A while back we made an instructable for a horizontal cat scratching post/pad. Mochi did use it, but the downside is she still clawed our couch too. Womp.
So we built a modern vertical cat scratching post that slides over the arm of our couch, hoping that giving her something vertical to pull on will spare our couch from further damage. And so far, she’s using it!!! Yay!!! Bonus, this thing also acts as a wooden couch sleeve to set your drink on. Double yay!!
Of course, we documented the whole build on video so if you’d like to see the action in video form check it out above!
Before we get into this build, I’ll preface it by saying we used a lot of tools on this simply because we had them at the ready, but you don’t need everything we used. So I’m gonna put the must-have tools at the top of the list, and additional stuff we used below.
- 10×1 wood
- Sisal rope
- Something to cut the wood with like a miter saw, circular saw, jig saw, or hand saw
- Power screwdriver
- Wood screws (#8 x 3/4”)
- Sanding block
- 220 grit sandpaper
- Catnip spray
Additional tools/materials we used (helpful, but not 100% necessary)
Step 1: Measure and Cut the 2 Vertical Pieces
This scratching post is made of three pieces. To start, we’re going to find the measurements we need for our two vertical pieces (numbers 1 and 2 below). All the measurements for this build will depend on your couch.
Because couch arms can be rounded, grab a scrap piece of wood, or anything flat really, and place it across the top of the couch arm, making sure it’s level. Then measure the distance between the floor and the underside of the scrap piece. This measurement is going to be the length of your longer vertical wood piece that goes on the outside of your couch arm (1).
Next, slide the yardstick between the arm of your couch and the cushion until it hits the base of your couch under the cushion. This measurement is going to be the length of your shorter vertical wood piece that goes on the inside of your couch arm (2).
We used these two measurements to cut two pieces from our 10×1 on the miter saw. You could definitely use a circular saw instead though, or heck even a jig saw or hand saw.
On the shorter piece, we also added a slight taper by cutting an angle on our miter saw so that it would slide between the cushions more easily. It’s optional, but it does help.
Step 2: Pocket Holes
Next we drilled pocket holes. If you don’t have a kreg jig, don’t worry, you can just screw perpendicularly through the boards with wood screws later to attach them (don’t do it til after you’ve attached your sisal though. We’ll cover that part later). If you want to try the kreg jig but aren’t sure how to use it, here is a great tutorial on it.
We drilled these at the top of both vertical pieces, on the inside part that will be facing the couch arm. We’ll use them to attach the top piece later.
Step 3: Attach Sisal
Next we wrapped the longer vertical board (the one on out outside of the couch arm) with thick 3/8″ diameter sisal rope. We used most of this 100 foot roll which is pretty crazy. Because it’s so thick, we had to wrap the board first before we could get an accurate measurement of how wide our top piece needs to be.
We attached the sisal in such a way that if she really goes to town on it and at some point we need to replace it, we can easily do so. First we drilled a hole at one end of our longer piece of wood.
Tape the end of the sisal and thread it through the hole so that the taped end is on the pocket hole side of your board.
We secured the sisal by screwing through it and into the wood. First drill a small pilot hole, making sure to NOT go all the way through the wood.
Then screw through the taped end of the sisal and into the pilot hole. Make sure you use a small enough screw that won’t go all the way through your board (we used #8 x 3/4” wood screws).
Next we rounded out our edges with the router and ⅛” radius roundover bit. Eventually we are going to round pretty much every edge except those that are joined together, but for now we just rounded out the edges of the piece that will have the sisal because we wanted to do it before we wrapped it.
As we started, we realized we should have rounded these edges BEFORE we attached the sisal because it actually got in the way of the router. So we had to detach it, round the edges, and then reattach it.
After reattaching the sisal, we got started wrapping it tightly around the board. It helps to have a buddy for this part because our arms actually got surprisingly tired haha.
We attached the end of the sisal the same way we started it, by drilling a hole through the wood, threading through the sisal, and screwing it to the board on the pocket hole side of the wood (the same side we screwed the starting end to)
Step 4: Measure & Cut the Top Piece
Next we are going to measure out and cut our top piece of wood.
First we put the two vertical pieces in place, made sure they were level, then measured the distance between the outside edge of each board.
We cut that length on the miter saw, but again, use whatever saw you’ve got.
Before attaching the top piece, we rounded the corners of the rest of our edges. Like I mentioned before, we wanted to round out everything but the edges that we would join together.
Step 5: Sand & Smooth
Then we sanded out surfaces so that everything was smooth because it’s a lot easier to do before everything is assembled. We used the random orbit sander on the large surfaces and hand sanded it with a sanding block on the edges.
Step 6: Attach Everything
We used right angle clamps to keep the boards as square as we could before attaching them. We screwed through our pocket holes using pocket hole screws. If you didn’t do pocket holes, this is where you could screw wood screws perpendicularly through the boards.
When it came time to attach the long vertical wood piece, the dang sisal was in the way again so we had to get creative with some additional clamps and scrap wood in order to clamp the boards at a right angle. But we figured it out and screwed through those pocket holes as well.
Step 7: Finishing
Next we rounded out the corners of our top piece so that they matched up with the rounded corners of our side pieces. You can see in this picture where some edges are still sharp, and some are already rounded.
Then we rounded the rest of the top piece. You could potentially do all the edge rounding at once, we just thought it was easier to do it as we went.
We noticed there were a couple slight gaps where our pieces joined together. So we filled them with sanding dust from our sander and some glue. This is a great alternative to wood putty, and it’s guaranteed to match the color of your wood. Add more dust if you need to, and sand it to finish.
A trick to get your cat interested in the scratching post is to spray it with catnip spray. It’s sorta cheating… but it works! We also like to scratch on it with our hands to help show her what it’s for.
Step 8: Enjoy!
We definitely like this new scratching post more than our old one. It feels a little more finished looking, and we don’t have to worry about stubbing our toes (although we’ll still hold onto the old one for a while)
Hope she continues to like and use it! Please, Mochi, please use it, for the sake of our couch…
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