Original Cat Scratching Post Tutorial

August 29, 2012Allison Murray

Would you like to see the 2020 updated version of this post? Check it out here!

Never, ever, ever will I have a cat declawed. I have decided that cats have claws and if I have cats I have to deal with that fact. If I didn’t want cat claws then I shouldn’t have gotten cats.

If you don’t have cats, you may envision my home with wrecked furniture and scratched up rugs, but that isn’t the case. You can train cats to use a scratching post and you can trim their nails.

Which is why I didn’t even flinch when purchasing a cat scratching post last year. I paid $40 and it was a really great one compared to a lot of them I had seen. It lasted a few months before the covering started to come off and it had to be replaced. When I noticed that the cats were getting pissy witht their post, I knew it was time to replace it.

The thing is, most of the affordable cat scratching posts were covered with carpet instead of sisal. I don’t know about you, but if you don’t want cats scratching up the rugs in your house, the idea of covering their scratching area with that seems counterproductive to me. Sick of it all, I decided to head to the hardware store and  make one from scratch.

This one was more expensive that $40 BUT this baby is going to last a lifetime. It’s just that heavy duty. If you want to quell your cat’s urge to scratch for the long haul, you will need:

  • 3/4 inch plywood, 18 x 18 inch square
  • 4×4 wood post, 2.5 feet long
  • 3/4 inch decorative wood trim, at least 3.5 feet
  • mitre box
  • hack saw
  • wood glue
  • trim nails
  • hammer
  • long wood screws
  • 100 ft sisal rope (not synthetic)
  • wood bit a smidge smaller than your screws
  • power drill
  • 4×4 decorative cap
  • wood stain
  • rug (optional)

STEP 1: Draw out the placement for your 4×4 post. When working with a square, I like to draw lines extending from each corner to make an “X” across the wood face. Align the square shape of your post’s corners on each of the lines for a perfect center. Trace the square with a pencil.

Put a thin line of wood glue inside of the square you have drawn. Place the post inside and hold. Clean up any glue that squeezes out, if necessary.

STEP 2: Turn the wood over and drill holes through your bottom square and the 4×4. Screw your saws into the holes to permanently affix the two pieces of wood together.

STEP 3: Now it time for your decorative wood trim… You can purchase this two different places. It is sold at hobby stores for about $3 a piece. You will need 4 pieces for $12 for this project. OR you can purchase a long piece from hardware stores. I purchased a piece for $6 and had about a foot and a half left.

Now for a short lesson on mitre boxes, in case you need it… A mitre box is used to cut uniform angles. This is particularly handy when working to make trim pieces match up really well. According to my dad, I do this totally backward, but also according to my dad I do a really good job matching pieces up. Here is my method:

Make the first angled cut on your trim. You’ll want to have your angles pointing away from the piece of wood instead of inward so that it matches up on the corners. The saw fits snugly into lines cut to guide the saw for perfect cuts.

STEP 4: Take your piece with its first cut made and place against the plywood bottom. Put the straight line just inside of the angle and mark the edge of your wood. This is where your next cut will start. Line up your mark in the mitre box and cut your next angle, taking care that it will be pointing away from the wood before you begin to saw.

Cut your first piece, apply wood glue and press up against the plywood. Use trim screws to permanently affix.

STEP 5: If your decorative cap is wood, attach it now. Stain the entire piece and allow to sit overnight.

STEP 6: At this point I decided to add carpet to the plywood to make it a bit prettier. I didn’t take pictures of the process and for that I am sorry. It was basically cutting up a rug to size with a 4×4 square in the middle and with a slit at the back to wrap on the plywood and around the 4×4. Use wood glue to affix.

STEP 7: Take the end of your sisal rope and using your hammer and trim screws, attach to the 4×4 at the bottom. Wrap the rope snugly around the post occasionally using a nail to tack down, or as necessary.

My old junk one on the left and my fancy new homemade one on the right.

Take your rope all the way to the top of the post. If you have a metal cap to decorate the top, attach now.

And that’s that! It’s a fairly time consuming process. It cost me $43 before tax, but my last one was $40 plus tax and this one will last so, so much longer. I’m happy with that.

Happy middle of the week!

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