Introduction: Impossible Staircase

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.

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

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


Yonatan24 (author)2016-05-13

That's pretty cool! Thanks for sharing, I liked the triangle too!

mtairymd (author)Yonatan242016-05-13

Thank you.

LukeL23 (author)2016-03-22

my mom gives better examples than this

mtairymd (author)LukeL232016-03-22

That's good to know.

philip42 (author)2014-03-20

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

mtairymd (author)philip422014-03-20

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.

philip42 (author)2014-03-11

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

GASHLYCRUMBTINY (author)2014-03-10

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


ninjacheese (author)2014-03-07

Wow love it I'm so makeing one

hamsterprod (author)2014-03-05

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

marc1 (author)2014-03-05


metalshiflet (author)2014-03-05

First saw this in the movie Inception.

mtairymd (author)metalshiflet2014-03-05 is the movie clip.

mtairymd (author)2014-03-05


stevenvachon (author)2014-03-05

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.

psardinas (author)2014-03-04

Well after watching this I have concluded that you sir are a WITCH!

T-BONE3 (author)2014-03-03


hunter999 (author)2014-03-02

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

Tarun Upadhyaya (author)2014-03-02

Loved it :). Thank you for sharing :)

hotfarts (author)2014-03-02

This is way cool. Good work!

About This Instructable




Bio: I like to design and build random things.
More by mtairymd:Caged Tetrahedron PuzzlePuzzle and Trick BoxesKhun Phaen (Klotski) Puzzle
Add instructable to: