Picture of Impossible Staircase

The Penrose stairs, also known as the impossible staircase, is a two-dimensional depiction of a staircase in which the stairs make four 90-degree turns as they ascend or descend yet form a continuous loop. Although the staircase is conceptually impossible, it does interfere with your perception since it looks like a person could climb forever and never get any higher.

Watching the video is the easiest way to see how it works. I’ve included a drawing which is linked in the video description.

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Step 1: Tools/Materials


  • Band Saw
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Clamps
  • Sander (optional)


  • Wood 1 x 6 or 1 x 3
  • Wood glue

Step 2: Cut First Side

Picture of Cut First Side
photo 2.JPG

Cut wood as shown in the pictures. I used a table saw for the sections and a band saw for the steps.

Step 3: Cut Second Side

Picture of Cut Second Side

Step 4: Cut Third Side

Picture of Cut Third Side

Step 5: Cut Fourth Side

Picture of Cut Fourth Side

Step 6: Glue Sides Together

Picture of Glue Sides Together

Use a vice or clamps

Step 7: It should look like this when assembled

Picture of It should look like this when assembled

Step 8: Highlight Edges

Picture of Highlight Edges

Use a pencil or marker to highlight the step edges. You could also paint the steps as an enhancement.

Step 9:

Picture of

I used a Canon DSLR camera for the photo and video. It took a few minutes on a tripod to line up the angles. I also had to use manual focus to blend the focus which helps with the illusion.

Step 10: Another Example

If you like this, check out another example


philip421 year ago

Would you be wiling to make the 3D model which was shown in the video clip available?

mtairymd (author)  philip421 year ago
Sure. Note that the drawing is linked in the video description. It's a very simple model so I'm not sure how much time it would save you. I can email you the inventor and/or STEP files. Let me know if you want them.
philip421 year ago

Check this out for a similar project - with a working waterfall!


You made me squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! I lurve M.C. Escher and this is amazing! =D


Wow love it I'm so makeing one

Oh, the triangle de Penrose : Great, good job !

marc11 year ago


First saw this in the movie Inception.

mtairymd (author)  metalshiflet1 year ago
Correct...here is the movie clip.

mtairymd (author) 1 year ago


I remember hearing about people creating similar things (Escher art) in 3D about 15 years ago, but I never got to see the renders. This is perhaps a little more interesting :) Thank you for sharing.

psardinas1 year ago
Well after watching this I have concluded that you sir are a WITCH!
T-BONE31 year ago
hunter9991 year ago

This looks great! Thanks for sharing and I loved the impossible triangle :-)

Loved it :). Thank you for sharing :)

hotfarts1 year ago
This is way cool. Good work!