Weekend Project

Justin Newcombe's tips on outdoor DIY projects

Weekend project: Keeping the master happy

By Justin Newcombe

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It's simple enough to make your own cat flap once you have the know-how. Justin Newcombe explains.

Justin Newcombe says timber cat flaps are sturdy, easy to work and look smart with a coat of paint or a rubdown with linseed oil. Photo / Richard Robinson
Justin Newcombe says timber cat flaps are sturdy, easy to work and look smart with a coat of paint or a rubdown with linseed oil. Photo / Richard Robinson

We moved into our house more years ago than I care to remember, with our big, black, fat, lazy, grumpy cat Bombay, who was intent on destroying every thread of low-hanging cloth he could find, including curtains, couches and cushions. This fatso needed to get out more so we decided to install a cat flap. It was a real Laurel and Hardy effort after Friday drinks. We attacked the back door with gusto and a hack saw. The damage was brutal and the hole more than a little agricultural but we managed to attach the cat flap with a good deal of creative interpretation of the instructions, which made sobering retrospective reading.

The cat of course, cynical and perceptive, could spot the not-too-well-hidden flaws in the apparatus and mockingly spent the next two months disabling, dismantling and destroying it. In one grumpy old man moment he simply ripped the whole cat door out of the hole and stormed outside where he sat beside his handiwork, looking outraged. Apparently he'd had beef, venison and turkey soufflé with gravy, peas and anchovies in a whitebait sauce the night before last.

How was I meant to know?

Big boy finally kicked the bucket and a few tears were shed, although I don't know why. His favoured pleasures seemed to be wrecking my stuff, scratching my kids and keeping me awake at night. All I've got left are a few painful memories and an ugly hole in my back door. At last I'm doing something about it. Although Bunnings sell ready-to-go cat-flaps, I can't help but have a go at reinventing the wheel so I've decided to build my own. I've gone for timber which is easy to work, looks smart with a coat of paint or a rub-down with linseed oil and is sturdy enough to handle even the most destructive mega-mog.

Step 1

Draw and cut out the hole. Make sure you're happy with the position and that the hole is nice and square. I usually cut inside the pencil line then file to it. This ensures I get an accurate, tidy finish.

Step 2

Line and frame the hole, using strips of timber. I used a small Ryobi skill saw to cut my plywood strips and Gorilla polyurethane glue, which has an expanding quality to give a snug fit. I pinned the ply to the hole with small nails. A good tip here is to use a small hammer - saves a lot of bruised fingers.

Step 3

Place a piece of plywood on the hole and mark out the door and cut out with a handsaw. I used a 300-tooth finishing handsaw for this. To stop the ply from chipping, place masking tape over the cut-line, re-draw the line on to the tape, then saw through it.

Step 4

Sand the edges, attach the hinges and then attach the door. Check that it doesn't stick. If it does stick, rub the edges with sandpaper until it swings freely.

Step 5

Paint or oil the cat door.

- NZ Herald

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