Also, knitting needles are surprisingly good at poking holes into corks (I’ve been experimenting with different tools to make it easier on everyone’s hands). Other tools that we’ve tried out include box cutters (effective but obviously a risk of cuts), scissors (difficult to work with), small flat head screwdrivers (very effective), diamond coated bead reamers (very effective), and now knitting needles (very effective).
A few other things we’ve picked up after making a few thousand cork toys include:
Synthetic/plastic cork has been the easiest to work with, and doesn’t have the risk of small pieces breaking off. It’s not as ideal if you want to put an eye hook in it to create a wand toy, however.
Champagne corks have a great weight for toss toys and wand toys.
Rubber (I think that’s the material) is the hardest to cut into and work with, I’m assuming due to the density of the material.
For natural cork, you can steam it ahead of time to make it a lot easier to work with. As an added bonus, you can add catnip to the steaming water for catnip infused corks. 🙂
The wine corks we use are donated or purchased through a creative reuse center. Sometimes there will be ones that have wine crystals on the end. We separate those ones out to use with other non-pet crafts, as it’s probably not good for the cats to lick those.
A hot glue pot/skillet offers a lot easier way to secure the feathers to the corks, if you wanted to use an adhesive. Rather than applying glue to the feather or cork, you just dip the quill into the pot/skillet.
For cork toys that are going to the shelter cats, we don’t generally glue them in because it gives the cats the ability to “kill” their toy, and the feathers aren’t going to go far in the kennel so they can just get popped right into place. For home environments, it’s easy for the feathers to get lost so those ones get glued into place with nontoxic glue.