Ladder Shelf Build #1: Getting Started

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Blog entry by GrumpyCub posted 08-26-2016 03:30 PM 749 reads 1 time favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Ladder Shelf Build series Part 2: Positioning the Stretchers »

My mother-in-law has expressed interest in a ladder shelf, but couldn’t find exactly what she was looking for in stores. Specifically, she wants a ladder entertainment center, with a TV shelf in middle and ladder shelves at either end. This blog will attempt to chronicle my journey as I make this piece of furniture.

There were a couple of considerations when designing this unit. First, it needed to be relatively light weight, so I am building it out of pine acquired from a local saw mill. Second, I wanted it to be modular. Each ladder unit will be independent and the TV shelf will be added once everything is in the room. Third, my mother-in-law is not tall and has some physical constraints due to shoulder surgeries, so the shelves will be just under 6’ tall. She’ll probably still need help with the top shelf items, but everything else should be in reach. Lastly, she wanted the unit to extend no further than 24” out from the wall. The height and depth constraints pretty much decided the angle for me. below is a picture of one side of a ladder unit being mocked up. (Sorry for the orientation. I could not get it to import right side up.)

The angle at the bottom of the front leg is 16 degrees. Of course this means at the top the angle is 74 degrees. To accomplish this angle on 4 different legs in a repeatable manner, I constructed a tapering jig.

At three feet long, the jig just barely accommodated the angle I needed without interference from the table saw fence. In hind sight, with such an extreme angle, I may have been better server by a sled that runs in the miter slots, but this got the job done.

Next post should detail the placement of the stretchers to support the shelf boards.

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