The DIY ladder shelf: A real looker and practical for spices, cookbooks and cooking utensils

A shelf made out of an old orchard ladder is hanging on the wall of a kitchen. On the shelf, there are cookbooks, spice jars and cooking utensils.
Using an old wooden ladder, a few screws and a little creativity, you can make a modern ladder shelf with a country-house feel for your little garden house or kitchen.

  • Difficulty
    medium
  • Cost
    70 ‎£
  • Duration
    1-3 h

It’s exciting to see how you can make your own unique furnishings out of old furniture and garden tools. You can even make a modern shelf with a country-house feel out of an old wooden ladder. Whether for the kitchen or a cosy corner in your little garden house, you just need a little creativity, half a day and a few materials and tools. This ladder shelf is quite the looker and makes any corner cosier in no time at all. 

It should go without saying that your safety is paramount throughout every step of the project, so make sure you take the necessary precautions to protect yourself. In our overview, you can find everything you need to know about the correct protective clothing needed when using each type of tool.

You need
Utilities
  • scrubbing brush
  • safety glasses
  • g-clamps
  • protractor
  • pencil
  • sanding block
Materials
  • Old wooden ladder
  • 80-grain sandpaper
  • 6 wall-mounting brackets
  • (125/75 with slotted holes on both sides)
  • 4 x 16 mm SPAX panhead screws
  • 75 mm, 90-degree flat angle bracket
  • 3.5 x 17 mm SPAX screws with countersink head
  • 5 x 70 mm SPAX with countersink head
  • 6 mm wall plugs
  • 3.3 x 50 mm open screw hooks
L: Length, W: Width, H: Height, D: Diameter

Let's go - step by step

Step 1 5

Preparing the wooden ladder

An old wooden ladder is being scrubbed with a scrubbing brush.
The ends of the ladder are being sawed into 45-degree angles with the help of a Bosch NanoBlade saw.
The freshly sawn ends of the old wooden ladder are being sanded with a sanding block and sanding paper.

You need: NanoBlade saw, scrubbing brush, protractor, sanding block, pencil, safety glasses, 80-grain sandpaper, Old wooden ladder

First, clean your wooden ladder with a scrubbing brush. It’s important that there are no splinters or damp moss left on the wood (Image 1). Next, decide how long both pieces of the corner shelf should be. It helps to carefully suss out the space where the shelf will be hung. Our example uses a 2/3 to 1/3 ratio. Now, saw your ladder in the centre between two rungs and according to your specifications.

Next, take the long piece of the ladder and, using a protractor, mark a 45-degree angle on the freshly sawn end, and then saw through the ladder along this line (Image 2). Afterwards, sand the end with the sanding block and sanding paper (Image 3). Repeat this step with the short piece of the ladder. Keep in mind that the 45-degree angle on the short ladder section must be cut in the opposite direction so that it can fit together with the other piece of the ladder at a corner. Tip: It is easier to work if you clamp the ladder pieces to your workbench with G-clamps.

Step 2 5

Attaching the brackets for mounting the shelf on the wall

A hole is being drilled into a wooden ladder using a Bosch cordless combi drill.
A bracket is being screwed into an old ladder using a cordless combi drill.

You need: Cordless combi drill, Brad point drill bit, wood drill bit, Wall-mounting brackets, 4 x 16 mm SPAX panhead screwsTwo ladder pieces from step one, Two ladder pieces from step one

Next, both pieces of the ladder must be prepared for mounting on the wall. To do this, mark the points on both pieces of the ladder where the brackets for wall mounting are to be attached. Mark them in the centre between the first two rungs and the last two rungs at the top as well as in the centre of the underside of the ladder piece.

Pre-drill the holes (Image 1), otherwise there is a risk that the wood of the ladder will break. Now, screw the three brackets onto the ladder (Image 2). You will also find it much easier to work if you clamp the ladder to your workbench with G-clamps.

Step 3 5

Positioning the wall shelf correctly

The Bosch UniversalLevel 360 is projecting a green cross line laser on a wall.
The Bosch UniversalLevel 360 is projecting a green cross line laser on a wall. A drill hole is being marked on the ladder shelf with a pencil.
A green cross line laser can be seen on the wall. Using a pencil, a man is marking drill holes for mounting a shelf on the wall.

You need: UniversalLevel 360, Tripod

Place the two pieces of the ladder shelf on the floor in the corner it’s meant to go. Place them together but do not attach them. Next, you need to decide at which height you would like to hang your shelf. Once you’ve found the perfect height, it’s important to make sure its level. The best way to ensure this is by using a Bosch UniversalLevel 360 with a tripod to project a horizontal line on the walls.

Align the unit so that the vertical line passes directly through the drill holes of a bracket of the short piece of the ladder lying on the floor (Image 1). Now you can easily lift the short ladder shelf, align it along the horizontal line and mark the drill holes for the three brackets (Image 2). Now it’s time to take care of the longer piece of the ladder (Image 3). Rotate the Bosch UniversalLevel 360 on its own axis until the vertical line meets the drill holes of a bracket of the longer piece of the ladder. The horizontal line remains unchanged. This way, your new ladder shelf will hang perfectly on the wall.  

Step 4 5

Mounting the ladder shelf on the wall

A cordless combi drill is being used to drill a hole in the wall.
A wooden ladder is being screwed onto the wall with a cordless combi drill.
Two pieces of an old wooden ladder are being screwed together using a 90-degree flat angle bracket.

You need: Cordless combi drill, Brad point drill bit, Masonry drill bit, pencil, 90-degree flat angle bracket

Next, using the impact drill function, the holes need to be drilled (Image 1) and then the wall plugs placed inside. Then, take the long piece of the ladder and screw it securely into the wall (Image 2). Repeat this step with the short piece of the ladder. Once this step has been completed, the two pieces need to be screwed together using a flat angle bracket on top of the upper edge and on the inside of the lower edge (Image 3). Once again, make sure that you pre-drill the holes for attaching the flat angle brackets to the wood.

Step 5 5

Screw in the screw hooks

A screw hook is being drilled into the underside of a wooden ladder shelf.
Spices, a pair of scissors and a glass are hanging on hooks on a ladder shelf.

You need: Cordless combi drill, Brad point drill bit, 3.3 x 50 mm open screw hooks

The hard part is finished. It’s now time for the fine sanding. First, install the hooks for kitchen cutlery and spices. Using the 2.5 mm Brad point drill bit, drill small holes on the underside of your new shelf and screw the screw hooks into the pre-drilled holes (Image 1). Now, you can start decorating (Image 2) and you’ll be marvelling at your new DIY kitchen shelf before you know it.