|Project by vipond33||posted 08-05-2011 02:14 AM||2741 views||24 times favorited||12 comments|
In the back of my mind I’ve always wanted a nice small wood stepladder. Get up there and show the spider webs who’s boss – in style. Good ones are almost impossible to find nowadays (creak, creak) and-and-and- who am I kidding? D’uh, I’m a woodworker no? So, scrounging around in my old papers I dug up the hand drawn and annotated, typewritten plan for a classic that I had already made! in grade nine shop class some 45 years ago. Who knows where it went.
What I had on hand to build it with were two amazing 9’ pieces of Ipe, one ruler straight grained for the legs and the other nicely patterned for the rungs, stretchers and shelf. Ipe is a real chore to work with but it polishes up like ebony and is tough as nails. Also it’s cabinet grade wood (though its main use seems to be for expensive decks) and done up in a fine finish. I think any utility item just might last longer and be treated with more respect because of that.
It ended up really heavy, some 20 lbs, which is what I wanted as it won’t skitter around, but it is at least made visually lighter by the narrow braces and the tapered shelf. You could substitute Douglas Fir, Willow or Sitka Spruce, all traditional ladder woods, and end up with a much lighter unit. There were substantial modifications made to the original plan, seeing as my skills and design sense have also gotten quite a bit better since I was 14.
The finish is Tried and True oil with varnish, a product that I heartily recommend and Watco liquid satin wax, the easiest and most beautiful final coat you’ll ever find. BTW there’s no stain here, that’s the natural colour. The pivots are shoulder bolts and the restraining arms are lid stays.
After seeing some disappointing experiences that other guys in the shop had with gluing this stuff I reinforced the bottom rung with cleats and buried long brass screws in the joints (find and use a steel screw with the same pitch before you try this, the wood is deadly hard and a snapped screw – will present you with an insurmountable problem). The cross braces were also partially let in to the back legs.
It’ll probably last forever as I never plan to step on it at the moment. I think it may end up in the bedroom for a while as a clothes drape and coffee rest.
If you think you’d like to build one, a photocopy of my old original plan is available to anyone that sends a SSAE and promises to send me a picture when it’s done. Send a PM.
Go forth and multiply! Take back the heights from aluminum and fiberglass!
46”H 19”W 26”D
Build on LJ’s.
-- firstname.lastname@example.org : dovetail free since '53, critiques always welcome.