Mar 30, 2010 - Homemaking, Personal, Renovating    4 Comments

Lofty Ambitions

This afternoon’s urgent project was to build a ladder to access the loft.

I have spent hours in the past weeks researching ladder construction — plans, materials, tips, styles.

My original plan was to make a steep staircase-type ladder that would be deep enough for the back of it to double as a bookcase. I still love that idea but I’m leery of adding more book storage space. Another thing is that such a ladder would have a very big footprint.

Moreover, I’d never built a ladder before and had no idea if I could even do it. I didn’t want to spend money on materials for an experiment.

So, I decided to take a lesson from my second favourite carpenter, Norm Abram, and build a mock up of the ladder using found materials, namely pallet pieces.

I gave the neighbours quite a show I’m sure a couple of nights ago when I took my last pallet apart. It was surprisingly difficult to separate the pieces even if they were only nailed in! I ended up with three five foot lengths of material I felt would be suitable for a ladder construction. Two pieces would be the sides and the third would be chopped up to make steps and step supports. Had the pallet pieces been just six inches longer, I would have been able to make an angled ladder instead of a straight up and down one.

I started by gluing and screwing step supports to the sides of the ladder. I then glued and screwed the steps to their supports. Finally, I screwed the steps to the sides of the ladder. The result feels quite sturdy but if there are any ladder experts reading this, please tell me if I missed a crucial step!

Securing the ladder wasn’t easy. I used long angle brackets to secure the top to the underside of the loft. For the bottom, I screwed a piece of wood to the floor using two small angle brackets and then screwed the ladder into that piece of wood.

I’m not enamoured with the ladder because it being strictly vertical makes climbing up and down awkward. It is definitely better than the step ladder, however! I will try it for some time and see how it holds up. Once I am more confident in my ladder making skills I will make a prettier angled ladder, but I’m pretty sure I’ll forgo the bookcase idea. I like how slim and nearly invisible the test ladder is.

Not counting glue drying time, the ladder only took about an hour to assemble. The sides are 4′ high and the steps are 1′ wide spaced 1′ apart. I’m quite happy with it. 🙂

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  • I think ithat f you have some little pieces of carpet laying around, that you will find covering the treads of the ladder will be kinder to bare feet.
    Been there, done that.
    Happy Trails, Penny, TX

  • I actually don’t feel a need to put down carpeting or anything… I *might* add some skid proof material, but so far that doesn’t seem necessary (I have climbed up and down five times in the name of science!).

  • Every summer I go around and collect pallets and cut them up for kindling wood. I often marvel at some very nice pieces of wood that are used, as well as some of the scruffiest scrap. You do a great job of using them for your projects!

    My major triumph this week is that I hired some men to tear down a building on our property. They are out there right now! I may not have done the project myself, but I have drawn from the strength of some of the solo full timers women to get it done.

    I’m not really a wishy washy person. I’ve just been hiding my strengths for to long a time.

  • […] winter, I made a ladder to access the loft now that the dinette is gone. It was never meant to be a permanent […]

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