Introduction: Single Step Stairs

Picture of Single Step Stairs

This project uses only one sheet of plywood.  It makes a four level step that is 32 3/4 inch tall.  I use mine for my kids (2 and 5 yr old) to get on to the trampoline, you can use yours for whatever.  Hope you enjoy!

Step 1: Tools and Materials

Picture of Tools and Materials

Tools and Materials needed:

1 Sheet of 3/4 inch Exterier Plywood
Grid Paper
A Large Square (Makes 90 degree)
Wood Glue
Nails and Hammer
or Nail Gun and 2 inch long nails
Wood Screws (I used 1 1/4 inch Coarse Thread)
Power Drill
Pilot Hole tool (Makes room for the head of the screw and not crack the wood)
Long Clamps
Sand Paper and Sanding Block
or Jitterbug or Orbital Sander (electric or pneumatic)
Hand Saw (I do not recomend takes way too long)
or Circular Saw and Jig Saw

Step 2: Planning

Picture of Planning

I reccomend you take some graph paper and a pencil and sketch out how to fit all of these parts onto one sheet of plywood. Use my design. For my graph paper I made each square represent 2 inches, that way a 4 x 8 ft sheet of plywwod is only 24 squares wide and 48 squares long. Here is a list of parts and sizes for each that you will need:

Piece Size In Planning Photo #
Mid - 32 x 32 (stairs are each 8 inches tall in a zig zag) - Photo 2
Right -(Steps 1 & 3) 32 x 24 x 8 x 16 (looks like a L with a large back) - Photo 2
Left -(steps 2 & 4) 24 x 32 x 16 x 8 (looks like a L with a tall bottom) - Photo 2
Bottom of R - 9 x 31 1/4 - Photo 3
Bottom of L - 9 x 23 1/4 - Photo 3
Back - 20wide x 32tall on L x 24tall on R x 10 1/4across at top - Photo 3
Front of 1 - 9 x 7 1/4 (I used this at the back of 1 for support) - Photo 4
Front of 2 - 9 x 16 (I used this at the back of 2 for support) - Photo 4
Front of 3 - 9 x 15 1/4 - Photo 4
Front of 4 - 9 x 18 (or longer than 18 if you have extra room) - Photo 4
Top of 1 - 13wide front x 17long x 11wide at back - Photo 5
Top of 2 - 13wide front x 17 long x 11 wide at the back - Photo 5
Top of 3 - Exactly the same as Top of 1 - Photo 5
Top of 4 - 12 x 12 - Photo 5

I realize you can not read my pencil marks on this pic, but you can see where to put each piece. You might can read the marks on the cut out versions better. For a better view of the pieces check out the next step: Cutting and look at Pic 1 and 2.

Step 3: Cutting

Picture of Cutting

Take a pencil and mark up your plywood (all the pieces) on your board. Make sure they all fit (don't forget that the blade of the saw takes out 1/8 of an inch, so leave room! Use the graph paper. Then cut each piece and mark them on an edge or inside that won't show what piece they are (ie: Top of 1 or Bottom of R). There is a little bit of extra room on the sheet of plywood but try really hard not to make a mistake, else you defeat the purpose of making this out of one board. You can see from the the grain of the board in pic 1 that it is cut from one 4 x 8 piece of plywood. In pic 2 you can see them spaced out some.

I cut the Top of 1,2,3 and 4 out square and I tell you in the next step how to round off the edges. Leave plenty of room for that!

Step 4: Mock Up

Picture of Mock Up

After all the pieces are cut, I would start by using clamps and putting the pieces together and see how they fit. Do not glue or nail or screw, just place them together with clamps to make sure everything fits (pic 1). Before this shot, I took the Top of 1 2 3 and 4 and used an old coffee can(6 inch diameter) or what ever gives you a nice curve and cut the edges off the corners of all the Tops (or steps). On Tops 1 and 3 (both of these are exactly the same) the front two edges are rounded off and the back right edge but not the back left corner. The back left edge or corner has 8 straight inches till the start of the curve to the outer side. Then on Top 2, opposite from 1 and 3, take and round off the front two corners and the back left. Then on the back right edge come 8 inches up toward the front and make you curve ( pic 1).

Step 5: Building

Picture of Building

Once you got everything how you like start with the Mid and a side, I started with the left.  Get the Mid and the Left and the Bottom of L and the wood glue and screw them together (pic 2).  I used corner clamps to make this easier (I forgot to put these in the original pic, sorry)  The two screws you see here will be covered up by Bottom of R.  Pic 2 shows the Front of 2 where it is suppost to go, if you want these steps enclosed.  It was at this point I decided not to cut holes in the side of this project for shoes and leave the Front of 1 and 2 off, but then I figured I needed the support, so I but them at the back of the steps (pic 2 and 3).

The next piece I put together was the Front of 2 and 4.  Then I put on the Bottom of R and the Right side.  Then the Front of 1 and 4 (yes if you do it my way (leaving a place to  put shoes under Steps 1 and 2) the Fronts overlap). see pic 2 and 3.  I would use glue and screws where ever possible and then nail it together with a nail gun just for more support.  I left the Tops last and the back for very last.  

Step 6: Paint

Picture of Paint

I choose to seal the steps with Thompson's because it will sit outside and needs to last at least till the kids are big enough to climb into the trampoline themselves.  You could paint it up any color, or one idea I had was to take it to a shop and have it sprayed with truck bed liner!  That would make it last, have it Rhino Linered!  You could add a stain to the seal if you wanted.

Step 7: Enjoy!

Picture of Enjoy!

Enjoy!  Here are a few shots of the finished project.


thekustomkid (author)2014-12-16

The design was spot on. My cuts were a little off, but it came together well. Cheers!

Pilgrim55 (author)thekustomkid2016-11-13

Very Nice! Looks great.

Thanks to the measurements revised using Sketchup by Haley in the comment below

sgsidekick (author)2015-02-24

I think that with a little tweaking, this would make a cool cat tree as well!

karlpinturr (author)2011-05-15

Very nice indeed! Certainly cheaper, better-looking and more versatile than actual trampoline ladders tend to be.

I almost want to say that 'form has followed function', but it hasn't - the two go hand-in-hand here.

I think the tops/treads have a slightly 60's retro look about them.

And storage space, too!! That's great for when the kids have run off indoors without their shoes...

The only fly in the ointment for me is my inner pedant wondering why they're called 'single step' stairs... I mean, there are 4 steps/treads to them, and you've used 7 steps for this Instructable - or maybe I'm missing something?

mtamburo (author)karlpinturr2011-05-15

What a great instructable!
My interpretation of "single step" :
each tread is meant for a single (adult sized) foot.

Pilgrim55 (author)mtamburo2011-05-16

Thanks! I think you sumed it up the best. Each step is made for one adult sized foot, however in this case I just increased the size as much for the top area and still use just one sheet of plywood. I thought that might be safer for the kids. Who knows I might could have made each step and made another step?

thekustomkid (author)Pilgrim552014-12-16


karlpinturr (author)mtamburo2011-05-15

Hmmm! - Sounds plausible, thanks.

nicknewbie (author)karlpinturr2011-05-15

they are called that because when you use them you take one step per lever rather than two with traditional stairs

karlpinturr (author)nicknewbie2011-05-15

Sooo..., 'traditional' stairs are/were a LOT deeper (front-to-back) than the ones in every house I've ever known?

Presumably something to do with not over-taxing the rich with such steep flights to reach the next level (and probably very quickly became status symbols)?

Hmmm... Thinking about it, that would account for the 'sweeping' staircase that so many films used to show...

So, thanks, nicknewbie.

nicknewbie (author)karlpinturr2011-05-15

sarcasm doesn't work when you don't understand what your being sarcastic about presumably something to do with not over-taxing the rich

karlpinturr (author)nicknewbie2011-05-16

Sorry, that wasn't actually meant to be sarcastic - I was typing what I thought, as I thought it, and not re-reading and editing it enough.

I should have said (having slept on it) that manor-houses etc., afforded more room for grander staircases, which some designers and/or Lords-of-the-manor may have (partly) justified as a way of not over-stressing their hearts - though everybody knows/would-have-known that that would have been, at best, a secondary concern.

Again, sorry about the mix-up.

cbg3868 (author)2011-05-16

I note that your trampoline has safety features to protect your children from falls from this "toy". Do think that maybe a hand rail of some sort would also be beneficial. I know that some homeowners insurance policies do not like trampolines and have been known to cancel policies. There are times that I feel that pools are safer that trampolines. I highly recommend the consulting with your insurance company before venturing into installing either.

Pilgrim55 (author)cbg38682011-05-16

I thought about a hand rail but the whole thing, steps, kid and all, might fall over because of the weight. If the child stops up top and leans to one side with the hand rail I thought it might tip over. I guess I could put one on each side and that might balance it out.

PACW (author)Pilgrim552013-07-30

I can't climb up a four inch curb without a handrail - but folks like me tend not to trampoline either. It is such a beautiful structure; if your kids don't want a handrail please don't feel you have to add one just because it seems like the sort of thing one ought to do. Trees and hills and boulders rarely have handrails but children enjoy them!

thekustomkid (author)PACW2014-12-16

I built these steps. I'm 275 lbs. I can stand on the top step with only one foot. It's sturdy and safe. Cheers!

thekustomkid (author)2014-12-16

The design was spot on. My cuts were a little off, but it came together well. Cheers!

thekustomkid (author)2014-12-16

The design was spot on. My cuts were a little off, but it came together well. Cheers!

thekustomkid (author)2014-12-16

The design was spot on. My cuts were a little off, but it came together well. Cheers!

haley.anderton (author)2014-08-02

I love this design, but I found the cut diagram's written measurements to not match up with the square paper. I will be building this soon and wanted to make sure it would work, so I put it in SketchUp and added dimensions. Each piece (there's 14 total) is color coded per the layers in the cut diagram. Also, I thought a picture of the back and an easier square-topped alternative version might be helpful for some.

humberto ribas (author)2011-05-15

Nice adaptaton for Santos Dumont's stairs (early 1900's). This great Brazilian inventor, the first one really make a plane take off in 1906 or 1909 (not be catapulted like the Wright brothers did, and like all airplanes actually do to fly), used this concept for short spaces.

blodefood (author)humberto ribas2012-01-09

I know he wasn't first, but Alexander Graham Bell (inventor of the telephone) launched and flew his first aircraft the Silver Dart in February 1909 in Baddeck, Nova Scotia. It was an exciting time in the beginning of Canadian aviation!

A replica of the Silver Dart was built and flew on the centennial of the first flight.

static (author)humberto ribas2011-05-30

These are also known as Jefferson stairs. Because Thomas Jefferson advocated their use. The design predates Jefferson, promotion of the design, so your claim is off around 200 years or so. The first wright flyer took off on it's own power, evidently later flight did used a catapult if the wind wasn't favorable. I have no interest in that peeing contest, as I don't the Marconi Vs. Tesla first radio transmission contest. Your claim about the alternate thread stairs doesn't really help your argument on the first flight credibility.

haruspex (author)humberto ribas2011-05-17

Really no need to spark such a big debate:

It is very heavily argued whether Dumont, the Wright brothers, or others had the first heavier-than-air aircraft based on many specifications. Please don't make such statements as fact.

hintss (author)2011-07-09

cat scratching post?

chicopluma (author)2011-06-25

cool design

askjerry (author)2011-05-15

The design is very good... the time and effort taken to design the whole unit from one sheet with very little waste... brilliant. Excellent job!

Pilgrim55 (author)askjerry2011-05-16

Thanks! Plywood has gotten so expensive these days. Since I wanted to make this out of Exterier Grade I needed a way to cut costs. It took a little time to plan but worth it.

craftyv (author)2011-05-16

Great design. I see them as storage shelves or room/area dividers. I want some but nobody I know does woodwork i'm afraid. Very good Ible.

lesteryoder (author)2011-05-15

The very first thing I though of when I saw the picture of your project was my two cats. I think that your design would be a great indoor play area for cats. They like to climb and explore. With some slight modifications like cutting some large holes in some of the sides and installing a shelf inside that area for them to crawl in and lay on. The added shelves could even have holes in them so the cats could climb down between the layers. That said, I do like your design for what it is intended for and your ability to cut this out of one sheet of plywood.

acoleman3 (author)2011-05-15

i be one could build/secure a column on the back and go up with another course. maybe even expanding it further up with taller and taller columns on the back of each course up to the next floor. cheap easy to build stairs for the inside of the home.

mjursic (author)2011-05-15

This might be one of my favourite instructables ever. Thanks!

realanthillkit (author)2011-05-15

Wow! That's impressive. Nice design.

trrydms (author)2011-05-15

Very cool instructible. Great job putting it together, and a great project.

kevinhannan (author)2011-05-15

What a brilliant project - and all on one sheet! Fantastic!

This is what 'ibles is all about! Great Stuff - I hope you do more! ;-)

EmmettO (author)2011-05-15

I like that it's made to come out of one sheet of plywood. It makes it a nice manageable project.

crkalino (author)2011-05-14

Cool! It's always neat to see a budget project that looks great, too.

Lectric Wizard (author)2011-05-10

Great idea !!!! Think I'll build these stairs into my cabin to get to the crawl space. Will save a lot of space ... THANKS!!

waterski4life1 (author)2011-05-01

These are awesome freestanding single step stairs, a nice variation instead of having to attach them to something!

Pilgrim55 (author)waterski4life12011-05-01


sethcim (author)2011-05-01

Nice nesting!

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