Ladder shelves and desk

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Project by WillInTheMill posted 07-31-2010 10:30 PM 10050 views 27 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Well it’s taken me 6 months of occasional work, but our ladder book shelves and desk are finally done!

I got a lot of advice from Cantil3v3r and THIS POST. THANK YOU!!

I used his Google Sketchup file, but modified the design. I had to add the desk unit in the middle and adjust the width of the units to fit our space. These are replacing a big, old, ugly oak desk in a room that serves as my wife’s office and our guest room. This will give us more walking room and MUCH more storage. The desk surface is smaller, but for my wife’s laptop it is perfect.

There are 58 pieces total, but many are the same size or at least similar. So I taught myself a lot about “assembly line” type procedures to make the pieces consistent in size. My table saw fence is not very accurate, so I did the best I could. The trickiest part was the router half-laps, but they make the design look really slick.

My wife loves the finished product! They are finished with primer, 2 coats of leftover trim paint, and 2-3 coats of poly. It’s the same finish I used on my bedside table, which is in the same room.

-- Will, Tampa, FL

9 comments so far

View CampD's profile


1731 posts in 3682 days

#1 posted 07-31-2010 11:07 PM

Nice job, I always liked the simple ladder design.

-- Doug...

View mafe's profile


11741 posts in 3285 days

#2 posted 07-31-2010 11:37 PM

It’s really a sucess, I like a lot the simplicity, and the fact you painted it in white makes it stand so simple.
Post some pics when it’s loaded.
Thanks for sharing,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View Grant Davis's profile

Grant Davis

786 posts in 4104 days

#3 posted 08-01-2010 02:47 PM

My daughter has saked for something like this for her dorm room at college this fall. I can see dad is going to be busy making some of these. I like the simplicity of your design and execution. Thanks for sharing and nice job.

-- Grant...."GO BUCKEYES"

View workerinwood's profile


2717 posts in 3264 days

#4 posted 08-01-2010 02:53 PM

Great job!! Nice design.

-- Jack, Albuquerque

View WillInTheMill's profile


54 posts in 3373 days

#5 posted 08-01-2010 03:21 PM

Thanks everyone!

Grant – let me know if you want the Sketchup design file. I made the design on there as well as the cut list for all the parts. It takes less than one sheet of MDF per shelf.

-- Will, Tampa, FL

View RexMcKinnon's profile


2593 posts in 3391 days

#6 posted 08-03-2010 07:25 PM

I like this. Looks cool.

-- If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail!

View Cantil3v3r's profile


66 posts in 3373 days

#7 posted 08-03-2010 10:31 PM

Will –
These turned out fantastic! It looks amazing and should be really functional as well. It is kind of crazy doing the assembly line type work, but is good to see how well you can consistantly repeat some steps to produce a nice product. The half laps look really nice, and I think it provides the piece with a lot cleaner look. I am really glad I could help out with the project, and you definitely took what i had and made it your own and fit it to your space. Its always nice when everything comes together in the end. My shelves took quite a while to do because I kept putting it off, but I was so happy once it was done. Great work man, and I can’t wait to see the next piece you do!

View WillInTheMill's profile


54 posts in 3373 days

#8 posted 08-04-2010 12:50 AM

Thanks again, Bryan!

One thing I really enjoyed doing was cutting a piece of newspaper to the dimensions of the desktop. I had my wife set up her laptop and office supplies on the newspaper to make sure the desk size would work. I can’t remember if we adjusted it bigger or smaller, but it was a very valuable step that could have saved a lot of work or disappointment!

-- Will, Tampa, FL

View Gunn's profile


5 posts in 3344 days

#9 posted 10-21-2010 07:34 AM

G’day Will,

I was looking to build some open shelves for the kids’ playroom and came upon your project as well as Cantil3v3r’s. Your shelves look great.

I am wondering if you mind sharing your Sketchup design file.



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