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You might have noticed that I’ve been redoing a lot of my old projects I’ve already shared here on the blog. In a way, that makes me super happy because it just goes to show that they’re projects that have enough value that they’re worth making over and over again. And today I’m making a new DIY cat scratching post much like the one I shared back in August, 2012. The only differences are that I’ve had a little more experience crafting with wood and the finishing on this post looks far more professional. Plus, over the years I’ve realized that a post needs to be taller than what I originally made so that cats can properly stretch while they scratch.
The thing that remains the same is that this sucker will last for years. Literally, I’m not even joking with you YEARS. When I made that first post in 2012 I had no idea that it would last as long as it has. It is STILL IN REGULAR USE at my parents’ house. The rope needs to be replaced but other than that it still looks just the same.
There she is! It cost me $40 that first year to make and I swap out the rope every 2-3 years at a cost of around $10-12. Considering just this year alone I’ve spent almost $100 on cardboard scratchers that make a mess EVERYWHERE, making your own sturdy wood cat scratching post is where it’s at my fellow cat people.
When it looked like it was time to order another round of cardboard cat scratchers I decided enough was enough..
It’s time to make another DIY Cat Scratching Post!
In the lives of my cats a lot of things have changed over the last 8 years… My little Marla is the only cat that is still with me. She’s had a kidney removed, only has 8 teeth, needs daily medication, and has very recently started to go blind. But she will still scratch the daylights out of some sisal rope and even perch on top of her scratching post :)
I was pretty much surprised that a practically blind cat would shimmy up almost 3 feet of scratcher but I really shouldn’t have been. My little Marla is a rockstar! And that’s one of her favorite places to be. Yep, some things change… but some things stay the same :)
Want to make one of these awesome scratchers for your little meowing rockstars?
To make your own DIY Cat Scratching Post you will need:
- Staple Gun (I LOVE my electric staple gun)
- Circular Saw
- Speed Square (optional)
- Utility Knife
- Mitre Saw or Hand Saw and Mitre Box
- Drill + Small Drill Bit
Don’t have a circular saw? Don’t buy one just for this project unless you think you’ll get some good use out of it. Stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s have saws in store. Just take your dimensions in with you and ask them to cut your wood to size for you.
A mitre saw is the bees knees in my amateur wood crafting opinion. If you don’t have one you can use a far less expensive hand saw and mitre box. Don’t purchase the yellow one from Lowe’s, though. The saw it comes with is just terrible and practically had me in tears :) I’d definitely look for any online reviews before you buy one.
- 100 Feet of 3/8″ Sisal Rope
- Rug Slightly Larger Than 20″ x 20″
- Wood Glue
- 4×4 Post Cap
- #8 x 2.5″ Wood Screws
- #18 x 5/8″ Wire Nails
Using natural sisal rope for your DIY cat scratcher is the only way to go. Sure cotton rope looks cool but it doesn’t have that same satisfying scratch and it won’t last very long. And if you want rope of a different color, you can even dye sisal.
Also, a few $ saving tips… To keep the costs of my DIY cat scratching post down, I purchased a rug on clearance from Target for only $4. The best price I’ve found for the wood cap that goes on top of the post was just under $3 at Lowe’s. I also found sisal rope to be the best priced at Lowe’s for $10 for 100′. If you don’t do a lot of crafts with wood you can always use a multi-use glue like Elmer’s or Tacky Glue rather than buying wood glue just for this project.
- Untreated 4 x 4
- 0.75″ Thick Plywood
- .75″ Decorative Edge (8′ length will give you a little left over)
In my experience this is a good project to bust that lumber stash that builds up in the garage. My plywood looks a bit worse for wear but it was used as a table work top for many years. Since we’re covering the plywood it doesn’t have to be pretty, just nice and level (not warped).
My dad was nice enough to come over and cut my plywood for me. Unfortunately we always pick the wrong time of day to get decent pictures and this was literally the only photo that wasn’t crazy dark. What can I say? Goober-ness is apparently genetic :)
- (a) 4″ x 4″ x 36″ QTY 1
- (b) 20″ x 20″ plywood QTY 1
How to Put Together Your DIY Cat Scratcher:
There are a lot of photos in this tutorial but please don’t let it discourage you. This is a super easy project and great even if you’re new at crafting with wood. In fact, the original cat scratching post was published way back in 2012!
Creating the Base:
Cut your wood to size. You’ll need a non-treated 4 x 4 that is approximately 36″ tall and a piece of 3/4″ plywood that is 20″ x 20″.
Using a straight edge (I used the post itself) draw a line from corner to corner to help easily locate the center of your plywood board. Place your 4×4 in the middle and trace its location.
Drill four holes through the board within the area where you traced your 4×4.
* Note – Be sure to place a piece of scrap wood behind the board you are drilling through to prevent damage.
Apply wood glue onto the bottom of the 4×4 post. Place the post on top of the plywood, glue side down and wipe away any excess glue. Allow the glue several hours to dry.
* Note – as the glue dries occasionally check that the post hasn’t moved. Right it if necessary and allow more time to dry.
Covering the Cat Scratching Post Base
Mark the center of the rug you’ll be covering the base with and draw out the shape of the 4 x 4 around the center.
* Quick Tip – I cut about off a small piece of my 4×4 post and used it as a template.
Use scissors and a utility knife to cut inside of the square, leaving about half an inch of the 4x4s size uncut. Use scissors to snip at the corners of the square up to the edge of the drawn square.
Give your 4×4 a wiggle. If it stays in place you can go ahead and apply your rug onto the base. If not, allow the glue another hour or so to dry.
Gently slide the rug over the 4×4 post. If it is difficult to slide on make your angled cuts a bit larger and try again.
Pull the rug up from the base and apply a strong glue to affix. Right now I’m a super big fan of Gorilla glue because it bonds like crazy (you’ll need a spray bottle filled with water to make it bond) but use whatever is fairly sturdy that you already have on hand.
Once the entire piece of plywood/carpet has been glued, add weight and wait for the glue to dry, at least an hour.
Once the glue has dried attach the rug to the 4×4 with a staple gun. Try to fit the gun in the crook of where the 2 pieces of wood meet as much as possible.
Use a utility knife with a sharp blade to carefully trim the excess carpet from the base. Allow the scratching post time to completely dry, overnight is best.
* Note – if your rug doesn’t cut away cleanly you might need to allow a little more time for your glue to dry.
Finishing Your DIY Cat Scratching Post Base
Once your glue is dry you can finish up this base up.
First flip over your scratching post and screw your base and post together through the holes you previously drilled. You’ll want to use long screws for this. Mine are #8 sized screws that are 2.5″ long which is the shortest you should use. I’d probably most recommend 4″ screws if you have them on hand or have to purchase them for this project, anyway.
Grab your decorative edge and paint or stain as you please. * Quick tip – If you use moulding that is a 90° angle rather than flat, it will cover the edge of your carpet so that you don’t have to worry about it ever fraying…
Place the decorative wood along the edge and mark the corners. Using a hand saw and mitre box or a mitre saw, cut the decorative pieces on a 45° angle.
Quick tip, a speed square can help you easily figure out where to make the 45° cut.
Apply a thin line of glue on the backside of the wood and place on the edge.
Place the moulding onto the base and secure in place with trim or wire nails.
Continue working your way around until all 4 sides are covered.
Adding the Rope
Using a small wire nail, tack the end of the rope onto the 4×4, over the rug stapled on. Very tightly wrap the rope around and up the 4×4. After every 2-3 wraps push the rope down just a bit with your hands to ensure there are no gaps in coverage. Use your hammer to tap in a small wire nail in the center of the rope, keeping the rope taut.
Work your way up the base, adding a nail every 2-3 wraps of the rope. Turn the base after 2 nails so that the rope will be tacked up the length on all 4 sides.
I’d strongly suggest buying your rope in the 100 foot length but if you get 2 50′ ropes you’ll need to join them together around the middle of the post. To prevent the rope from fraying to quickly, apply glue to the ends of the rope and allow to fully dry. Tack the end of the first rope and beginning of the second in with their own nails, side by side. As you work up occasionally scratch at the rope to hide the nail heads.
When you reach the very top of the post, glue the end of the rope and allow to dry so that it will not fray. Trim the end and tack into place with a nail.
Stain a decorative end cap to match. Find the center of the top of the 4×4 and drill a hole.
Affix the post cap with a long wood screw to finish.
Let Your Cats After It!
Keep an eye on your scratcher. If something comes looks tack it back down to help the rope have a longer life. Once the rope starts to fall away or get broken entirely, you can change out sections or the entire rope, whichever works best.
And that’s it! A DIY scratching post that will last for years and years!