Welcome pet lovers!
Below you will find a detailed guide on how to build a detachable cat toy/treat dispenser using common tools! One would say, isn’t it bad to play with your food? Well, this is much more than that. It makes your cat work (exercise) for its treats and makes your little kitties more aware/sharp! A contributing factor to cat’s intelligence. The best part is, the top part is totally removable for cleaning! Anyway, I hope you will find this instructable useful.
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Step 1: Video Teaser
Here's a 5:12 minute video showing you the process of building the detachable toy/treat dispenser from start to finish. Feel free to check out my cat being cute and silly.
Step 2: Design Layout
Before you begin, you can either follow my design or tweak the dimensions to your fancy. I did mine 23 cm in length,15 cm in width and 8.5cm in height. The hole placements are 6 in total. 1 at each corner of the body structure (4 holes on the plywood) and on the plexiglass/acrylic sheet, I placed 2 holes in the middle slightly off center on it..
Step 3: Materials
1.T-Nut M6 (5/16 inch) Pronged Tee Nut x 4
2.Cross Dowel Bolt M6 (1 inch) x 4
3.¾ inch wood screws x 30
5.1”x1” Pine wood (2 FT)
6.Plexiglass/Acrylic sheet (1FT x 1FT)
7.Plywood 10mm (it’s 9mm plywood but its slightly thicker than normal) (2 FT x 2FT)
The numbering is reflected on the picture above. You can also swap any wood for that matter but i went for this route because i have leftovers and didn’t want to add up the cost but it’s definitely up to you! Also bear in mind some measurements will differ if you use a thinner or thicker wood to replace the plywood (HEADS UP!)
Step 4: Tools
2.500 grid Sandpaper (or higher)
4.1 ½ Forstner Bit
7.Size 8 Drill Bit
8.Size 3 Drill Bit
9.Jig Saw Blade
The numbering is reflected on the picture above. (I forgot to add clamp in the picture my bad). All the tools I chose for this build is mostly common tools that the general public have but you can always swap Jig Saw for a Band Saw if you have the machine. It’ll be more efficient in the long run. However, If you don’t have a Jig Saw, a Hand Saw would totally do the trick too and helps build some extra muscles. Mallet can be swapped with a normal hammer if you don’t have any. No worries. Also, if you don’t have a clamp, don’t be disheartened. You could totally just use your hand to apply pressure or someone as santa’s lil helper!
Step 5: Measure
First thing first, get all your wood and plexiglass/acrylic sheet in order and pencil out the dimensions based on the design plan. If you are following exactly the thickness of my wood, you will need to draw out 2 pieces of 13cm x 8.5cm , 2 pieces of 23cm x 8.5cm and 23cm x 15cm on to plywood using your ruler and pencil.
What I would normally do, I will use the 1 of the corners at the edge as a guide (my first two sides for the dimensions I need) if you have a rectangular or square plywood and plexiglass/acrylic. It would save a lot of time later on if you are ready to cut because you will only need to cut two sides instead of four! (Life Hacks!)
Now, make a fade line in the middle of all the 8.5cm pieces (4 pieces in total). For the plexiglass/acrylic, pencil out 23cm x 15cm on to the sheet and draw a faded line in the middle of the sheet (7.5cm middle). This two faded lines will be the position of the holes for those little cute paws. Lastly get your 1”x1” pine wood and mark it 8.5cm respectively. (please take note of the thickness of your blade because it might mislead your markings if you mark all 4 simultaneously on one row due to the thickness of the blade that eats/saw your wood up).
Step 6: Cut List
Once you have your cut list ready, start your jig saw up and cut, cut, cut! Before I begin, I would use masking tape to tape the surround areas that involves cutting. The tapes will be on the back side of the board you wish to cut.
By doing this, you will reduce splinters from happening and make the cut neater. Also apply pressure on the wood/plexiglass/acrylic so that it won’t move. A clamp would be a great tool if you have any. If not, you can just use your hand to apply pressure but remember to keep your hands away from the blade. When dealing with the plexiglass/acrylic sheet, try to cut carefully because depending on the thickness of your acrylic sheet, it might snap if you do not handle it with care. Mine is 3mm thin so you got to be patient and handle it intelligently.
Step 7: Holes
Take your 2 pieces of 8.5cm x 23cm and X mark the spot on the faded line that intersect on the first 5cm of the 23cm. The other 2 pieces of 8.5cm x 13cm, you also X mark the spot on the faded line that intersect in the middle of the 13cm pieces (6.5cm). Lastly mark 2 X spots on the first 6cm from one end and the last 6 cm other end on the faded line on the plexiglass/acrylic sheet.
All the X marks will be the spot you will drill a hole. Place your 1 ½ inch forstner bit into your power drill but before that remember to tape the bottom side of all the the X spots as big as your forstner bit with masking tape. Get any flat scrap piece and place it at the bottom of the piece that you would like to drill a hole. Clamp it up.
The reason being, the scrap will act as a safety net so that you won’t ruin your table and the clamp helps in placing pressure so you don’t have to work as hard to make a hole. Now drill a hole onto all the marked areas. Take your time and don’t rush the process for a smooth finish.
Step 8: Sanding
Sanding is a key process for this build. It is very important that you do not skip this step because it may hurt your kitties. Once you have all your pieces together cut, sand all the edges of each piece. There is no benchmark how fine it should be but a general rule of thumb, if you go through it, it should be smooth as it can be.
Like really take your time no rush. Pay close attention to the hole outlets, the inner and outer circle should be smooth and the 1” x 1” pine wood pillars sides (major highlight). The trick with sanding the holes with ease is getting something round and wrap the sandpaper around it. Use a clamp to hold the piece down and sand back and forth motion or side by side in a full circle. Sand it down till you don’t feel any abrasiveness. Now you can either sand the surface of the plywood or leave it bear if you don’t feel like it. It depends solely up to you.
Step 9: Pre-drill
Now, get your pencil and make a huge X mark from on one end to another of your 1”x1” pine wood. The intersected line is where you pilot your hole. Get your size 8 drill bit and clamp your wood for a sturdy drill.
Get your masking tape and your ruler to measure 1 inch off the drill bit. Once you have the measurements, wrap your masking tape onto the preferred height (1- 1 ¼ inch). The masking tape acts as a guide for you to not go less or more than you should. Drill and make the hole. If it a bit off centre, don’t worry. It will still work!
Step 10: Pre-drill (Body)
Get your 3 variations to form the body, 1 piece of 8.5cm x 23cm, 1 piece of 8.5cm x 13cm and 1 piece of 8.5cm long 1”x 1” pine wood. Align them up exactly like the picture above (L-shape) and use a pencil to mark where the 1” x 1” pine wood will be positioned in between the plywood.
Once that is done, repeat this same step across all corners of the build. Get your masking tape and mark your size 3 drill bit at 1 inch from the end (you can make it ¾ inch if you want). Now that you have your measurements in place, using your size 3 drill bit and lie your 1” x 1” pine wood on the bottom of your plywood pieces that you mark. Drill 2 holes on each side respectively. (in total you should have 16 pre-drilled holes). Remember not to drill on the same spot (same height) on the other side of each plywood because later the screws will accidentally collide with each other.
Step 11: Glue and Screw
Now get your wood glue and glue the places you have marked and pre-drilled. Insert the ¾ inch screw and using your power drill, fasten the screws in place. In total you should have fasten in 16 places.
Step 12: Glue and Screw(Base)
Once you have the body structure, get your base piece 15cm x 23cm plywood and glue the edge all around it. Turn your body structure bottom up and secure the base piece on top. Get your size 3 drill bit and pre-drill 3 holes on each side evenly. Then secure the base by inserting all the screws.
Step 13: T-nut
To install the T-nut, grab a bigger or longer scrap than the body of the treat dispenser and place it on top of it for clamping. This will hold the piece in place for you to mallet the T-nut in the predrilled hole you made earlier on. Alternatively you can also just ask someone to hold it for you so that it doesn’t move when you are hitting the T-nut down. The sharp areas of the T-nut helps to clamp onto the wood and embed itself as one with it (refer the picture on the right!).
Step 14: Predrill and Assembly
Place your plexiglass/acrylic sheet on top of the build and mark the 4 corners that is aligned with the T-nut holes (2cm x 2cm). Flip the plexiglass/acrylic sheet and tape the 4 points with masking tape. Proceed by drilling the marked spots using size 8 or 10 drill bit with a scrap underneath (so your holes will have leeway, but depend on the head of your dowel bolts if its bigger than size 10).
Once that is done, you final step is to screw it in with your cross dowel bolts using the allen key. If you can find another version of the cross dowel bolts which is M6 philips drive bolts would even be better. (the head is a phillip screw instead of using an allen key). I used cross dowel bolts because I have it lying around my workshop.
Step 15: Play Time!
Feed your cat with joy because the detachable toy/treat dispenser is made with love by his and her bestfriend. Truly easy to clean. Oh, if you guys enjoyed the intructable i would totally appreciate the kind support by hitting the love button at the top right corner. Thank you so much for reading this far. Truly!
P.s: That beautiful feline is my buddy, Kiwi.
Runner Up in the