Introduction: Blinging Out a Cardboard Cat Fort

About: JoeJoe is a PCB designer, artist, and make-hack-tinkerer who lives in San Francisco, CA. He is currently an Artist-in-Residence at the Autodesk Pier 9 Workshop, and also co-founded LumiGeek (…

The other day I came home to find my wife had turned one of my endless stream of incoming Digikey boxes into a fort for the cats. It had a large front door, windows, a small back door, and even a second story perch inside!

It was pretty crafty, but needed some personality. So while she was away on a work trip I decided to bling it out a bit. With the help of google image search, a laser cutter, and some cardboard I turned it into a medieval stronghold.

Step 1: Take Some Measurements

The laser cutter is at the Pier 9 workshop, not at my house, so it was necessary to measure the existing cat fort before starting the renovations.

Step 2: Find Some Appropriate Designs to Lift and Prepare Your Cut File

Google image search is my friend when it comes to finding inspiration and guidance in mimicking a particular style. In this case I was searching for some gothic or medieval windows such as you'd find in a castle. Sometimes I add the keyword "vector" to this search so that even though you won't get the vector file, you'll probably find something easily trace-able in CorelDraw that will then become a cut vector for your project.

Here I searched for and found a selection of windows, cropped down the file to the one I wanted, and used Corel's "Outline Trace" to make it a usable vector for the cat fort windows.

Step 3: Cut Some Cardbord!

I love using cardboard on the laser cutter because it cuts very quickly and cleanly. It's great for testing designs and fit before cutting out of a more rigid material like wood.

My final file was comprised of two turrets (which would be folded later), a few windows, and a kitty "coat-of-arms" that I mashed up from some other google image searching.

Step 4: Attach the Bling to Fort Faolan

Yes, I named the fort after the older of the two cats. Elmer's glue would be fine for this job, but I used double-stick tape because it was closer.

To attach the turrets I marked and cut four slits to hold the tabs in place.

I had intentionally designed the window frames to be larger than the existing windows, so I traced the footprint and enlarged the holes. These would let in more light in the morning from the nice easterly side of the fort which, although not a requirement, I thought might be appreciated.

Finally I attached the new Coat-of-Arms to the side to christen it as a cat domicile.

Step 5: Now That's a Snazzy Cat Fort! Let's Test It on the Cats!

Well I wish I could say they liked the improvements, but they seemed quite indifferent. Honestly, the whole thing is just a bit too small which is most likely the problem. After coaxing Faolan in there for the pictures, he just basically wanted to escape. Bodhi was more interested in sitting on top of in than inside it. At least it makes an interesting talking point when we have guests over!