Learn how to make a wooden folding staircase

The folding ladder is a fundamental tool for homes and workshops, since it allows reaching high areas that are difficult to access. However, there are many models of different sizes and they do not always coincide with our needs, which is why it is worth taking into account the advice of experts on how to build a folding ladder.

Making a ladder with your own hands can help you save money, but it is also the best excuse to make a custom tool according to your real needs. Also, this project can be a good reason to spend quality family time, since everyone can participate. If you have some free time at home, it’s time to check what materials you have to know what you should buy to make the best folding ladder .

Selecting the wood

If you decide to make a folding ladder, you can use wood that you have at home so as not to spend money. However, it is good to remember that some woods are stronger than others, which will ultimately influence the strength and durability of the ladder. For example, pine is a very common species and can be cheap, but it is also soft, which means that it does not provide much strength.

The most recommended species are maple, oak and birch, which are more expensive woods than pine, but at the same time offer greater strength and durability. In addition, these usually have attractive colors with very showy grains, so that it is only necessary to varnish to obtain a natural looking staircase that does not go unnoticed.

Steps to make a folding ladder at home

There are many ways to make furniture and tools from the comfort of home, but this time we have found a YouTube channel called Hagamos Viruta, where the Argentine carpenter Gregorio Marino explains in detail the steps to make a folding wooden ladder. Before starting, it is good to clarify that the measurements mentioned below are referential, so they can be adapted according to the size you need. In this case, the dimensions are for a 1m high ladder, so you can double the amounts to make a 2m ladder.

The first thing is to define the legs of the ladder, for which we will need 4 pieces of 98 cm long, 7 cm wide and 2.5 cm thick. Likewise, 6 strips of 48 cm long by 8 cm wide will be necessary to make the steps. To cut the wood with these measurements, you can use a table saw or a hacksaw in the case of manual cutting.

Once you have the legs of the ladder cut to the desired size, you need to mark them in pairs, that is, two of the legs will be number 1 and the other two will be number 2. You can proceed to mark the first leg with a pencil. pair every 23 cm, which is where the steps will be and 2.5 cm, which is the thickness of each step. This mark must be made on the edge, that is, in the thickness of the wood. Afterwards, it is necessary to drop the pieces on each side to show the internal face, that is, the width of each piece, in this case, you have to mark with a square at 75° taking as reference the marks made on the edge, which it is the place where the steps will be. In other words, the lines marked on the edge should continue across the width of the wood at a 75° angle. You must do the same procedure with the other 2 legs of the ladder. In this case, it will have 3 steps on each side, but you can make it 6 or even 9 steps to reach a greater height. Remember that the more rungs you need, the longer the legs should be.

When you have a pair of legs marked and together, you must also make a mark at the point that will be the top of the ladder. You can measure 7 cm from the edge and draw a perpendicular line with a ruler. Also, on the tips near the inner edge of each piece you must mark 1.5 cm from the inside of the legs, to later join the two marked points with a straight line, if you keep the pieces together you will see that you have drawn a triangle, which corresponds to the part that you must cut so that the legs have a stop when opening the ladder.

Subsequently, you have to make 1 cm deep grooves in the steps marks, for which you must use a hacksaw and a chisel or a jigsaw. It is good to test that the pieces of the steps fit well in the slots, without being too loose. Next, you must cut the rungs in pairs with different lengths, which will go one on each side so that the ladder has a pyramidal shape, in this case, there are 2 45 cm for the lowest level, while the 2 middle steps they must measure 42.3 cm and at the highest level 2 steps of 39.5 cm are necessary. It is important to fit the steps very well with a baton and fix them with wood glue and two 40 mm screws on each side.

For the upper part of the stairs, it is advisable to use a laminated or phenolic board, since this material is more resistant than natural wood and therefore safer and more durable. You will need two pieces in the shape of trapezoids, 20 cm long at the base, 11 cm high and with an angle of 75°. For its part, the cover that will serve as a support at the top of the ladder can measure 17.5 cm wide and 50 cm long. 

One side of the ladder must be kept fixed, so you must place two screws with their nuts on each side and use glue to fix the trapezoids to the legs, but the other side must be hinged, therefore it is necessary to use a only screw that will act as an axis and do not apply glue. In this sense, when installing the top board it is important to screw it onto the fixed legs and the trapezium, leaving the mobile legs free. Finally, it is necessary to fix chains on the legs at the height of the middle step, as a security system so that the ladder does not open.


Let’s make chip – How to make a wooden ladder

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