Introduction: Cat Tree House for a Lot Less Than $800!

About: Life! It's one hell of a thing to happen to a person.

    This is my 1st 'ible.  I had been pondering making this project after seeing one for sale in a mail order catalog for $799.95 ! Once I noticed the Pet Contest  I told myself, "good enough motivation to get started."  So, lets get started.

    I may have gone a little too in depth with this instructable, but I figured step by step should mean just that.

Step 1: Materials.

    I tried to use materials I had around the house every chance I got. I did choose to buy some materials for aesthetic reasons, or just because I didn't have them at the time of construction.

Materials used...  

I have included prices (local to WY area anyway) to give you guys an idea of what the overall cost might be.

Tree branches.
(I had these on hand from a dead tree that needed cut down.)
1 or 2, 1"x3"x8' furring strips
($1.67 each from local building supply.)
1, 2"x2"x6' furring strip.  
($1.22 each from building supply.)
4, 1"x2"x8' furring strips
($.85 each from local building supply. Though I had plenty of these from earlier projects.)
1, 1/4" 4'x4' plywood
(I used Birch, $15.58. It is a little more expensive than some, but I wanted to use a descent hardwood plywood, personal preference. There was a 4' x 8' panel of regular plywood for $6.97. Not as strong as the birch, but for the placement of the panels, strength isn't a super huge issue.)
1 box of 1-5/8" drywall or wood screws
($4.58 from local building supply.)
1 box of 3-1/2" screws
($8.75 a box from local building supply.)
1 box  of 1-3/8" drywall screws
($4.58 box from building supply)
Wood Glue
Wood filler
Hot glue
(Going to a carpet store  you might find some good remnants or out of date samples for free, or at a very minimal price.)
A non toxic general purpose adhesive
($6.75 from building supply), or hook and loop fasteners ($9.99 for a 6' x 1" strand from arts and crafts store.)
Bushy Greenery or fake tree leaves
(usually about $10.00 for one bundle at an arts and crafts store) I used 3 bundles.

Step 2: Main Support. (Trunk)

    Its best to start this project by selecting the limbs you wish to use.  This way you can build the platforms around them, instead of trying to form the limbs to the platforms.  Once you have determined the limbs you wish to use, play with them in different arrays so you can figure out platform sizes based around limb positions.

   Determine your "trunk" for the main part of tree.  You will need to cut it at the base so it will balance on its own.  This will help in stability for the overall project.  I was able to use a radial arm saw, but depending on the diameter of the trunk you use, a chainsaw or hand saw may be needed. Once you ascertain your trunk (main support), you can figure out the dimensions of the bottom platform.

Step 3: The Base Platform.

    I looked at the overall way my Trunk was standing and determined a 17" x 27" platform size.  (It also doesn't hurt that the carpet samples I am using are that same size.)

    I use the 1"x3" furring strips for the bottom platform. I cut the strips so that the inside dimensions of the frame will be 17"x27".  The 2 strips for length are 28.5" long, and the 2 for the width will be 17" long.  Attach the strips so they are standing on edge to make your frame.  A 90 degree corner jig is helpful here, or use clamps and a framing square to get the corners true.  I like to use wood glue on the joints of all my projects, and this is no exception.  Pre-drill and countersink the holes for your screws. (When working with furring strips it is always good practice to pre-drill any holes. Furring strips split very easy.) Assemble.

    Now for inner support you will cut the 1"x2" strips to fit inside this frame.  On this one I cut the length strips 27" long, and the 2 width strips at 13.5" long. Place the frame on  a flat surface, and insert the 1"x2" pieces inside, on edge flat against table as well.  Assemble these to platform as seen in picture 1.  

    Place the tree inside the platform frame where you would like it and mark the frame.  This isn't very accurate, unless you have a laser eye like myself.  ;P  These marks are to give you a basis as where to place the 2"x2" strip supports for the trunk within the frame. see pictures 2 & 3.   After you have the basic location you can install the trunk supports.  Give yourself enough surface area for the trunk to attach with long screws running up though bottom to hold the trunk securely.  I am adding another 2"x2" strip support for a second limb.  see pic. 4 & 5.

    Measure the inside of frame to establish dimensions of the plywood floor.  Mark your plywood and cut on a table saw. **Tip.  If you do not have access to a table saw, a straight edge, a couple of clamps and circular saw work in a pinch.  Clamp the straight edge along the line to be cut.  Measure the base of your saw from edge to the blade.  This measurement is how far the side of straight edge needs to be from line. Pics 6 & 7. 
Attach the plywood inside frame using wood glue and the 1-3/8" drywall screws.  Picture 8.  Using the adhesive, or hook and loop fasteners if you choose, attach carpet to plywood.

Step 4: Attaching the Limbs to the Base.

    After the adhesive has dried you can now attach the main support.  Drill through the top into base if possible.  This makes it easier to turn on side and run the screws through bottom.  If you can't drill screws though top you may have to get help or get creative with stands or blocks to hold everything in place as you put the screws in.

Step 5: Upper Platforms.

    Depending on the height of your trunk, you can figure out how many upper platforms you can have.  I was able to make two.  In making these platforms you establish their locations and build your frame based on limbs. Start with one side of frame and attach to side of trunk.  You may have to notch the trunk to get a flat surface for better support. Pic 1.  I used a vibrating multitool to make the notches, but a hand saw will definitely do. Attach the 1"x2" strip and level before making fully secure. Pic 2.  Build the remaining frame in similar fashion.  Attach each piece, and level as you go. Use more 1"x2" strips on the inside of these frames flat so you have a framework to hold the plywood flooring. Pic 4.  Cut plywood to shape and screw to upper platforms.  It doesn't need to fit exact.  It will be covered with carpeting.  Cut the carpeting to fit tight in these frames and then glue.

Step 6: Paint or Stain.

    At this point you can paint or stain your platforms frames.  Be sure to fill in the countersunk screws with wood filler.  Then paint or stain as per your vision.

    Now you are ready to attach the greenery.  Look for a drill bit slightly larger than the stem of your greenery.  Use this bit and place random holes about 3/4" into branches.  You can then place the stems of your greenery into the holes, adjust to look natural and then hot glue.  Make any final adjustments to the leaves.

Step 7: Tree House Completed.

     Now you can stand back and enjoy the work you have done. Though, your cat just might enjoy it much longer than you.

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