Spring is upon us which could mean one thing for me.....Seasonal allergies......LOL. Kidding aside, the nicer weather also signals a season for fixing and cleaning things around the house. I always have my handy-dandy old aluminum ladder on hand. Actually, I need it all year round to do all types of maintenance around the house. This ladder is one of the first things I bought when we got the house.
Using a ladder is hazardous. There are several rules that you need to be aware of when using one. I will not cover these rules here but I know, number 1 is safety. Frequently going up and down the ladder can exhaust you easily, so accidents can really happen.
Which bring me to an idea of hacking my old ladder. New ladders on the market now have some types of tray or tool holder to keep your tools. But why would you buy a new one just for the purpose of having that extra feature. I'll just hack my old ladder to have that feature and probably make it better.
The idea is to install some kind of tool holster and a tray that slides on my old ladder. Having the tools and material within arms reach would prevent me from going up and down the ladder frequently. Doing this hack will make my work around my ladder more efficient and definitely safer.
Step 1: Tools and Materials
I love using materials that I have on hand. All the materials that I used here are materials that I have salvaged from previous projects. The tool belt holster that I used here is a tool belt that I don't like to wear anymore but it's perfect for this project. For the hooks, I can't find hooks that I can secure with bolts. So I used screw eye bolts instead. I just cut-off the ends so I can use them as hooks.
1. any kind of tool belt holster with eyelets (check out the image)
2. a couple of hooks and nuts
3. (1" x 3") and (1" x 4") wood
4. wood glue
7. a pair of small shelf end-caps
8. drill / driver
9. hand saw
10. pocket hole kit
11. bunch of clamps
12. 9/16" spade bit
13. 1 ¼" hole saw
Step 2: Build the Tray
Not all ladders are the same. Mine is a bit old already and I noticed that it's not that symmetrical anymore due to years of use. So, I need to adjust my measurements to make sure everything is plumb and level.
The tray is designed to slide on my A-frame ladder. I can put a paint tray or a can of paint on top of it. It also has a side tool holder on each side for screw drivers and brush.
Constructing the frame of the tray is straight-forward. I used actual measurement to be more accurate. To do this, I clamped a piece of 1 x 4 wood that I am going to use into the ladder, then marked all the cutouts with a pencil. As you can see from the image of the frame, the woods that I used are not perfect since I salvaged them from a previous project. Because of this, I always go back and test fit the frame on the ladder before finally joining them with pocket screws. I love pocket hole technology so I decided to use it in all my joints. A little bit of glue reinforces everything.
For the side tool holder, I use a spade and a hole saw for the holes. You can design your own according to your needs.
I don't plan on painting the tray. I'll let the accidental paint drippings obviously with different colors dictate it's finish. However, I plan on having a piece of cardboard that is cut to fit the inside of the tray. This way, cleanup would be a breeze and you don't have to worry about paint accumulation on inside of the tray.
Step 3: Installing the Tool Holster
Please check out the images to get a better understanding of the steps.
These steps show how to hang a tool holster on the side of the ladder. If you are right-handed, I would suggest to hang it on the right side. If you happen to be ambidextrous, I guess any side you're most comfortable with ;)
1. Extend your A-frame ladder to the maximum.
2. Using your drill driver, drill a hole on one of the front rail and rear rail. Use a level to make sure the holes are level.
3. Screw the hooks and secure with a pair of nuts. I can't find hooks that I can secure with nuts so I used screw eye bolts instead. I just cut-off the ends to use as hooks. A pair of small shelf end-caps should cover the pointy end of the hooks.
4. Hang the tool holster. The tool holster that I have has eyelets for the hooks. It stays in its place even if I close my ladder.
Step 4: Time to Fill It Up With Tools
You can now slide on the tray and hang the tool holster. Fill it up with tools of your choice. Because of this hack, your work around the house using a ladder is now more efficient and safer than ever.