How to Build a Wooden Ladder

Two Construction workers with ladder at construction site in wooden house.
A piece of equipment consists of a series of bars between two upright lengths of wood or metal used to climb up or down something. vitranc / Getty Images

Who doesn't need a reliable ladder? With the right tools and some woodworking experience, you can build your own wooden ladder for under $20. Your ladder will be sturdy and the exact size you want. Just follow these instructions and you can build a wooden ladder. We'll be building a 12-foot (3.65-meter) ladder.



  • Two 12-foot (3.65-meter) 2-by-4s
  • Two 8-foot (2.43-meter) 2-by-3s
  • Exterior wood glue
  • 36 deck screws, 2 ½-inch size

What you do:

  1. Clamp your 2-by-4 boards side by side, making sure they're lined up exactly.
  2. Make a small mark 8 inches (20.3 centimeters) from one end of each 2-by-4. Each mark should be in the center of each 2-by-4. These marks will be the center-point of the top rung of your ladder.
  3. Mark the center point of the rest of the rungs. The rungs need to be 16 inches (40.64 centimeters) apart.
  4. Cut out notches for your rungs around the marks you made. You'll need to cut out 2-by-3-inch (5-by-7.6-centimeter) rectangles 1 1/8-inches (2.9-centimeters) deep. Keep the notches centered and even. Having your 2-by-4 sides lying next to each other makes this easier.
  5. Cut each 2-by-3 board into five 19-inch (48.25-centimeter) lengths for the rungs. You'll have nine rungs for your ladder plus an extra length of wood.
  6. Put some wood glue inside the notches. Insert the rungs, one at a time. Make sure the rungs go all the way in and that the two 2-by-4 sides are parallel after all the rungs are in.
  7. Secure the rungs with deck screws. Use two screws on each side of each rung for maximum support.
  8. Paint or stain your ladder to protect it from the outdoor elements [source: Dave, Wandel, Williams].

You can adjust the measurements to make a longer or shorter ladder.