Introduction: Make a Cat Bed From a Computer Monitor

About: Maker, Mom & Teacher...

OK, you've seen them everywhere, those old TV's and Monitors everyone's kicking to the curb replacing with those new fan dangle flat screens. And few of us could fault them... the flat screens take up so little room, and have all kinds of resolution... ohhh ahhh.

But what to do with the old monitors!?! Trash 'em? na... bad idea, they have all kinds of lead, and stuff in them you really don't want in your ground water. Recycle 'em? Hard to do sometimes, and may even cost you a couple of bucks... but certainly worth it !!

My cat and I like to reuse 'em... and recycle them!

Step 1: Find a Monitor

Old monitors and TV's are pretty readily available these days.... just ask a few friends, post it on your facebook page,  look out for one on freecycle... and Goodwill always has a stash!

I however, simply walk up to my attic & select... 
(The neighbors all know I'm crazy, so they bring me their trash ).

Cats seem to like to be "cozy"... pick a monitor, that's not to big, and not to small.  I generally use monitors between 15 & 19 inches.

Step 2: Dismantle Monitor


Monitors and TV's can hold a charge for a number of months in their capacitor.  It it entirely possible to shock yourself.  If this part seems daunting, take you monitor to a TV repair person... I'm sure they will be happy to help. Some old TV's have slightly more fragile glass, and also have an implosion hazard. Consider this part of the tutorial being similar to the blind leading the blind (I am NOT an electrician).  I will simply show you what I do...

(Another great tutorial on taking apart a TV is at:  )

You will want an extra cardboard box, for the bits.  Gloves, flat head screw driver, philips head screw driver, 1/4 inch nut driver (I think that's what it's called), something you can cut wires with, and some extra wire or alligator clips.  I also grab a pair of safety goggles.

TV's and Monitors aren't much different in terms of dismantling.. but the 1/4 inch nut driver is particularly useful for the old TV's... you won't likely need one for a monitor.

Step 3: Taking It Apart

Every Monitor, I have come across dismantles a little bit differently.. so I'm going to give you the theory, hoping you will know that you may have to apply it a little differently in each case.

Place the monitor face down.
Makes life easier in the long run.

Remove the stand.
Remove the stand the on the bottom of the monitor (your cat may not appreciate rocking back and forth).  They often have a little trick, a plastic slot that you have to press, and they will then slide off.  I have once encountered one, you actually had to rotate in order to remove it.

Find all the Screws

Find every screw you can see, and unscrew it.  (Save these outside screws.. in order to reassemble it when you're done.)

Find all the Plastic Tabs
On many monitors, there are little trick plastic tabs you have to find in order to pop open the outer case.  They are sometimes in the back near the outlet cord... Other times, often in the seam between the front of the monitor and the back.

Jiggle Test
My scientific term, for making sure you've found all the screws, and plastic latches...  Jiggle test repeatedly, until you find ALL the screws and tabs... the 2 haves will then separate easily. 

Step 4: More Screws to Remove

You may find your monitor, has another inside silver casing.  (If not skip to the next step)

Find screws and remove.
Similar to the last step, you simply want to remove this casing.  It may be in one piece... or in a couple.  Just keep finding screws and removing them.  Jiggle test to find all of them.

Step 5: Taking Out the Tube

This is where you need to be a little more aware of electricity, and implosion hazards.  If you have an OLD TV, and would like to insure there won't be an implosion, check out  image # 2.  If it's not old ( ~30 years), don't worry about it... because sometimes breaking the tube, means it can't be recycled.

Find a friend.
OK, I'm a wuss... even though my husband has kindly explained electricity and hazards to me multiple times... I always find a friend who can watch and dial 911, in case I shock myself.  I haven't even gotten a spark yet..but better safe than sorry.  Oh yeah, and I put on my gloves, and don't stand in puddles.

Make screw drive tool
So that I can ground the capacitor, I make a tool by connecting a wire (or alligator clips) to 2 screw drivers.

Drag the tool aroundto try and ground the electricity
I then drag my screw driver tool around, over the circuitry on the one side, and under the rubber hood that connects to another wire on the other.  I move around, touching one sides to anything that looks of consequence, and the other to grounds,  framing, anything that looks like it could conduct electricity.  ( I know real scientific).   So far I have not encountered any sparks... but I often have monitors in my attic for ages!  This is the step where I would expect to encounter sparks if there were going to be any. (But I always keep my gloves on anyways ;-)   )

Separate the tube from the circuit  board
Any screws I still see, I unscrew.  Wires that connect from the back of the tube to the circuit board get pulled or cut.  Wiggle test, until I've found all the screws, connection points, and wires. 
Sometimes I find cool things in this step ( springs, colored wires) I save them for other projects.

Separate the the Tube from the front.
unscrew, cut... and jiggle until the tube comes off  :-) 

Step 6: Taking Out the Circuit Board

Ok , so now we have our plastic frame pieces, but it still needs a bottom.

The bottom is still attached to the circuit board, so we will need to find all the little screws that keep it in place and remove them.  They are ALL over!  and often sort of hidden under other things, so look closely... jiggle test, and unscrew away.

Some of the boards, are puzzled together with the metal frame, so be on the look out for pieces that slide out, or flip open.

Step 7: Reassemble

Puzzle the pieces back together, and use the exterior screws (the ones we first took out) to reassemble the monitor shell.

Take a break :-)
You could stop here, put an old sweater in, and you would have a perfectly happy cat, with a rather cool cave. I would however recommend cleaning the monitor... and recycling the insides.

Read on
To lean how to make the interior pillow, and then painting it.

Step 8: Recycle the Insides

OK, we have a lot of left overs...   This stuff can be recycled, and should be recycled.  But sometimes it's hard to figure out where,  and many recyclers don't  even take  monitors, and old TV's.   It often costs a few bucks... $8 - $20... more if it's bigger.  But that's totally worth it for an AWESOME cat bed. (and it does a little bit to help the earth)

Some resources:
In the US:
In MD (cause that's where I'm from):
Where I go (cause they're cool folks, and they can tell me where it goes):

Anyone know of more... please feel free to leave links in the comments.

Step 9: Creating the Pattern for the Pillow

If your cat is going to be totally happy with an old sweater, no need for fancy pillow,  skip ahead to the cleaning step... but remember cozy pillows keep cats oh so warm, and happy.  I know around here a happy cat is pretty important.

You'll need
Scrap paper, tape, scissors, and a pencil.

Tape the paper
Tape the pieces of paper together to get the approximate width, and depth of the monitor.

Cut off the excess in the front.

Draw the pattern
Once all the paper fits in, you can loosely fold, and draw along the edges of the monitor to create a pillow pattern.

Cut out the pattern
Following the lines you drew, cut out the pattern of the inside of the monitor.  You can place it back in to see if it fits, and/or if you need to make adjustments.

Step 10: Sew the Pillow

Get Fabric
Return to the attic to check out your fabric stash.  I'm using an old fleece sweatshirt, but any fabric will do.  If you are not using a knit (fabric that stretches like your t-shirt) ... cut out the pattern with zig-zag scissors, or run a zig-zag stitch around the edges to keep them from fraying.

Cut out the Pattern
Lay the pattern down on your fabric, pin it in place, and trace around the pattern 1/4 - 1/2 an inch out ( this will be your seam allowance). Cut out (through both layers of fabric) along the line you just drew.

Measure out the Circumference
Measure out the circumference, of your pieces, be a little liberal, it's always easy to cut some away.. harder to add.

Cut Strips
You are going to want to cut 3 inch strips of fabric, until their length is longer than your circumference.  So for example, in my pattern my circumference was 60 inches.  So I'm cutting 5,  3inch strips, that are about 12 - 13 inches long each... to total 60 some inches.   (again better to go for more then less).

Sew the strips
Putting right sides together... sew the strips together, until you get one long strip. (should be at least 60 inches in my case).

Pin the long Strip
Pin your long strip all the way around one of your pattern pieces. Be sure to pin it with the right sides together. 

Sew the Circumference
Sew all the way around your piece, about  1/4 - 1/2 inch in (your seam allowance). Cutting off any of the excess strip at the end, leaving a 1/2 inch to fold in later.

Pin on the Top
Pin the last piece all the way around, attaching it to the other side of the long strip.  Be sure to make sure right side is facing right side.

Sew the Circumference of this side.
Sew all the way around your piece, about  1/4 - 1/2 inch in (your seam allowance).   Be sure to leave a hole at the end, so you can turn the pillow inside out and stuff it.

Cut the corners
Cut away excess fabric at the corners, making sure you don't cut the seams!!

Flip it inside out
Through the little hole you left, flip it inside out... and through the same hole, stuff the pillow (until your cat is happy).

Hand sew
Hand sew the last little hole closed, place in the monitor.  Admire.

Step 11: Clean the Monitor

If you would like to paint the monitor, you will first need to clean it.  Mind you, you will probably want to clean it anyways...

To Clean for Painting you will need:
Soap & water or regular surface cleaner.  Goo Gone, for the sticky stuff, that somehow is on every second hand monitor I've found.  Paint thinner to prep for some of the plastic paints.  Rags.

Clean with the Goo Gone first, and get all the sticky tape, and sticker residue off the monitor. 

Then for any dirt and dust, I use plain old soap and water, or surface cleaner. 

Finally I wipe it all down with a little paint thinner.
(check the paint can you're using for any additional hints & tips)

Masking Off
Some parts of the monitor I don't want to paint.  I usually like keeping the monitor info intact, and sometimes other little areas.  So use the painters masking tape to cover that up.  And if you plan on just spray painting the outside of the monitor, tape up the vent holes on the back, and the top from the inside, so the spray paint doesn't float in.

Step 12: Painting and Accessorizing the Monitor

Painting on the Monitors
Only some types of paints will stick to the plastic...  I have learned the hard way :-) 

Spray paint
I have found the plastic spray paints to be excellent and fairly easy to find at big home improvement stores, however you have a limited amount of colors.

Paint pens
Awesome for fun, and small areas.  I don't like the smell but the adhesion is great, and you don't need to wait to be able to go outside in order to paint & work on it.

These are really neat for transparent effects, but don't expect the color to last forever with these, they will fade with UV light over time.

Plastic Primer
I have long been looking for ways to paint with acrylics on my monitors, and this seems to be the best solution.  The plastic primer (also available in a spray can) seems to give the surface enough tooth for the paint to hold on to.  This is fairly hard to find though, and I can only find it consistently  on the internet.

Model Paints
(not pictured)  The little paints you can buy for painting model airplanes and such, also works quite well on the TV's and monitors.

Gluing Accessories on to the Monitor

2 part Epoxy, and E-6000 seem to do well for gluing things on to the monitor.  I find I sometimes need to use painters tape to tape things down while it sets up.

Step 13: The End

That's all folks,

I hope you and your cat (or other pet ) thoroughly enjoy. 
If you make one I'd love to see them, post pictures!!

Be Inspires
You can also drop by my blog:, I make other weird things with TV's and Monitors... maybe you'll be inspired and recycle a few yourself.

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