Introduction: Giant Jacob's Ladder Toy
I love when Instructables has the contests that are for large size versions of stuff that is usually not large. The last time they had the big size contest, I made a Giant Gee Haw Whimmy Diddle: https://www.instructables.com/id/Giant-Gee-Haw-Whi... It did not work successfully, but was popular and got a bunch of views and comments.
I have always thought Jacob's Ladder toys were cool, and I knew, one day, I would make a giant version of a Jacob's Ladder. In this Instructable I will show you how I made two larger than normal size Jacob's Ladder toys. One I made with 3/4" wide straps and 5-5/8" wide boards, making it about 3 times normal size. The main Giant Jacob's Ladder I made using 1-1/2" wide straps and 11-1/2" wide boards, making it about 6 times normal size. And although it weighs 55 pounds (25 kilograms) It is possible to be operated by one person.
I used a standard size Jacob's Ladder as a model to scale up. https://amzn.to/2VFGn4b
Step 1: Safety
This project involves using saws, routers, and drills. There are also ladybugs. Wearing safety glasses will protect your eyes from wood chips, saw dust, and ladybugs. Gloves will protect your hands. If you wear sandals or go barefoot, you will be comfortable, but run the risk of injuring your feet or toes. As usual, be safe.
Step 2: Tools and Supplies
The largest of the two giant Jacob's Ladders uses one 12 foot long 2 x 12 that actually measures 1-1/2" thick and 11-1/4" wide. The straps were 1-1/2" wide polyester, and I used scraps that I got from work. If I had used new straps, I would have needed 3 pieces 11 feet long. I fixed the straps to the wood using staples. I screwed the pieces of wood together using (28) #10 x 2-1/2" wood screws. I used a 3/4" radius roundover bit, on a router table, to round over the ends. As an afterthought, I added two playground handles https://amzn.to/3i5TapT to the top section to make it somewhat safer to use the giant Jacob's ladder. These are not a necessity but do make the giant Jacob's ladder easier to use.
The smaller, but still big version I made uses one 6 foot long 1 x 6 that actually measures 3/4" thick and 5-5/8" wide. The straps were 3/4" wide nylon webbing: https://amzn.to/2NBw4cY. I used 3 pieces 6 feet long. I fixed the straps to the wood using staples. I screwed the pieces of wood together using (28) #8 x 1-1/4" wood screws. I used a 3/8" radius roundover bit, on a router table, to round over the ends.
In addition to the routing table, the other power tools I used were a circular saw, a drill, an impact driver, and a belt sander. I had counter sinking drill bits for the different size screw holes and the proper bits to drive the screws. I used a staple gun with some 3/8" staples to fix the straps to the wood. I used a measuring tape and speed square to measure and mark the pieces. I also used the speed square as a saw guide to make right angle cuts.
I used paints: https://amzn.to/3ib6n0y along with some sponge type paint brushes: https://amzn.to/2VoUjPT to paint all the wood pieces before putting them together.
Step 3: Measure and Mark
The standard size Jacob's ladder that I was working from had square pieces 2" x 2" x 1/4" thick. For the largest one, I used one 12 foot long 2 x 12 that actually measures 1-1/2" thick and 11-1/4" wide. So I marked out pieces 11-1/4" long. On the smaller version I used one 6 foot long 1 x 6 that actually measures 3/4" thick and 5-5/8" wide. So I marked out pieces 5-5/8" long.
Step 4: Cut All the Pieces
I was able to get the needed 12 pieces out of my 2 x 12, but I was only able to get 10 pieces out of the 1 x 6. So my large Jacob's ladder is exactly like the original toy and has 6 segments. I only had enough pieces to make the smaller version with 5 segments.
Step 5: Go With the Grain
When working with wood, as with life, it is easier to work with the grain. I chose pieces of wood that were straight and had a uniform grain structure. I oriented my pieces so that the grain was all going the same and the grain radius (as viewed from the end) was the curved part facing out.
Step 6: Round Off Two Corners
On the largest of the two giant Jacob's Ladders, I used a 3/4" radius roundover bit, on a router table, to round over the ends.
On the smaller, but still big version I used a 3/8" radius roundover bit, on a router table, to round over the ends.
Step 7: Sand
I used a belt sander to smooth over some of the rough edges, and made sure everything was smooth before painting.
Step 8: Paint
I was making the large Jacob's ladder for myself, but I made two of the smaller versions for my children. I knew that they would have fun painting, so I put some of my old work shirts on them and away we went. We used paints: https://amzn.to/3ib6n0y along with some sponge type paint brushes: https://amzn.to/2VoUjPT to paint all the wood pieces.
Step 9: Mixing Colors
The paints I used had all the colors I needed, except orange. I knew I could mix red and yellow to make orange. One thing I did not know is to make orange you need a lot more yellow than red in the mix. If you are going to use red and yellow paint to make orange paint, start with yellow and sparingly add little bits of red paint.
Step 10: Marking the Strap Locations
To place the straps evenly on the wood pieces, I needed to measure and mark their locations on the inside of the pieces of wood. I used a trick called a story stick to make this process easier. I marked out the locations on one board and used that board to transfer the measurements to the other pieces. This trick saved me from having to find the measurements on the tape measure for every board.
Step 11: Putting the Straps On
Using solid pieces of strapping is easier than using scrap pieces. The reasons I used scrap pieces on the large size Jacob's ladder was that I had gotten them for free and they had writing on one side. If I had used one long piece, the writing would have shown on the outside of half the Jacob's ladder.
The method I used was to staple the straps to the inside of one piece of wood. The two outside straps would be hanging out one end of the board, while the middle strap would hang out the other end. I would put the corresponding other half of the section on top of that piece, and flip the straps over. Then place the next piece half, outside down on top of the straps. Flip the straps over that half piece and staple them to that half piece.
It sounds complicated, but looking at the pictures makes more sense.
Step 12: Screwing the Halves Together
On my first attempt to make the large Jacob's ladder, I put the straps on without fixing the section halves together. I found that it was better to screw the pieces together as I was weaving the straps up the pieces. I used two screws per side of each section. I made sure the screws were in between the straps. I don't know that it would have mattered, but sometimes trying to drill thru or drive a screw thru straps will twist up and damage the straps. I felt that the screws held well enough that I did not need to use glue.
Step 13: Use at Your Own Risk
As I mentioned before, the big version is heavy (55 pounds) I was able to do it, but it was awkward. I added some playground handles https://amzn.to/3i5TapT to the top section to make it possible to work the Jacob's ladder without pinching my fingers. These handles also allowed me to hold the Jacob's ladder far enough away from my body that I would not get hit by the pieces flopping down. The Giant Jacob's Ladder is as comical as it is dangerous.
Step 14: Video
As usual, I made a video. This was a big project, and this is a big video.
Thank you for watching.
I will be submitting this Instructable in the Super-size speed challenge. If you liked it please share it with your friends and vote.
Second Prize in the
Super-Size Speed Challenge