Recycling a Ladder

This is a simple project (made a little more complex by completing 99% with handtools).

A little background. About three years ago I built my son, then 12, a loft bed. He really liked this. However, time moved on (as it does) and he is now 15 and has outgrown it. So I decided to convert the loft bed into a Captain’s bed (lower the legs and fill in with drawers). This is in process.

In the meantime my wife asks me to build a bookcase for his bedroom and I, of course, made this simple construction as complicated as can be by trying to be oh so clever. Ah well, the intention was good.

It occurred to me that the ladder from the loft bed could be turned into a bookcase.

Original Ladder

Here is another picture …

And a little detail …

I began the project by building a dovetailed carcass.

Here are the dados ..

On the long sides, the full rebates were easy enough to cut with a Veritas Small plough plane ..

But on the short sides - the pin board - a stopped rebate needed to cut. A back saw was first used to mark the end of the rebate, then this was chiselled out to create a space into which it was safe to either plough with a plane or a router plane. I used both ..

Here it is at glue up …

This picture shows the centre divisions being fitted.

Some side detail …

The side uprights of the ladder were curved with a fretsaw and then faired with a spokeshave. Here they are with the template I made to mark the same curve on each side.

Here is the fretsaw in action ..

And cleaned up with a Veritas LA spokeshave ..

Before the ladder "steps"could be replaced, the "ladder" was dowelled, using a Stanley #59 jig, to join the main carcass ...

Finally, the front was glued to the main section. This is what the bookcase came to look like. I think that you can just recognise the old ladder integrated into the front.

And attached with French Cleats above my son’s desk (his bedroom has never looked this tidy before!!).

Thanks for looking.

Regards from Perth


November 2007