DIY Attic Storage Assistance





Introduction: DIY Attic Storage Assistance

About: I am currently an 8th grade science teacher. (tough work but I love it). I have also taught 2nd grade and Kindergarten. I love art, creating things and NEW IDEAS. I never oppress new ideas and welcome them ...

So, it's cleaning season. You want to get rid of old boxes or heavy items and put them in your attic. Instead of breaking your back to store them, why not use a pulley system to lug them up at a fraction of the weight?

Inspiration for this Instructable first came about when my boyfriend and I had an extremely difficult time storing our fake Christmas tree in our attic after Christmas. This is our first home, and we certainly didn't like the idea of towing heavy things up a steep ladder. We are by no means lazy, it's more of the safety concern. I mentioned how difficult something like this must be for the elderly. Or, how could someone living alone ever accomplish such a feat!?

Could a roll system help assist with lugging materials and boxes up the attic with ease? With that being said we brainstormed this idea.

After we finished our Instructable, our work load was cut by 75%. Pulling up my heavy box of art supplies was substantially easier! Let me show you!

Step 1: What You'll Need

The best benefit of 3D printing the wheels was to have the ability to modify them so the wheels would fit perfectly on the ladder and attach to the barrings. In our example, our wheels have a lip on them to better guide across the ladder.

Please let me stress, this is our specific measurements to our own attic ladder. Everyone's may vary. To successfully do this at your home, measurements must be made on your end and any variations need to be applied. Here is a list of materials you will need.

  • 3D printer for the wheels


  • skateboard bearings (average set size)
  • 5/16 inch washers
  • 5/16-24 nut. 4 count
  • 5/16-24 X 1-1/2 bolt
  • 2+ pulleys (your choice) The more you have the easier the load will be
  • 50ft of para chord or rope


  • Nail gun
  • saw or jigsaw
  • clamps (optional)
  • socket wrench
  • drill with bits
  • speed square
  • tape measure


  • 3/4in. x 2ft. x 2ft. plywood
  • 1in. x 2in. x 4ft. hardwood

Step 2: Visualize and Make Your Design

These designs were made in Solid Works. They are a basic design. I have attached the STL in case you wish to print out the exact work for the wheel yourself.

Step 3: Measure and Cut Plywood

This will be the bodywork of our Instructable. Measure the length of your attic ladder. This will determine the length of wood to be cut. Cut the plywood to 14" wide, unless your ladder varies. By using a jig saw, in order to cut straight, we clamped a long piece of wood and used it as a fence to cut a nice straight line. First world problems!

In the end though, we produced the same result.

Step 4: Making the Wheels!

The most tedious part! Drill 4 holes in the 1"x2''x 2' wood pieces. This is where your wheels will go. Then use your socket wrench to screw in your bolt. To successfully attach the wheel, it will go as follows.

  1. Screw in bolt
  2. place washer on top of bolt
  3. place wheel on top of washer
  4. screw skateboard bearing to the wheel
  5. finally, attach the nut to the barring to hold it all in!

Step 5: Attach the Wheels to the Body

Yay, now you should have four working wheels! Now it's time to attach the wheels to the body work of your Instructable. In order to prevent them from moving, it is highly recommended you clamp it down because the work is going to get flipped over.

To attach the wheels to the body, flip over the plywood board and use the nail gun to attach the components. We marked where the underside wood is with a pencil to keep a more straightened nail line. Be sure to leave 1 inch on the sides so the wheels will fit onto the ladder.

Step 6: TESTING 1,2,3...

With all wheels successfully attached. Be sure to try out how well it will all fit on your ladder. If it glides nice and smooth, you are right where you need to be.


Step 7: Making the Backboard and Adding Stability

The backboard is very essential. It will need to be strong enough to carry heavy loads without buckling or breaking. Because of this, we added a small wood barrier to the back of the board just to give it more stability.

To also give more stability, we cut 1"x2''x 2' wood piece so it will fit in the bottom and complete the underside. This not only gives a place to attach the para chord later, but it also gives strength and stability.

Then, cut the plywood into 8" tall 14" wide so it will fit snugly on the body. This is the backboard. Place aside for later.

Use a leftover piece of plywood to attach to the bottom. This is simply to have the nails grip onto something and make the bond more durable.

To make the wood barrier, cut the 1"x2''x 2' wood piece to fit the back of the backboard. Use your handy dandy clamps to hold the wood steady and attach with a nail gun. Then , place your backboard in front of the wood piece and attach with a nail gun, with help from the clamps. Nail any spots you missed or feel needs more grip.

Step 8: Attach Pulleys and Para Chord

Drill a hole for the para chord to fit in. Double knot and use a lighter to melt the para chord to prevent it from un-raveling (optional).

Attach your small pulley to the para chord in the front.

Attach your larger pulleys well to a stable board built inside your attic. You don't want them to fall out!

Thread your para chord through the pulleys in accordance to the diagram I have provided. I used #3. This is the 3 pulley system. The mechanical advantage in the diagram suggests the work load to be cut 75%.

Notice the MAGIC!

Step 9: Wow!

Notice as your work load is cut 75%!

You can either pull your load from below, or one could do it from the attic. If you are working alone, you can pull the load from the attic without assistance! Game changer to someone living alone with no help at all.

Now I no longer fear going up the creaky stairs to the attic or falling off and breaking my back!

Hope you enjoyed my Instructable, take care!

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    67 Discussions

    Super idea, what if I haven't got access to a 3D printer? Is there a ready made alternative? Sure hope so, because I've had back surgery and now find it even more difficult to put stuff up. Thanks for a brilliant instructable!!

    9 replies

    Three ideas for DIY flanged wheels without a 3D printer:

    1) Add a flange disk to a regular wheel. For example, cut disks from a thin nylon cutting board (e.g. an IKEA Legitim, US$1.50) using a hole saw (e.g. IKEA Fixa, US$5) and then mount the disk & wheel on the same axle; if necessary drill three matching holes through the disk & wheel to attach them together.

    2) Use regular wheels and add guide posts that extend from the sled to just inside of the ladder rails.

    3) Use flanged bearings as the wheels (e.g.

    without access to a 3D printer, you can just take skateboard wheels and either cut them or find small enough wheels to fit the ladder. For an already made alternative, look for single sided plastic flanged wheels. Most of those come with bearings already installed.

    Hi there! You can get this piece printed for a great price via 3D Hubs! We just launched the "Print this" button which means that every .STL file uploaded on Instructables now has a direct link to connect you with someone in your area who will print it for you. Check it out!

    Hi Tina,
    Does this apply to the UK as well? I'm really happy and surprised with the contact I've received on here. This is the first time I've come on and asked a question.
    Thanks very much

    Look around on 3dHubs or MakeXYZ... I'm there, as are a ton of us with 3d printers that have idle time...

    Hi and thanks everyone for your replies. I live in the UK and might find it difficult to shop, however, will look on Amazon. I've got a pretty good idea what I'm looking for thanks to your messages.

    Look at wheels that are made for sliding doors. You may find something similar to these wheels. I've seen bearings at ACE Hardware that have a lip on one side which resemble these wheels. You may have to mod the design a bit to insure they work, but that should not be difficult since you would be building to your specific attic stairs any how.

    cbaerwaldt and makerdan, When you get to the top you can (the cheaper alternative) simply tie the para chord to a stable location in the attic. Or you can use a hand winch to pull the para chord in. The hand winch locks the para chord in place once you are finished so there'll be no slipping. This is probably the safer alternative for someone alone.

    I have knife hinges on my ladder. Where do I get the flat hinges that I see in the pictures?

    I have knife hinges on my ladder. Where do I find the flat hinges that I see in the photo?

    Works IF your ladder hinge is level with the ladder.

    Great solution, but are the wheels really necessary? Why not simplify the design to work as a sled.

    5 replies

    You could If you wanted. But keep in mind if you have heavy boxes there would be a lot of friction and make it harder to lift.

    I agree that wheels is the more elegant solution, but I think friction will be a small issue on such a steep ladder. Especially with the pulley system.

    The best way to minimize friction, if you were to do a sled rather than wheels, would be to use a couple of runners to minimize the contact area and then to use some paste wax on the runners. A couple of coats of paste wax will last a long long time.

    Also, if you were able to secure the load to something higher than the top rung (say, the rafters), then you could pull the load all the way into the attic, rather than leave it at the top of the ladder. I'm sure this isn't possible in all situations.