Picture of A Traditional Jacob's Ladder
A traditional wood-and-ribbon children's toy. Good for elementary school-age kids to do with parental assistance. Though you can find store-bought versions of these lots of places, this instructables.com submission was inspired by a visit to Foxfire in Black Rock Mountain, Georgia. These instructions are really far more detailed than many people might need for such a simple thing, but if you are like me, detailed instructions save a dozen missteps, so here they are.

Step 1: Gather materials & tools

Picture of Gather materials & tools
General Remarks:

First you have to choose what dimensions you would like for your Jacob's Ladder. There is a great deal of flexibility here: you can make a wide and very long Jacob's Ladder, or a thin and/or short one. The size and length of the board and ribbon needed vary accordingly. However, for a project that, say, a 9-year-old can do with a parent, the following specifications may offer the best combination of workability and aesthetic appeal. A thinner board (say, 'lattice board') than what we have used is possible but makes hammering the brads in particularly hard for a child (or a clumsy adult like me).


1) 1/2 x 2 inch wood board, length of 24 inches or more

(I found this at Lowe's grouped under 'Molding,' not in the raw lumber aisle. It is labeled as 'S4S', whatever that is. So-called 'lattice board' is, I think, 1/4 inch thick -- too thin for easy use.)

2) small nails/brads

(They have to be small enough not to pose a splitting problem going down the thinnest dimension of the board. I found that 3/4" x 17 'wire nails' did nicely. You do want the nail to have a head, not just a straight brad, and the head should be flat to offer a flush profile.)

3) 9 feet or so of 3/8"-wide cloth/polyester ribbon

(You can get this at a craft store, e.g., Michael's. Go wild with the colors -- you can use up to 3 different colors in one Jacob's Ladder.)


1) small hammer
2) ruler, straight-edge, and pencil
3) hacksaw or power-saw
4) scissors
5) sandpaper (perhaps coarse and fine)
1-40 of 77Next »
marc927 years ago
It would be really cool to make one of these that is very, very long. I wonder if it would behave as a smaller one does. Perhaps I'll make one this summer when I have a bit more free time. If I remember, I will post pictures... ... but don't count on it.
Did you remember? lol
No, I completely forgot about that. If I finish some other projects, maybe I will make it... ...but again, don't count on it. Lol
Did you remember?
Nope, after posting that, I promptly forgot about it. Anyway, I'm taking a vacation for the next 2 weeks... ...Any members in Italy?
Did you remember?
If you have yet to catch on, I didn't remember, and I don't plan on making one of these any time soon.
Braeburn marc927 years ago
Did you remember?
marc92 Braeburn7 years ago
No. I think reading my previous answers to this question would have extinguished any hope of me remembering to make one of these.
Notbob marc927 years ago
Did you remember this time?
marc92 Notbob7 years ago
No. And please let this comment extinguish this thread.
mg0930mg marc926 years ago
Did you remember?
marc92 mg0930mg6 years ago
mg0930mg marc926 years ago
Well you should have...
laxap mg0930mg6 years ago
(Did he remember?)
fwjs28 laxap6 years ago
Did you remember?
marc92 fwjs286 years ago
In case my previous answers didn't suggest any trend in this to you, no I did not remember.
fwjs28 marc926 years ago
damn, that sucks
marc92 fwjs286 years ago
But hey, you never know. you did remind me, so maybe I will actually get around to trying it. Probably not though, school just started.
fwjs28 marc926 years ago
seems like school just gets in the way of everything, i know how you feel
marc92 fwjs286 years ago
It really does. It seems sometimes the benefits of school struggle to outweigh the inconvenience of it all.
Did you remember? Hehehehe, Sorry, couldn't resist
Well, after all this hassle, I'm actually considering making one. One really long one, probably made of cardboard. But like I've insisted, don't count on it.
Lmfao, best troll spam ever.
MistaLOD fwjs285 months ago


Braeburn marc925 years ago
 Remember NOOOW?
did you finally do it?
makerkurt made it!1 year ago

Thanks! This instructable had some good hints. I made a ladder with larger tiles so I could display photos.


photo 1-3.JPG
RingoWild2 years ago
Thank you for such great instructable! I love the part where you say to be careful about over-tightening. I can totally relate! Thanks again! -- Lori
mathmama3 years ago
I'm going to puzzle my "math class" kids (a group of ten 3-8 yr olds) by asking them to look at a wooden one, play with it, and then construct one using the random materials I've provided (which will include heavy cardboard, staples, and ribbon, though I'll probably throw in some toilet paper tubes, glue sticks, and other random items to distract them). Looking forward to it! Seems like those materials should work.
well dont forget
ITChE5 years ago
Made this today with the kids at our school and they all loved it.  Thanks for the great instructions.
p4trick956 years ago
Would it be possible to glue the ribbon to the board?
Yes, but you need to glue to the opposite side of each piece, as shown in my example.
TraumaComet6 years ago
this is really cool! My son and I made one together and he loves it!
no_skunk6 years ago
thanks allot! I look for this recipe all over the net- didn't know it's called Jacob's ladder... This is how I'm gonna hand my works in Typography class:)
I just made two of these for my nephew and niece. I would like to add this alternative way of attaching the ribbons. I was having trouble getting the slack even on the ribbons, so I measured out and marked the ribbon first. That way the slack is more uniform from piece to piece. Great Instructable though!
stranoster7 years ago
This is a great instructable! Is it normal for the fourth or fifth link to get stuck every now and again though? Mine does. Well documented and great work
Try rounding the edges of your blocks a bit, might help. If not that, it is possible that your ribbons are a bit tighter at that link.
1-40 of 77Next »