Introduction: Stepladder for Painting

About: I miss the days when magazines like Popular Mechanics had all sorts of DIY projects for making and repairing just about everything. I am enjoying posting things I have learned and done since I got my first to…

My wife likes to paint. When we moved into our first house, she needed a stepladder she could stand on while painting overhead. That was when some of the folding stepladders with wide steps and a high front were not so available. We also did not have extra cash for a commercially made stepladder. I made this one for her more than 35 years ago from some scrap wood and it is still holding up as well as the day it was first used.

Step 1: The First Thing

The uprights are from two pieces of 2 x 4. I ripped the 2 x 4s to yield one piece 2 1/4 inches wide and one piece 1 3/16 inch wide. The sum of those plus the thickness of the saw blade, plus a little lost from planing the surfaces smooth again equals the original 3 5/8 inches from the face of the 2 x 4.

Next I made dado cuts into the faces of the 2 1/4 pieces for the steps. The uprights holding the steps are at 65 degrees off of the horizontal. Make the dado cuts angled so the steps will be level when the ladder is assembled.

The first step on my ladder is 8 inches from the floor. The second step is 7 1/4 inches above the top of the first step. The top of the ladder is the same distance above the second step. They could be an equal amount of separation.

The two steps are 4 5/8 inches by 13 inches. They are from solid lumber 3/4 inch in thickness. Glue the ends of the steps into the dados.

Step 2: Mount Uprights to the Top

Make cleats (for lack of a better name) to glue to the uprights. These will also be glued to the top at the same time. Here you see the inner cleat. You can see the outer cleat in the photo from the Introduction to this Instructable.

The top is 3/4 inch plywood and is 12 x 17 1/4 inches.

Step 3: The Underside

Here is a photo of the underside of the ladder to give a view of how the cleats attach to the top of the ladder.

Step 4: The Hinge

I used a 5/8 inch wooden dowel to hinge the front uprights of the stepladder to the cleats. Glue the dowels in the cleats, but not in the front uprights.

Step 5: Brace the Front Uprights

I used wooden braces in an "X" pattern to give stability to the front uprights. The wooden pieces are 1/2 x 1 1/2 inches. They are glued to the front uprights. I used a 1 1/2 x 1 1/2 square of wood to join them together where they cross over one another. The square is glued in place with a good wood glue.

Step 6: Hardware

The only item purchased for this stepladder is two knee action locking braces. The only metal fasteners are four screws for mounting these two locking braces. I did a little bending to make them fit as I wanted. I made the angle of the front uprights 80 degrees off of the horizontal.

You may need to tweak the length of the uprights a little so the ladder does not rock when on a level, flat floor. If only a little tweaking is needed, a wood rasp should work fine.

This ladder has been the tool of choice for painting overhead in four different houses for probably half-a-dozen paint jobs in all, plus for a number of other purposes over the last 35 years. I have even used it many times as a quickly available sawhorse. It still serves well. I even made a copy for our daughter who was only an infant when this ladder was first used.