It is difficult to find a cat scratcher long enough for larger cats. With this process, you can create a cardboard cat scratcher as long as your laser cutter will allow. The laser cutter in this tutorial allowed 36 inches.
Step 1: Use Guides for Measuring
Use guides to measure the thickness you’d like for the cat scratcher. Here, the total height will be 4 inches to allow for a curve, but the minimal thickness is 2 inches.
Step 2: Create the Shape You'd Like in Adobe Illustrator
In Adobe Illustrator, make page the size of the cardboard you’ll be cutting. In this case the cardboard is 32”x24”. Feel free to use another tool besides Adobe Illustrator.
Step 3: Reduce Cardboard Waste
There is a straight line under the guides so each piece is cut separate from another. To reduce waste and add extra width to the current scratcher, an additional curve was placed in the empty space.
Step 4: Copy and Paste
Copy and paste your template between the guides you created at the beginning of this project.
Step 5: .001 Line Thickness for Cutting in Adobe
Once you have lines adjusted to your liking, set all lines to a thickness of .001 (Adobe Illustrator) so they are cut on the laser cutter, not simply etched into the cardboard. This is different in other tools, for example, Corel Draw only cuts lines marked "hairline".
Step 6: If You'd Like, Add a Pattern
If you’d like a design etched into the side of your cat scratcher, find or create a pattern and place it in a new layer. This will not be set at .001 thickness (otherwise, it will cut). When cutting, hide this layer until the last two cuts. There is no need to etch all of the cardboard, it will only lengthen the time it takes to finish the project. In this case, a honeycomb pattern was used.
Step 7: Gather Your Cardboard
These sheets are 24" x 36". 4 were used in this project.
Step 8: Place Cardboard in the Laser Cutter
Here is a 24" x 36" piece of cardboard that fits perfectly into this laser cutter bed. Align the cutter, then head to the computer to adjust the cutters settings.
Step 9: Make Sure Only Your Cutting Layer Is Visable
Only cut the cutting layer for your first pieces of cardboard. You can make the etching piece (your pattern) visible for the last cut.
Step 10: Set Up Your Laser Cutter
Here are the settings used for this cardboard on an Epilog laser cutter. Rastering (etching) was set extremely light so that they honeycomb pattern would be an off white color.
Step 11: Press GO
Now that everything is in place, press "go" and watch as your cat scratcher takes shape.
Step 12: Use Your Last Piece of Cardboard for Etching
Before cutting the last piece of cardboard, make the pattern layer of your work visible so the laser cutter etches. Here you can see how the honeycomb appears etched on the cardboard.
Step 13: Get Gluing
You can use almost any craft glue for this. Here you can see that the smaller and larger cuts of cardboard were alternated to give more width to the cat scratcher. When gluing, secure a few pieces together, then start another section. Once each section is dried, glue those together.
Step 14: You're Done!
Present your gift to your cat - sprinkle a little catnip on it if he/she doesn't love it at first sight. ;)