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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 Plus, over the years I’ve realized that a post needs to be taller than what I originally made so that cats can properly stretch while they scratch.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!
I usually never read the actual blog part of blogs but for some reason I did today. You made me smile – buying the chair while sleeping hooked me, so I had to keep reading. Then the picture of your cat sitting on top and scratching from the top down, “cause we are all normal” LOL. #truth
I’m sitting on my NEW couch – and just now, as I’m reading this, cat #2 starts scratching new couch. I leapt up, and set my laptop down on top of my FULL iced coffee (on the NEW ottoman). So that’s how my morning is going :)
The good news is that the ottoman seems to be waterproof. Thanks for inspiring my weekend project!
Hi. I’ve got several nice scratching posts that all need new rope. I don’t see anywhere to buy rope that would be a reasonable price.
Where do you get rope that I expensive?
I’ve been buying mine at Walmart for a few years, now. It’s the best price I can find. I’ve also gone to using the thinner 1/4″ rope. Surprisingly it wears better than the thicker 5/8″ stuff saving me even more money. You can get 100 feet for around $6 at Walmart. Best of luck!
Your post looks great!
I have a question. Once the cat has destroyed the rope to the point that a new one is needed, is there any reason you can’t just reuse the same post by removing the old rope and replacing it with new rope?
No reason at all, in fact, that’s exactly what we do!
Awesome design and I see two very happy customers in the pictures!
I’ve made a couple of scratching posts very similar, but they don’t last more than a couple of months with my Maine Coon making it his mission to pull them apart – I’m wondering if there is anything more durable than sisal rope?
It there is something more durable I haven’t found it. I’ve used rugs, but that only seems to encourage scratching my rugs! Sisal seems to be the best option for us.
This is so beautiful! I was all in despair at the utter ugliness of all the prefab scratching posts our there, and starting to resign myself to the idea that my living room chair would simply be the collateral damage of pet parenting, when I came across your wonderful post. I’ve ordered the sisal you recommended, dyed it pink and green (great tip about binding the end of the rope before you dye it, BTW ), painted my wood and am starting to staple, and could use a bit of advice.
Did you do anything special to hide the staples? I don’t see them at all on your post, but they stand out tremendously on mine. I’m also wondering how close together your staples are. When I only staple the back side of the post, the tension on the rope doesn’t seem like it’ll be enough to hold up to vigorous scratching.
Thank you so much for sharing your fantastic idea, your process and of course that adorable upside down scratching photo :-)
Yay! I still absolutely HATE store-bought scratchers and simply refuse to buy them so I totally, totally get where you’re coming from and so glad you’ve found this DIY useful :) As far as the staples go I went NUTS with them going all the way around each rope but I only attached the staple to the top half of the rope. So basically one prong of the staple went into the wood above the rope and the other staple went into the middle of the rope. This way as I wrapped it up the wood I covered the staples from the row just below. If I remember correctly I just glued the daylights out of the very last (topmost) round of rope to keep it there and the cats never really hit that part of the scratcher with that cap on top so it’s worked out just fine!
Slap a circle of plywood covered in more rug on the top fastened down with screws and kitties will spend hours on top looking out the windows!
Ooh, I love that idea!
I put a lined basket on top of mine, and put it on top of my DIY litter box hideaway cabinet. My cat is super into it!
No staples! They can cause serious harm to the cat’s paws. If just one comes loose you will have big problems. Use wood glue instead.
Hi, Kay. I can understand your concern but I STILL have this scratching post with 3 cats (at one point 4) and I have never, ever had a problem with kitties getting hurt.
Very nice work! I find my cats don’t gravitate towards nylon (man-made) rope, so it’s interesting to see that dyeing sisal doesn’t affect cats. I had read that dye can be dangerous and toxic to cats, so I steered away from doing that. I used black nylon rope on the “Stiletto” cat condo I made two years ago (on my site). My cats will scratch the nylon, but not as much as they will sisal.
What great way to save a few bucks. Some of the scratching post at Petco can be expensive.
Just to make things easier on yourself, to find the center of the pattern from the wrong side, you could just go to the center on the right side, and stick a nail through the very center of the pattern from the right side (make sure to use one big enough to go all the way through), then flip the rug over. Then you can easily use a marker to mark a circle around the nail before you take it out. Since you are cutting the center out anyway, it doesn’t really matter if you put a hole in the rug in the center. Hope this helps!
That is brilliant! Sometimes I make things far more difficult than they need to be!
Thank you so SO much for posting your diy cat scratching post! I just finished making mine (wrapping the rope took FOREVER). It is such a simple design with a nice look to it. I’m so happy with my results :)
i love the design carpet on the bottom. I’ve made one before too. Mine has a small platform on top so the kitties can nap up there ?. But mine has indoor/outdoor carpet on the bottom so it’s not as pretty.
Where did you buy the rug?
You did a Awsome job ,,,,,what do you think about the pole in my basement ,,,,couldn’t I wrap the rope around that ???for my babys???
You absolutely could! It sounds like a solid plan to me because there is building required! :)
I loved your original design but love this one even more! The colors are wonderful! I’m getting ready to make one for my 3 kitties and can’t find a piece of carpet I like, and definitely not a square I like as much as I like your blue and white carpet. Can I ask where you found yours?
I purchased the rug at Dollar General and cut it to fit the square shape.
I never would have thought to look there. I’m sure this particular design is gone by now, but it’s still worth a trip to see what they have. Thank you!