How to build a wood ladder

Written by jonah morrissey
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How to build a wood ladder
Build a wooden ladder to access higher areas around your home. (background from old boards with a ladder image by Ivan Hafizov from

A wood ladder can be helpful for accomplishing many home improvement projects around your home. You can build a wooden ladder instead of purchasing one. A handmade wooden ladder consists of two uprights and several rungs. The rungs of the ladder should be notched into the uprights to add strength and stability to the ladder.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 1 board, 2-by-3, 96 inches long
  • Tape measure
  • Mitre saw
  • Clamp
  • Pencil
  • Table saw with dado blade set
  • 2 boards, 2-by-4, 96 inches long
  • Wood glue
  • Box 3-inch coated wood screws
  • Screw gun
  • Wood finish
  • Paintbrush

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  1. 1

    Clamp a stop block to the fence on the mitre saw to make 12-inch long cuts. Cut the 2-by-3-by-96-inch board into 12-inch lengths. Cut seven of these ladder rungs.

  2. 2

    Measure and mark every 12 inches along one 4-inch side of both 2-by-4-by-96-inch boards; these are the ladder uprights. The marks indicate the position of the ladder rungs. The rungs will be centred on the 12-inch marks. Mark 1 1/4 inch on either side of the 12-inch marks to indicate where to cut the notch for the rungs.

  3. 3

    Set up the table saw with a dado blade set, which is specially designed to make wide cuts on boards. Adjust the height of the blade to make a 1 1/2-inch deep cut. Place a mitre gauge into the slot on the table of the table saw.

  4. 4

    Mill the notches into one ladder upright at a time. Hold the board with the 2-inch side flat against the table saw with the 4-inch side against the mitre gauge. The pencil marks should be visible to you. Push the mitre gauge through the saw and pull it back through until you have created a 2 1/2-inch notch as indicated by the pencil marks along both boards.

  5. 5

    Lay the uprights parallel to each other with the 2-inch side with the notches facing up. Apply wood glue to each of the notches. Insert the rungs into the notches.

  6. 6

    Drive screws through the rungs into the uprights. Use two screws per joint. Allow the glue to dry.

  7. 7

    Sand the ladder with fine-grit sandpaper. Apply a wood finish. Allow the finish to dry.

Tips and warnings

  • Apply a strip of abrasive stair covering to each rang for added traction.
  • Wear eye protection when working with wood.

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