This post shares my retro cat house side table build plans. This easy-to-build piece is both a stylish side table and a cat house—the perfect piece for any cat lover’s room.
Retro Cat House Side Table Build Plans
Hey guys, it’s been a while since I’ve shared build plans, I know. I was just telling Mike that I really wanted to get in the shop and build something with my hands. Life just gets so busy, but it’s such an amazing stress reliever.
Knowing we were going to be working on his office space, which also doubles as our guest space and a play room, I decided to make a side table to go next to the murphy bed. But with a twist! A cat twist, obviously. It also doubles as a cat house. Or cave, really.
I was inspired by a piece I saw online with exposed plywood edging—I’ve never done a finished piece with exposed plywood edging, but I loved the look. And I also used PureBond plywood for the first time. It’s formaldehyde-free (did you even know that was something you had to worry about?), which is a huge selling point. It’s a bit more expensive than a normal 4×8 sheet of plywood, but it pays off—the grain on it is beautiful and it’s a safer option than traditional plywood. I used birch and am looking forward to using the leftovers from the sheet for another project.
Oh, and I also put together a nifty video at the end of the post where you can watch me build the entire thing. So without further blabbing…
Here’s what I used:
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- 4×8 sheet of 3/4″ birch PureBond plywood (there were be leftovers, I only used about a half sheet)
- Pocket hole bit and 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws
- Beacon Adhesives Timber-Grip glue
- 220-grit sandpaper
- 6″ hole saw and appropriate bit (the same kind marketed for making corn hole boards!)
- Tack cloth (or regular cloth if you’re feeling lazy)
- Minwax stain in Pickled Oak and rag
- Varathane water-based polyurethane in matte and brush
- Hairpin legs and 3/4″ wood screws
- 15 3/4″ x 15 3/4″ (A)—2 pieces
- 15 3/4″ x 15 1/4″ (B)—2 pieces
- 14 1/4″ x 14 1/4″ (C)—2 pieces
And here are my retro cat house side table build plans!
Step 1: Cut pieces and drill pocket holes.
First I cut my plywood pieces according to the cut list above. I used my orbital sander to clean up each piece. Then I used my KregJig to drill pocket holes as follows on both C pieces: (5) on the top and bottom and (3) on the front.
You can see the pocket holes on the photo in step 2.
Step 2: Attach sides to bottom.
Next I clamped the bottom piece, one of the B pieces, to my workspace. Then I used 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws to attach one of the C pieces as outlined below. I also added a strip of Timer-Grip wood glue before I attached the piece.
I then repeated this step for the other C piece, except I attached it opposite the first piece. Make sure the sides with (3) pocket holes on them are facing the same way.
Step 3: Finish the box.
Next I clamped the other B piece to my workspace, flipped the u-shaped piece I’d created in step 2 around, and used pocket hole screws to attach that. (I also used a line of wood glue for this joint.)
My piece now looked like this: a box without a front and back.
Step 4: Drill hole in the front piece.
We used a 6″ hole saw attachment to drill a 6″ hole through one of the A pieces. Full disclosure: this is a beast of a process. I didn’t feel comfortable muscling this, and our drill couldn’t handle it anyways, so I phoned in my dad for some help. I then used 220-grit sandpaper to polish up any rough spots.
You can see more in the video tutorial! You can see what it looks like below. If you can’t handle the power of a strong drill and a 6″ hole saw, you can use a jigsaw.
I then laid this piece face down on my workspace, ran a thin line of wood glue along the edges, and set the box down on top of it. The side with the three pocket holes should be facing down; that’s how I attached the front. I attached with pocket hole screws.
Step 5: Attach back piece.
To attach the back, I ran wood glue along all four edges, set the second B piece on top of it (that’s your last piece), and used my finish nailer to fix the piece in place.
And here’s what the box looked like fully constructed!
Step 6: Finish it up.
I attached my little hairpin legs to the bottom using 3/4″ wood screws, wiped the piece down with tack cloth, stained the pieces using Minwax wood stain in pickled oak, and finished it using two coats of Varathane water-based polyurethane in matte. I love this finish’s look—I used it on R’s dollhouse and it became a fast favorite.
And it looks amazinggggg! I really love the exposed plywood edge and the natural, matte finish.
Wanna see this build in video format to clarify some of the steps?