How to make a library ladder

Written by jose leiva
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How to make a library ladder
Once you know the dimensions, making a library ladder is easy. (archives image by araraadt from

Making a library ladder so that you can reach books high on your library bookshelves is not a very difficult task. The most challenging part of the project is figuring out how long you need the ladder to be, which requires a little bit of trigonometry. Luckily there are triangle calculators online that can help you with the calculations; all you need to know are the angles for the triangle created by the ladder and the height you want the ladder to reach.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Long library bookshelf
  • Triangle calculator
  • 2 pinewood beams: 5.8-feet by 2-inch by 1-inch
  • 5 pinewood beams: 2-feet by 2-inch by 1-inch
  • Table saw
  • Drill
  • 10 screws: 2-inches
  • Sandpaper
  • Paint (any colour)
  • Wood stain (optional)
  • 2 hook bracket kit (flat or hooked optional)
  • Library ladder pole (optional)
  • 2 wheel housing kits (optional)

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  1. 1

    Figure out how long you need the ladder to be by measuring the height of the bookshelves the ladder is going to be on. Use a triangle calculator such as that provided by Ostermiller, Handymath, or Calculator Soup (see Resources) if you aren’t particularly good at trigonometry. The angles for the ladder should be 30 degrees at the top, 90 degrees at the bottom (next to the bookshelf) and 60 degrees at the bottom (away from the bookshelf).

  2. 2

    Cut two pinewood beams to measure the length of the ladder with a table saw. The ladder will be the hypotenuse of the triangle, so if for instance you have a height of five feet for the library ladder to go up, you’ll want two pinewood beams that measure 5.8-feet long by 2-inches wide by 1-inch thick.

  3. 3

    Cut pinewood beams to measure the width of the ladder for the steps. You’ll want your ladder to measure at least 2-feet in width and you'll want to have one step for every foot of the ladder. In the example where you want the ladder to go up 5-feet, you have a 5.8-foot ladder; you’ll need at least five steps, so cut five pinewood beams to measure 2-feet in length, 2-inches in width, and 1-inch in thickness.

  4. 4

    Cut a 30 degree angle onto one end of the 5.8-foot long beams (top) and place them parallel to each other, 2-feet apart, and standing on the 1-inch thickness of the beams.

  5. 5

    Attach one step 0.8-feet (9.6-inches) from the bottom of the beams (flat end) at a 60 degree angle. The 2-foot length of the step should be perpendicular to the beams. Drill a 2-inch screw from the outside of the beam, into the centre of the step from either side.

  6. 6

    Attach each step to the beams in the same fashion as the first step was attached. Each step should be one foot away from the other.

  7. 7

    Smooth out the surfaces of the library ladder using sandpaper and then paint or apply wood stain to protect the wood. If painting, use whatever colour paint you like the most for the ladder.

  8. 8

    Attach a hook bracket to the top of each of the beams (angled end). Use a hook bracket kit purchased online or at your local hardware store, since the kit will have all of the necessary hardware to attach the bracket. Use a flat hook if you are attaching the library ladder directly to the bookshelf, or use a hooked hook if you are attaching the library ladder to a library ladder pole.

  9. 9

    Attach a wheel housing to the bottom of each of the beams (flat end) if you want the ladder to roll. This is only useful if you are attaching the ladder to a library ladder pole. Use a wheel housing kit, since this will have all of the necessary hardware to attach the wheel housing to the library ladder.

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