So my wife has been wanting an indoor habitat for our two cats ever since we got Mr. Saki. Every time she would bring it up or show me the hideous carpet explosions online, I’d cringe. We put out heads together and thought, “what if the cat tree was made from a real…tree?”
And that was it. Every hike from there on out we were eyeing trees and debating on what would look the most artistic. Aspens were on the list, but they are hard to find in ample supply. Junipers, on the other hand, grow like weeds in the high desert.
This project took over a year to complete with large gaps in production. After all is said and done, the cats love it, and we love it.
It did not take too long to find a good specimen for the tree in Central Oregon. Junipers have begun to grow so much that some are concerned about the trees’ effects on the environment. I am personally allergic to the pollen, so there was a bit of joy in taking a limb off this tree.
There is a bit of back story about what happened on our way back to the pavement; forest service, flashing lights…we’ll tell you about it over a drink and good food…
When we got home, it was very clear we had over estimated the size of tree we needed. We trimmed off the useless twigs and branches and identified the main beams we would use for the tree.
Using a wire brush and chisel, we stripped the outer layer of flaking bark to expose a nice red layer of bark. on the more dead portions, there was build up of dead bark and dirt.
Working in custom home building affords one with beam cut-offs (or “drops”) of sizable proportions. One such drop was selected for the base of our tree. This was a 5-1/8″ x 18″ glulam beam that I cut into an 18″ x 18′ square.
After staining the base, I used a piece of steel plate (about 3/16″ thick) to run two 1/2″ x 8″ lag bolts and a long piece of all-thread through. To counter sink the plate and soon to be inserted lags, I made a number of cuts with a Skil Saw and then knocked and chiseled out the wood. A router would work good for something like this, but I’m a framer.
Using the lags to hold the tree in position, I drilled through the base and into the tree with a 1/2″ x 16″ long drill bit. I disassembled the tree from the base and drilled and additional 4 inches. This hole would receive the 5/8″ all-tread and tie the base to the tree.
We injected construction adhesive into the hole we drilled, re-positioned and tightened down the lags, then drove the 5/8″ x 24″ all-thread into the tree. The drilled hole is only 15″ deep, so the all-thread needed some extra love with the hammer to take it the full 23″.
After driving the all-thread into the glue, hole, and tree, we let is sit for a few days to allow the glue to bond. Then, we torqued down the nut and re-tightened the lag bolts. Care must be had with the all-thread bolt. Too much tightening and the all-thread could be pulled out of the tree.
In the following posts you’ll notice cross over between the stage of construction and what is being described. In reality, we set out to accomplish one thing, but would work on everything effected by that single item. Staining is one of those items.
Arian found a number of stains at the local Re-Store and mixed up a color she liked for the dead sections of wood. Using a dark stain and multiple coats of polyurethane, the color of the bark really stood out against the dark stained grain. The three coats of polyurethane also served to protect the bark from further peeling and sap dripping on floors.
To be continued…