DIY Ladder Shelf

6 Materials
3 Hours

This ladder shelf is super trendy and gives a way for you to show off your decor pieces that are just spread throughout the whole house. The best part apart it, you don't have have to spend a fortune. The wood was about $20 total (excluding the nails, hinges, etc)!
If you happen to be like me and would rather watch a video than read, you're most likely going to watch that video above! Or you know, you could read the step-by-step article down below if you need to look at it longer. You can decide :)
To begin making this ladder shelf, you will need to go to a hardware store and buy 4) 6 feet and 2) 4 feet. All of these are in 2 by 4s. You will also need 2 sheets of plywood that are 2 feet by 4 feet long.
Start by sanding each wood piece with a sander. Remember to get the front and back along with the sides. Then it’s time to apply the stain onto the wood. I’m using Danish Oil in the Medium Walnut color. Also use this to cover the 2 by 4 sheets as well.
Now it's time to cut the 4 foot lengths to use as the ladder steps. I cut each piece to 1 foot and at the end you should have a total of 8. Also as you go along with this, remember to go over each end that was just cut with some stain.
Next you will need 2 of these 6-inch gate hinges. Take 2 of the 6 foot lengths, and align them into a long line. In the middle, where they touch, attach the hinge with screws. When you are done you can then fold the 2 pieces on top of each other. These are the legs of the ladder. Go ahead now and repeat this step to the last two pieces.
Next lay the two legs side by side to each other on the ground. Space them out evenly so that there is exactly 10.5 inches in-between them from the top to the bottom. Place the first step 16 inches up from the bottom. And measure the same height to on the other leg to ensure they are level and then screw them in. And then from there on I just kept screwing in each step about 11 inches in-between each other. And then I flipped it to the back and repeated this whole thing again.
Now its time to cut the shelves. Take one of the 2 by 4 sheet and and make a cut that is 4 feet by 10 inches. And then cut another that is 3 feet, 2 feet, and lastly, a foot. The width of of all of these with be 10 inches as well.
Then pull the ladder apart so that there is 3 feet in between each side and then push in the shelf from biggest to smallest. Measure each side of the shelf that is hanging off to ensure that it is centered. Then drill in two screws through the shelf into the step and finally do this on the other side as well. And now you’re finished!

Suggested materials:

  • 4) 6 ft of 2 by 4s  (Home Depot)
  • 2) 4 ft of 2 by 4s  (Home Depot)
  • 2) 2 ft by 4ft plywood  (Home Depot)
See all materials

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Have a question about this project?

3 questions
  • NancyMaria
    on Dec 28, 2016

    Did you taper the legs where they meet the floor?

  • Norm Duffy
    Norm Duffy
    on Dec 30, 2016

    Did you use a plywood stretcher to get to 4'10"or did you omit a step?!

    • Betty Zamora
      Betty Zamora
      on Jan 6, 2017

      If you go back and read the entire step, you're cutting the 4' into a 10" wide strip. It says to cut all lengths into 10" widths.

  • Em012088253
    on Jan 17, 2017

    Can't I use an old ladder or are the arepa too close together?

    • Pat Winter
      Pat Winter
      on Feb 2, 2019

      Dylan, great job!

      I never took photos and no longer have the items but we had used 1x1s to make small desk top shelves for sorting mail. ( angled and sanded the bottoms to prevent scratching the desk top). The desktops were about 30x60" so there was definitely room on the surface.

      I've also used the same process with glue instead of screws, with cut down wooden chop sticks to build the climbing ladders for faeirie houses. ( tooth pics work really well for the table top 'shelves' in the mini houses.)

      As a grandmother, I enjoy seeing how well you organize and present your projects. Keep up the good work! :-)

Join the conversation

2 of 59 comments
  • Tracey Tate
    Tracey Tate
    on May 10, 2019

    I've wanted one of these forever! Thank you so much for showing me how to make this!

  • Gin
    on Oct 11, 2020


    I absolutely love it! I’ve been one of these myself. I plan on using your idea for one of my rooms. Thank you.

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