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PLAN HOW TO DO IT YOURSELF - FREE!
NATURAL BARK CAT TREES
HOME and GARDEN PROJECTS
Last update 29 April 2006
EASY TO DO HINTS TIPS and CLUES
How to design a plan and build homemade...
Rustic Natural Form TWIG STICK or LOG Furniture
Be prepared. Thinking out of the box insights are CAUGHT, NOT TAUGHT.
To those of you that interacted with us early on: your feedback was so overwhelmingly positive it encouraged the creation of this page. Thank you for suggesting an area devoted to "thinking outside of the box." More importantly, it's about time someone makes an effort to offer inspiration guidelines freely available to all craft hobbyist and rustic enthusiasts. Most commonly asked questions will be addressed in the text below. Don't hesitate to contact us regarding any further assistance we might provide.
The information offered is the result of over 13 years experience building a variety of natural free form configurations. In addition, Ray brings together multiple levels of skill honed throughout 25 years as a seasoned traditional woodworker performed both professionally and in recreational projects. As an accomplished musician, Ray became a self taught luthier building 6 and 12 string acoustic guitars.
Naturally, tool restoration is a priority now along with small engine repair. Sharpening chain saws, saw blades, chisels; nothing's worse than a dull tool. In this line of work anything and every thing needs constant attention. Ray also fabricates many of his own shop tools. Homemade adze, finishing sanders, mallets, hand planes, and adapting tools intended for unique applications.
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Cat Tree Furniture
Rustic Home and Garden Furniture
Feel free to use or adapt these examples as a pattern.
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Does your reply begin with, "But I,"... and end with,
"AM ONLY AN AMATEUR WOODWORKER."
"HAVE NO SKILLS or TOOL INVENTORY."
"PLAY WEEKEND WARRIOR, AT BEST."
"AM FRUGAL - BUDGET MINDED."
"HAVE TONS OF QUESTIONS."
Comes close to describing the average person anywhere on the planet, doesn't it.
Until now we have processed all incoming queries on an individual basis. With an increasing amount of work orders being placed we need to face the facts; there just aren't enough hours in a day. Any one know the answer to this? Exactly how long IS... "all the live long day"
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to describe the most simplistic approach to make your own natural cat TREE.
THE original idea manifested from an immediate necessity. The adoption of Fubbi Doo ^..^ from the Palatine Animal Shelter. Dashing to the pet store to gather a litter pan and what-have-you's the commonplace cat scratchers left a LOT to be desired. Personally, my first impression was to giggle. Seeing Ray was half way serious I said, "Egads. That's NOT a good investment. It will only confuse the poor guy and he'll be ripping his claws on all the other synthetics in the house. Like, the brand new sofa. DUH!"
Fast forward to the next day. An Elm TREE, felled by a recent storm was laying alongside a footpath we walked daily. Bells and Whistles went off!! Pleading my case for a natural cat TREE, Ray literally dragged the 60 pound branch for 4 blocks discussing how he envisioned making it all workout.
While still outside he cleaned the bark with a stiff brush before taking it into the basement. Jean Irene, Ray's mom kindly donated enough plywood scraps and some carpet remnants to build a base and 2 perches. (Carpet?? Whatever!) To make a long story short, Ray's very first kitty could now have a more natural material to scratch till his heart's content, perch in the sunshine and gaze outside, which easily held his weight as he climbed on and jumped off.
Fubbi is fast approaching his 14th year of life with us. The original TREE?... still holding strong! Speaking of Strong. Both indoor boys are a hefty breed weighing 15 to 18 pounds. Shamus is a Maine Coon (adopted from Noah's Ark). Fubbi is a wonderful Persian. New people to our home are amazed with their long history of good health and spunk (agility). Fubbi indeed is as playful as the 3 year olds. Give your fur kids a healthy, safe environment - they'll return your conscientious efforts with years of purry happiness.
Today's line of consumer goods are built using wedged pegs and/or through mortise and tenon joinery. End result is ultimately beautiful and unbelievably durable. You never need be concerned about staples, nails or screws ever coming loose. No carpet off gassing - no toxic glues!!
Introduction to Building Rustic Cat Furniture
REPEAT AFTER ME... RULE # 1... THERE ARE NO RULES!!
Priority One? Tip Factor
Shown above is an image of a free standing coat rack. Notice how the hooks are situated fairly high and are in close proximity to each other. It's designed so the center of gravity is kept in a tight circle. Then pay attention to its legs. They are placed wide enough to stabilize both the height and weight of the pole. You're going to work within the same design constraints.
Here's an exercise in designing a Cat TREE: picture any TREE upside down. Even a small TREE. If you cut all the branches level with the ground it could then be turned right side up and you'll find it literally supports itself. You are essentially going to use the natural shape of the TREE as a base.
Attach platforms by using any means at your disposal. You could even screw some branches together to provide support for shelving. Also, please don't place 1 shelf directly above the other. That's a Huge NO NO. Kitties won't appreciate not being able to navigate very easily. Give them room to course their way up or down comfortably. (Preferably more than one route.) Multiple species communities have taught us they pay a certain amount of respect to each others territory. Hierarchy reigns PRIVILEGE too.
One very large consideration will be the weight of your animal. Are they quite active or have a more peaceful nature? What are they best suited for? A branch, hollowed log, a slab plank? If the limb is too flimsy -- it will lay unused. OR if it's located in YOUR favorite setting instead of a more courteous arrangement of THEIR choosing, they may even reject the Best Built habitat on the Planet.
All creatures perch or roost inherently, by their Nature. Take a look at them in their natural mode. What are they intimidated by? What Pleases them most? Let your companion animal be your Guide.
The only thing holding you back from accomplishing this feat is, you Must Have the Desire to create a FREE FORM Cat TREE from "Scratch". (tee hee hee) Nurture your Vivid Imagination.
Tenons look easy enough, right?
Take heed - work WITH the grain.
Wrap sisal or natural hemp scratching section.
Sisal comes in two forms. Purely for health reasons we strongly suggest you AVOID the less expensive "oiled" version. Remove the outer packaging but leave it twined in a ball. Soak in water until swollen. Let the excess drain off before trying to work with it. Drill a hole large enough to accept the ropes diameter. Tie a secure knot at the end and pull with all your might. Your cat intends to use its entire strength when kneading so, lace tightly! (Practice makes perfect. If you're not satisfied with the results, start again.) Wrap the rope around the TREE and loop the entire twine through the loop. Pull left and again right to tighten any slack. Again, wrap the twine around the TREE. Loop it - and keep going. When satisfied, drill another hole, slip the rope through, tie a secure knot... Voilà
After time the rope may appear untidy but through usage the frayed area will become even more inviting. Cats LOVE it like a comfortable old pair of house slippers. Plus, they've worked really hard to put their personal scent on it. ^..^ Choice is yours.
Home and Garden Furniture Projects
Natural form rustic log furniture can be built with common everyday tools. For example, using a hatchet or a knife to form tenons can produce an excellent effect. Your commonplace drill can be used to make the hole or mortise. It DOES take a little practice to make a good tight joint. A drawknife can be used to peel the bark. When limbs are harvested in the Spring they literally peel themselves. And, the marks left behind exemplify log homes and furniture from days gone by. There are ways to get even more rustic by leaving the outer layer of bark on or an expressive growth intact as an artistic detail. Mind you, both will present special challenges. Experimentation will be your Best Teacher.
Whether desk, bed, table, chair or bench the desired dimensions can be determined by an existing piece of furniture. Measure the item - give yourself room to fudge - that's the beauty of building natural forms. The more experience you gain the less awkward you'll feel. Always, ALWAYS have spare sticks/logs/twigs ready to grab if you make a mistake or the stick/log/twig is being contrary.
Agro Forestry In Action - Sustainable Harvesting Standing Dead TREES
Valued as grazing pasture, thinning the overgrowth aides the local area cattle ranchers.
Wood Selection and Treatment
Inferior branches that have begun decomposing should never be considered for structural components. And, always be wary of bugs hidden deep within the heartwood fiber! INSPECT YOUR MATERIALS!!
In an ecological setting wood borers are an important benefactor in maintaining a healthy forest. Their natural role is essential to the TREES decomposition which returns valuable nutrients to the earth's soil as an end result.
The natural wood furniture we provide for our clients are carefully sterilized in a Fire Kiln which heats the wood to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. This guarantees a complete eradication of the wood boring insects, larvae and any eggs that are present. Locating a TREE feller or sawyer in your immediate area can help lead you to a solar kiln operator.
Don't hesitate to contact us if you are interested in purchasing kilned material. From hollow logs to branches used in interior decorating schemes. Unfinished KITS available on request.
"HOW TO BUILD YOUR OWN KILN FROM JUNK YARD SCRAP"
Until this additional information is published we suggest visiting:
How to solar kiln dry your lumber.
Department of Forestry Australian National University
Working with wood - home drying lumber.
Kiln Construction - The Wood Doctor Collection
of Articles at WOOD WEB
Solar Heated, Lumber Dry Kiln Designs.
David Coggins DIY Kilns Questions / Answer.
(copy/paste into your browser address bar)
Set ambitious goals. Apply ingenuity. Ample kiln
materials are freely available.
Be resourceful and turn up the volume control on your Creative Imagination.
You will soon discover inventive ways are really and truly at your disposal.
Whether basket or books, artifacts of 'Museum Quality' fine furniture or raw materials reclaimed from the great outdoors there may be potentially hidden intruders. We suggest caution when introducing questionable timbers into your living space. For that matter, even the wonderful little item from the flea market or second hand store could bring a host of unknown problems with it. If you wish to gain a deeper understanding, research the term 'frass' and all it encompasses.
Checks or cracks that appear in dry wood are natural and generally don't present a problem for structural integrity. Wood will usually air dry an inch (of thickness) per year as a rule of thumb (different species cure at different rates). Peeled logs lose moisture much easier and dry faster than wood with the bark left in place. Smaller peeled branches with diameters from 1 1/2" or less will dry within a few weeks. If you plan to use metal fasteners to create your TREE furniture drying is not necessary. Green woodworking is another method practiced by many crafters.
Species selection will also be influenced by your geographical region. To begin, look for natural tripod formations that can be turned upside down and trimmed forming a natural base to create a Table, Plant Stand or take license to let your imagination run WILD! Finding Mother Nature's own sculptured Cat Face (a term for a scar on a TREE or log, caused by fire or injury) may be just the thing to feed your artistic senses. We find Osage Orange, Elm, Oak and Ash are desirable woods for leaving the bark in place.
Slab cut off's from a sawmill are excellent to fashion in upright forms or flat surfaces. Slab refers to the trimming of the exterior portion off a log leaving one flat and one curved surface. You are bound to find plenty of character and grace in their unusual forms. Again, the design options are endless. Benches, Tables, Shelving, and for your Cat - PURRfect Scratching Furniture.
Tools and Usage
Your greatest challenge may come from mastering the mortise and tenon joinery. Lee Valley tools has a selection of tenon cutters that can be attached to a hand drill. Also, if you search the web for an old used adjustable Stearns Hollow Auger you'll find quite a range of prices and tool conditions. Pay special attention to its description. Make sure your investment is going to be a usable tool. After all, the hand operated Hollow Augers are antiques. They do a really excellent job of making round tenons. If the thought of fitting branches together with mortise and tenon is overwhelming use nails or screws. Whatever you feel most comfortable with. You could try ordinary dowels to attach certain parts.
Equipped with a tenon cutter all that is needed is an assortment of drill bits to make the mortises (holes). Forstner bits make nice clean flat bottoms. As you get into the larger sizes you may find that they can become cumbersome and hard to handle. Spade bits might prove a better option in certain instances.
Unlike conventional woodworking you will find rustic twig furniture crafting is not square and plumb but relies on good eye / hand coordination. The stick is often held freely with the drill positioned in the appropriate angle. After a few attempts you will find it becomes second nature.
Necessary Woodworking Equipment
Hollow Auger Spoke Pointer
Spade, Brad Point Forstner Drill Bits
Pouch contents ready for action!
Spokeshave Shaving Horse
Drawknife used by a woodworking student.
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E mail: Natural Tree Furniture 436 Avenue H., Wilson KS 67490 Telephone (785) 658-2618