I have been playing with the idea for a little while now on how to make my blanket ladder look a little more industrial and modern. I have been using the 3/4” galvanized pipe for some other projects and thought how cool they would look instead of using wood doweling. Here are some simple plans if you are feeling like an easy DIY project. My shopping list is based on a 5 1/2’ (66”) ladder with 4 rungs.
2 - 2x4’s I bought 8’ boards because I used cedar for my ladder but if you are just using basic 2x4’s they also come in 6’
4 - 3/4” galvanized pipes at 18” long (in the plumbing section)
8 -3/4” galvanized steel caps
Rustoleum matte black spray paint
Stain ( I used Minwax Dark Walnut because thats what I had, you can use any colour you would like of have on hand)
Varathane top coat in whichever finish you would like, I used satin
- 1” whole saw blade, now this depends on what you have available you can also use a bit. I played around with different size bits but found the 1” fit the 3/4” pipe best!
Okay so the first step will be to cut the 2x4’s to the appropriate size. I placed my 2x4’s one on top of the other and clamped them together and measured 66” or 5 1/2’.
Turn your mitre saw to 10 degrees when you are ready to make your cut, this will give the bottom of the ladder a slight angle so when it is leaning against the wall the bottom of the ladder will sit flat against the floor.
Once your 2x4’s are cut it is time to drill the holes for the pipe to sit in. So I tried a couple of different ways to have the holes line up evenly so the pipe sits level, the best way I found was to stack the 2x4’s one on top of the other and clamp them together. I put one clamp on each end and one in the middle to hold the wood together evenly.
Because the ladder is going to be 66” and we will have 4 pipes in place I divided 66” by 5 to ensure each area is even which gives you 13.2, I drew my lines at 13 1/8” and then found the middle of the 2x4 which is 2 1/4”, this is the mark we will use to make our cuts. When using a hole saw you have to put quite a bit of pressure on your drill, the bit will smoke and it will smell like its burning at first I was a little freaked out but my husband assured me this was normal haha! I made sure to drill through the top 2x4 and slightly into the 2x4 underneath. Drill all of your holes on the top 2x4, once they are done remove the clamps and you now have markings on your bottom 2x4 to ensure the holes are in the exact same spot on both pieces which will ensure the pipe sits level.
Once you have your wood cut and your holes drilled it is time to start sanding …. I know, its my least favourite task but it really does make the wood stain nice and your finished product looks much more sleek …. I have tried to skip the sanding and it really isn’t worth it!! Make sure to sand with the grain of the wood, depending on what type of 2x4’s you use they may scratch easily. I usually start with 120grit depending on how rough the wood is, if your wood is really rough you can start with 80 grit, and slowly move to a finer grit finishing with 220.
Now it’s time to stain … YAY! this is my favourite part. For this ladder I used dark walnut because I had it and it matched a bench that I already have in my living room. Before I stain with my chosen colour I like to use a pre-wood conditioner, I use the minwax conditioner because that’s what our local home depot carries, I am sure that the other brands will also have pre-wood conditioner. I find that using a conditioner makes the finished product look smooth and it allows the grain to pop. Follow the instructions on the container for application.
While your waiting for your 2x4’s to dry you can paint your pipe. For the pipe I used Rustoleum Matte Black Finish spray paint, it usually takes a couple of coats. Wait for each coat to dry completely and then take a piece of steel wool and rub the pipe with it this will help eliminate the drip marks so the next coat will be smooth. Once you are happy with the colour i like to do a light coat of spray paint just to ensure the last coat is very smooth with no flaws.
When you are happy with the colour of your 2x4s apply a varathane top coat in which ever finish you have chosen. I use a satin finish because I really like how the wood looks. This particular one i use drys completely in 2 hours.
So once everything is dry its time to assemble! …. YAY!
Sometimes the caps can be difficult to tighten fully, you can choose how much thread you want showing, for more thread tighten only a few times and for less thread you may need to use a pipe wrench or a wrench that will lock in place to allow for good grip.
Now you have a beautiful handmade blanket ladder!!
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