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How to Build a Ladder 

 November 29, 2021

By  Mike Millerson

Proper survival skills and situational awareness are what will save you in an emergency. Besides, a bagful of survival gear can significantly maximize your survival chances. But the first thing is your skill. Every prepper, survivalist, and homesteader should have the vision of building some items DIY to be able to cut down on the budget for prepping and improve their readiness for any circumstances.

A ladder should be in every home. With its help, you can reach where your height does not allow you. For instance, climb on a roof, change the lighting, reach the top of a bunk bed, or get to the second floor. A good ladder costs a lot, but there is a solution. You can make the ladder yourself!

It’s not as difficult as you might think. However, a DIY project will take your time, materials, and tools. In our article, we will give you instructions on how to do this in the best possible way.

What You Need to Build a Ladder

Different-type-of-ladder

Of course, you will need basic carpentry, special tools, and materials for a DIY wooden ladder:

  • Marker pen
  • Table saw or circular one
  • The glue that can be used with wood
  • Drill )you can use a speed square one) and screw
  • Paint
  • Wood filler
  • Brushes
  • 2-3 inches screws (35-40 pieces)
  • Wooden boards (two pieces 2 by 4 boards 12 feet long + two pieces 2 by 3 boards 8 feet long)

What You Need to Know to Build a Ladder

Before building a DIY ladder, you need to do a little research and gather the information you need. You need to decide what kind of wood you will use, how high the ladder should be, and even what angle you need.

1. Angle

The angle is important for permanent ladders. For instance, you might want to build a treehouse for your kids or to use a ladder for a bunk bed. Of course, they will need a ladder to get there. Store options simply may not suit you in height, length, and angle.

To lean the ladder to the desired angle, you need to calculate the angle. For this, auxiliary tools must be used. It is easiest to install the application on your phone, but you can also purchase a protractor or level device. With their help, you will very easily find the perfect angle for your DIY ladder.

First, you have to install a long wooden slab. It should run from the bottom landing to your top platform. Two measurements will need to be taken:

  • Near the ground
  • Next to the platform top edge

Place your instrument on the wooden slab itself.

2. Height

When planning your DIY ladder, you need to decide on the height. There is an unspoken rule not to make ladders higher than 12 feet or higher than 6-10 feet if we are talking about a DIY ladder. If you really want, you can go higher and make any desired size, but the safety of such a project will be less. We wouldn’t risk it. The wood can bend or break.

In the list of materials above, we have given dimensions for building a 12-foot ladder made of wood. You can adjust measurements if your own wooden ladder height is different.

3. Wood

Wood is the most convenient material if you are planning to DIY. Yes, the ladder can also be made of steel, plastic, or aluminum, but it is almost impossible to complete such a project on your own. Therefore, our article only talks about DIY wooden ladders.

When choosing the type of wood, you need to pay attention to its strength. Most often used types:

  • Oak
  • Hickory
  • Spruce
  • Mahogany
  • Cedar
  • Alder
  • Pine

Materials differ not only in hardness but also in price, so choose something that will not harm your wallet and will be within the budget.

For DIY, we prefer to use cedar instead of pine. Cedar is a good sturdy material that is easy to use and looks beautiful. But pine is fine, too.

Guide How to Build a Wooden Ladder

Here you will find step-by-step instructions on the steps to take to build your own staircase.

1. Make a Framework

To assemble the mainframe of the ladder, you need to line up the two 2 x 4, 12 feet wooden slabs. Hold them side by side first to line them up evenly. Then staple together.

Tip: If you don’t find the slabs you want, or if the length is different, use a table saw to cut the pieces.

2. Make Marking

You need to indicate the center points of your top rungs. On 2 x 4, 12 feet pieces, you need to mark 8 inches from the one end. Do it on all such pieces.

3. Check Other Points

To safely climb stairs, the distance between the rungs must be 16 inches. Therefore, mark the center points for all steps.

4. Make a Space for the Rungs

Now you need to make room for the rungs themselves. Keeping the mark in the center, cut out a rectangle. It should measure 5 x 7.6 x 2.9 cm. You need to cut two rectangles from both 12 feet slabs.

5. Make Stairs

You only need to make 9 ladder steps of 19 inches. Take a table saw (or circular saw) and cut two 2×3 wooden boards of 8 feet to get the rest of the steps.

6. Fasten the Rungs

Attaching all the rungs in parallel, check their size. Take wood glue and secure rails in the notches. Do everything as evenly as possible; the convenience of your ladder depends on it.

7. Fix with Screws

Assembled only with glue in notches, your own ladder will not be reliable and stable. Therefore, you also need to secure it with screws using a drill machine. You will need 4 screws for each rung. First, drill two screws on one side of the rung, then on the other side.

8. Paint Ladder

To make your DIY ladder as durable as possible, we recommend painting it (we prefer latex paint). Paint will help keep the wood from rotting, aging, and other factors. You can choose any paint color you like. If you don’t care so much about durability, you can leave the rustic look and use a wood stain.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How to install a library ladder?

The library ladder will be a little more difficult to build. But in general, you should follow almost the same steps:

  1. Prepare the rails by cutting them to the desired length
  2. Mark the tops and cut them
  3. Make holes
  4. Rout the grooves and bullnose
  5. Drill the holes on the grooves
  6. Cut rungs; each rung must be sanded before installation
  7. Attach them with glue
  8. Then attach screws
  9. Install the rung supports
  10. Attach the rollers and wheels

How to make a rustic blanket ladder?

To give wood a rustic blanket look, remove the sharp edges off. Use a hand sander. After you have collected all the pieces of your staircase, use stain to coat the wood. Don’t take too much strain, but make sure you cover the entire surface. Leave it on for a couple of minutes and then remove any excess stain. The longer you leave it, the darker the surface will be. After you have removed the excess, let the stain dry well overnight. Then apply a protective coat of polyurethane. Remember to cover the side rails and sideboards also. This will make your ladder last longer. Such a ladder will be a nice decoration for any room.

What angle to cut ladder legs?

You can easily calculate this. It is convenient when the legs of the ladder are at a distance from the wall equal to about 1/4 of the height of the ladder itself. For instance, if the height is 12 feet, then the bottom ladder side should be placed on the floor 3 feet from the wall. And the angle should be about 15 degrees.

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A former USA Army sergeant and a highly educated survivalist and prepper with a degree and interest in Engineering and Electronics, Mike Millerson applies his extensive expertise in survivalism, homesteading, backpacking, hiking and hunting, spreading his deep knowledge about handling emergencies and prepping for them reasonably and effectively.

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