How to build a library ladder

Written by carole ellis
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A library ladder is a beautiful addition to an extensive book collection. It is very important, however, that you assemble it correctly and use all the right types of hardware to ensure safety. This is a very specialised do-It-yourself project; to be absolutely 100 per cent safe, you must purchase a library ladder hardware kit to build your library ladder.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Library ladder hardware kit, which includes wheels, upper rail, roller guides and all mounting accessories
  • 2 8-foot 2- by 4-inch oak boards
  • 7 2- by 3- by 18-inch pieces of oak
  • Wood glue
  • Self-threading 3-inch screws
  • Drill
  • Router with 2-inch dado bit
  • Clamps
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Sandpaper, 100 grit

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  1. 1

    Set everything up. Lay your oak boards together and clamp them to a table.

  2. 2

    Router a 2-inch dado channel into the wood. Measure 10 inches from the bottom of the boards. Go across both boards and continue every 10 inches. When you are finished, the ends of the 2-by-3 boards should fit snugly inside the dado channels.

  3. 3

    Glue and screw the 2- by 3-inch boards into the dado channels, working from bottom to top, using the 3-inch screws to hold them in place. Use two screws on each side.

  4. 4

    Hand-sand your ladder from top to bottom using 100-grit sandpaper. Make sure it is completely smooth, and that there are no protruding pieces of wood that might give you splinters.

  5. 5

    Finish your ladder with stain of your choice in a well-ventilated area; allow it to dry overnight.

  6. 6

    Install the library ladder rail by screwing the mounting brackets into your wall (typically above your bookshelf) and attaching the rails to the brackets. All screws should be tight, and the rails should not move once they are mounted and tightened. It is vitally important that your mounting conforms to instructions per your particular hardware kit, since every kit is slightly different.

  7. 7

    Attach the ladder to the rail. The entails installing roller wheels at or near the top of the ladder, usually by screwing them securely into place. Your kit may require you to use wood glue for additional security. These wheels slide into the rail of the ladder so that it can be moved parallel to the wall.

  8. 8

    Test the ladder carefully. The wheels should roll effortlessly when moved, and the ladder should be seated firmly when pressure is applied. You should be able to climb the ladder without any slipping or sliding. If the ladder moves while you are on it, you need to tighten everything and possibly apply some type of rubber bottom to the lower legs of the ladder to help prevent accidents.

Tips and warnings

  • A dado bit is used to make channels in wood.
  • Library ladders are gorgeous to behold but need to be made with utmost care. You must follow the specifics of the hardware installation instructions to the letter for absolute safety and security.

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