Craft Tips

Gourd Cleaning and Hints

 Gourds should be cleaned for use in craft work.  This means removing the outside skin that covers the hard shells.  Soak gourds in warm water to soften the outside skin and remove with a copper kitchen scouring pad and or a knife. 

Gourds can be sawed, drilled, carved, etched, burned (wood burner), dryed and painted.  Fully mature gourds, ones with the thick shells are durable and will last for many years if stored and handled property. 

The key to a successful carving project is a dry gourd with a thick unblemished shell.  The shell should be very hard and at least 1/8” thick so that the carving chisel will not break through the shell when adequate pressure is being applied in the carving process.  With a thicker gourd, the carving can have more depth.


Make Your Birdhouse Gourd 

Pick gourds that are dry and easy to work with.  Then clean the outside of the gourd by socking it in water.  Then scrub the outside skin with a scrubber.  A dull edge of a knife can be used for the more difficult spots to clean.  Depending on which birds you would like to attract, find out what size that needs to be cut out.  The following are the recommended sizes for each bird.

  Minimum Size Gourd Diameter of Entrance
Chickadee 4 - 6" 1 1/8 - 1 1/4"
Flicker 7" 2 1/2"
Nuthatch 5" 1 1/4"
Owl Large Gourd 5 - 6"
Owl (small) 5 - 6" 1 1/2"
Purple Martin 6" 2 1/2"
Titmouse 5" 1 1/2"
Woodpecker 5" 1 1/4"
Wren 4" 1 1/8"

  The position of the opening is important.  It should be on the vertical face of the gourd to keep the rain out.  Drain holes on the bottom will keep the gourd dry.  Sometimes, small gravel in the bottom of the gourd will help weigh it down.  A perch can be used but it not necessary.  The birdhouses can be hung as is or a protective coat of varnish can be applied.  Purple Martin birdhouse should be painted white.  To hang the gourd birdhouse, cit a hole in the top to attach a leather string or a wire.  Choose a location where the birds will be safe from animals.

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