Saturday, January 26, 2013

DIY Quilt Ladder

Lately, I've noticed that my quilt ladder has been pinned onto Pinterest quite a lot and I have had some requests on how my DH made mine.  I thought I had given instructions, but apparently not.  So, here goes ...

Quilt Ladder instructions
This ladder will hold 5+ quilts.  Make it sturdy.
Lumber:  For the sides, you will need two 7’ long x 2-1/2” wide x ¾” thick – we used pine.  Our ceilings are higher, so I used the whole 7’ length of wood.  (If you are going to have a shorter length ladder, you will have to made adjustments to the spacing of the dowels.)
Dowels:  5 pieces x 1” diameter - cut them down to 36-1/2" (or whatever width you want your quilt ladder to be).  Quilts are heavy and overtime they will bow the dowels if you purchase a smaller diameter size.
You will need an electric drill with a 1” bit to drill holes in the lumber to slide the dowels into.
Find the middle of your lumber pieces (1-1/4" in from one side) and measure from the top down 11" and drill out 5 holes spaced evenly (mine are spaced out 15" from the bottom of each hole that was drilled to the top of the next hole).  The last rung measures approx. 23" from the floor.
Width wide, my dowels measure: 30” in the middle and 2-1/2” on the outsides, plus 3/4" twice where they go through the lumber = 36-1/2".

You may have to drill out a bit more of the wood so that your dowel can fit into and through the hole.  You don’t want a big space because then you will need a lot of glue/primer to hold your dowel securely in place.  Drill once and check to see if your dowel slides through the holes and make adjustments.
The top of the ladder will be rounded (DH used a jig saw on our ladder to round), sand the rough edges.  You don't have to do this step if you don't want to.

At the top (after ladder is painted), where the ladder will lean into the wall (see arrow above), place some felt chair tabs so that the felt tabs will be against the wall and not the painted wood. On my wall, when I moved the ladder, a bit of paint came away where the ladder had leaned.
With a hand saw or jig saw, cut the bottom of the ladder on an angle to sit on the floor – sand the rough edges.  The angle cut will depend on how far you want your ladder to sit away from your wall at the bottom.  Because I had a big basket on the floor just behind my ladder, my angle cut is greater and my ladder sits further away from the wall at the bottom on the floor.  DH can't remember what angle he cut ours .... you will have to play around with it yourself.
I used primer to act as glue to hold the dowels in place (or you can glue them in place). Why go and buy some carpenter's glue when primer will do the job (that is, if you will be painting your ladder)?  Give a coat of primer, first in the grooves where the dowels sit, slide your dowels into place on both of the vertical pieces of lumber.  Measure the 2-1/2" that stick out on the two sides and make any adjustments with your dowels to ensure they are even.  Measure and measure again.  After the first coat of primer is dried, put more primer around where the dowels sit in the holes and then prime the rest of the ladder. 

When we assembled our ladder, all the dowels on one side were put in place and then they were slid into the other side.  This was where I measured and adjusted and measured and adjusted again and again and again.  I can't stress the importance of measuring because if the inside is not even throughout, your ladder will not be straight.
I gave another coat of primer for the whole ladder and then 2 coats of latex enamel paint.
After the one coat of enamel paint, check the dowels to make sure they are smooth.  Any rough areas, sand them smooth, wipe the dust off and then give another coat of paint.
For your quilts, you do not want to put them on the dowels on top of any area that is rough as those areas will actually harm your quilts after time.  You know, friction can do damage.

Note:  for those that want to stain their ladder, then use glue that will dry clear to hold dowels in place.

So, now you all know how we did our quilt ladder.  It gets used all the time and it is so easy to switch quilts around.  It has been 3 years since we made the ladder with one major move and the ladder is still holding strong.

I wanted my ladder to look rustic and cottagey .... and my wish came true.

Have a great day!


Vivian said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing this! I've wanted a quilt ladder forever, figured it was fairly simple but wasn't sure how to approach it. Now I can try it! Please thank your DH too!

Wonky Girl said...

Thank you, I have wanted to make a ladder for ages. You gave some good tips about keeping the dowels lined up.
A ladder could also display unfinished tops close to my quilting machine. Right now they are hiding in a closet. Guess two ladders are in order for me- LOL.

Christine said...

THANK YOU so much to you and your husband! The instructions were great and you ladder looks beautiful with those quilts on display!

Jennifer said...

Love the look of a quilt ladder, and yours is a really good one.

Angie said...

Thank you sooooo much for sharing the quilt ladder instructions with us. I definitely will ask my brother to make me one of these. :) Your's is beautiful and so are those quilts that are one it.

Karen said...

Such a great idea!

Lori said...

It's such a great way to hang your beautiful quilts!