Re: my first ladder
Response To:
how do you make a ladder ()

Henry (Raleigh NC)
Well Bill the way to make a ladder is one step at a time, haha (and you follow the instructions...) :D :O

In this case I was purchasing hardware (the wheels, brackets, and ladder rail and rail mounting hardware). You can purchase complete kits, including both the wood side-rails (if that's the term) and treads; shipping these long side rails makes no sense since these are wood side-rails and I can deal with finding appropriate side rails (7/8" thick was called for I believe). CSH (a WC advertiser) ladder hardware kits have instructions on sizes of wood treads, the angles to dado the side-rails, and how to glue and screw the treads.

In this case I used Rockler black metal treads (client request), which are screwed into the 'rails' using barrel bolts; there is a male threaded screw with large washer head on the inside, and a barrel nut inserted from the outside. The holes of course need to be sized and placed carefully (good instructions available on Rockler's site).

I created a drilling template to locate these holes at the desired locations, and using a hand drill made both sides simultaneously (to maintain consistent errors if there were any). The challenge to this barrel bolt system is that the barrel bolts are a snug fit (appropriately) and any deviance of the hole from true perpendicular to the face of the side-rail makes assembly a challenge (DAHIKT).

Ladder Lessons Learned?
If I were to do this again I would use a thicker than 3/4" template to better ensure 'hole perpendicularity.' In the end this came together well, but a few bolts were a challenge to drive home. Using a drill press might help, but in my case I suspect that might have been worse because I don't have 8' of clearance on either side of my drill press or stand to support long pieces (these were 9+' feet long and holes spanned a 7+' length). So achieving perpendicular holes would have meant supporting the piece and checking level for every hole.

For a paint grade ladder, these metal treads were a top-notch choice, and I think created the visual contrast needed in what would have been a rather monolithic white piece (at least empty, it will of course have books and display pieces on the shelves). I use ladders a fair bit, and this one was as good as any commercial ladder I have used (except for the disconcerting slight L-R movement that can occur because it is on wheels!); this is also not a particularly long ladder. Metal treads were not cheap - approx $45-50 each I think... but check your vendor for real numbers. I used clear, straight grained hard maple for the sides. Also this is more a visual than a practical ladder, but it is very safe (my impression at least; and I am particular about ladders, as I am the one climbing them).

Hope that helps...


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