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The Joy of Wood

Shhhhhhh. I have a secret to share with you. Promise not to tell! 😉

Here it is: I am a huge fan of Home Depot, in particular their lumber department. There is something very special in the aisles between those expensive, straight planks of cedar, redwood, and pine.

On almost any given day, you can find a large container marked “This bin only – 70% off.” Take a close look. The Home Depot staff pulls this wood from their stock, as it is unsaleable at full price. It’s not straight, in fact, some pieces are pretty warped – not the type of wood you would spend top dollar on for home improvement projects.

This culled wood is what my husband and I call “propeller wood.” There are 1×4’s, 4×4’s, 2×2’s, 2×4’s, 2×6’s. You name it; it’s in the pile, depending on the day. There is cedar, redwood, and pine….lots and lots and lots of pine! Trash for Home Depot. But for me, nirvana.

When I go to the lumber department, I am on a mission to get a boatload of wood to make bird toys for my birds at a minimal cost. To top it off, the folks at HD are kind enough to cut the pieces (no charge) into manageable sizes, so that I can load them into my little Subaru. And I can get a LOT of 4′ lengths of wood in my Subaru! The staff is usually pretty happy that the cuts don’t have to be exact…just close.

So, back to the pile of wood. Sure, it may be slightly warped, but once it’s in shorter lengths, it’s not a big deal to safely chop it up and drill it. Pick out the pine. The 2×2 is perfect for medium sized bird toys, and the 2×4’s are terrific for cockatoos and macaws. The larger pieces (4×4’s) make great toy foundations. If there is hardwood there, grab some of that as well. It’s an incredible bargain. If you don’t know your wood, ask for help from a salesperson. Tell them you just want the pine or oak…no cedar, no redwood, and no treated wood. And tell them what you want it for; they will find your creativity fascinating!

You will know that the wood is from the 70% off bin when you’re checking out because it will have some purple spray paint on it somewhere. That’s not a big deal, but this paint must be sanded off before cutting, drilling, and slicing for your birds. Also remove any little price tags attached with staples on the ends.

photo 1

Photo:  70% off  Home Depot culled wood – pictured is a slice of a 2×4 (Note purple spray paint before cutting, sanding, drilling, slicing, dyeing)

If you’ve priced, ordered or purchased pre-drilled wood pieces for your birds, you know how expensive these can be…and we ALL know how quickly that wood turns into just a pile of rubble. I spend just a few dollars on wood for my Amazons and macaws and come home with enough chewables to last them for weeks. I’ll dye some of it, leave some natural, replenish and refurbish cage toys, and rebuild the big toys in their outside aviaries.

So that’s it. My secret is out and now you know, too, that buying wood for toys for your birds doesn’t have to break the bank. Yes, it takes a bit of time to rummage through the wood bin, get it cut, bring it home, do a bit of sanding, and then cut, drill and slice it up. But, it is so well worth it. Trust me. And it’s all for the birds.

photo 2


Photo: Culled Wood – after cutting, drilling, sanding, slicing and some dyeing

If you make your own wooden parrot toys, head to Home Depot and the 70% off bin. If you don’t have a Home Depot close by, maybe there’s another lumber store or lumberyard that will sell end-cuts or culled “propeller wood” at a greatly discounted price. Tell them what Home Depot’s policy is, maybe they’ll match it. It never hurts to ask!

I know I asked you not to tell…but really, go ahead and share this with your parrot loving friends. I’m sure there’s enough discounted wood to go around. Happy toy making!


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