DIY Cat Scratching Post

August 5, 2020Allison Murray
This DIY Cat Scratching Post lasts for years and is budget friendly and gives your cats something other than the sofa to scratch on!

This DIY Cat Scratching Post lasts for years and is budget friendly and gives your cats something other than the sofa to scratch on!

This DIY Cat Scratching Post lasts for years and is budget friendly and gives your cats something other than the sofa to scratch on!

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 Plus, over the years I’ve realized that a post needs to be taller than what I originally made so that cats can properly stretch while they scratch.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 :)

This DIY Cat Scratching Post lasts for years and is budget friendly and gives your cats something other than the sofa to scratch on!

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:

Tools:

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.

Materials:

Using sisal rope for your DIY cat scratcher is the only way to go.

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.

Lumber Needed:

  • 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 :)

Cut list:

  • (a) 4″ x 4″ x 36″ QTY 1
  • (b) 20″ x 20″ plywood QTY 1

How to Put Together Your DIY Cat Scratcher:

This DIY Cat Scratching Post lasts for years and is budget friendly and gives your cats something other than the sofa to scratch on!

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 4x4 in the middle and trace its location.

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 4x4.

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 4x4 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.

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.

* 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.

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.

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.

Gently slide the rug over the 4x4 post. If it is difficult to slide on make your angled cuts a bit larger and try again.

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.

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, apply weight and wait for the glue to dry, at least an hour.

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 4x4 with a staple gun. Try to fit the gun in the crook of where the 2 pieces of wood meet as much as possible.

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.

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.

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.

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…

Using a hand saw and mitre box or a mitre saw, cut the decorative pieces on a 45° angle.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 4x4, over the rug stapled on.

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.

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.

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 4x4 and drill a hole. Affix the post cap with a long wood screw.

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.

Affix the post cap with a long wood screw to finish.

Let Your Cats After It!

This DIY Cat Scratching Post lasts for years and is budget friendly and gives your cats something other than the sofa to scratch on!

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!

This DIY Cat Scratching Post lasts for years and is budget friendly and gives your cats something other than the sofa to scratch on!

This is an updated post. If you’d like to view the original DIY Cat Scratching Post Tutorial from August 29, 2012 please click here.

Comments (49)

  • Meryl

    August 29, 2012 at 9:50 PM

    Not only will the rope last longer than carpet, but you can also replace just the rope next time. I made something similar a while back for my cat. It works and all my cats like it, but yours is definitely prettier. I didn't want to buy a pre-made one because none of the ones in my price range were nearly tall enough. A post is less attractive to the cat than furniture if the post is not tall enough to give them the stretch they need, so people with longer/taller than average cats may want to make their post a little taller.

  • Allison Murray

    August 29, 2012 at 10:54 PM

    Hey, Meryl! You are absolutely right on the height. I made mine 2.5 feet and it is ample for my biggest boy. Everyone should go on the height according to the size of their kitties. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. :)

  • Sophie

    August 30, 2012 at 10:09 PM

    This is a great post! The scratcher is awesome and your kitties are adorable.

  • Allison Murray

    September 2, 2012 at 12:07 PM

    Thanks so much, Sophie!!!

  • Rachel

    September 21, 2012 at 6:20 PM

    I've bought my cat sooo many scratching posts over the years and this design is still the one he likes best. I've always been frustrated with the ugly carpet they come with but now I can make one with my favorite Floor tiles.. YAY! Thanks so much for this, I'll be linking to your tute as well!

  • Allison Murray

    September 21, 2012 at 8:46 PM

    I'm so glad to be of help, Rachel. Thanks for the link up!!! I'm so honored to be on "One Pretty Thing"!!!

  • mary

    October 31, 2012 at 1:20 PM

    LOVE IT!!!!!!!

  • dan

    January 15, 2013 at 4:43 AM

    Brains, beauty and a love for cats. You are quite awesome.

  • Allison Murray

    January 15, 2013 at 3:46 PM

    Now you've gone and made me blush, Dan. Thanks for being sweet :)

  • April

    January 23, 2013 at 2:09 AM

    Your creations are awesome! I too have 4 cats. I am 28 and a really big kid at heart. Just wanted to say keep being you and be proud of it :)

  • Allison Murray

    January 23, 2013 at 2:12 AM

    You are so sweet, April. Your encouraging words mean a lot!!

  • Chris

    February 6, 2013 at 3:52 PM

    Curious as to why you chose nails to secure the rope rather than glue? I am making one for my cats, but am struggling with this decision. Can the nails come out and cause harm? Did you use a specific type of trim nail that won't come out? Thanks! Great, post!

  • Allison Murray

    February 6, 2013 at 4:06 PM

    Hi, Chris – I went with the nails rather than glue because I figured it would be considerably sturdier. In fact I started with just gluing the rope and it didn't feel like it was strong enough to last all that long and went back in with the nails.
    I am honestly not sure what size the nails are but I remember I got "trim nail" from the box they came out of. There was a head but it was teeny.
    So far there has been no issue with the cats being injured by the nails but I honestly used them as sparingly as I could while keeping the rope nice and taut. Sorry to not have better specifics but I hope to have helped you!

    1. Tommy Catman

      July 1, 2014 at 9:41 PM

      Allison,

      Your instructions are right on.

      The size of the nails would depend upon the diameter of the rope. For my own products, I would use 1″ wire nails if I didn’t have the pneumatic guns I use. The 1″ nails with a reasonable head on them ( making them nails as opposed to brads, BTW ) will hold the rope down if driven about every 3″ of rope or so, & will be good for 3/8″ diameter sisal rope.

      I have more tips on this subject if you search on ” tommy catman” or “flerper ebay”.

  • Chris

    February 6, 2013 at 4:11 PM

    Awesome, thanks for the clarification!

  • Ellie

    February 10, 2013 at 6:02 PM

    This is lovely! I was wondering how sturdy it is. Does it move around at all and wobble when in use? Do you feel the base is sturdy enough? I want to make one as well, but my cat is pretty big and scratches vigorously, so I want to make sure it's something she'd feel comfortable using.

  • Allison Murray

    February 10, 2013 at 6:25 PM

    Hey, Ellie – This sucker is very sturdy and doesn't go anywhere! My biggest boy is 28 pounds and he really gets after it, too. I used 3/4 inch plywood, but they sell even thicker which will make the scratching post even sturdier!

  • Ellie

    February 10, 2013 at 10:37 PM

    Thank you so much!

  • Bill in Endicott

    March 3, 2013 at 2:03 PM

    Nice job!
    My wife and I took in a new cat this week, and we were looking at scratching posts. I thought I might be able to make a one, and I really like your post.
    Thanks for sharing!

  • Allison Murray

    March 3, 2013 at 4:08 PM

    Hey, Bill – I'm really glad that the post proved helpful to you. Also glad that a gentleman caller took the time to comment :)

  • Alicia

    June 4, 2013 at 1:15 AM

    I love this!! I'll have to make one for my cat

  • Allison Murray

    June 4, 2013 at 2:10 AM

    I am so glad, Alicia. Mine is still holding strong with 4 cats a'scratchin!!

  • Kayla

    December 31, 2013 at 6:01 PM

    My husband made this last night with left over materials from a previous project. I already had an old throw rug which he cut up and used to cover the base. The only thing we needed to purchase was the sisal rope. The cat is using the post and we are all happy that she is leaving my chair alone. Thanks so much for the plans :)

    1. Allison

      January 10, 2014 at 11:18 AM

      Oh, that is so great! You and your furniture are very welcome!

  • flatty

    February 13, 2014 at 2:59 AM

    I made 2 of these posts after reading your page. You nailed it with the rope and large size. Carpet on the first w/ remnants from our house. It blends nicely with the decor. On the second one I put a wider cap on top and the cats now perch on top. Scratch post/lookout for the win.

    Thanks!

    PS: I put it on a lazy susan to wind the rope. Also, on my second I used little u-nails to hold the rope in place and made sure i pushed it down firmly while winding. It’s holding up really well.

  • Ria Smits

    March 26, 2014 at 6:58 AM

    Very nice your scratching post but I wonder why you did not give the old one new rope????Because for the rest it look pretty enough.
    Just thinking (-: (-: greatings from Ria

    1. Allison

      March 26, 2014 at 2:00 PM

      Hi, Ria! The old one had a core made of a piece of cardboard formed into a circle, pipe-like shape and I worried about how long that would last. Plus, it was so lightweight it was constantly getting knocked over. It just seemed a better plan to start over from scratch :)

  • Bev

    May 3, 2014 at 1:22 PM

    Instead of throwing the old one out, you could just as easily replace the carpet with sisal. We actually made a cat tower that was 9 feet high. Cats loved it and got in some really good workouts.

  • Tommy Catman

    October 4, 2014 at 4:17 PM

    You have a unique twist on making this essential cat accessory. All in all, I’d give the design a “thumbs up.”

    Just offering you a source for sisal rope: at http://www.felinedesign.net

    -tommy
    owner, feline design cat furniture

  • Holly

    October 23, 2014 at 1:22 PM

    Thanks for this idea and design! Thanks to you I made my very first one this weekend and it’s a hit with our lynx point Bucket. I own a few power tools thanks to my husband, but have never used a tool more than a hammer to put up pictures of a saw to cut down our Christmas tree every year. I think it turned out alright. =D

    My final result is in my blog post below!
    http://hollyraegroff.blogspot.com/2014/10/cat-scratch-fever.html

  • – Pet Projects

    July 13, 2015 at 4:13 AM

    […] occupied 4. Distressed gingerbread man cat toys from Dream a little bigger 5. Cat scratching post from Dream a little bigger 6. Dog bowl project from A beautiful mess […]

  • DIY scratching posts – Zoe's Animal Rescue

    August 13, 2015 at 5:33 PM

    […] carpet knife, and staple gun, as well as wood screws, heavy duty staples, and/or wood glue. Look here, here, here, and here for ideas, plans, and step-by-step guides! And check out the photos […]

  • 14 Purr-Fect DIY Projects for Cat People | GOORAMA!

    August 22, 2015 at 11:22 PM

    […] 5. Classic Scratching Post […]

  • 14 Purr-Fect DIY Projects for Cat People | Most Popular Youtube Videos

    September 24, 2015 at 4:21 AM

    […] 5. Classic Scratching Post […]

  • Cat scratching posts

    December 16, 2015 at 12:07 AM

    Thanks for sharing great post. The scratcher is awesome and your kitties are adorable.

  • Emma

    May 16, 2016 at 7:07 PM

    What diameter of rope did you use?

    1. Allison Murray

      May 17, 2016 at 8:09 AM

      I used 3/8 inch.

      1. Emma

        May 20, 2016 at 9:18 AM

        Thank you! We’d been a two cat household for 11 years until one passed away last year. :( Tomorrow I’m getting two kittens (hopefully they will be good company for our current kitty!). I bought a $15 scratching post to hold me over, but I’m excited to make my own and customize it.

  • Smiling Paws Pets

    June 10, 2016 at 9:12 AM

    Your kittens are so cute! Me and mom made our own scratcher a few years back. Perhaps time to redo another one. Thanks Allison!

  • Sarah K

    August 21, 2016 at 12:45 AM

    Hello, this looks great but I’m doing a lot of researching before attempting. Did you use any glue at all to keep the rope in place? Like wood glue or a glue gun?

    1. Allison Murray

      August 24, 2016 at 9:02 AM

      I actually didn’t use any glue and out of my two attempts it worked better with just the nails. My version with the glue and less nails started to come undone a few weeks ago, largely because my cats like to hang off of it while scratching so I’ll be redoing it with nails again soon.

  • Millie Schmitz

    April 9, 2017 at 3:52 PM

    Did you consider using the old scratching post? Or was it still in use while you made the new one? I bought one that looks similar to your purchased post but it is square. I haven’t taken the old sisal off but thought I could just use it as the base for the sisal rope version. Thank you for the post and your comments about using nails versus glue. I was concerned that the glue might be harmful to my cat. Thank you so much.

    1. Allison Murray

      April 9, 2017 at 6:52 PM

      Hey, Millie. I did actually have the store-bought one on hand while I made the other. It was great because they always had something to scratch on. The inside of the purchased one, like the roll underneath the sisal stuff, was a cardboard like material and it wouldn’t have lasted much longer. Good luck and I hope your kitties love their new scratcher :)

  • Steve Miller

    May 26, 2017 at 1:10 PM

    One more tip: Natural fiber rope shrinks in hot water. After you get your rope wrapped tightly around the post pour a pot of boiling hot water over it. The wood will expand slightly and the rope will shrink and tightly grip the post.

  • Michael Manes

    May 1, 2019 at 9:05 PM

    Allison, thank you for posting this. We have a new kitten we found in our garage and before he starts using our sofa as a scratching post I want something that will match our decor and made from materials I can find in our basement. Brilliant. Thank you.

  • Billi Chavez

    March 16, 2020 at 10:29 PM

    Hi thank you for posting this I am just finishing mine up but where did you get a cap for top? I’ve googled cat scratch post tops caps etc. Finding no results 🙁

    1. Allison Murray

      March 17, 2020 at 4:34 PM

      Hi! You can get a 4×4 wood cap here on Amazon. You can also get a simpler one from Lowe’s for around $3-4. You can search online for “wood 4×4 cap” or if you go into a hardware store, the caps will be in the section for outdoor deck building. Best of luck find one :)

  • Camila

    June 13, 2020 at 4:27 PM

    Hi, I’m getting my first ever kitten in a few weeks. I want to make him a scratching post. I have a quarter inch 24×24 piece of ply wood do you think that will work for the base? Is it too thin? I can always use 3M tape to adhere it to my Wood floor…???

    1. Allison Murray

      June 17, 2020 at 3:24 PM

      1/4″ is definitely a bit too thin. While a kitten it may be okay but as your kitty grows it will tip over when it gets used. I’d suggest grabbing a thicker piece of plywood. Best of luck and congrats on the new kitten!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Previous Post Next Post
11.8K Shares
Pin11.4K
Share342
Tweet