Ask Anthony: Some Basic Carpentry Can Go a Long Way

Sheri Reed

anthony gilardi

Ask Anthony your home repair or home improvement questions in the comments below. Anthony Gilardi stars on HGTV's Myles of Style, and he answers home repair and home improvement questions for us on CafeMom every other week.

This week, Anthony answers a question about how to build a wild animal feeder. Anthony employs his simple carpentry system to get plans for this reader's wild animal feeder underway.

Q: Anthony, I need your help designing a wild animal feeder. We recently bought a home and have 8-12 deer, wild turkeys, rabbits, opossums, raccoons, squirrels, and birds that come to eat daily. I want to build a feeding area with a place for a salt block and water. There are black bears in the area that love bird seed, so I need a way to suspend the bird feeders so the bears cannot get to them, but I can fill them. I have no experience in designing or building anything.

Obviously, I have watched you on TV and am impressed with your abilities. I can send pictures and measurements if you would be willing to help. I would appreciate any help you would be willing to give regarding this project. My first (and unrealistic) choice would be that you would build it. My next choice would be that you would share some ideas and suggestions that I could implement.

Thank you,


A: Hey Sandy, thanks for writing in. I have to admit, feeding wildlife is not my area of expertise. I’m a city boy from the North End of Boston. The only wildlife I grew up with were pigeons and sewer rats. LOL. However, Sandy's willingness to tackle this porject is a perfect example of empowering yourself. Don’t let the things you don't know scare you away from trying.

When it comes to carpentry around the house, there are simple fundamentals that when learned and carried out correctly can help you build ANYTHING.

I came up with a system that simplifies the art of carpentry: I call it the P.L.S. system. Plum, Level, and Square. An easy way to remember these fundamentals is the word Please. PLeaSe. The idea behind this system is: Whatever you’re building, from hanging a shelf to framing a wall, if you make sure everything is plum, level, and square, you have done it correctly. I am going to prove my theory this week by designing something for my friend Sandy that I’ve never built before.

Here we go…

Sandy, I have to say I love a new challenge. This is very exciting. Before we finalize my design for you, I’m going to need some info. Please send me pictures of your land. Once I have this info, I will draw up some plans that you can use to build our new design, along with some step by step instructions.

Here’s what I am thinking for your wild animal feeder:
You mentioned that you have many different types of animals frequenting your land. Let’s use this as a guideline. One problem you mentioned was that black bears have been known to try to get at bird seed. Okay, you want to prevent that, got it.

What I want to do is try to separate some feeding areas to cater toward different breeds of animals. I also want to keep it simple and practical for you to replenish the feeders. And create a design that will beautify your land.

Now I had to do some research on what breeds were attracted to what type of food because I had no idea. Now you probably already know about these things, but to us city folk, it’s foreign.

Here’s what I found. These are two websites that talk about different types of bird feeders. The first one has some squirrel-friendly feeders, as well feeders that are meant just for birds. They also discuss those pesky black bears.

We will dedicate one area to bird and squirrel feeders. I have a great idea for a bendable but not breakable system that will be accessible to you but not to our bear friends. Of course, the design will also be aesthetically desirable.

Another area, and probably our “go to” spot, will contain watering vessels, salt blocks and some feeders suspended three high, which I have learned is the recommended height for a deer feeder. This website discusses some types of deer and wild turkey feeders.

Now I want to separate our rabbit feeders because I learned that rabbits can be domesticated easily. You may or may not want that, but please let me know if that’s a possibility so I can incorporate a rabbit hut or even a large “rabbit hood” into our design. That could be cool. Think about it. Here is a website where I learned some interesting stuff about rabbit feeders.

This last website is an online farm store that discusses anything and everything about handling animals from breed to breed.

With all this in mind coupled with the info you send me, we will build a series of “Pergola” systems designed specially to hold our various feeders. Here are some examples of pergolas and how much they cost.
NOTE: Our design will be a “Gilardi” one-of-a-kind special just for you, and with my plans and step by step instructions, we will build it for pennies on the dollar. This is where my P.L.S. system will come into play. I will prove to you and you will in turn prove to me that my P.L.S. carpentry system is all you need to know when tackling any project, small or large.

This is going to be the coolest!

Please send me all the info you can accumulate as soon as you can, and we will get moving on this project.

Thank you for broadening my horizons.


Wow, Anthony, a wild animal feeder! I didn't think I could be anymore impressed with your willingness to help our readers learn the basics and beyond. We hope to track the progress on this one.

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+++ Ask Anthony your home repair or home improvement questions in the comments below. He'll be back in two weeks with an answer for at least one lucky person!

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