This post was originally published on DIY Network’s blog Made + Remade in June 2014.
No doubt that I housed at least 1,000 caterpillars in my critter catcher between the ages of 5-10. I also named them, but that’s beside the point here. Collecting creepy crawlers and everyday ants is some right of passage, so every kid deserves to have a critter catcher in his or her arsenal of playthings.
Looking to make one yourself? It’s mighty easy if you have access to a few tools.
Consider the size that you want your catcher to be. For the base of mine, I cut a piece of 8″ pine board to measure 8″ wide x 10″ long.
The critter catcher will be mostly open for air flow and visibility, but you will need to construct front and back walls and a doorway to the cage. Create a template using scrap paper, and transfer the shape of the template onto two pieces of wood (the height of my walls measure 8″ wide x 9″ high).
Use a jigsaw to cut out along your template lines.
You’ll need to create an access door for the front of your critter catcher. I cut a 3″ opening in the front panel of wood using a jigsaw, first using a drill bit to create an opening for the jigsaw blade to fit in.
Attach the front and back panels to the 4″ x 6″ base that you cut initially. I used a little bit of wood glue and clamped the pieces together, and added brad nails in each side to reinforce the lap joints in the structure.
Measure the length of netting that you need to cover the critter catcher. Allow for a little overhang on all sides – you’ll trim off the excess in the next step – and use an electric stapler to attach the netting to the wooden frame.
Trim the overhang from the critter catcher using a utility knife.
I trimmed a piece of scrap plywood to serve as a door, and attached it using a bolt so that it can slide side-to-side to open. Note that in this photo a screw is holding it in place … once I loosened the screw to allow my daughter to paint (see the next photo), I realized that I could improve upon it with a bolt and nut! Because this catcher would be carried all over the yard, I also found it nice to add a piece of wood along the top (nailed in place with the brad nailer), and screwed a length of belt to the board to create a handle.
Customize your finished critter catcher with a paint treatment if you’re feeling creative, and then add a final eye hook and latch to prevent the door from swinging open. Have fun collecting little creatures!