to finish. Not a fun job but I'll be glad to get this part out of the way and the topcoats will be downhill after this.
 

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This is wonderful! This coop is going to be state of the art! I wonder how long all the new materials will need to off gas before putting birds in there.
How many birds do you currently have? And what are they housed in now?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
This is wonderful! This coop is going to be state of the art!
Thanks! Well, it is going to have few things built in it like I've never seen before but, the basic design with large long landing board and open front goes back to the design of the guy's coop that mentored me when I was 12 years old. I can hardly wait to watch a large flock all come in and land all at once!
I wonder how long all the new materials will need to off gas before putting birds in there.
Really, practically no time needed because the coop is very well ventilated, the entire front and half the sides are wire, and the temperatures have been in the 90s with dry Arizona heat.
How many birds do you currently have?
That's goes into a long story and what put me in gear to finally build a new loft, but I'll share the short version. I was really into my birds as a teenager until I went into the army and had to get rid of them. I had some pretty good white racing birds! Later, a few years I bought my land I started dreaming about getting some more and made a few calls to the racing clubs where an old timer got a hold of me said he would bring me out some young birds. The 10 birds or so he brought quickly turned into about 40 which was way to crowded for the small loft I had so I opened their release door and left it open. Before long I had over 60 birds just flying around the property doing what pigeons do and living the good free life. But before long a lot of hawks started hanging out and even with babies being produced the numbers dwindled and finally got down to about 12 birds that seemed to be hawk-smart and avoided getting caught. About 6 months ago I was up to over 60 again BUT then a gang of Merlin Falcons started hunting them in packs coming in spread out, low and fast and were taking them down. Suddenly I was down to about 24 birds sleeping in the loft at night and an owl went in the release open release door one night and killed 8 birds. Ripped their heads off and hardly ate anything! So I closed the release door since my birds were experts at hooking the trap bobs to the side to get out anyway. A couple nights later the owl came back and went through the trap door and killed 6 more leaving me only 7 strong and smart cocks, 1, hen and 1 orphaned baby. I was wiped out and pretty much devastated at the loss. I locked them all up tight and after a few days decided to search high and low for some new foundation stock white hen racers and to finally build my new loft. I picked up 3 hens and the orphan turned out to be a hen. So that gives me an even dozen that I have now to build my new flock off of.
And what are they housed in now?
Right now they are in what was once a cow shade, later turned into a chicken coop, which I later dragged with a tractor to get closer to the house which in by doing so I broke it all up, so I cut it in half to repair it. Upon my search for some racers the old timer I found was pretty ...let's say set in his ways and direct, told me he was going to bring me out the pigeons in just a couple days and I didn't want to miss the opportunity so in one day I grabbed some scrapes and threw together what I still have today, it is/has been quite an embarrassment for someone with my woodworking skills!

I don't consider myself a "carpenter" in that I could look at a complex set of house plans and be lost, but working within the carpentry skills I do have I do alright. I built my own 2,000sf woodworking shop and my own house entirely by my self except pouring the concrete, tile and drywall.

Here is my shop:
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And my house:
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I was going to put the same type of gambrel truss design on the pigeon coop roof but the cost of lumber being so high right now I decided to scrap that idea. Maybe next year I'll put a little 8'x8' gambrel roof addition next it if I need more space.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Pretty much all sealed up, just need to hit the inside corners with a brush and do some caulking. There is more surfaces to cover than one would think. The primer sands up beautifully and goes from a rough feel to as smooth as a baby's behind with just one or two light passes of the sandpaper so I'm also going to run around for 30-40 minutes and smooth things out to produce a nicer topcoat finish.

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
At this point I have more time and energy into priming, prepping, sanding, caulking and painting this coop than I have in building it. Real glad to be finishing up this part and moving on.

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Had another change of plan today. I had bought trap bobs from Amazon which were the same ones I've been seeing all over as I search the internet for them and there doesn't seem to be much of a selection out there. But, those things were poor quality! I had to buy 3/16" metal rod to go through them and it would stop going through at one end because of a crimping cut burr, so I was going to have to drill/ream them all out. On top of that the bobs were thin wires, cheap looking and several were not welded exactly in the center of the swing arm - which causes a problem because I'm going to be notching the bottom catch plate to keep my birds from sticking their heads through the bobs and pushing them to the side to get out, which my birds have become very good at doing. Most of all these bobs are barely over 10" long and want to build my traps were I can lift them up and secure them to use as a release door and that space would be pretty tight. Therefore, I bought 30 more bobs today from Jedds Pigeon Supplies to make 3 sets of traps, and these are 12" long and look to have much thicker rods placed into plastic molded swingarm heads that are centered, straight and shouldn't bend so easily.

While I wait for these new bobs, I still have to shingle my roof, build and paint 3 human doors, pick up materials for nest boxes and perches and could start adding some hardware cloth.

Still thinking about how I want to hinge and support the 10"x10" door/perch on the front of nesting boxes. I'm considering doweling the bottom of the door to pivot on the frame it sets in but I'm not understanding what keeps the door from dropping too far forward on that design. I've seen some hinged that way but I don't see anything on the front of the door to keep it from dropping? Anyone know what I am missing here as far as supporting the door to be level? My previous doors I had metal hinges on the bottom and a block of wood nailed to the front of the door to keep it level when open but the problem with that was junk was always getting in the hinge space and closing the door was prying the hinge screws loose and making them difficult to close. I suppose I could make a support to nail to the front of the door but I'm baffled why I don't see these on other examples of dowel hinged doors and what is keeping them level???
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Built and primed my doors today. I used half-lap joints on the corners and pocket hole screws on the center divider. Nothing fancy, but simply happy that they are flat and square which being made out of Douglass fir can be a challenge to achieve and the joints are glued and screwed so they should stay tightly together.

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
(I posted this a couple days but for some reason got a message it was "awaiting moderator approval" however, nothing has happened so I'm trying again. Having lost 3 new discussion starters and couple other posts 馃槖I've learned to save my work here馃檮...)

I broke out the hardware cloth this evening to see what I was going to be up against. I quickly realized that all my tin snips were useless in cutting the 14 gauge wire and my nippers would cut it one wire at a time with some effort, but considering how many cuts I would have to make this way, I'd guess well over a 1,000, (actually, I did the math while cutting and it was over 3,000 cuts!) it didn't seem very practical unless I was really bored and had some extra time to kill while I worked on building hand and forearm strength!

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Thinking there must be a better way I remembered seeing a guy using a metal cutting saw to cut an entire unopened roll of hardware cloth to width in one quick clean cut. This made me wonder if I could use my 4 1/2" grinder to cut it. I made a simple jig to place the wire on for cutting in which I could use some spring clamps to secure the wire and gave it a shot.

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The grinder was going through it fairly quick but I was a bit slow at lining it up by sight and decided to try by feel and ran it through the 3' distance in just a few seconds. I noticed I'd left some nubs in the middle of my cut and went back and quickly took those off. I'm thinking this is going to work pretty well as I get the hang of it. After cutting the pieces to length I'll probably flip them over and hang them off the edge of the driveway to cut the width.

I'm thinking that with the wire being so rigid I can crown it out and then hold a board to flatten it while using the staple gun and it might be pretty easy to get it all on nice and flat. So anyway, after realizing cutting this wire by hand was going to be huge job I'm feeling pretty optimistic that I'm gong to make short work out of it by using the grinder.

Edit: It still took a few hours to cut and really glad I thought of trying the grinder!
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Additional note: While cutting with the grinder (which I haven't owned for long and usually don't do metal work) I was wearing shorts and noticed the sparks stinging my legs but was ignoring it. Later I noticed my legs were turning red and little burn spots, like freckles, all over them. I put on long pants also used eye protection which I highly recommend...
 
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