How to build wooden ladder shelves

Written by b.t. alo
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To add a touch of country charm to a lounge room or office, a set of ladder shelves works well. Ladder shelves can be tricky to construct if you try and actually build them using old ladders. Wonky rang placement, rickety sides, uneven shelving all come into play when trying to make a ladder shelf with actual ladders. To get the nice rustic effect, but still have even, solid shelving, you can use timber or MDF sheets to create a cutout ladder and perfectly-aligned shelves.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Lumber, 1 inch
  • Lumber, 2 inch
  • Lumber, two-by-two
  • Straight edge
  • Protractor
  • Table saw
  • Scroll saw
  • Sandpaper
  • Paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Level
  • Drill
  • 3-inch wood screws
  • Finishing nails (optional)
  • Hammer (optional)

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Measure in 4 inches from either side of the triangles and draw a line that runs parallel to the sides. Measure up four inches from the base of the triangle and draw a straight line across. Make another line 3 inches farther up. From this line, draw a line at 13 inches up, then 3 inches, continuing in this pattern until you reach the top of the triangle.

  2. 2

    Measure in 4 inches from either side of the triangles and draw a line that runs parallel to the sides. Measure up four inches from the base of the triangle and draw a straight line across. Make another line 3 inches farther up. From this line, draw a line at 13 inches up, then 3 inches, continuing in this pattern until you reach the top of the triangle.

  3. 3

    Cut out between the side lines and the first 4-inch line with a scroll saw. Then cut out between the side lines, the line at 3 inches and the line at 13 inches up. Pop out the scrap. Continue cutting out between the lines. You will be left with a ladder shape, with the sides of the ladder 4 inches wide, and each of the four rungs 3 inches thick, with 13 inches between them. Repeat on the second triangle.

  4. 4

    Measure the length of each rang. They will diminish in size as they get higher. Cut out four shelves, 50 inches long and the width of the rungs from the 1-inch lumber. Mitre the sides of the shelves to 13 degrees so they will fit snugly on the ladder rang. Cut out eight cleats from the two-by-two lumber, 30 inches long. Sand and paint all the components of the ladder shelves and let dry before assembling them.

  5. 5

    Stand the two ladder sides 30 inches apart and position two cleats between the lowest rang. It should be flush with the top of the rang and level. Drive two wood screws through the side of the rang into each abutting cleat end. Repeat with remaining cleats and rungs.

  6. 6

    Slide the shelves through one side of the ladder, across the middle resting on the cleats and out the other side of the ladder. There should be 10 inches over each side of the ladder once the shelves are centred. You can leave the shelves just resting on the cleats; if desired, tack in place with finishing nails.

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