How to Build a Wood Ladder

A wood ladder can be helpful for accomplishing many home improvement projects around your home. You can build a wooden ladder instead of purchasing one. A handmade wooden ladder consists of two uprights and several rungs. The rungs of the ladder should be notched into the uprights to add strength and stability to the ladder.

Build a wooden ladder to access higher areas around your home.

Clamp a stop block to the fence on the miter saw to make 12-inch long cuts. Cut the 2-by-3-by-96-inch board into 12-inch lengths. Cut seven of these ladder rungs.

Measure and mark every 12 inches along one 4-inch side of both 2-by-4-by-96-inch boards; these are the ladder uprights. The marks indicate the position of the ladder rungs. The rungs will be centered on the 12-inch marks. Mark 1 1/4 inch on either side of the 12-inch marks to indicate where to cut the notch for the rungs.

Set up the table saw with a dado blade set, which is specially designed to make wide cuts on boards. Adjust the height of the blade to make a 1 1/2-inch deep cut. Place a miter gauge into the slot on the table of the table saw.

Mill the notches into one ladder upright at a time. Hold the board with the 2-inch side flat against the table saw with the 4-inch side against the miter gauge. The pencil marks should be visible to you. Push the miter gauge through the saw and pull it back through until you have created a 2 1/2-inch notch as indicated by the pencil marks along both boards.

Lay the uprights parallel to each other with the 2-inch side with the notches facing up. Apply wood glue to each of the notches. Insert the rungs into the notches.

Drive screws through the rungs into the uprights. Use two screws per joint. Allow the glue to dry.

Sand the ladder with fine-grit sandpaper. Apply a wood finish. Allow the finish to dry.

Things You Will Need

  • 1 board, 2-by-3, 96 inches long
  • Tape measure
  • Miter saw
  • Clamp
  • Pencil
  • Table saw with dado blade set
  • 2 boards, 2-by-4, 96 inches long
  • Wood glue
  • Box 3-inch coated wood screws
  • Screw gun
  • Wood finish
  • Paintbrush


  • Apply a strip of abrasive stair covering to each rung for added traction.


  • Wear eye protection when working with wood.

About the Author

Jonah Morrissey has been writing for print and online publications since 2000. He began his career as a staff reporter/photographer for a weekly newspaper in upstate New York. Morrissey specializes in topics related to home-and-garden projects, green living and small business. He graduated from Saint Michael's College, earning a B.A. in political science with a minor in journalism and mass communications.

Photo Credits

  • background from old boards with a ladder image by Ivan Hafizov from Fotolia.com