Picture of Folding Wooden Stepladder
I made this wooden stepladder based on some plans I found online.

I didn't follow the plans very closely (my bolts and dimensions were different) - I just used the general layout of the stepladder as a guide.

This was the first project I've made using a tablesaw. You could make this stepladder with a circular saw or even a handsaw, but I found the tablesaw made precision cuts really easy.

In this instructable I also describe how to use a router to make dado joints and consistent curved corners.
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Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

You'll need a sufficient quantity of reasonable quality wood - I used about 7 planks of white pine, measuring 90 x 20 x 900 mm


8 x M8 carriage bolts, about 55 mm long
8 x M8 washers
8 x M8 lock washers

I used carriage bolts which have a large dome head, this means you only need a washer on the end with the nut.

The lock washers are needed because the bolt are inside a moving joint. Without the lock washers the nuts would gradually undo themselves.

M6 bolts would have worked fine too.

Step 2: Tools

Picture of Tools
Tools I used in this project:

Drill press (the bolts really need straight, 90 degree holes)
Cordless drill
Router (not essential)
Jigsaw (not essential)
Sandpaper - I used grits 180 and 320.
Earmuffs (essential)
Eye protection (essential)

Safety First:

This project uses several power tools. Respect these tools, never take shortcuts. Safety First. Remember hearing and eye protection.

Step 3: Overview

Picture of Overview
The stepladder consists of four different assemblies:

- Back support: Two sides with three joining pieces (stretchers).  Joined by dowel-reinforced butt joints

- The steps: Two sides with three steps.  Joined by dado joints.

- The top: Five slats with two supports. Joined by dado joints.

- Side supports: Two simple side pieces with rounded ends.

The stepladder folds up to form a compact unit for storage.
nunnally6024 days ago
Jon3164 years ago
when you are cutting the wood,what can you do to prevent or lessen the splintering of the wood.

Don't mean to cause a war over this, but you could also use a sharp handsaw as an alternative. spelk/spelch is pretty non resistant and even more-so if you slice the grain fibers along your cut lines with a marking knife.

Might be something you might try to look into, but go with what works for you. Hand tools just make sense for myself for countless reasons.

This is a VERY late reply, but better late than never; a simple solution to prevent any damage of the wood when cutting with any rotary saw is to have the blade resharpened to a tooth angle. Most cutting blades for rotary saws have the tooth edge perpendicular to the piece to be cut, thus it "rips" the fablers of the wood; if the edge is angular to the wood it will cut progressively and give a perfect smooth cut, even with laminates.
Jayefuu Jon3163 years ago
A zero clearance insert would help with this
Jon316 Jon3164 years ago
Same goes with the miter saw and table saw
pipe42 (author)  Jon3164 years ago
Hi Jon, I would try cutting the wood slowly and gently. You can also use a piece of scrap behind the piece you are cutting, this should help prevent splintering.
steelnix1 year ago
I to have an old wood attic ladder I "found out at the curb" one night....
Now I have a use for it!!!
wmlaveck1 year ago
I just removed an old wood attic ladder to be replaced by a safer aluminum ladder. From your project I now have ideas on what to do with the old wood ladder sections. Thanks
Lorddrake3 years ago
great job.

have you had any problem with your 3mm spacer screws from step 12 wearing into the underside of the ladder top?

Do you think that some of the felt or rubber peel and stick feet would work instead of the screw heads?
not sure if i described what i was thinking of very well so here is a link to some i found online to give you an idea ..feet
pipe42 (author)  Lorddrake2 years ago
Hi Lorddrake, recently I modified the stepladder to remove those screws at the top - they were actually pushing the joint open, as the dado joint is weakest in that direction.

To fix this I removed the screws in the top, and fabricated blocks of wood which I screwed onto the step uprights. When the ladder is open these sit firmly against the side of the top (not the slats) and work much better.
pipe42 (author)  Lorddrake3 years ago
The spacer screws have made a little divot in the wood where they press in, but apart from that they work fine.

A rubber pad or feet would probably work even better, but I was just using what I had at the time. :-)

If you were building this from scratch, hopefully you could set things up so that you didn't need any spacers at the top, the legs would just fit closely against the top when you open the ladder.
It simply and simultaneously a high class! I wish to make for a long time same. Thanks.
nullandvoid4 years ago
awesome work ill have to make one seeing as my shop is always in need of another small stepladder and i see ur table with the vodka bottles! im gonna be making a coffee table with jaeger bottles and such as the tabletop when im finally done working for uncle sam who btw is the worst uncle ever! lol
jeffeb34 years ago
I'm a real rookie at finishing, but when I last tried poly with foam brushes, I ended up with a lot of bubbles. I found some water based poly, and it's a lot easier to wash out of the brushes.
Creativeman4 years ago
Beautiful work, pipe 42!
pipe42 (author)  Creativeman4 years ago
Thank you! Every project is a learning experience for me, as you can see by the adjustments I had to make. :-)