I found this amazing, dingy old ladder in the trash around the same time I discovered half-price bookstores.  I can't bring myself to buy those canned pressed-wood department-store bookshelves anymore and I need space for my Lemony Snicket collection.  Hence this project!

-wood for shelves (I used 1/4" thick red oak planks, backed with 1/4 - 1/2" thick red oak for support)
-wood for cross bars (I used 1/2"x1.5" red oak)
-shelf brackets (< 1.5", to support cross bars, need 8)
-shelf braces (look for 'mending plates' - straight brackets to support cross bars, need 8)
-wood glue
-wood finish (I used 50/50 tung oil/mineral spirits)
-1/2" - 5/8" wood screws

-jig saw 
-measuring tape

Not having a table saw or planer, I used craft wood that has already been (mostly) squared and nicely planed.  I chose oak.  This project could be built for much less $$ if you have the ability to cut and plane your own boards!

Step 1: Prepare the ladder

I wanted to see what was underneath all of the grime and paint.  I sanded with 60, 100, and 150 grit and discovered some lovely oak pine.  This part took forever.  

<p>I have been looking for the perfect way to turn an old ladder of my father's into a nice bookshelf and this is exactly what I've been looking for! Perfect easy fourth of July weekend project :) Thank you so much for this!</p>
I just bought on of these beauties yesterday to make shelving but I like this one better. Mine has gobs of white paint, like you say it is going to be the hard part. Your way is also easier than the way I was going to make it. Thanks yours came out exceptional, great job..
COOL PROJECT!! <br> <br>I'm always dumpster diving, so I will keep my eyes open for a ladder. :) <br>Aye, as you said, this is a &quot;moron proof&quot; project...so I should do just fine. *crosses fingers* <br> <br>TY for sharing.
This is amazing. I am going to do it.
nice! never would've thought about it
Lovely instructable - I can't wait to find an old ladder now. Also, I spy Lemony Snicket, Harry Potter, and Red Dwarf = WIN.
You have excellent taste :)
i just love this,going to make one,huge kudos!
I'm going to put a 'drawer' on the floor level and the next shelf up
Oh... did I say this is really GREAT? I did. I'm now saying it again.
Thanks :)
Very nice finished shelves... They look a lot like some shelves from the Crate &amp; Barrel catalog, but the catalog ones cost around $200! Recycling an old, rickety ladder is *much* better!
I have the same dingy looking ladder that came with the house 14 years ago. I could always use another bookshelf!
Same here... except ours is painted baby-blue. Guess I'll have to do a bit more sanding... <br> <br>I've also got a pile of 1/4&quot; craft board in the basement (also left by the previous owner), and what looks like at least 50 years' worth of other random scrap wood. New Shelves!!!
I love this..simple, easy and very funky! Great work
Nice recycle project. The ladder, however, is almost certainly southern yellow pine. Notice its wood has none of the &quot;rays&quot; or &quot;flecks&quot; that your purchased oak shelf wood has.
That is absolutely correct... the ladder is pine. No matter, though, as this is a great idea and Instructable! Very nicely done. Besides, pine isn't all that bad looking. We have a bedroom set (2 chests of drawers, 2 night stands, a blanket chest, and a book shelf that I made to match) that is yellow pine (stained &quot;Fruitwood&quot;). It still looks good after 14 years.
Thanks you guys! I've fixed it in the 'ible.
Very nice! This would be so good for a dorm room or tiny apartment. I think I have an old ladder in my garage... :) <br> <br>Thanks for this great Instructable.
They say that you shouldn't climb on book shelves; perhaps these shelves are the exception. Great job! <br> <br>Just kidding, by the way. You shouldn't climb these shelves either. :)
Well done!!
Love it. If only I could find an old wooden ladder!
This is a great idea! My bookcase is getting pretty full and I have an old wood ladder in the garage. It sounds like I'll have a project soon!
I <strong>REALLY LIKE THIS!!!</strong>
fantastic I like it
This came out really nicely! Thank you so much for the share!

About This Instructable


660 favorites


Bio: Action pig loves truth, justice, and his new jig saw.
More by action pig: Podium-Mounted Votive Candle Holders Wooden Architect Lamp Bookshelf from wooden boxes
Add instructable to: