Vintage ladders have long been popular styling items, but they are not always easy to come by or found at an affordable price – even though you would never use them for their original intended purpose! Save the expense and make your own from pieces of pine and chunky dowel. Just remember, it’s only for decorating and should never be used for climbing.
Gather your supplies
• Stiles 67 x 19 x 2200mm pine (2)
• Rungs 25mm diameter x 395mm pine (5)
You’ll also need
Spirit-based stain (we used Feast Watson Prooftint in Oak); Dulux Wash & Wear Low Sheen; 80 and 120 grit sandpaper; drill; 25mm Speedbor bit; 5mm bit; 40mm stainless-steel screws; 5mm stainless-steel eye straps (4); 3.0mm long link chain (6m); 90 x 6.0mm stainless- steel ceiling hooks (4); 5mm stainless-steel snap hooks (4)
Mark and cut a shallow angle on base of 1 stile. To do this, mark 75mm up 1 side of a 300mm square. Pivot square on its point until pencil mark aligns with edge of stile. Mark line. It will be about 14° off square. Using a handsaw, cut, then measure stile to length, mark and cut other end, making sure angle runs in same direction. Repeat for second stile.
Using spirit-based stain and wearing rubber gloves, patch stain stiles and rungs to create light and dark patches of timber. Being spirit-based, stain should dry nearly immediately.
Paint stiles and rungs with a thin coat of Wash & Wear (here in Summit). Let dry.
Using 80 grit, then 120 grit paper, sand back through paint to expose portions of the stained and raw timber underneath for a distressed look. Leave as is, or coat with
a clear finish, if you wish.
Using a handsaw, cut rungs to length. If you hold end being cut off rather than letting it drop, you are less likely to have timber splintering at end of cut.
From short end of stiles, measure 100, 600, 1100, 1600 and 2100mm on inside faces. Make sure inside faces are left- and right-handed otherwise angles at bottom of ladder will not be correct. You could change position of holes, but 500mm is a good spacing for hanging clothes. At each mark, find centre of stile. Place tape on a 25mm Speedbor bit so you only drill a 7mm deep hole, then drill at marks. Finish by boring through centre using 5mm bit if point of Speedbor did not come out other side.
Predrill, then glue and screw stiles to rungs using 40mm stainless-steel screws.
Measure 200mm from each end on inside face of stiles. Screw on four 5mm eye straps.
Decide on hanging position, then find location of ceiling joists so you have solid timber to screw into (you cannot hang even 1 corner of ladder just on plasterboard). Predrill and screw in ceiling hooks.
Cut 4 lengths of chain to suit, making sure they are all same length. Hang on hooks, slightly opening top link if too tight. Add a snap hook at bottom, then snap to eye straps. This makes it easy to move ladder outside or stand it against a wall.