I Made A Ladder!

Yes, I did.

Please note that I did not title this post “how to make a ladder”.

This was for my daughter’s play set in the back yard, which has had my 6-foot stepladder leaning against it for a few weeks now.

I started by leaning a 6-foot length of redwood against the play set to figure out what angle the ladder should lean at.

Ladder
This was close enough to 30-degrees, so I used 30 as my number.
I cut two lengths of redwood to length with matching 30-degree cuts on the top and bottom edges.
Ladder

Then I used a tape measure to mark intervals on both pieces to note where the center of each step should be.
Ladder

I used the table saw and the miter gauge to cut slots at 30-degrees to make the edges of a mortise; and then used a router to freehand cut the insides out (working carefully, the kirf of the table saw cut is enough of a buffer to rout this out freehand).
Ladder
Ladder

Since I’m not very good at measuring, the mortises were all too narrow, so I slapped together a little tenoning jig to trim the ends of the steps (this was easier than trying to cut all the mortises a little wider).
Ladder
Ladder
Ladder

I successfully got all the steps installed on one rail of the ladder (glue and screws), and then realized that I was not going to be able to get all of the tenons to line up on the other rail. There were little imperfections in the wood and construction, and all together across all the steps this was enough to make it impossible to line everything up at once.

So I made a little router jig (read: “I cut a piece of plywood”) to shave a little more wood off each tenon’s width (the tricky part is that the steps were already installed on one side).
Ladder

Meanwhile I was doing a lot of stepping over and around the half-assembled ladder and managed to catch the corner of a step with the underside of my knee…
ladder

REALLY?!?! Not only am I supposed to wear “close-toed shoes” in the garage, but now I have to wear pants too?!

Next you’re going to say I should be wearing gloves!
Lathe compound repair

Whatever.

Ladder

In any case, that last bit of adjusting with the router worked, and I finished the ladder… and then put on some pants and ate dinner.

Fixing a Fancy Bolt

When I first started using my lathe, I noticed that one of the two small bolts that secured the compound to the cross slide was stripped, and couldn’t be tightened down fully.

But since the other one worked and the compound seemed stable, I postponed the replacement of this bolt.

Recently I had been using my lathe for a lot of stainless steel parts, and the added strain of the harder metal took a toll on the remaining bolt; to the point that, when I tried to tighten it down the other day, it also stripped.
Lathe compound repair

I could procrastinate no longer, I had to fix this thing.

The problem was that the heads of these bolts was a semi-rounded T-bolt and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to find a replacement part easily. Plus I wanted to use my lathe NOW, not wait for shipping.

So I decided to recycle the bolt heads.

Here’s how it went:

First I took the nuts from the bolts and dug through one of the spare parts bins to find a machine screw with the same thread size and diameter.
Lathe compound repair

After this was accomplished, I bashed my knuckle.
Lathe compound repair

Then I place the old bolt shafts in the lathe and drilled the head off after center-drilling and countersinking it.
Lathe compound repair

Lathe compound repair

Lathe compound repair

Next I worked the new screws with a file in my lathe until they fit the countersunk hole nicely.
Lathe compound repair

After I was satisfied with the fit of the heads, I brought them flush on the milling machine.
Lathe compound repair

Then I took them over to the welder and glopped a Cheerio of molten metal on top. This didn’t have to be a very strong weld, just enough to keep the machine screw head from spinning in the T-bolt head.
Lathe compound repair

I used the milling machine again for cleanup, and once I trimmed the bolts to length, I was back in business.

Lathe compound repair

lathe repaired