Refurbish an Old StepLadder




Introduction: Refurbish an Old StepLadder

About: I am 37, I have a job that allows me to build and make daily. I love my job. I have 6 children, my oldest is also a maker and has written her own instructables. I own a computer repair shop, and I build a lot …

I was rummaging around in the storage room of a storage room of a building I just bought and found a ricketty old stepladder. It was very broken and all of the joints were very loose. I would have just left it in the storage room to collect dust but honestly, I needed a stepladder. So I decided to refurbish the ladder and make it usable again.

Step 1: Parts and Tools Used

Here are the Parts and Tools that I used in this project.


  1. M5 x 35mm -- Here is a Link to it on Amazon
  2. M5 Lock Nut -- Here is a Link to it on Amazon
  3. M5 Washer -- Here is a Link to it on Amazon
  4. M6 x 50mm -- Here is a Link to it on Amazon
  5. M6 Locknut -- Here is a Link to it on Amazon
  6. M6 washer -- Here is a Link to is on Amazon


  1. Dewalt 20v Drill -- Here is a Link to it on Amazon
  2. Dewalt Orbital Sander -- Here is a Link to it on Amazon
  3. Dewalt 20v Impact -- Here is a Link to it on Amazon
  4. Dewalt 20v Curcular Saw -- Here is a Link to it on Amazon

Step 2: This Is a Crappy Stepladder

The first step to fixing up this ladder is to figure out what needs to be fixed. The ladder wobbles side to side about 10 inches, one of the rungs is broken, and the painters tray is all kinds of messed up.

Step 3: Take the Ladder Apart

The stepladder was held together with a type of rivet. I took a 1/4in drill bit and drilled out all of the rivets. I will be replacing the rivets with bolts and locknuts. That will help with the sturdiness.

Step 4: Sand Down the Wood Parts

I wanted to refresh the look of the ladder, and it had paint- splotches and god knows what else all over the ladder from many years of use so I sanded down all of the individual wood pieces. I started at a rougher grit paper and worked up to a finer grit. It did not need to be perfect, I just wanted it to look nicer than it did.

Step 5: Stencil Shop Name

After looking at the nice clean sanded legs I decided I would stencel the shop name on it. I quickly used the laser to cut out a stencil and spray painted over the stensel using some black spay paint I had sitting around.

Step 6: Make a New Step

The step that was broke would have to be replaced, no way around that. I had some smaller pieces of pine left over from my "Zen End Table" and one of them was the perfect size. I wanted all of the steps to match so I used the circular saw to cut grooves about a 1/8in deep into the step. I am assuming that these are to help with traction, or for looks. Irregardless I wanted all of the steps to look the same so I cut the grooves. After I had it all cut I noticed that the steps have about a 5 degree angle to them to allow for the "A" shape that the ladder makes. I used the orbital sander to correct the step and give it the angles.

Step 7: Put It All Together Again

Now I put everything back the way it was. I put some wood glue on the ends of the steps, put them in the slots where they belonged, and then clamped the ladder so that those pesky steps would stay. Once I was sure that everything was where it belonged I countersunk and screwed two screws into each step. Just adding those screws made the ladder much more stable. On all of the spots where there were rivets, I replaced them with M5 x 35mm Bolts and locknuts. This seemed to work very well.

Step 8: Make a New Paint / Tool Tray

The painters tray was completely boned, it was held on by a few staples, and a couple round head screws. The wood slats where all cracked and split. The only salvageable parts to the painters tray were the horizontal tray thingies. Once they were all cleaned up I bolted them to the ladder legs. The M5 bolts were not long enough so I had to use a M6 x 50mm Bolts that I had. They were a little big so I had to drill out the holes just a little. I found a small chunk of 1/2in plywood in the scrap and measured and cut it out using the circular saw. Then countersunk and screwed the tray to the horizontal tray mounts. Yeah that seems like a valid name.

The last step was to add some holes for various tools into the painters tray. I added a few smaller holes for screwdrivers and added a larger hole for a drill.

Step 9: All Done

This may seem silly to spend hours fixing what was probibly a 30 dollar stepladder, but I take pride in the things that I fix. I like old things, and would rather fix something old than replace it with plastic junk. It only took about 2 hours of work to finish this, and it is WAY more sturdy. I feel confident standing on the 3rd rung now, before I fiexed it up I was scared of the first rung. Thanks for taking the time to check out this project.

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    5 years ago

    I have a 6' ladder of similar construction. After 35 years of use, it's getting dangerously wobbly and the painters tray is loose and split. Thanks for the inspiration to make it better.