The mother of all Tutorials

Months and months ago Bear and I worked together one weekend and we finally made a super deluxe kitty scratching post. So super fancy you couldn’t get one this decked out at any price. The kitties adore it, and I love it because they no longer attack my furniture. That was my one big fear in outfitting this place. That no sooner would we scrimp and save and buy the perfect couch, then it would be destroyed with one lazy kitty swipe.

Two of our fuzzy little brats with a guest kitty that came to visit.

Making it took a ton of work. So much work that just describing the work has sounded like too much work to bother with, but I’m super proud of this project and I think a tutorial would be really helpful, so I’m going to sack up and do it.

Here’s what you need:

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2, 2×4’s cut to 4′ long
1, 2×4 cut to 5’8″ long
1, 2×4 cut to 2’6″ long
1, 2×4 cut to 1’6″ long
1 square of MDF 2’x2′
2, 2×4’s cut to 9″
1, 2×6 cut to 2’4″
1, 2×6 cut to 2’8″
1, 2×6 cut to about 9 1/2″
1, 1×2 cut to 4″
1, 10″ wide 4″ cardboard tube cut to 33″ long, with the remainder of the tube cut in half
5 L Braces
2 Bar braces
1 box 3″ screws
1 box #6 1″ screws
2 2″ screws
carpet – I ended up using a piece that was about 12’x6′

Start with your square of MDF and the first five 2×4’s. The MDF is obviously your base, and you’ll put one 2×4 in each corner and one in the middle. Trace around the 2×4’s to mark your position. Each 2 x 4 should fit in the corner diagonally so they’ll be lined up once we start putting all the stuff on top of them. This is really super tall, so we’ll be trying to make this as stable as possible. You’re going to have to drill from the bottom of the MDF into the 2×4 using the 3″ screws.

The 1’6″ 2×4 goes in the middle. You’ll install these 2×4’s from shortest to tallest, since you have to flip the base over and let the 2×4 support it. I used three of the 3″ screws.

The next piece of 2 x 4, 2’6″ long, goes in one of the corners. It should be perpendicular to the middle 2 x4. You don’t want the skinny sides lined up, fat side should be facing skinny side. Yes?

Then in the next corner, install one of the 4′ long 2×4’s, and the other diagonally across the base from it. These will support the tube between them across the diagonal of the base.

The last corner will be for the tallest piece. The 5’8″ 2×4 goes in the last corner, and should face your 2’6″ piece.

Oh gosh I hope this makes sense. This is the hardest part, I promise. Here’s a larger picture from when we were installing the longest piece and here you should be able to see the position of all the other posts.

When you’re satisfied with the position of all your posts, go back and reinforce them with the L braces. I threw away the screws that came in the package, and used #6 1″ screws since I was sure they were short enough that they wouldn’t go through the bottom of the MDF.

Next we start installing the support pieces. Your two 9″ 2×4’s will support the halfpipes on the tallest post and the shortest middle post. Line up the end of the 9″ piece with the back of the tall post facing towards the middle of the base and screw down into place using 3 of the 3″ screws. Do the same for the middle post, with the 9″ piece pointing towards one of the 4′ posts.

Then install the 2’4″ 2×6 onto the shortest corner post. Line up the 2×6 so that it bumps into the tallest corner post. First screw into the top of the short corner post using 3 of the three inch screws, then screw through the back of the tall corner post (using 3 of the 3″ screws) to secure the other end in place.

Next comes the support for the big cardboard tube. Install the 2’8″ 2×6 onto the top of each 4′ corner post by screwing down from the top of the 2×6 into the 2×4 using 3 of the 3″ screws. You might need to fudge a little bit depending on how you installed the posts, but everything will be covered in carpet anyway, so no need to worry.

I was making this up as I went along, and right about here I decided that the tallest post was still too wobbly. I happened to have a scrap piece of 2×6 laying around and cut it to stick in between the crosspiece and the tall post, which for me was about 9 1/2″. Luckily there is a lot of give here, so precision isn’t a requirement. I used the same three 3″ screws and went through the back of the tallest post, and then used bar braces to connect the support piece to the cross piece.

One last piece of wood to screw into place. I designed this so that the lowest halfpipe is supposed to connect to the post it’s nearest. So I needed to create a way for the halfpipe to do that. Screw your little piece of 1×2 onto the corner post your lowest little platform is facing. I used the 2 2″ screws here because you still need to be concerned about the screws poking out the back but also want a nice strong hold.

You then take one of your cardboard half pipes and then, using the 1″ screws, screw it into your little base a couple of times, and then onto the larger platform a few more.

Do the same with the other halfpipe on your tallest platform, except you’ll just leave the other end dangling in mid air.

Last piece to install: the great big tube. These are available at any big box hardware store, just look in the section with the cement. Before you screw it into place, you’re going to want to be sure and cut a big hole in it. You’ll need this to get any screws in the middle, but mainly so your cats can have a way in, so be sure to make it big enough for any fat butts you have lying around. Then screw it to the long platform with a couple of 1″ screws in the middle and in each end.

Your main structure is now built. Next for the messy part. I went to a couple of pet stores to scope out cat trees and see if there was a neat way to cover them with the carpet. It looks like there isn’t. Everything I saw was pasty and patched, but I can tell you now that my little trio has been at this thing for eight months or so, it will end up looking bald and frayed anyway, so don’t lose to much sleep over this. Just don’t be shy with the staple gun and wood glue and go to town. I started at the top of each piece and worked my way down so I could cover any messy bits as I went. It took a few nights of Arrested Development marathons to finish it, but I’m thrilled with how it turned out.

My favorite part is that this is absolutely not a one person job, so Bear and I were doing the whole thing together and for the most part, this was his first real experience with building something. It is such fun to watch the satisfaction he takes in this, and of course to look at my pristine couches, unmarked by our pack except, of course, by the fur covering every available surface.