January 07, 2015

Quilt Ladders ... An Attempted Tutorial

This post was supposed to be a quilt ladder tutorial, but let's face it, every time I turned around I was lost. My father was doing some unexplainable thing, had some jig that just appeared, was using this crazy machine. It finally got the point where I gave up all hope of having a high quality tutorial to share. So unless you have a full wood shop at your house you just might not have the tools to complete this project. Here is my feeble attempt to accurately explain what happened as Dad completed 80% of the work and me with a camera desperately trying to put in my 20%. We made 4 ladders at the same time. Mom couldn't wait to get her's loaded on Christmas day, hence the photo. 
To start, we cut two 16' x 12" x 1" rough-cut boards into 5' sections, and sub-cut the boards into 4.75" strips to make the side rails, 2 side rails per ladder.



Then each of the side rails went through the planar to take the edge off, you can see the detail below. A router would also work but would create a more rounded look.


Then to power sanding. The boards are rough cut, so not too much sanding but enough to smooth them up a bit. After I got going, Dad had all the rungs cut. Each ladder needs 4 rungs,  each measuring 17" x 3.25." I can't even begin to tell you how that got done! Dad has a sander that hooks up to an air compressor, so the thing is a beast and went quick.  



Then there was a jig to cut the legs down to the final size, yep it just appeared! After all the legs got chopped to the same length he took 27 degrees off the bottom using a chop saw (Yes, something I know). This is so they will rest out from the wall. Detail below, say hi to Dad above! 


After all the parts got cut he put the rungs into the Kreg Jig, this one you can purchase, to make pocket holes. He put two pockets on each rung one inch in from each side. It made a mess! 


As Dad was working, I was picking out stain. I decided on Fruitwood (left) and Ipswich Pine (right), from Minwax. Or in his opinion, futzing around.


Then once again a jig appeared.  He cut this jig at a 45 degree angle at 11" long.  Once we marked 3" inches down from the top this would perfectly place each rung. It did make putting the four ladders together quick. There is picture of the jig below, he marked one inch in to show where each rung should line up on either side. I was staining as Dad was assembling. I love how the stain took to the rough lumber.


Then we did the same thing for the other side. Once the whole ladder was assembled I finished staining the side rails. Oh, we used the Kreg 1.5" pocket screws to attach the rung to the rails.



Here are all the ladders done.  Two done in Ipswich Pine on the left, and two down in Fruitwood on the right. Now they are off to get 3 coats of polyurethane, the rough cut lumber required an extra coat! I also learned some yankee construction talk. Holiday: an area that is light or missing polyurethane. Let's say round one had a lot of "holidays."  

Pretty sure you are probably way more confused as to how these ladders are made. If you have any questions, ask! I can send them along to my Dad. They turned out super amazing and all who received them were very impressed! 

- Dad & Chels

23 comments:

  1. My hubby made me a quilt ladder for Christmas too!! aren't they fantastic!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. We'll done Dad! A very professional job and they look terrific!
    Jen

    ReplyDelete
  3. The ladders turned out so well, and it is a very detailed tutorial! I bet my husband and I could recreate most of it without too much trouble. We have a machine shop (not a woodworking shop) in our garage, so we would have to substitute tools a bit, though. When I made my quilt ladder we used round dowel rod and a lot of wood glue for our rungs, just as an alternate idea. I really like that your quilts will not be as folded as mine, though, that will really help keep them from creasing.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Alright... sending to my husband to decipher. I recognised the tool "router" -- he has one of those... the rest.... Um... no idea :D

    I really like that the rungs are wide and angled on this one.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wow - I'm envious of that workshop! :) I don't have the Krieg, but I could attach the rungs another way. The tutorial is great Chelsea, it gives us all the info we need to make our own. When it warms up a bit I'm going to tackle this project. I love the ways yours turned out!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I followed it with no problems :D. They look great!!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. So cool!! I might have to enlist my talented woodworking father to make me one :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Those are wonderful... and this is exactly how it turns out when I help my Dad in his woodshop... I just get in the way.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Having a bit of woodworking background, I followed along pretty well. I'm still so envious that your dad has such a beautiful wood shop and that you have easy access to it. Someday I'll get a quilt ladder, but I'll probably have to purchase it.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hahaha! We would be the same person standing in the woodworking shop, "oh hmm, but this shade of brown has a bit more depth, but this one seems richer while not being too too brown..." LOL! I have a great carpenter friend who's agreed to make a quilt ladder for me so I'll show him this for inspiration. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  11. They are beautiful! I really enjoyed the process pictures. It reminded me of the year (when I was a child) that grandpa made little ladders (think 5 or so feet tall and 6" wide) with elves on them to lean on the Christmas tree as decoration. (I think he made 6 of them... 5 kids, plus grandma.)

    ReplyDelete
  12. It's a whole other language Chelsea :) They look fantastic you are a great team!

    ReplyDelete
  13. These turned out soooo good and even better they were made with lots of love with your dad! Loving it! I have been wanting a ladder, too... now this makes me want one even more! Beautiful workmanship and great put-to-gether tutorial as well! Sometimes pictures are just enough to get the gist of how people may have to compensate for themselves. haha. The quilts look great on them, as well!

    ReplyDelete
  14. What a clever dad you have! I like the idea of sanding them and applying the colour before you assemble - I've made things like this before and not thought of doing that! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Wow! What talent in the family! I don't stand a chance of EVER making one of these so therefore I am all the more impressed!!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Shared with the hubby so he can make while he's futzing around!!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Wow. These are fabulous. I'm sure anyone who knows woodworking will be able to follow your tutorial (sadly, that's not me, though).

    ReplyDelete
  18. I'm not a woodworker but I think you've done a good job on the tutorial and a person that was a woodworker good follow with good results ! Your Dad has a great shop full of tools which makes it all easier. Colleen at piecemakerquilts.wordpress.com - I don't know why but bloodspot isn't allowing me to sign in

    ReplyDelete
  19. These look amazing, and the tutorial is great! A little too *advanced* for our humble skills and tools to replicate, but I just love seeing the process and how your dad assembled them. Thanks so much for sharing it! Enjoy-- they are works of art to showcase your own works of art! How awesome!

    ReplyDelete
  20. OK, I really, really want a ladder now! The plotting begins ...

    ReplyDelete
  21. I am very impressed by your father.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I don't think my husband's woodworking skills are up to the level of your dad's. I think I should take a carpentry class - or six. I would excel at futzing around.

    ReplyDelete
  23. What a great tuto! It made me smile all time, cause I could imagine you both pottering around, doing funny things and work together! Love how they turned out at the end! Still smiling
    sunny greetings
    morgaine from tunisia

    ReplyDelete