Introduction: Orchard Ladder

The moment I saw this ladder, at our vacation on Mallorca, I knew I had to build one.

This old ladder is definitely hand made, so I decided the replica was to be too.

Using hand tools is so relaxing and peaceful, and I often prefer not to use my machines,

to avoid dust and noice and listen to real music instead of radiojunk.

There is not so much difference in time spent either in a project like this,

and the accuracy is sufficient if you are accustomed to using hand tools.


A piece of 2x4" or wider, 6" long.

3 studs 2x2", 8´ long.

9 boards 1x2" various length.

1 board 1x3", 3´ long

Bolt, rod or tube for hinge.


Step 1: The Joint

The central piece in this construction joins the front legs and the back leg hinge,

which simply is a a steel rod, bolt or tube through the back leg.

Cut a 2x4" board 6" long and mark a 2x2" open mortise at the bottom, and tapering lines at the sides.
It is easier to draw all lines and drilling the hole before tapering.

Step 2: Hinge Hole

Make a mark on the middle on the side 1" from the bottom,

and drill a hole for the bolt. Check the angle now and then

to be perpendicular to the sides.

Step 3: The Open Mortise

Cut the two insides with some precision for a snug fit.

I used a Japanese saw with a thin blade.

A little to tight is easily widened, but too wide is useless.

Next chop out the waste.

Step 4: Taper

Both sides of the main joint are tapered 1/2 inch to spread the front legs.

The width in the top is then 3” and in the bottom 4”.´

The front legs too are tapered along the top joint,

from 1” to 2”.

Step 5: Back Leg

With the top of the back leg in the open mortise, drill the hole for the hinge bolt.

Step 6: Corner

Then cut off one corner of the back leg to allow it to swing out a bit and then stop.

Take care not to remove to much, easy to file a little if needed.

Step 7: Recess

If you use a rod or tube, cut it to proper length and skip this step.

Using a bolt, make recesses in the central piece and the legs to make room for protruding parts.

Step 8: Connect

When satisfied with the hinge function, nail the frontlegs to the central piece.

Step 9: Steps

Mark out even spaces along the legs from your preference.

I had mine at 10" intervals. Nail the steps before you cut to length to avoid cracking.

Step 10: Hanger Template

I made a template, but you can of course draw the form directly at the board.

Step 11: Hanger

After sawing off most of the waste, choose the tools you prefer to make the curve.

I like carving, but you can use a scroll saw and a file for example.

Then nail it just below the central piece.

Step 12: Stress Distributor

Since the steps are very long at the bottom, they need support not to break,

and by connecting the four first steps with each other, your weight is divided.

Flip the ladder over and nail a board from behind.

Step 13: Trim

The back leg has to be shortened, not to protrude when folded,

and then the ladder is ready to use.

If you like, trim the top and bottom of the legs.

You may also want to paint or oil the ladder,

and have a rope to limit the swing of the back leg.

Step 14: Use

From now on you will appreciate the steady standing up in the air,

totally different from your ordinary ladder.

Hand Tools Only Challenge

Participated in the
Hand Tools Only Challenge