Materials: Hyllis shelving units
Description: Use Hyllis shelving units to create a literal “catwalk” for your cats!
Writing up a good set of directions to do this is almost as hard as hanging the catwalks themselves. I’ll do my best to make it clear but if you undertake this project then know that it will take a lot of patience, sweat, a good eye/mind for hacking.
Step 1: Take a look at your ceiling and determine where you want the catwalk to run. I did this on a flat drywall ceiling which was hard enough. You could conceivably do it on other ceiling material like wood but I’ll leave that up to you.
Step 2: Get your Hyllis shelving units. Each Hyllis unit gives you just under 8ft of catwalk length when the four shelves are laid out end-to-end. If you are making a corner turn that will cut it down roughly a foot per turn.
Step 3: Gather all the other materials you will need. You will need a lot of threaded bolts. I used 1/4 but you could use anything from that size or larger to keep the walks steady. If you can, buy the threaded bolts in lengths that you can cut in half so you can get two poles out of one, but make sure they are long enough to reach into the drywall with a toggle bolt hanger and still give enough height clearance for the cats to walk beneath the ceiling. I used at minimum two bolts per shelf sometimes using three or four if I was making a turn and need extra stability or at an end point. You will also need toggle bolts that match the thread of your bolts. Get a lot of appropriately sized nuts and washers. Each hanging pole will require: 1 threaded bolt, 1 toggle bolt, three washers, three nuts. You will also need some sort of light weight board to place inside each Hyllis shelf (the shelves are flipped upside down and the boards placed inside them). I used cheap particle board. You will also need some low adhesive spray and lots of drawer liner for the final grip pads on the walk.
Step 4: Make a template! Get a piece of poster board and cut it to the exact size of one shelf. Mark the template with your spots for the hanging bolt holes.
Step 5: Start cutting your boards for the shelves so you can just grab a new one and go. Don’t drill all the holes yet. Only do that a few at a time just in case you have to make a change of direction. Drill your first shelf, making two holes on one end and one on the other. Make the holes just large enough to fit your bolt. Thread a nut at the bottom of the bolt and one at the top. Place a washer under the bottom nut and one on the top. Place a toggle bolt on the top with some bolt poking through the top. And then put the bolt through the shelf hole and place another washer then another nut. So the sequence of layers for each hanging bolt will be like this from top down: TOP small space-toggle bolt-small space-washer-nut-large space-nut-shelf-washer-nut BOTTOM
Step 6: Determine your starting point for the first shelf. Assemble one shelf with three bolts (two for the end). Hold it up to the ceiling and do your best to mark the spots where the toggle bolt will enter the ceiling and the bolt will stay upright and level as possible. Mark the three spots. Get a drill with a bit smaller than the size of your bolt. Use it to probe your ceiling at your marks to make sure you are not going to hit metal or wood. You can also use a stud finder to help out. If you do end up hitting wood you can still make it work by either drilling (with the appropriate bit) deep enough to get a toggle bolt all the way through the wood and using a longer bolt or you can use an adapter to combine a small screw tip to the end of your bolt (you should be able to find these at a big hardware store) Luckily I only had to do this a few times.
Step 7: I suggest buying cheap plastic paint throw covers and some good tape to hang all around the ceiling area and walls/floors of the areas you will be working in. Drilling this many holes in the drywall creates a lot of dust! So be careful and patient. Might be a good idea to get a breathing mask too. Drill at your marks and push your toggle bolts into the ceiling keeping the shelf as level as possible. Once you are sure the toggle bolts are secure then tighten all the nuts while still keeping the shelf balanced and level. The shelf will be a little wobbly for now. Don’t worry about that. Later you will use the Hyllis legs that came with the unit as side pieces to secure multiple shelves together making the catwalk tight and stable.
Step 8: Assemble a second shelf and hold it up next to the first one and repeat. At corners you can use L-brackets to secure the shelves together. I also used a few larger L-brackets for the section of the walk that was close to the wall. Once you have enough length you can then place a Hyllis leg on each side of the shelves using a very small drill bit and wood screws to secure it to the shelves. You may have to cut the Hyllis legs to match the length of your walks.
Step 9: Once all the shelves are hung and secured with the side Hyllis legs then you can cut drawer liner with scissors and razor blades to fit the shelves and spray the back of them with a low adhesive glue .
Step 10: I installed a mini rope light down the length of my walks. And I used Ekby shelves as steps for the cats to make easy jumps to the catwalk entrances.
See more photos of the Hyllis catwalk.
~ Jason, Texas