I’m excited to share this new DIY project with you guys! I’ve been working on it for several weeks now (months if you count the planning phase). It might look a little familiar to some of you – it’s inspired by the “Sky Scratcher” made by Mike Estes. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right? Riiight? I’ve been a big admirer of his Chicago and New York skyscraper-shaped scratchers that sell for $149 – beautiful pieces but a bit out of my price range. I figured I could make my own version with a few supplies and all the cardboard boxes I get (online shopping is my guilty pleasure). For less than $10 in materials and my handy homemade template, you can make one too. Fair warning: this project is time consuming!
Here’s what you’ll need:
- [9/13/2016 update: Viviane Drakides designed her own based on the Empire State Building. Check out her design + get her template here]
- corrugated cardboard (shipping boxes work nicely and it’s free!)
- 36″ wood dowel with a 3/4″ x 3/4″ square width ($1.67 from Home Depot)
- 12″ x 12″ x 1/2″ birch plywood board (a single board costs $5.49 from Michaels)
- 1-1/2″ wood screw
- X-Acto knife + refills
- cutting mat
- power drill
- Optional: Foam board for template, Rotary paper edger
Step 1: Drill hole into center of board
Mark the center of your board. Place between two sturdy chairs and drill a hole into the center. My cordless drill wasn’t powerful enough to get the screw through so I used a 7/64″ bit. If you have a corded drill, you can probably skip this and use the wood screw – it shouldn’t require any pre-drilling.
Step 2: Drill hole into center of dowel
Use the screw and your drill to make an indent in the center of the dowel. This will make the next step a little easier.
Step 3: Screw dowel into base
Drill the screw all the way through the board. Using a screwdriver to hold the screw in place, take the dowel in your other hand and twist it onto the screw. Keep twisting until it’s securely on. Doing this by hand gives you greater control and ensures that it gets attached straight.
Note: Since the screw head isn’t flat, I find that the piece wobbles on hard surfaces (it sits fine on carpet). If you have hardwood or tiled floors, you can try sanding down the center of the board just enough so the screw doesn’t touch the floor.
Step 4: Cut out templates
Print out a template of the building levels here (7 total). Trace it onto foam board (or cardboard) and cut the pieces out.
Step 5: Trace onto cardboard
Use your new template to trace the shapes onto cardboard. For a clean look, try to keep the grain direction and thickness of the cardboard consistent. I made sure the front of my scratcher (bottom of the “H” shape shown in the example above) was always against the grain.
Step 6: Cut along outline
Cut along the outline with an X-Acto knife. The blade will get dull so be sure to replace it when necessary. You can try using a rotary paper edger for the longer cuts. I personally found it a bit difficult to keep the cut straight so I ended up using the X-Acto knife for most of this project.
Step 7: Assemble layers
Stack the cardboard pieces onto the dowel until each level (marked accordingly on the template) reaches the heights listed below. Don’t glue the layers together. That way you can easily replace any section that gets damaged from overuse.
- Level 1: 2.25″ stack height
- Level 2: 3.25″ stack height
- Level 3: 2.25″ stack height
- Level 4: 1.75″ stack height
- Level 5: 1.5″ stack height
- Level 6: 17″ stack height
- Level 7: 4.5″ stack height
… and BOOM. Instant cat magnet. Kittles took to his new scratching post quickly. He’s been rubbing against, stretching on, and scratching the heck out of it. I and my achy hands are relieved he loves it.
A note about the roof: I made mine with an arched top but didn’t include those templates. I had started out trying to replicate the Chrysler building (can you tell?) but found the iconic arches really, really hard to make (at least ones that look remotely decent). If you want a singular arch like mine, use the level 7 template and shave off about 1/2″ on each corner. Do this 5 times. Or just leave the top flat. I think it looks just as nice.
So what do you think? Let me know if you make one too! I had so much fun with this I might try to replicate Taipei 101 next!