Introduction: How to Make a Jacob's Ladder (Spooky Edition!)

About: I'm an engineer and a dad who has a love for designing and making toys, STEM projects and anything electronicy.

With Traditional Toys month coming to a close, we're doing a spooky special over at Cairdy Crafts! This week, learn how to make a Jacob's Ladder wooden toy with an optional spooooky ghostie theme!

Check out the video below for a full walk through to go with the instructable!

Step 1: Collect Your Materials

For this spoooky project, you'll need:


  • A 900mmx45mm piece of stripwood
  • Around 1-2m of ribbon (5mm wide is perfect!)
  • A hot glue gun or wood glue


  • A saw (if cutting own wood squares)
  • Ruler
  • pencil
  • Xacto/Stanley/Craft knife

Step 2: Cut Your Wood Into Square Pieces

Measure up 45mm lengths of the 45mm wide wood. Make sure you measure an even number of pieces as you'll want 2 for each segment. Use the saw to cut up each piece!

I'd recommend marking out and cutting around 12-14 squares to make an effective ladder.

Step 3: Painting the Segments

Next, it's time to decorate your segments!

I chose to use a base layer of black bumper spray paint (99p from the local discount store).

If spraying, lay out your wood pieces on top of something you don't mind turning black and make sure you're working in a well ventilated area.

Next, angle the backboard at around 45 degrees up and spray 45 degrees down onto each piece.

Spray from the sides, underneath and on top to complete the coat.

Allow each piece to dry and you're good to move onto the stencilling!

Step 4: Optional Step: Stencil a Design

Now, with it being halloween just gone, I couldn't resist adding ghoulish ghosties to the front and back of each ladder piece!

Take one black tile and draw around it on a piece of stiff card/mountboard.

Sketch a design (in my case, a ghost) and use your knife to cut it out.

Cut a couple of spare card pieces to hold the stencil down and you're ready to spray.

Place the stencil on one of the black pieces and hold it down using the spare pieces of firm card.

Next, hold the spray can 15cm away from each black piece and spray in gentle, short bursts until the design is clearly visible.

Remove the stencil and allow to dry.

Colour one half of the black pieces one colour, and the other half the other colour (in my case, flourescent orange and neon green).

Step 5: Weaving Your Ribbon; Pulling It All Together!

Now, lay out your pieces in pairs, all reds facing up and all green facing down underneath.

Cut yourself 3 pieces of ribbon roughly 50-60cm each.

Now comes the tricky part!

Think of the pairs of black squares like the crusts of a sandwich. The Jacob's Ladder's ribbon weaves on a principle of 'through the sandwich', 'weave an 's' around the sandwich', 'through the sandwich', 'weave an 's' around the sandwich'.

See the photo for a better explanation!

Starting at the left (or right) end, the middle piece is going to go through (between) the 2 square piece sandwich, then the next piece it weaves in a letter 's' from the bottom around and through the sandwich. Continue this all the way to the opposite end of the ladder.

Next, take your other pieces of ribbon and weave them starting with the 's' weave.

So, when the middle piece does a 'through' weave, the outer pieces do an 's' weave.

When the middle piece does an 's' weave, the outer pieces do a 'through' weave.

Check out the photos and video as they should hopefully help visualize this better!

Once you've added the ribbon, begin adding a dab of hot glue (or wood glue between the crusts of each sandwich and apply gentle pressure until the wood holds together.

Gently push the next pair of wooden tiles next the glued pair, making sure the ribbon is tight! This is really important, as it'll ensure your ladder flips over smoothly!

Continue until you've glued all the pairs together and you're done!

Step 6: Flip That Ladder!

All you need to do now is hold the ladder by the bottom tile, turn it upside down and gently wiggle it.

The ladder should flip over rung by rung and show the colour of the tiles underneath!

Congratulations, you've completed your Jacob's Ladder!

I hope you found the instructable useful and/or informative and please do leave photos of your own creations or ideas for future adaptations in the comments below!