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Today is August 5, 2020

Crafting old treasures into beautiful birdhouses

How a son’s special gift for his father took flight

By Elissa Fulton

Crafting old treasures into beautiful birdhouses

Woodworking has been a hobby for Chad Houston for as long as he can remember. His father was a carpenter and, as a child, he watched as he built beautiful artisan furniture in his shop.

Houston has always admired his father’s work and is proud of the skilled craftsman that he is. Houston was born and raised in Hatley, Mississippi and is a copy machine repairman by day. Several years ago, he was looking for a hobby to occupy his free time and decided he would build a birdhouse for his father. He knew it couldn’t be just any birdhouse. He had to build it perfectly since he knew his father would silently critique his work. Because his father remodeled homes for a living, his shop was filled with old treasures, like doorknobs and fences and other cool items to choose from. Houston picked several items and went to work handcrafting a meaningful gift for his father. A month later, he had a special birdhouse to give his father for Christmas.

Houston didn’t stop there. He scoured his father’s shop until he was able to build birdhouses for everyone in the family to give as Christmas gifts. He posted a photo of his father’s birdhouse on his Facebook account. That’s when he realized there was a demand for birdhouses and folks would pay good money for them.

“These aren’t your average birdhouses,” Houston said. “I picked very special items to build them with that had meaningful connections to those I gave them to. They are very well built, and I took my time on each one. It takes me about two to four weeks to build one, and I generally just can’t make them fast enough now.” Some of his more special birdhouses are constructed from materials that people bring to him. “When people bring me barnwood from their grandfather’s barn, or other unique things that are special to them, they make the best birdhouses,” he said.

Lately, he’s also been spending time trying to find places to pick around for old stuff or cool materials to use on his latest projects.

“People are always giving me things to work with,” Houston said. “But it’s not always the stuff that people give me that ends up on birdhouses. One of these houses kind of has to come together naturally. I found a doorknob a while ago, and I hung onto it for a couple of years before I found just the right birdhouse to put it on.”

It’s not always easy for Houston to part with his birdhouses. He puts a lot of time and work into each one and the result is always very special.

“It’s been hard to let go of each one of them because it’s like a piece of art,” he said. “You kind of grow fond of it, and it’s hard to let go.”

Houston succeeded in making his father proud. He has since made several more houses for his father, but that first birdhouse is sitting prominently in his father’s living room, and to this day he won’t put it outside.

“Most people don’t put them outside,” said Houston. “But they are well constructed and are built to last. If you put it outside, you can rest assured your kids and grandkids are probably going to enjoy this birdhouse.”

Houston’s father was a high-quality craftsman, and he has proved himself to be quite the artisan as well. Houston said he learned from the best.

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