Step ladders are very useful because they can stand independently of any wall and come in various heights for use inside and outside the home.
Step 1 – Finished Timber
Make sure all the timber pieces are finished to size and that the ends are perfectly square
Step 2 – Mark the Steps
Take 2 of the 60-inch lengths and mark positions for putting the steps. Starting at the bottom of the pieces measure 8 inches then .75 inches and repeat this 5 times.
Step 3 – Square the Lines
Use the square to carry the lines across and use a pencil to mark the front edge of each length
Step 4 – Mark Step Limit
Draw a line .5 inches from the back edge of the pieces so that when the pieces are placed with scribed sides together all the lines are superimposed.
Step 5 – Cut Rebates
With the chisel carefully cut a recess .25-inches deep in each of the areas marked. This recess must be cut precisely.
Step 6 – Ladder Halves
You now have 2 sides to one of the ladder halves each with 5 recesses.
Step 7 – Fit the Steps
Insert the end of one of the 5 flat pieces into one of the recesses with a little wood glue—tap it home with the mallet. Insert the other 4 pieces into the other 4 recesses in the same way.
Step 8 – Fit the Other Side
You have now created half of one side of the step ladder. To complete it, apply some wood glue to the recesses in the other piece and fit the opposite ends of the flat pieces to complete the side. It should look like a ladder and be perfectly square. Secure the "steps" using screws.
Step 9 – Mark Opposite Sides
To build the opposite side of the step ladder, use the side you have created as a guide. Along one of the other 60-inch pieces mark the center line and cross the line at the centre point of each of the 5 steps.
Step 10 – Drill Sides to Receive Steps
Place the 2 remaining 60-inch lengths together and use the brace and 1-inch bit to drill through both of them from the cross points on the center line so they have the holes in identical positions.
Step 11 – Fit Steps
With a little wood glue insert the end of one of the 5 1-inch diameter pieces into the first hole, tap it home with the mallet and do the same with the rest.
Step 12 – Fit Other Side
Just as with the first half you will now insert the opposite ends into the holes in the second piece with a little wood glue and create the second half of the step ladder. Secure the "rungs" by driving a screw into the ends of the rungs in the center.
Step 13 – Hinges
Check that the 2 halves are equal in size and perfectly square and join them at the top with the hinges. (The top is the end with the longest distance to the steps or rungs) Use the fine auger to make pilot holes so you don’t split the wood.
Step 14 – Ensure Stability of Step Ladder
18 inches from the bottom of each leg of the step ladder, drill a .25-inch hole. Thread the ends of the lengths of rope through these holes and tie a knot in them as close to the end as you can. This is the stay that will stop the step ladder simply splaying and falling flat.
You have now built a serviceable and strong step ladder for use around the house. The steps will be set in such a way that when you stand on them your weight will tend to be thrown forward towards the steps making them safer to use.