So for Christmas, I got a nice new Ryobi Impact Drill and I had been itching to use it. I scrolled through Pinterest looking for something that didn’t require a power table saw or too much room for me to screw it up, and found this picture of a shelving unit made from a wooden ladder. I knew that I wasn’t going to find a ladder like such, so I thought it can’t be that hard to build my own all from scratch. Wrong. Especially because I chose to build my shelf without even having a proper plan. I used the picture as my guide and that was it. Through much frustration, hopelessness, and many texts to my fellow handy friends and family, my shelf was complete. Now here is some advice before you get into building your own DIY ladder shelf or anything else for that matter.
My first problem. It’s really hard to build something when you don’t have the right tools. Pinterest doesn’t tell you these things. Pinterest wants to convey they easiest and most simplistic message possible, hence why there are so many epic fails. So first off, if you need wood cut and you don’t have a electric saw or the muscle to use a hand saw, it’s already going to be a difficult process. For me, I had a hand saw, but with these weak little arms, I didn’t get much of anywhere. Usually where you purchase your wood, like Home Depot or Lowes, they will have a power saw for you to utilize and a trained employee can make the necessary cuts. (Note: they won’t make any cuts under 10 inches for safety reasons.) So if you are going to have wood cut at the place of purchase, have a plan. Know the measurements you need and know the wood you need, so you don’t have to make wasteful trips back and forth.
Second problem: Know what to buy. Ya I can’t believe I am saying this after a whole summer doing AmeriCorps, but I bought the wrong screws first time around. Didn’t know there was a specific screw designed for wood, so I bought construction screws (used for god-knows-what), that had the wrong head on it. So I soon learned when I tried using my phillips-head screw driver bit, ya it didn’t work very well. So back to Home Depot I went to get the right screws. Familiarize yourself with what is offered, there are hundreds of screws and if you don’t know which to buy, suck it up and ask an associate.
Third problem: Know the necessary preparations. Okay so I finally have my wood cut, I have the right screws, what possibly can go wrong? As I attempted to finally start building my ladder, with all my measurements complete and drawn, I began to use my drill. I am using 3 inch wood screws because I need to drill through two pieces of wood. But as I get half-way into the first piece, I run into some problems. My screw head, has stripped. I try it again, and again it stops half way through and strips. After a few desperate calls and texts, I learn that I should have drilled pilot holes prior to trying to assemble my ladder. This will prevent the wood from splitting and my screw head from stripping. Devastated that I have expoentially slowed this whole process with my stupidity, I can only think about how the Property Brothers would have had this built in an hour. So back I go to Lowes, to buy my DeWalt Drill Bit set to drill pilot holes.
Success! Finally, after all those issues were addressed and I made multiple trips to and from the hardware store, I was able to assemble my shelves. I don’t blame myself for running into these problems, because truthfully the only way you will learn them is by messing up. Now I will never forget to pre-drill holes through thicker pieces of wood or that there are actually a million kinds of screws and buying the wrong one every once and while is expected. It was my first project, and I’m surprised it came out as cool as it did. On to the next!
What you’ll need:
-Bulk pack of 3 inch wood screws.
-Impact Driver Drill (I use Ryobi)
-Phillip’s Head Screwdriver Drill Bit
-DeWalt Drill Bit Set
-5, 8ft 1.5×3 pieces of lumber
-2, 8ft 10×2 pieces of lumber.
-Flat Bendable Hinge
-Hand Saw (optional)
… and lastly MUSCLE.
To make the ladders: I used 4 pieces of 6ft tall, 1.5 inches thick and 3 inches wide lumber. For the steps of the ladder, I also used the same type of wood and cut 10 individual, 12 inch long pieces. I measured out the same distances on all 4 6ft pieces, leaving one foot in between each step, and 14 inches from the floor to the first step. Lining them up, I assembled two ladders, each with 5 steps, all 12 inches apart in height.
To make the horizontal shelves: Once you get the ladders complete, the shelves are the easy part. I had my 10 inch wide and 2 inch thick pieces of lumber cut to 5 different lengths. This way it made the illusion of shelves getting smaller towards the top. My cuts were, two shelves at the same length of 45, the next at 38, then 30, and lastly 23 inches. Place the cut pieces across the ladder, and balance them on same step so that they are level.