How to Build a Folding Ladder

Ladders are great tools, every household requires a folding ladder in their home. It can help you reach heights without trouble. It is the safer way to reach higher places. But they can be costly. The larger they are, the more costly they become. But if you know a bit of woodwork, you can build yours from scratch. Or you can make your own folding ladder if you own two identical ladders already. In this guide, we will teach you how to build a folding ladder on your own.

Humans require tools to reach high places, whether it is elevators, stairs, or ladders. Until the day humans can levitate using science, we are bound by these things. But then again, science is advancing rapidly. And who knows in a few years we might be able to fly without relying on airplanes or levitate and reach high places without ladders. But it is still a few years or who knows how many years in the future.

DIY enthusiasts can always find a way around things. They build their own tools and structures. A folding ladder can be made from scratch if you have the tools to do so. You will need a saw, if you have a miter saw, that would make things easier. You will need screws, two large hinges, a chain, and an impact driver. Lastly, you will also need a router to cut grooves into the wood to slide in steps and then drive screws into it.


How to Build a Folding Ladder

With a little bit of woodworking practice, you can make your own folding ladder. If you already do use woodworking tools, then just get a chain and hinges. These are very important to create the folding element of the folding ladders. Secondly, there are a few ways you can make folding ladders, you can make them out of ladders you own or build your own ladders from scratch and then make folding ladders out of them.

If you own identical ladders, skip till step 6.

Step 1 – Preparation

If you already own ladders, you can skip most of this guide, but if you want to build your ladders from scratch, let us get to work. You will need a miter saw, glue, three by fours (long wooden planks for the sides), wooden planks for steps or round wooden poles for round steps, nails, a drill press if you want round steps. If you want square steps you can use a router instead.

Step 2 – Markings

First and foremost, use a marker and mark all the places where you will put steps in. You are making this ladder for yourself, so a rule of thumb is to have at least 1-1.5 feet of distance between each step. You will also need to mark the steps themselves on the plank or round wooden pole. It usually is required to have 15-20 inches of width between the ladders, so mark the wood accordingly.

Step 3 – Cutting

You can use a table saw or a miter saw for this process. But if you don’t own any of them, don’t worry, just use a hand saw. Of course, that means the workload increases for you. But you are not bound to a power tool for this job if you don’t own any. Cut the steps themselves at 18-23 inches where you have marked them. These will be driven into the side steps through slots you will make with either a drill press or a router for square steps.

For the sides, you need to create a miter cut at an angle at the ends of the steps. Since these are folding ladders the ends must have an angle so they can support each other.

Step 4 – Creating Groove/Slots in Sides

Now for this step you either need a drill press or a router. The first one is for round steps the second one for square steps. Just start drilling through the sides with your drill press that has a Forstner bit attached to it. Just drill all the way through the sides where you have marked the steps. Make sure to place a sacrificial piece of wood underneath it. The thickness of the Forstner bit has to be as much as the wood that you have for the round steps.

For the square steps, you do something similar but with a router. Just once you are done, you will need to file the corners to create edges. That is because you will mostly have rounded-off edges inside the slots.

Step 5 – Glueing and Driving in Screws

Once you are done, it is time to assemble the ladder. Use glue on the end of each step and stick it inside the side. You can use a hammer to drive it all the way through. Do this with all the steps on one side first. Then use an impact driver to drive a screw in at a 45-degree angle inside the steps. This step can be skipped mostly because the glue is more than enough. Now take the other side, slowly slide the slots into the other corner of the steps. Don’t forget to glue the other side of the steps first before sliding in the side. Use a hammer where necessary.

Step 6 – Joining the Ladders

You have to repeat the steps above to make two identical ladders. But if you already own the ladders, you just need to add a step all the way at the top end of it (that is if the top end does not have a step already on it). For the round steps, you need to add a square step at the end of the ladder as well. The ends are at an angle so the steps you add to them will also have one.

Use the two large hinges you have bought and join the two top steps. Stick the hinges underneath the top steps. But you need to do so in a way that when you open the ladders at an angle, they are stopped by the hinges from opening further. Additionally use the chain and join both the sides together by screwing them in. This way it reinforces the ladders together and they don’t slide further away even under tension and slippery surfaces.

And you are done with making your own ladders. You can always make it in a different way. DIY is all about doing things that are more convenient to you.


Now you have a folding ladder that you can use for climbing at high spots, painting walls, and reaching high places in general. Changing a light bulb has never been easier, thanks to the folding ladders. And you can be assured about the strength of the ladder since you are the one who built it. So if you used the best quality materials and followed the steps perfectly, you will have a tough ladder.

You can coat the ladder in water-proof sealant if it rains a lot or there is too much humidity in your region. Either way, these folding ladders are meant to last for a long time. They are going to be heavy compared to aluminum ladders though since aluminum is lighter. But these are going to be just as strong as any other folding ladder in the market.

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