Decor / DIY Furniture / Projects

DIY Ladder for the Library

We are sharing how we built a DIY ladder for our home library to reach the top shelves of our large wall of industrial shelves.

DIY Ladder

Hey, Brent here. I’ve never said this out loud before but since the internet is the safest place to share your deepest and darkest secrets, I feel comfortable expressing that I fell in love with libraries after watching Beauty and the Beast. I can’t speak for Courtney but I think you would be hard pressed to find someone who wasn’t inspired to create their own library after watching the feelings of joy sweep across Belle’s face as she explored the Beast’s library only moments after being abducted.

So I got to thinking that it would only stand to reason that a guest that would willingly visit our home might be even more impressed to find a large library in our entryway.

A couple of months ago we shared how we turned our formal dining room into a library by building floor to ceiling bookshelves. We had a lot of positive feedback on our library shelves but two of the most common questions we received were, “What about a ladder?” and “How do you reach the top shelf?”

When we found out Better Homes and Gardens was coming to our home to photograph our library, it was finally the kick in the pants we needed to build a ladder for the bookshelves. Courtney and I have always been on the same page when it came to wanting a ladder for the library so it was awesome to finally make our dream a reality.

DIY Ladder
Here is the finished DIY ladder with my beauty. Isn’t the resemblance uncanny? Believe it or not I didn’t even have to kidnap her to get her to agree to this photo.

How to Build a DIY Ladder for Library Shelves

DIY Ladder
1. The design for our DIY ladder is fairly simple. We built it so each rung of the ladder has two dowel rods that extend through the vertical supports. Every other step screws into the vertical supports locking everything in place.

DIY Ladder
2. The top quarter of the ladder was cut at an angle and glued back together to create a bend. This allows the steps of the ladder to sit at a comfortable incline without extending too far away from the bookshelf.

DIY Ladder
3. Here is a candid behind the scenes photo of the ladder building process in the garage. Notice the extreme lack of organization that is happening in the background.

This is a realistic shot of what it looks like when you rush to build something between the very few hours of getting home from work and going to bed.

As the project progressed the pile of tools and leftover supplies grew larger and larger because cleaning during a project is not on my list of priorities. The pro to this approach is every tool in your garage is within hands reach.

The con is within reach usually means on the floor or some other inconvenient location for walking.

DIY Ladder
4. Once the ladder was assembled I got to be the first to test it. I didn’t get a photo of this part because the stakes were really high and I was afraid I might shed a few tears if anything went wrong.

I only had one shot and two days to get the ladder designed and built so it not only looked nice but was also functional and safe for the photoshoot.

Our first thoughts were to make a rolling ladder but then we decided that we would rather the ladder have a minimal design as to not take too much away from the shelves. Since the style of the ladder we built makes it light weight, it is easy to pick up and move to the spot we need to reach.

It is functional and adds character without overwhelming the already large and heavily occupied space. This decision ended up saving us quite a bit of money and the total cost to build the ladder came out to be about $60.

Our library is far from complete but getting closer with each project we finish. The ladder is a perfect addition to our bookshelves and one of our favorite parts of our library.

Don’t forget to check out how we built our large wall of industrial shelves.

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DIY Ladder

  1. Fabulous. Can’t have a library without a ladder or a Belle. I like the way you designed it better than a straight one with rollers.

    • Thanks Wendy that means a lot! And I agree – a ladder and a Belle are a must for any library. So glad to have you stop by our blog!

  2. Very nice. I’m thinking of making one — Do you have a plan for the ladder? If you don’t, any chance you remember what the angle was to create the bend on the top quarter of the ladder, and the angle for the steps? Thanks! makita hall

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