For the past couple of years, all I’ve wanted is a blanket ladder. At every vintage show, I looked at the price tags on every ladder and they were way expensive… or the ladder looked super cheap and flimsy. My mom would say, “Oh jeeze, you could make that yourself!” So, this past weekend, I finally got around to it and today I’m showing you how to make a blanket ladder! Whoopee!!
Now, you could go to Home Depot and buy the cheapest of the cheap supplies and slap together a ladder, but I wanted my ladder to look legit. There are tons of tutorials on Pinterest for “how to make a $10 ladder!”, but I decided to spend about $40 to make an authentic, durable, farmhouse style blanket ladder.
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How to Make a Blanket Ladder
Materials for Blanket Ladder
- 2 – 5.5 ft 1″x3″ Oak Boards – $2.13/ft
- SECRET #1: Find oak boards with straight wood grains instead of knots. Authentic farmhouse ladders have straight wood grains because it that type of wood is stronger, says my husband.
- SECRET #2: Pick boards that have more pronounced wood grain. Oak is a great choice because it’s easy to see the grains. Pine might be cheap but you can barely see the wood grains. It also tends to warp.
- 3 – 1″x36″ Oak Dowels, each cut in half – $5.98/ea
- Stain – I had Provincial by Miniwax on hand from refinishing our coffee tables
- Wood Glue
- Blue Painter’s Tape
Tools for Blanket Ladder
- Miter saw or hand saw
- Power drill
- 15/16″ Drill bit (1″ was too big for the 1″ dowels)
- Rubber mallet
- Meat tenderizer
- Metal scraper
- Foam brush
- Old rag
- Palm sander and 80 grit sandpaper
- Fine grit sanding sponge
- Optional: Angle Template Tool (SO GREAT)
Step 1: Preparing the Wood
First, use painter’s tape to tape your two 1×3″ boards together in at least 3 spots. This will make it so easy to cut and drill the two pieces exactly the same! Lean them up against the wall at the angle at which you want your ladder – for mine, the bottoms were about 12″ away from the wall. Grab a flat surface (like the sanding block) and use it to make a straight line on the bottom of the boards. This will give the bottom of your ladder a flat surface while it’s leaning at an angle.
Now, copy this angle at the top of the boards. We were able to use this AMAZING angle template tool my mom got Andrew for Christmas – you can set any angle to easily repeat it elsewhere! Once you’ve drawn your lines, use a saw to cut the ends.
Once you’ve cut the ends, it’s time to plan how you’ll space out the ladder rungs. I decided to do 5 rungs, spaced about 11″ apart. With your 1×3 boards still taped together, use a pencil to mark where you’ll drill the holes for the rung. Make sure to center them so they’re in the middle of the board.
Step 2: Drilling Holes for the Rungs
Now, use the 15/16″ drill bit to drill holes for the rungs. I can’t stress it enough: make sure the holes are as STRAIGHT as possible! If they’re crooked, it will be really difficult to get the dowels lined up in both holes. Drill the holes all the way through the wood. After you finish drilling, you can untape the boards.
Step 3: Bang up dat wood!
This is my fAvOriTe part!!! Use the meat tenderizer to bang up the wood! Make it look worn, dented, scratched, you name it. Take out your aggression! Don’t forget to bang up the dowels, too! I also like to use the metal scraper on all the hard edges. This makes it look even more worn. If really big chunks start coming off, stop and take it off with your hand. Smooth this out with the palm sander in the next.
Once you feel liberated from demolishing the wood, say “I’m sorry” by using the 80-grit sandpaper on the palm sander to smooth out any really rough edges. LOL. Remember, you’re putting blankets on here so you don’t want any opportunities for the blankets to snag. Then, lightly go over it again with a fine grit sanding block. Run your hand over all the wood to make sure there are no sharp edges.
Step 4: Stain the wood!
Wipe off any dust that’s on the board and grab your foam brush to start staining! Really, you can choose any stain that fits best with your decor. If you’d like something more authentic-looking, don’t go too dark. I really like the Provincial tint from Miniwax. Make sure to stain all sides of the boards and dowels.
Step 5: Assemble your blanket ladder!
Whoopee! It’s time to assemble! First, grab the palm sander and your dowels. Since the holes we drilled are 15/16″ (and the dowels are 1″), you’ll need to sand the ends of the dowels a bit so they fit into the holes. We want a tight fit so the ladder is durable!
Once both ends are sanded, you can spread a little bit of wood glue on the insides of the drilled holes. While not necessary, it’ll help your ladder be that much more durable. Use the rubber mallet to pound the dowels into each hole and wipe off any extra glue.
Finally, line up the other 1×3″ board with the dowels (and add glue if you’d like). It might take a little finagling, so be patient! Once they’re lined up, use the rubber mallet to hammer it in.
PS – If you’re having trouble getting the dowels to line up with the boards, just take them out, wipe off the glue, and sand them more. This will give you more wiggle room to line them up. Then, re-glue when you put them back in.
Let your ladder dry overnight so the stain can fully cure. Then, voila! Your very own blanket ladder! I hope you found this tutorial on how to make a blanket ladder helpful. If you have any questions, just drop a comment below! 🙂